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Honored Contributor
Posts: 12,716
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

The new porch planter boxes all potted up

[ Edited ]

Here are a couple of photos of the new planter boxes all potted up and just getting started.

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The above is the left side looking towards the house and the one below is the right side looking towards the house.

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In the second photo you can see one of the two interconnected 110 gallon stock tanks that's collecting rain water from my downspouts to use to self-water the boxes. The second stock tank is hiding behind the azaleas in the first photo. The second stock tank contains a pump that comes on at eight o'clock every morning and runs for twenty minutes thnks to a smart plug and Alexa. Both boxes are made entirely of PVC so water won't harm them. The box in the bottom photo, the far right, back side is the high point and there's an overflow there that's an inch high. It takes about fifteen minutes for the water in the shallowest part of the box to get an inch high then it overflows back into the stock tank beneath it. My plants are all planted in four inch plastic pots.

 

With both stock tanks connected under the porch by a pipe the level in both tanks stays even as the water is pulled out and then returned. After twenty minutes the pump shuts off and the water slowly drains back into the stock tanks for reuse the next day. With most fertilizer being water soluble, this means that any fertilizer leached out by the watering is captured and reused with the next watering. This is based on the flood table technology used by some commercial growers.

 

The outside corner trim pieces on each box are held in place by magnets which allows them to be removed easily and the PVC lattice slid out and replaced with signage (assuming I get around to making the signs.) The lawn signs one sees from politicians, contractors and the like are made of a material called Coroplast that you can buy 4'X8' sheets of at Home Depot for around $20. I intend to buy a sheet or two of that over the summer and create holiday signs (Happy Thanksgiving!, Merry Christmas!, and Think Spring!) for use in the non-gardening season. I simply need to cut the Coroplast down to nine inch by 85 inch (or so) size and then paint the signs. I figure that'll be a good project for the dog days of summer. I can paint a different message on each side of the sign, so there's lots of options for messaging.

 

At this moment the plants in the boxes aren't at their best. My impatiens crop was largely bonsai'ed this year by the Jiffy 7's I used to start the seeds. Many didn't grow at all and those that did grow did not grow well. I still have about ten that are less than an inch high from an early February sowing. If you ever want to grow bonsai versions of impatiens, use Jiffy 7's to start your seeds. Most are now finally starting to grow however. By the fourth of July the boxes should look better as the impatiens finally take off and grow.

 

I've tried to automate everything as much as possible this year due to spending parts of last summer in the hospital and unable to care for the plants. I've added a drip irrigation system to the railing planters, hanging baskets and four pots of thunbergia on the porch that follow the same 8-8:20 AM daily watering cycle. It's kind of fun to sit out there during the watering process and watch a few hundred plants all get watered and me not really having to do anything. The only things I have to manually water now are a geranium at the foot of the stairs, a crossandra that I keep on the porch, and the plants around the fountain out front. I've even automated the fountain pump so it comes on at five every morning and shuts off at nine every night and if need be, I can control it from my phone or tablet.

 

Smart plugs are a really neat little gadget once you learn how to use them. I can control the box watering from my phone, tablet or Alexa by simply telling Alexa "Turn on pump." (I labeled the pump for the boxes "pump", not creative, but it works.) Alexa will then turn on the pump. I can also turn it off in the same manner. I've now got it all programmed so it does it automatically, but if there's a particularly hot/dry spell I can easily have Alexa give everything an extra drink later in the day.

 

I've got about 220 gallons of rain water from the stock tanks to use to water the plants and they haven't even come close to getting half empty yet. Barring a very long dry spell, I shouldn't have to add any water to water the boxes. A mere half inch of rain is adequate to fully fill the stock tanks from empty and summer thunderstorms readily provide that on a fairly routine basis. The boxes consume about four gallons of water a day and with 220 gallons available, there should be minimal issues. (They use a lot more to fill the boxes, about forty gallons, but only four gets absorbed by the plants, the rest goes back into the stock tanks for reuse.) It's a pretty neat little system.

Fly!!! Eagles!!! Fly!!!
Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,967
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: The new porch planter boxes all potted up

So pretty. 🌺🥀🌹🌷💐🌸🌼

Honored Contributor
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Re: The new porch planter boxes all potted up

@gardenman @That is so beautiful and so smart.You are a genius with garden designs,

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Posts: 4,474
Registered: ‎04-14-2013

Re: The new porch planter boxes all potted up

All I can say is "Wow!"!

 

That's impressive.

I laid down my hammer, and I saw ~ ancient proverb
Honored Contributor
Posts: 8,930
Registered: ‎10-24-2010

Re: The new porch planter boxes all potted up

@gardenman Your flowers are beautiful and your watering system is genius.

 

One question...how do you keep misquotes from breeding in that standing open water?

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Posts: 12,716
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: The new porch planter boxes all potted up


@CARMIE wrote:

@gardenman Your flowers are beautiful and your watering system is genius.

 

One question...how do you keep misquotes from breeding in that standing open water?


I have aluminum window screening over the top that largely keeps the mosquitoes away from the water. Even if they lay their eggs there's no way out for the young mosquitoes, so they'd drown or starve. There are also mosquito dunks you can buy containing a variety of bacillus thuringensis that kills mosquito larvae, but I haven't seen the need for those just yet. I live in a very swampy area also, so mosquitoes have lots of options as to where to lay their eggs. The Mannington meadow is just across the street from me and there's a lot more water there than in my little stock tanks. If I see mosquito larvae anywhere I'll use a fine net and scoop them out for my tropical fish as a snack. In a perfect world scuds and daphnia would inhabit the stock tanks giving me fresh food for the fish, but that hasn't happened just yet. The pump churns things up pretty good also and most things like mosquitos want still water to breed in.

Fly!!! Eagles!!! Fly!!!
Honored Contributor
Posts: 8,930
Registered: ‎10-24-2010

Re: The new porch planter boxes all potted up

@gardenman   You thought about everything and covered all basis.  That watering system is amazing.

 

Here I stand with a primitive hose.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,834
Registered: ‎02-22-2015

Re: The new porch planter boxes all potted up

Beautiful and water-wise. So impressive. I still use a hose and brass nozzle once or twice a week!

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Posts: 6,344
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: The new porch planter boxes all potted up

[ Edited ]

@gardenman , simply genius.  I love that you are so focussed on making it easier for you to do things around the garden.  I am sure you are the envy of your neighbours.

 

I also am interested in your comments on the smart plug.  

 

Now, can I steal you for a month???

 

Great job!  LM

Honored Contributor
Posts: 12,716
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: The new porch planter boxes all potted up


@Lilysmom wrote:

@gardenman , simply genius.  I love that you are so focussed on making it easier for you to do things around the garden.  I am sure you are the envy of your neighbours.

 

I also am interested in your comments on the smart plug.  

 

Now, can I steal you for a month???

 

Great job!  LM


 I'm loving the smart plugs. I first got some for my aquarium lights. Then my plant lights. I've now got them controlling my fountain and the pump for the planter boxes. They're a pretty neat little gadget. I bought most of mine on sale at Amazon and ended up paying about $5-$7 each, which is what just a timer would cost, but these give me much more control than a timer does.

 

Sadly, I have no immediate neighbors these days. High property taxes here in NJ have largely driven everyone away. The three houses to my north are now abandoned as is the house to my south and the house across the street. I'm living in something of a ghost town these days.

 

After last year with the broken femur and the four hospitalizations, I had no choice but to make gardening easier if I was to continue gardening. By automating as much as possible I can still do much of what I've done in the past even from the hospital if need be. I may even add a remote camera to monitor things when I'm not there.

 

Digging is largely out of the question with a hole still in the femur, so I'm back to starting plants from seed where I can easily plant them using a trowel rather than a shovel. Weeds that I'd dig out previously are now getting hit with an herbicide instead of being dug out. Perennials that should be dug and divided will just have to wait a bit longer. I just adjust to what I can do and go forward. Starting perennials from seed is fun and a lot cheaper also. I won't see much, if any production from them this year, but next year they'll give me a nice show.

Fly!!! Eagles!!! Fly!!!