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Gutter Gardens and When To Start SeedlingsFebruary 2nd, 2016 | by Mark Tulloch | in | 0
Many new homes and multi-tenant accommodations are built with limited outdoor space so large yards to grown giant gardens are now part of the past. What should condo, apartment and townhouse dwellers to do if they want to grow fresh produce, healthy herbs and colorful flowers? The solution is to plant gutter gardens. Precision Gutter Gardens make use of limited space, maximize production, minimize weeds and reduce the need for bending down to ground level with heavy garden tools to maintain and harvest the crop. Gutter gardens can be built at waist height or arms reach because they are lightweight. They require very little soil and less water than conventional container gardens or ground gardens. Gutter gardens can be easily set up with an irrigation drip system for self contained units or mounted to a wall in a “Z” pattern so the water drips from one gutter to the next and down to a holding tank for recirculation thus eliminating the need for the gardener to stand around hand watering with a messy hose or heavy watering can. Gutter Gardens can be mounted to a fence, wall, railing, and wooden pallet or suspended from chains and grown on pergolas, balconies, patios and decks. When planted with several rows on a wall, they create an ornamental living wall or vertical garden which keeps the wall cool and increases food production.
What are Gutter Gardens made of?
Precision Gutter Gardens are available in 3 material choices, aluminum, Lindab steel and copper.
Aluminum is the most economical choice, will not rust, comes in a variety of color choices to match the exterior of the home or décor style of the gardener and is available in durable lengths of 2 feet to 6 feet that will last 15+ years. It is well suited for growing a tasty herb garden or low height flowers and foliage like Marigolds, Pansies, Alyssum, Nemesia, Lobelia, Calendula, Flowering Kale & Cabbage, and Heurcherella ‘Sweet Tea’.
Lindab Steel is the strongest of the gutter materials and is three times more durable than Aluminum. Pressure-fit rubber gaskets are used to seal the container, which provides an organic system for growing nutritious fruits like strawberries for jam, versatile grains like quinoa, and easy to harvest veggies for salad, stir fry, grilling on the BBQ or roasting in the oven like zucchini, peppers, onions, beets, radish, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, eggplant, kohlrabi, spinach, Kale, Broccoli, pickling cukes, summer squash, swiss chard, peas, beans and tasty rhubarb for pies.
Copper is the most durable and ornamental of the gutter gardens as the patina on the copper will evolve from warm tones to cool tones over time. Copper adds important minerals to the soil of your gutter garden and is a natural deterrent against slugs and snails. Copper gardens are suitable for non-edible gardens and are a showcase for dwarf ornamental grasses like blue sedge, dwarf umbrella grass, dwarf fountain grass, sweet flag and Japanese sedge. Copper gardens are also well suited for cacti and succulent gardens (with specific growing mix/soil) as well as perennial flowers such as ajuga, asters, astilbe, bee balm, candytuft, chocolate flower, verbena and violets.
Best Time to Start Seedlings
If you jump the gun and start your seedlings too early, you run the risk of having them damaged by an early frost. A good rule of thumb is between 2-6 weeks before the last frost for your growing zone. Most areas of Surrey are growing zone 7 and the last frost of Spring is usually mid-April so seeds could be started the first week of March however this is dependant on the specific vegetable or flower you wish to plant and whether your gutter will be in full sun, partial sun or shade.
To be safe, check annual frost forecasts for the growing zone and refer to the specific seed package instructions for each seed you wish to sow. Some seeds require soaking or chilling before planting in soil for maximum effectiveness. Seedling containers should be clean and ready with seedling potting mix. Use the Seed Packet to label your seedling trays or write on the tray with a marker. Seedling trays like a warm spot like above the fridge and will stay moist with a plastic cover with air holes.
- Lettuce seedlings take 4-5 weeks to mature and can be transplanted 3-4 weeks before the last frost.
- Onion seedlings take 6-8 weeks to mature and can be transplanted 4 weeks before the last frost.
- Spinach seedlings take 4-6 weeks to mature and can be transplanted 2 weeks after the last frost.
- Tomato seedlings take 6-8 weeks to mature and can be transplanted 1-2 weeks after the last frost.
Once seedlings are sprouted and ready to be transplanted into the gutter garden, make sure the gutter containers are in place where they are to be grown, are clean, filled with a good growing soil and that there is drainage if required. As gutter gardens are long and narrow, they require less seeds/seedlings so plant the biggest seeds and if you have seeds left over, you can start another gutter garden as a gift for a friend, family member or neighbor. Gutter Gardens make wonderful Housewarming, Mother’s Day, Baby/Wedding Shower, Get Well and Birthday gifts.