FREE Plastic Crate Raised Bed Garden Update and Irrigation Install

This is John Kohler with, today we have another exciting episode for you, and this is going to be a cool one at that What we’re doing is maybe about eight months ago actually I was in Houston, Texas at this very spot and installed a plastic crate garden as you guys can see behind me these are basically just using the standard plastic produce crates We filled it up with a good raised bed/potting soil mixture and planted some plants in it And a few things have happened since the eight months, and we’re going to go ahead and give you guys the updates about what’s going on here, and how we’re going to actually expand and improve and plant out the new fall crops coming right up So first what we’re going to do is we’re going to go ahead and take you guys on a tour of the crops that did the best here Now when I set this up last time I was in town, got a set up with a composting system, and a little crate garden here, but we didn’t do an irrigation system because it wasn’t quite in the budget The main thing is to remember to water, especially in the hot Houston sun, the soil will dry out, and you want to give the plants an adequate amount of water If you don’t give the plants enough water, they’re going to be stressed out, and then either they’re going to not make it, or they’re not going to produce well I think it looks like to me that some of the plants didn’t quite get enough water because a lot more should be alive right now, but that’s all right, live and learn, and I want to encourage you guys to live and learn But even with irregular watering, many of the plants did make it, so I’m actually going to show you guys which ones are super-hardy plants If you live in Houston or anywhere else, you might want to consider growing some of these plants because they’re really strong, and even if you don’t take perfect care of your garden, some will still make it So let’s go ahead and give you guys a quick tour So here in the garden bed you guys can see some of the marigolds made it, we have one tomatillo plant that still made it, let’s see in this bed I think we got maybe a few mint still coming up This bed actually got dug out by the dogs This bed actually did quite well, even for little care, these guys here is actually called gotu kola, one of my favorite herbs, you can also eat the leaves in your salad as a leafy green Another one really good right here, it’s a sucklin it’s actually called Cuban oregano, did good with little care The stevia here actually got mostly kind of messed up, but it’s still alive Of course the regular hilltop oregano did quite well because actually they like low water anyways, and as did the hot and spicy oregano over on this side Next we got this guy, and this is probably the plant that did the best here so if you want a low maintenance garden in Houston or many other places, I recommend you guys grow this guy right here This is actually called the shiso, the green shiso, it’s related to the mint and basil family, I like the leaves a lot, they have a nice cool flavor, like to add a few leaves to the salad, give you some herbal sense In addition a lot of the mint actually didn’t make it but you could see there’s still a few sprigs that did make it, I was expecting to come back and see the whole bin full of mint And then also another plant that did quite well with even minimal care was the standard sorrel, garden sorrel there Once again more marigolds, a few of the tomatoes made it Looks like they had some troubled times, but they got trellised up and check it out, they even still have a few tomatoes on there Another one that did quite well that I’d recommend you guys grow in a hot climate like this is the basil I mean the basil probably is one of the best plants to grow, it’s still really tall, really productive, and growing lots of basil that means lots of pesto or even spaghetti sauce Or just take some and put it in a jug of water, leave it in the sun, have some sun tea, or just put some basil leaves in water in the fridge and let it seep for 24 hours and you’ll have some basil-flavored water instead of just drinking plain water Finally the plants that did fairly well here were the standard peppers I think we got some small varieties of hot peppers The other thing I did last trip was set them up there with a composting bin setup, I got this at the Costco I think it was $150, they normally retail for about $300 And yes, that is a sizable investment, but for that investment in eight months, they did two things Number one, they diverted waste that would normally go to the landfill, so what does this mean, this means that they didn’t have to carry pounds and pounds of garbage bags and take it out to garbage to go to the landfill to not compost, but to rot, create further methane gas, they were able to use those resources onsite, and they mixed it with some horse bedding, basically compressed pine pellets and the food scraps and put it in the tumblers, and it worked out about right for the amount of waste they generate They’ll fill up one side, keep spinning it every day, as soon as that side’s filled they’ll go to the other side and keep going back and forth When both are full then they’re going to empty the first one, and then start on this one again and keep spinning that one, and let me show you guys the result of the last

eight months The results of the last eight months are bins and bins full of compost here You can see, I mean a lot of it looks really good, nice finished compost Now they didn’t screen it actually so there are still a lot of pieces out So what we’re going to do is actually screen some of it this time to actually use in the new garden beds we’ll be putting in here Looks like they have a total of six crates, and I don’t know if they’ve actually already used some to spread out over other plants or they’ve just been collecting it a while But let me tell you guys compost is probably one of your most valuable resources that you can produce free on your land to enrich your garden But one of the things I want to do here while I’m here is get some kind of sifting system, because we don’t want to be putting really big parts of stuff back into the soil So what I picked up was a little laundry hamper basket, and literally what we’re going to do is we’re going to take handfuls of this soil and just put it in here, and just shake it out And what’s going to happen is we’re going to get all the big pieces left in the basket I mean this is a low-tech version of a compost sifter if you don’t want to build one And it’s going to keep the large chunks, and we’re just going to go ahead and put the large chunks back into the composter to break down further We’re going to use this soil as well as some other soil we purchased previously to expand the garden and plant out the fall and winter stuff, and in addition to make the garden better because I always want and encourage you guys to improve your garden We’re actually going to put in an irrigation system today, a drip irrigation system on a timer so now we know the plants are going to get an adequate amount of water so that they’ll fully produce If you don’t water your plants enough they’re going to be stressed out, if your plants are stressed out, you’re going to reduce the amount of food they’re going to generate So for this reason alone, I always encourage you guys to make an investment The irrigation system, the soil, things like that are one-time investments Once you’ve got them, you’ve got them you’ll never have to buy them again And yes I know it can get expensive for the garden we’re putting in now, it costs about $100 in irrigation parts I probably bought a few extra things so we’ll be able to return some But still, that’s a pretty penny The irrigation controller in itself was about one third of that cost But nonetheless, I feel this is a great investment to put money to where it’s needed the most, and to make the investment in yourself and your family’s health Because there’s no higher quality food that you can eat than stuff you’re growing in your backyard in your own compost and rich soil that includes trace minerals as well as mychorriza, bacteria, and other soil microbes that’s going to literally break down the organic matter and make more nutrition for the plants So what we’re going to do next is we’re going to get this ready to get planted out, we’ll come back at you showing some of the progress So the first step in the garden addition is getting some good compost, and we’re having to sift this stuff out, two person job, we’ve got somebody shoveling here and putting it in the little sifter there, and then I’m just taking this and just shaking it gently back and forth, and as you guys can see, out the bottom we’re getting this nice sifted compost, I mean this thing was only 1.49, so this is totally low-tech, I recommend you guys build a real compost sifter if you’ve got some money, I mean I think I built one for under ten bucks, I have a video on that, but this thing works nonetheless, and what we’re doing is we’re sifting this on a big giant tarp Also on this tarp besides the compost, we’re going to mix in some different worm castings, some trace minerals, some organic fertilizer containing trace minerals and soil biologics, plus some standard enriched raised bed soil So I’m going to get back to work and sift more compost So we just got done mixing up this stuff and I want to go over with you guys what we did So we used some of the homemade compost you guys saw, we used basically 50% compost with 50% of the raised bed mix that we previously bought, and we mixed that all together I like to have a wide variety of different things in the soil, not just any one thing, and I wouldn’t grow in straight compost, I like to mix it with the raised bed soil we got, but in addition got to add a few more things We added right here, we added the worm castings, so the worm casting is actually a low-release fertilizer for the plants, but besides just the nutrition, in the worm castings there’s also the beneficial fungi and bacteria in there that’s really good to help bring soil [inaudible] Other thing we added here is a minerals plus, so at the time I made this video, this is the best trace mineral supplementation that we could find I’ve since found that there’s Azomite available here in the Houston area, and I’ll put a link down below the video on where you guys can get that stuff And then the other thing we added too, is this stuff here, this is Microlife multi-purpose all organic biological fertilizer So not only does this have the 70 trace minerals which is like the rock dust, but it also has 76 different kinds of soil microbes including beneficial bacteria and the fungi, plus other

plant nutrients in here Be sure to stay tuned for a future episode actually where I share more about the Microlife fertilizer, it’s actually a fertilizer that I would use and I approve of because it’s more than just an organic fertilizer, it’s an organic biological fertilizer, which builds a whole food soil web Most conventional fertilizers made in a chemical factory will kill the food soil web This stuff will enhance it because it’s actually adding some of the bacteria and the fungi that you definitely need for a healthy garden What we’re going to do next is actually we’re going to go ahead and build these crates up, because once again, you could look at these crates as little miniature containers to grow in So we’re just going to go ahead and take the soil, fill it up in the crates, and then we’re going to actually plant the plants in it, and then we’re going to put in the irrigation system As you guys can see, we originally had 12 of these crates in the backyard crate garden This actually looks like a nice long, literally 4 foot by I don’t even know, like 10 foot raised bed, so there’s 12, we added three more, so now we have a total of 15 So this increased the garden by 20% more space to grow more plants I always encourage you guys, at the end of each season or before the beginning of the next season, expand your garden, keep kind of making it a little bit larger so that you guys could grow more of your own food as you guys get the hang of it So what we did next is we filled up the brand new ones, and then on the old ones, we left some of the summer crops, because here in Houston, I mean while it will freeze, it doesn’t freeze until later in the year, we are here in November So we have left some of the peppers and some of the basil and one of the tomatillo and some other of the crops here Normally I might pull them out, but we want to just see what will happen I always encourage you guys to keep your plants in the ground if they’re still living and they’re still producing for you I mean if it does freeze, and they don’t make it, then that’s a good time to pull them out, but I always like to give a plant a fighting chance to grow to its full potential, put on as much fruit or leaves as it possibly can as well In addition I went through and just kind of cleaned up all the beds so I removed all the things that weren’t totally doing well, I removed all the dirty leaves, and on top of the existing beds, what we did is we took some of the new compost mixture that included extra worm castings and Microlife fertilizer, and the rock dust, and we actually added and amended to the top of each bed, so that’s what I like to do at the end of each season is just basically amend to and add more nutrition to the top Because the thing you want to remember is that as the plants are growing in here, they’re pulling nutrients out of the soil You want to minimally put back in the soil what the plants put out “John do you have a formula for this man, like what do you exactly put in, what are the plants pulling out?” I don’t know man, put a whole bunch of worm castings, rock dust and the Microlife fertilizer, and call it a day So next, as we got all these guys prepared to plant out, we’re going to start planting things out, and what we have to plant we’ll go over with you guys So this is the perfect time here in Houston to plant out the fall and winter garden crops, and these are the crops that are cold hardy, so even if it should frost or get cold, these plants will be unaffected by the cold Literally these plants have a built-in antifreeze like in your car, so that they will resist freezing So what we got here is we got a graffiti cauliflower, this is a cool variety of cauliflower, it actually has a purple cauliflower I always encourage you guys to grow your foods of color besides just the standard white cauliflower they got purple and orange and even I’ve seen a green before We got some kaleidoscope mix, these guys are cool I started planting these myself, this is actually a cross between Brussels sprouts and kale, so they grow tall like Brussels sprouts and they’re just edible kale leaves you can eat We also got things like the celery here, and even things like some hot and spicy mustard greens Now all these crops are fine to grow in a mild climate here like in Houston or even places like California, where it doesn’t get to cold In addition we have some of my favorite plants to grow right here These are my favorite kales right here that we’re going to talk about next This is actually called the white Russian kale, and then here we got the winter red kale, and if I look hard enough, somewhere we also have a improved dwarf Siberian kale The Russian kales and the Siberian kales in general are sweeter than the other kind of kales These are the kales that you want to grow in the winter time because they like the cold weather They will bolt fairly quickly in the warm weather For example the Lacinato kale or the dinosaur kale or the Tussin kale is a crop that will really do well in the summer time, and it’s a lot more stronger-tasting, so I really like the mild kales that I can grow in the fall and winter, and I always encourage you guys to embrace the seasons Grow foods that are going to do well in that season and eat lots of them while they’re

still here I think aside from that we got some good standbys here, we got the good old Georgia collards I love the Georgia collards, they do well in places that stay warm year-round and have a higher sustained temperature Like I grew the Georgia collards successfully in south Florida Kale’s going to grow for beans in South Florida, but the Georgia collards like maintain and grove for a long season In addition of course we can’t forget the Swiss chard The Swiss chards are going to do well in this area, I expect them to live at least a year, and be harvesting leaves off this plant, now all these plant starts, no matter the size, I mean some of these guys were an amazing deal This is available at Southwest fertilizer here in Houston, they’re only 99 cents each, so think about it You could buy a bunch of kale, organic kale or Swiss chard like 2.99, 3.99 at Whole Foods, you eat it, it’s gone, and poof! Your money’s gone You guys buy a plant start 99 cents you plant it, literally you guys could be eating chard leaves or kale leaves for the next year depending on the crop, some might only last six months or whatnot, but you’ll be eating for a much longer period of time, it’s much less expensive to do, plus the food you’re going to grow yourself is much higher in nutrition than the stuff you could buy, and the bonus is, guess what? It tastes better too So the last two crops I want to share with you guys real quick are, we got some standard lettuces I’m not a big fan of growing lettuces because lettuce to me is like a high-maintenance girlfriend, they attract a lot of bugs and they’ll grow for a month or two and then they’ll bolt and they’re going to be done To me, something like kale or collard greens is a much more valuable plant because it’ll last literally for at least twice as long as the lettuce will before you have to pull it out or it goes to seed and flower So I’d much rather grow the kale and collard greens and just buy the lettuce So we got only a few lettuces Another green that I really like and is less maintenance than the lettuce actually is right here, and it’s going to do fabulous in this climate, it’s actually the joy choy, whether you get bok choy, joy choy, or other choys, these guys are amazing, I like to eat the leafy greens, they’re nice and mild flavored, similar to lettuce, and then my favorite part is actually the stalk which is a nice watery, neutral flavored stalk, full of water and absorbing the nutrients and minerals from the soil you’re growing in So we got a ton of plant starts here, maybe 50 or so, what we’re going to do next is actually I’m just going to go ahead and do a layout and kind of set them where I’m going to plant them And one of the things I’m going to do is I’m going to take the taller plants and kind of put them in the middle, so when you’re looking at the bed it’s going to kind of look nice, the taller plants are going to be in the back, so you can reach over and grab them, and the smaller plants for now are going to be in the front So it’ll be really interesting to see how this all grows out later in the year So currently we got the plants all set up, we’re getting the plants planted out, and while the plants are getting planted out I’m going to put in the drip irrigation One of the challenges I believe happened, and I wasn’t here to see it, but over the last eight months, the plants got irregular water, looks like some of the plants got kind of stressed out, some of the plants didn’t make it And the other thing that’s important is they were just watering with this standard hose, and one of the things is that this actually has been leaking, the other thing is that they never got a proper watering nozzle I encourage you guys, especially if you’re going to spend money to buy soil and buy plants, to get the right equipment, you know trying to unscrew a Phillips head screwdriver with a straight slot doesn’t work so well, and watering you plants with the hose without a nice even dispersal, you want a head for your hose that kind of makes it like the rain, so the water just doesn’t run out, because if you’re putting out on too much of stream, the water just may over flood the sides and not get even coverage So even better than getting a nice watering spout is to put in a drip irrigation system or an irrigation system I like the drip irrigation system the best because it’s going to conserve the most amount of water, and this is going to be on an automatic timer, so literally you don’t have to show up to be able to eat some food This is going to go off on a little timer, this timer here is about $30, and this one actually particularly runs on two AA batteries, and I recommend that you guys get brand new alkaline batteries, don’t use the standard carbon zinc, and while you can use rechargeables you do need to pay attention to make sure the batteries don’t go out, because if the batteries go out, then your plants are not getting water The nice thing is this one actually has a battery indicator so it’ll say “OK” if the battery’s okay, and you’ll know when to change them because it’ll actually let you know if you just take a glance at it So today we got the Melnor water timer, it’s available at Home Depot I got this particular one because actually it has a nice long warranty These guys are known to fail and break, this one actually has a seven year warranty

So if any time within the next seven years this fails, you can get it replaced, I think that’s definitely something really important Many water timers may have a short one year warranty, which I don’t necessarily recommend because let me tell you, I’ve been through my share of water timers, and having to buy a new 30 dollar water timer isn’t any fun, so you want the one with a long warranty So these guys are super-simple to install, we’re just basically at the hose bit right here, and we’re just going to unscrew the hose, and what we will do is we’re just going to put in this little T. So once we put in the T, we can put the hose onto this side, we’re going to put the water timer on the other side, and then we’re just basically going to use some different connectors including a one-way valve to only let water flow out into the irrigation system and not back into the municipal water supply or the house, and connect up our hose, run it over to the raised beds, and then install little drip emitters Now, this hose and this stuff, don’t be scared of irrigation, this is like the simplest irrigation, there’s no glue, no putty, no tape needed You literally just take the hose and you shove it in here and you kind of wiggle it in, and it’s pressed to fit, and you’re all done So, and I have other videos on irrigation if you specifically want to know that I’m not going to get in the specifics here, but I’ll show you guys a shot of after it’s all set up As you guys can see we’ve been working into the night with a little flashlight, and some of the floodlights in the back patio and we got it all finished I ran the irrigation just like I said, splitting off the faucet into a T, running into the irrigation timer, and connecting all the tubing using different connectors, we have actually four runs or four lines running down the middle of this so we could kind of get like three main rows that are planted out And we planted out maybe 50 some odd plants or so in here Now because this is set up on an automatic watering system, you don’t have to water this stuff And there’s also a rain delay you can hit on the button if it does rain you can turn the watering system off And it’s just definitely really cool Actually it just turned off because we did a trial run to see how much it would water, so we ran it actually for seven minutes, we had it dripping out, and what I always encourage you guys to do because everybody always asks “John, how long do I water for?” I don’t know how long you’re going to water your garden, it’s dependent on several things: the rate of the drip emitters, how much water they flow out, these happen to flow out two gallons per hour at a certain PSI We adjust the PSI actually with a ball valve, so we could adjust it to just drip out or to spray out I like it when it more drips out and I’d rather have it drip out for a longer period of time instead of spray out for a shorter period of time And what you’re going to want to do is you’re going to go to the bed with your finger, and kind of see if it’s wet all the way around Like, up over in this area, it’s still not super wet so you might want to run it a little bit longer if you want to get this area wet when the dripper’s here Basically how I posted the drippers is I posted the drippers near each plant so it’s going to get each plant at the plant root zone, so we’re going to conserve water So I’m probably feeling fairly confident that the seven minute, we might maybe up to ten minutes, is going to do well The other thing that’s important is you have a good soil, so we have a good soil here it’s going to drain out, so I’d be more concerned about under watering than overwatering But then again you do need to be careful you don’t want to over water too much, and you don’t want to under water too much, you just want to get the right amount, so they do sell moisture meters that you can buy at the lawn and garden store to check the moisture levels in the soil instead of having to use your finger, and that’s probably the proper way to do it Anyways it’s been quite a success this trip here, checking up on the crate garden and the compost set-up that I helped my friend set up And we got them all planted out for the winter, so I can’t wait for my next visit to be literally eating out this garden It is really that simple to grow some food literally just got some crates, filled it up with some good potting soil or raised bed container mix, and we’re growing food in, we set up an irrigation system, and it’s as easy as that And you guys could totally do it too, I encourage you guys to subscribe to my videos if you’re not already, and be sure to check my past episodes if you haven’t seen them already, I have a wealth of knowledge shared in in each and every episode Until next time, I want to encourage you guys to keep on growing, eat your fruits and vegetables, and we’ll see you next time