My dear mother-in-law gifted me with a Stack and Grow a few years ago, and I love it! It’s perfect for my deck, and because it is on casters, I can move it to keep it in the sun and turn it around so each side gets the proper amount of sun. The first year I used it, I planted blue lobelia and a few other flowers. It was very pretty.
This year, though, I’m all about vegetables so I can help supplement my husband’s income and grow my own food organically. I’ve been told I have two green thumbs, so we’re going to put them to work. The Stack and Grow is perfect for shallow plants and versatile enough to plant a nice sized plant in the middle, if desired. I planted mesclun in the top two layers with green onions in the middle and a romaine mix in the bottom two layers. Here’s how I did it.
First, I removed last year’s potting soil and gave it a good scrubbing. Some people recommend cleaning garden containers with bleach to sanitize them, but bleach is not organic so I choose not to. Then I gathered together my organic potting soil, an extra pot for scooping the soil from the bag, my seeds and a water source.
Before starting I realized I did not want to waste my expensive potting soil in the areas where there would be no plants growing. I considered putting rocks in that area, but we don’t have many small rocks that are easily accessible. What do we have a lot of that are easily accessible and right next to the deck? Pine cones!
I gathered several pine cones and placed them vertically inside the spaces between the cups like this:
It’s rather pretty, don’t you think? Next, I filled the cups with soil, planted each layer with the appropriate seeds, covered them slightly and gave them a good misting with my adjustable spray nozzle.
As you can see in the above pictures, all the layers are open in the middle except one. This is where the versatility comes in depending on how deep you want the middle part to be. If you need lots of soil, the solid layer goes at the bottom of the stack. If you want it to be shallow and save soil, the solid layer can go at the top. Since I’m planting green onions in the middle section, I choose to put the solid layer second from the top. Here it is stacked, planted and watered.
The lettuce sprouted in just under a week.
And here it is yesterday, happily growing! As you can see, the pine cones are doing their job and preventing the soil from eroding into the sections between the cups.
Do you have any fun or clever container ideas? Happy gardening and may your efforts be ever fruitful!
UPDATE: The lettuce is growing wonderfully and I will be harvesting it soon using the “cut-and-come-again” method. I transplanted several of the onions from the center of this container to my flowerbed-turned-vegetable garden downstairs. Here’s a picture of it on 5/24/12:
I’ve discovered a couple things since planting this a month ago. First, I should have planted the romaine on the top two levels. Second, the lower levels do not get enough sun despite turning it around on the casters. So I have separated three levels from the base and am turning it manually with good results. The next time I plant it, though, I will probably plant beneficial flowers or trailing herbs in the lower levels instead of vegetables.