How do you store your Mr. Stacky in colder weather?
Caring for your Mr. Stacky throughout the winter can help you be better prepared for the next season. What you do with your pots is dependent upon the severity of the season in your area. We’ll overview a view tips here.
For those growing in soil only, you’ll want to let your pots dry out in the sun. This will reduce the moisture levels and the prevent any expansion of water in the soil due to freezing. Once the soil is dry, you can move your pots to a covered area like a patio, garage or shed. If they are too heavy to move, you can empty out the soil or cover your entire Mr. Stacky with a heavy gauge plastic bag. (Note: Starting with fresh soil every year can make gardening easier. Don’t be afraid to compost your soil at the end of the season and start fresh the next year. This will also give you a chance to clean your pots to inhibit disease.)
If you are using Mr. Stacky to grow hydroponically and are in an area that freezers, you’ll want to take a few extra steps. First, make sure you let your growing medium dry out and remove any water from the tank. Secondly, remove the motor and store it inside. This will prevent any leftover water from freezing inside the motor. Also, be sure to check your sprinkler head and tubes to be sure they are dry. Then, either move the Mr. Stacky to a covered area or cover it with a heavy gauge plastic bag.
If you live in an area that doesn’t freeze, you may only need to cover your Mr. Stacky with a plastic bag or store it in a covered area. If your in an area where you can garden all year, then you can rejoice and enjoy.
Feel free to post on questions on our Facebook page.
Do you have an itch to grow something one more time before the cold of winter sets in? Let’s talk about things you can plant that have a short growing season.
As temperatures begin to cool, your growing options change. Mother Nature is telling you that it is time to grow cool weather crops. What are some things that you can grow in cooler weather?
The most easiest and quickest options are lettuce and radishes. There are varieties of each that can be planted by seed and harvested in under 50 days. Be sure to check with your local agricultural extension for the date of the first frost. (This is the last day you can grow without providing protection.)
If you’re not sure what to plant, I’ve provided a couple ideas below and a couple vendors that I personally enjoy using.
Little Gem Lettuce – This smaller lettuce is great for your Mr. Stacky. It’s been pretty low maintenance for me. I’ve used seed from Sustainable Seed Company and was pleased. Organic and conventional options are available. I believe the pictures of lettuce in this blog are from spring, but fall planting is great as well.
Radishes – Okay, I have to admit that I really don’t pay attention to the variety of radishes I plant. They are easy to scatter on the ground and quick to harvest. Pick something that visually interests you or has a story to tell. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is a solid choice as a place to purchase heirlooms and things of intrigue.
Do you have limited space, but still want to growing vegetables? This article will share with you simple steps to growing vegetables in hanging baskets.
First, decide what you like growing and want to eat. If you hate spinach, you won’t enjoy growing it.
Once you know what you’d like to grow, take some time to study what does well in your area in the current season. Your local agricultural extension can often provide you with guidance.
Consider the size of what you are growing and how you will grow it. For example, due to the height of corn, it wouldn’t make a great choice for a hanging basket. However, things like tomatoes if grown upside down may work well. Cucumbers are also an excellent choice, as the vines can provide interest to your basket. Pick them when small to avoid weighing down your vines.
Think about the position of the sun. Most vegetables benefit from a lot of light. Shady locations aren’t a great choice. Choose a place that receives light for the majority of the day.
Choose the potting soil that matches your needs. If you live in an area that is really hot and sunny, materials like coco peat that can help hold moisture. If you get a lot of rain, choose a mixture that contains sand for drainage. (There is also difference between potting soil and garden soil mixes. Thus, be sure to ask questions about what you are purchasing. Garden soil may be higher in clay, which is heavier and doesn’t give roots as much freedom to move. Quality may not be the same from vendor to vendor, either.)
Fill your hanging planter with soil and scoop out appropriate size holes to make room for your plants.
Transplanting plants from the original container to the hanging basket is the fun part. Simply place your hand around the base of the plant to hold it in place and turn the container upside down. If the plant doesn’t fall out, squeeze the container lightly (if you can) or tap it. Once the plant slips out, turn it right side up, place it in your pre-scooped hole, cover it with soil and water.
Hang your basket, check it every day to see if it needs water, fertilize as recommended on your fertilizer package and watch your vegetables grow. (If you see bugs or your plant doesn’t grow as expected, write us on Facebook and we can help.)
Do you love to garden, but have poor soil or have difficulty bending your knees? Consider growing vegetables in a raised garden bed.
A raised garden bed gives you the ability to plant in fresh soil in an area that is off the ground. This may reduce the amount of bending needed, while allowing you to have better control over the quality of your growing medium.
How do you grow vegetables in a raised bed?
Begin by choosing your container and location. You want a raised bed that is large enough to plant the vegetables you desire, while holding enough moisture to keep your plants thriving. Where you plant is also important. While under a shade tree may be fantastic for shade-loving flowers, vegetables need to be in the part of your yard that gets a significant amount of sun throughout the day.
Secondly, choose and fill your raised bed with a potting mix recommended by your garden center and fill your bed.
Next, add your plants and water well. (If it is really hot in your area, you may need to give them extra water the first couple of days to help them transition into their new home.)
Finally, be a good friend to your raised bed and check it every day. Stick your fingers into the soil to check to see if it needs water. If it feels dry, add water to the base of your plants. (Splashing can spread disease. Watering in the morning before the heat of the day is a great habit to choose.) Fertilize as recommended by your plant food manufacturer.
Harvest your vegetables when they are ready and enjoy!
Living with insects is part of gardening. There are good bugs and there are pests. Knowing how to control the bad insects naturally can help save your garden. One of the more destructive and frustrating enemies is the squash bug. Let’s talk a bit about what to do with them.
Squash bugs can suck the life out of your squash, if you are not vigilant. They love hiding and can be quite frustrating to control. If you are an organic or sustainable gardener, harsh chemicals are not your favored choice. Thus, as disgusting as it may appear, the best control measures are searching and destruction.
Searching for squash bugs means that you need to get close to your plants and move the leaves around. You will find the insects crawling anywhere on your plant. When you see them, simply pick them up with your hands and drop them into a bowl of soap water. If they don’t drown, you can remove them one by one and crush them with a stone.
The second thing you need to do in your search is look for eggs. Typically, the eggs will be lined up like soldiers in a pattern on the underside or top of leaves. Scrape the eggs into your soap water. You can also remove the leaf and crush the eggs with a stone.
While this procedure may seem distasteful and brutal, it will help decrease the destruction in your garden. If you do not control squash bugs, they will keep multiplying and kill your plants.
Growing your vegetables in a raised container like the Smart Farm can reduce the bending needed when inspecting your vegetables. If standing is challenging, you can even pull a chair up to your Smart Farm to make gardening more comfortable.
Please visit the Mr. Stacky page on Facebook for gardening pictures and help in answering your growing questions.
Growing food using hydroponics can be easy with the Smart Farm. Once you have your Smart Farm assembled, it is time to begin growing by adding your growing medium. While you can use soil in the Smart Farm, we recommend using a mixture of 80% coco peat and 20% perlite, gravel or growstone for hydroponic growing.
Why grow hydroponically? Hydroponics can create a cleaner and more controlled environment for the even distribution of water and nutrients to your plants. The coco peat helps retain moisture without a lot of compaction, while the perlite, gravel or growstone that we recommend in the Grow Guide creates space for roots and encourages healthy drainage. Roots need room to grow and don’t do well when soggy.
Mixing your growing mixture is easy, but you need to make sure you have everything you need. Gather the following items:
Mr. Stacky coco peat block (You will need 12.5 gallons of the fully hydrated block)
Perlite, gravel or growstone (Hint: You will need 12.5 quarts. If you also raise chickens, a #50 bag of Cherry Stone #2 grit is just enough with leftovers.)
Smart Farm reservoir
Smart Farm shipping box (Seriously. Why waste a good container?)
16 gallons of water
An old pitcher
Place the unwrapped coco peat block inside the empty Smart Farm reservoir and add 16 gallons of water. As it expands, break up the coco peat block with your hands.
Once the coco peat is hydrated, you want to create a four parts coco peat/one part grit mixture. (Use your pitcher to pour four equal parts of coco peat into your empty packing box.)
Next, add one pitcher of grit on top of the coco peat in the packing box.
Repeat steps 2 and 3 until all the coco peat and/or grit is used.
Use your hands to thoroughly mix the coco peat and grit together.
Once your Smart Farm is fully assembled, use your hands to fill each stacking tray.
Rejoice! It is time to plant!
If you have any questions, our gardener is available to help on our Facebook page.