Easy Self Watering Patio Container Garden – Growing Herbs and Leafy Green Vegetables


This is John Kohler with GrowingYourGreens.com.
I have another exciting episode for you. For those of you guys who don’t know what I’m
going to do today, it’s very simple. I’m going to set up these guys. This is actually
called a patio picker here. And over on this side, we have a city picker. You might be
thinking, “Hey John. Those guys look exactly identical, except for the name. What’s up?”
Well, that’s right. They are the same exact thing. Only the name is different. So I think
they mark it different names at different companies. Maybe this one is sold at Lowes
and that one is sold at Home Depot, and I don’t know which one is sold at Amazon.com.
Nonetheless, these are made by the Emsco Group and these are made in the USA. These are actually
very heavy duty. I like them a lot. They are made out of HDPE plastic, and, if you are
going to grow in plastic, I would recommend that you use the HDPE plastic. It’s a very
hard and durable plastic that they actually use for water pipes. So that’s what we’re
going to do today. We’re going to set these guys up and go from start to finish. The reason
for this episode today is actually because it’s a very special day for one of my friends.
It’s actually their birthday. So what I’m doing today is that I’m setting up both
of these gardens for them so that they can grow food on their patio. They eat lots of
fruits and vegetables, and, in my opinion, the best way to eat your fruits and vegetables
is to grow it yourself. Now these two gardens are going to be a pittance of what they do
eat, but it’s better to grow something than nothing. So I want to encourage you guys,
even if you have a condo patio, you can set one of these up just like I’m doing today
for my friend, and, hopefully, they’ll enjoy it. Nonetheless, let’s get started. The first thing is that we’re going to have
open this up, and I’ll show you all the parts. So let’s go ahead and do that right
now. They’ve got these little tie wraps here that close this. So we’re going to
go ahead and carefully cut these out. All right. So after you get the tie wraps off,
the next thing is we’re going to start to take this apart. So let me go ahead and first
pull off this paper thing. This will tell you a little bit about the city pickers or
the patio pickers garden. Basically, it says that it includes a mulch cover cistern, which
is really nice. You could actually roll this around on your patio or deck, and you could
grow a lot of things in it. The other thing I like about this is this is a self-watering
container as long as you remember to fill it up. Especially if you’re a first-time
gardener, one of the biggest problems that can occur is that you over-water or under-water,
and, with this, the plants and your soil mixture are actually going to regulate the water for
you, so you don’t have to. I don’t know if my friend has been gardening before or
not, but this will make it really easy to ensure their successful results so that they’ll
be a green-thumb gardener the first time around. So let’s go ahead and pull this off. As
you can see, this comes with a little shelf here. Now this is for the self-watering. What
happens is this whole bottom of the tray that has little legs that this sits on will be
filled up with water. What will happen is the soil mixture will actually go down and
literally wake up some of the water at some point. Maybe the roots will also grow through
this to soak up the water as the plants need it. So once we take this off, there are a
few things included, including your instruction manual, and this is a very simple, detailed
instruction manual. Even if you don’t read English, and it is all in English, they give
you some nice pictures to figure out how to put it together. Also, in this kit, you get
a mulch cover, and the mulch cover goes over the top of the patio picker set-up to help
prevent water run-off or water evaporation. In addition, it can help with not getting
weeds in your garden. If weed seeds drop in, they won’t just sprout because they can’t
actually get to the soil. Plastic – I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but definitely
a cool idea. Next, you have a watering pipe, and this is actually just going to sit in
and you’re going to water down this pipe, and the water you put in here is going to
go directly to the reservoir on the bottom. You might be thinking, “Hey John. How do
I know if I’m going to overfill or under-fill the reservoir?” Well, it’s very simple.
You want to fill enough water through this pipe here until it starts to drain out of
these little holes on the bottom. At that point, this container will be holding approximately
2 gallons of water, so that should last you a little bit, and it also depends on your
climate zone. If you’re in a dry desert climate, then it may not last as long. If
you’re in a more moist climate that’s not quite as warm, it may last a little bit
longer. In addition, they’ve got the casters. So I like to always start with the easiest
thing first, and the casters are pretty much the easiest thing for me. So we’re going
to go ahead and open this package up and install the casters. To do this, it’s very simple.
Just turn this bad boy over and put them right in there. Now we’ve got the casters in,
and there we go. Check it out! We can roll it around. If you had a little dog, you could
put it in there and roll it across the driveway. Now that we have built, the next thing is
to start filling it. But before we do, we’ve got to put in our self-watering tray here,
and then our little water fill tube. This is a standard tube right there. There’s
four corners that we’re going to put this on. You want to put it in the corner that
actually has a little cut-out for it. It’s right there, and it will sit in there quite
nice. The next step is probably the most important step to building the patio pickers or the
city pickers kit. It’s to fill it up. It’s very critical that you use the right soil
mixture. In the instructions, it states that you need to use a potting mix, not a potting
soil. After all, this is a container garden. You’re growing in a container. But potting
mixes and potting soils contain different and varying amounts of ingredients. The reason
why you need to use a special mixture in this is because this whole system works on the
principle of wicking. Wicking is like a candle wick, for example. You light the candle wick,
and the wick just doesn’t burn down to nothing. The wick literally sucks the wax up, and the
wax is burned, and then finally the wick also burns. This works the same way, and if you
don’t use the right soil mixture, the wicking won’t occur. Things like sawdust and general
compost or forest products are not going to wick up like it should. So they recommend
that you buy a potting mix and not a potting soil. I’m not very good at reading directions,
so I don’t exactly know what I got, but I got some good organic stuff so that my friend
can grow organically. In that case, I’m going to add things to my stuff that I got
that will encourage the wicking. Some of the things that will encourage the wicking are
things like coconut coir or peat moss. Also, I’m going to add some vermiculite as well.
So the first step is that I need to hydrate. No, I’m not thirsty! I need to hydrate my
coconut coir. So let’s go ahead and move this guy aside and bring in the coconut coir.
Da-dad-da! The first thing I need to do is hydrate the coconut coir. I’m going to basically
put some water on this Coco-Pro coconut coir, and also I have some Romberg coconut coir
from Germany. This is the good stuff. We’re going to see if there’s a difference in
how long these two kinds of coconut coir take to basically hydrate up. So we’re going
to go ahead and cut this bag open. This bag is designed basically to cut it open and then
add the water to here and it will basically uncompress. But what we’re going to do instead
is we’re going to actually take it out so you can see this. As you can see, we’ve
got two blocks and the Romberg, and it’s approximately the same amount of size. So
we’re going to put these in here, and I’m just going to fill it up with water. I’m
going to fill it up all the way and put it inside and let it expand on its own without
trying to break it up, and we’re going to see how long it takes. While this is happening
– Holy Jesus! Man, check it out! The Romberg is already getting water, and you can see
it’s beginning to grow instantly. The other side – not growing quite as quickly. Let’s
go ahead and water on the top and see if we can get this to expand quicker. Now why is
that happening? When I spoke with the guys at Romberg, they said that their coconut is
not compressed as much as these guys, so it’s going to basically uncompress a lot easier.
They also said that when you compress coconut coir a lot, then you lose some of the structure
and it may not be as efficient or have the water retaining that we would like. All right.
So now that we’ve got that full, we’re going to go ahead and set this aside while
I work on some other stuff. I’m going to give you guys an update on how the coconut
coir is expanding. I basically assembled the second kit and got that ready for the soil.
What’s going on here is the Romberg stuff, as you can see, is just literally breaking
apart nice and easy. The stuff over here also is pretty much breaking apart nice and easy.
This doesn’t appear to be compressed too much. We’re just basically going to mix
all this good stuff together. Now we’re going to mix up all the goods!
First, I’m going to add in some of the compost. That’s probably going to be the majority
of the mixture. I’m probably going to put half compost, maybe one-and-a-half cubic feet
of compost. For that, we’ve got this stuff right here. Right here, we’ve got the Happy
Frog, and this is the source of compost that we’re using. I went around to a bunch of
places and found all the different compost. No, I didn’t buy the cheapest one. Actually,
I got one that was actually fairly more expensive than others. In general, the more money you
spend, the better it will be, but that’s not always true. Nonetheless, I read the ingredients
on this, and it has a lot of compost, worm castings, and definitely some other good stuff.
So this is going to be the first thing we’re going to add for about one-and-a-half cubic
feet or so. A good sign for compost is one – it just smells like dirt. It just has
a nice, like, dirt smell. All right. So let’s go ahead and pour this in. A good sign of
compost is that it’s nice and dark. I like that a lot. Also, you want to look for one
that doesn’t have a whole lot of wood chips. While this does have some wood chips, other
compost mixes that I checked out for this project had significantly more wood chips,
and wood chips can actually rob nitrogen from your soil. I like this a lot. Nice and rich.
It has the worm castings and not a lot of wood chips. So let’s go ahead and put some
more into the wheelbarrow there. Next, let’s go ahead and add in that coconut. Here’s
that coconut coir, nice and hydrated. We’re just going to put a bunch of that in. Now
this is actually some of the wicking material. The other thing that is very critical because
we are mixing this up myself is that we are going to want to mix it fairly well. You know,
you don’t just want to mix it up half-assed and you have big clumps of coconut here and
there, not going to be too good. The next thing we’re going to add in is this bag
of peat moss. Now, I definitely prefer the coconut over the peat moss. They do fairly
similar things. They are basically like sponges. They retain water. I don’t know which one
is better. I personally like the coconut coir because it’s more sustainable than the peat
moss. But I have some peat moss laying around, so we’re going to add some of this too,
but not too much. Sometimes it comes in big chunks, so you want to break it up so it’s
nice and fine textured. Whoa, it’s getting a bit dusty here. So if it does get dusty,
I don’t recommend breathing this stuff. I highly encourage you to get a mask. So we
got a dust mask here. We’re probably going to need this for the next item we’re going
to add actually to our mixture. OK, so that was the peat. Next, we’re going to add the
azomite, and, thank God I’ve put on this dust mask. You definitely don’t want to
be breathing in this stuff. It’s fine particulate. This stuff is ground down to 200 mesh. What
this stuff is, azomite, it’s basically a rock dust. Rock dust contains, I don’t know,
70 plus trace minerals that are now devoid in the soils. So I highly encourage you guys
to use rock dust whenever you can and if you can find it. It’s going to make sure and
ensure that your plants taste the best, but also are healthier, grow better, and grow
faster as well. We’re just going to go ahead and open this up. I’m going to be quite
liberal with my rock dust, like I am in politics. All right. That should do it. The next stuff
we’re going to use is this stuff is right here. This is called the volcanic garden soil
activator. This is actually some volcanic rock that is ground up with some other beneficial
properties in there. I had a video on this. If you didn’t see it, we’re just going
to go ahead and add some of this stuff in there. The last thing we’re going to add
is some of this stuff, this vermiculite. We’re going to go ahead and cut that open and just
put a little bit in there. Next, we’re going to mix this up, and I just like to mix it
by hand. Feel that soil! This is why I love gardening. You can feel like you’re a kid
again. And, if you eat the food that you grow in your garden predominately, you will feel
like a kid again! Ahh, we got the soil mixed! We got all of
this stuff mixed up. Now one of the things you might realize is if you do buy the patio
pickers kit is that I’m not good at following directions on the patio pickers or in other
things in life. Although, you know, sometimes I do follow instructions, like when it says
55 on the highway, I don’t generally drive faster than 70. So anyways, I hope there’s
no police officers watching. But, nonetheless, I don’t and didn’t follow the directions
as per the letter on the patio pickers kit, and this is based on my experience with gardening
and growing foods. The other thing is that the general instructions maybe doesn’t actually
say to do it organically, and they are recommending maybe things that aren’t so organic, including
fertilizers, and adding fertilizers that are actually probably not organic based on the
numbers that they recommend. That being said, I am also going to add fertilizer to this
mixture, and if you do add a fertilizer, I would highly encourage you to use organic
fertilizer, because, think about it. Whatever you put in your soil is going to end up in
your food, and whatever ends up in your food is going to end up in you. A lot of chemical
fertilizers are made from gas and things like that that are maybe not so good for us. So
I like to use organics whenever possible. So in this mixture, what I’m going to use
today is this stuff. This is actually Zoom Organics Garden Food, and this is actually
an OMRI-listed fertilizer. It’s 4-3-2 and has 9 percent calcium. Because we are growing
in a little container, there’s going to be limited nutrition in there, so I want to
make sure that the soil is full of nutrients so that the plants can have what they need
so that they can thrive. So let’s go ahead and give it some Zoom!! So as you can see, we’ve got our patio pickers
bed and all of our soil, and we’re just going to go ahead and pile in that soil. One
of the things in the instructions I will recommend that you do is it said that you want to pack
in the corners with your soil mixture. This is very important. This will help the wicking
action to get started. So we’re going to go ahead and pack this in there pretty good.
They also say that you want to wet it down just a little bit. So we got the corners packed
in. Let’s go ahead and fill this puppy up. As you can see, I’m probably almost 8/10ths
filled up. When you’re filling this, you don’t want to press it down too much, but
I do want to compact it a little bit because if you don’t compact it a little bit, then
over time when watering, it will compact on its own. I’d rather you guys fill it up
to the brim with as much soil as you can without literally jumping on it. So we’re just going
to go ahead and pat it down very carefully and continue to add some more soil until it’s
full. As you can see, I’ve got both patio pickers
filled up with the super ultimate premium organic potting mixture, and now we’re ready
to plant them out. In the instruction manual, they recommend you can plant like one row
down the middle, or two rows, or even three rows – one, two, and three. If you know
me, I definitely like to maximize the amount of food that I’m growing, and I’m going
to be doing the same here today in these planters. I think when I come to planting out a bed,
whether it’s a raised bed, whether it’s a garden, or whether it’s a patio pickers
kit, I like to think of it as I’m arranging flowers, which I have no experience in. Really,
I don’t. But, nonetheless, I want to try to place things in a way that it looks like
it’s actually going to look nice when it’s all fully grown out. Many people just haphazardly,
“Oh, I’ll plant a tomato here. I’ll plant a pepper here. I’ll plant the mint
there.” And they don’t exactly know what’s going to happen when it grows big because
they haven’t gardened before. And the only way you’re going to learn this is by trial
and error, by planting things out. Then your tomato shades out your pepper because the
tomato grew way tall and the pepper didn’t grow too tall and the mint took over the whole
raised bed because it likes to spread out a lot. What I’m going to do basically is
plant some of the larger plants in the middle row, right in the middle, so it’s going
to have a nice, actually decorative effect and look nice and tall. Then I’m going to
plant some things along the outer row that’s maybe not quite as large. That being said,
what we are going to plant today is basically one bed of leafy green vegetables, because
I want everybody to be growing their greens. Leafy greens are one of the most nutrient
dense foods on the planet. Today, what we are going to plant in one of these beds are
some Swiss chard. We got nice large ones to give it a nice bold effect immediately. We’re
going to plant those in one of each of the corners here, in one row. Sometimes I also
like to basically lay these out before I even get them planted out and just set things on
top. Next, we also have some red chard. I like to plant foods of color. So we’re going
to plant some ruby red chard in between the regular chard, and we have a bunch of those
as well. So we’re going to plant four of those as well. Right like that, and guess
what? We have space for one more. Let me show you guys what we’re going to plant, and,
actually, I’m going to have to dig it up from my garden. We’re here in my garden, and one of the
plants that I want to plant as the centerpiece — it’s going to actually get quite tall,
possibly even 12 feet tall — is this guy right here. This is one of my tree collard
plants. Unfortunately, I don’t have any in pots right now. So what I’m going to
do is hopefully carefully transplant this from my raised garden bed. I don’t necessarily
recommend you do this, but, in this case, I really want to put this plant in there to
make a nice statement, and, plus, this is a perennial edible vegetable, a source of
greens year round. To do this, what we’re going to do is we’re going to very carefully
take a trowel and cut a circle around the bottom of the roots, probably going out as
far as we can as to not damage that many roots and really just pick up the whole block of
soil around it. Hopefully, if we’re successful, this thing will live, and, if not, at least
I tried. All right. As you can see, I’m prying this thing up carefully. I’ve got
basically a nice root mass. As you can see, I probably damaged a few roots, but I think
I got most of them. This is basically about the size of a one-gallon. So I think we’ll
be alright. I’m going to head over there and plant this first bed out. I’ll show
you what it looks like. Then we’re going to plant the second one out in herbs, which,
once again, is the easiest thing to plant, the easiest thing to grow, and can save you
the most money in your garden. A few episodes back I had a herb video where I show using
some of my herbs in my garden. That was actually a nice video. I recommend that you watch it,
if you haven’t already. As you can see, I’ve been busy planting.
I’ve got this whole bed planted out. As you can see, I have one tree collards in the
middle. Hopefully this gets really tall and produces lots of leaves to eat. I also have
four green chards in each corner. They’re larger. They were in one gallons. Then I have
some smaller red chards in between. This basically has about nine plants in it, and this is about
the maximum I would want to stuff in here. It will be interesting to see how this one
does after it’s growing in her patio. It’s getting kind of dark here, so I don’t know
if I’ll have time to actually show you guys what I’m going to plant, the herbs that
I’m going to plant. But real quick, I’m just going to plant a mixture of herbs. I’ve
got some nice purple shiso and I like to mix up the colors and put different colors in,
not just green plants. In addition, I’ve got a nice pesto perpetual, which is also
the variegated. Then as the centerpiece for this bed, I have this guy here. This is actually
a nice cardinal basil that is going right in the center there to make this bed look
nice and lush. So what I’m probably going to do is I’m going to plant this out and
basically drive this over and get it delivered. Then I’ll come back probably once I get
it delivered to her place and make the ending shot to this video. As you just saw, I set up this guy and now
I’m going to show you guys the herb bed. It got too dark so I couldn’t film last
night to show you guys. But here it is. This is the herb bed we planted for my friend.
As you can see, there are 14 plants in here. Now, I don’t necessarily recommend that
you plant this high density. I mean this is actually quite a bit of herbs for this small
little raised bed. But, that being said, the goal that I had in mind when planting these
were so that my friend could grow some of her own food and that she would continually
snip off and use these as they grow. If she didn’t do anything and let them get really
big, they probably really outgrow this. But if she continues to cut them back and use
them as they grow, it’s probably going to be all right. In addition, some of the things
that I’ve planted such as nasturtium that maybe is going to fall over the edge and maybe
trail across the walkway or whatever. Right here in the middle, we have some cardinal
basil, which will grow in nice columns and that will be like the center point of this
whole bed. The things on the edge, I’ve got some pesto perpetual basil, which is a
nice variegated basil. In addition, we’ve got some hot and spicy oregano here, and we’ve
actually got some mint, so hopefully, she will be clipping this back because this can
take over. We’ve got some red shiso here, marjoram. That’s marjoram. I can’t say
that word, marjoram. All right, here is some bee balm. Bee balm is an herb. It’s in the
mint family. Actually, I planted this for her for its beautiful flowers that are also
edible. Of course, we’ve got some stevia, which is a sweet leaf. Over here, my friend
now has some lemon variegated thyme, so she’s got some time hopefully to do a lot of stuff
and grow some food. In addition, we’ve got some rosemary as well. So we’ve got a nice
herb bed here. She’ll be able to grow all of this stuff. This is, once again, in a self-watering
container so it’s going to make it very easy to take care of. I see maybe some other
houseplants and plants in here, some of which are doing all right and maybe some not so
good. But I set this up specifically so that it would be really easy to care for and manage.
As long as there’s water in there, these guys should do well, and, as you saw, I mixed
up the soil with a really nice mix. So, on this side, we have the leafy greens bed. We
have 9 plants total. This side once again, we have 14, that’s pushing it a little bit
tight. This one, we’re doing the same concept. If she wasn’t going to harvest continually
and keep it picked back, I might only do maybe like 5 plants, but, because hopefully she’ll
be continually harvesting some of this stuff, like the green chards here, you can start
picking the leaves off it now and start to eat it. When you’re picking leaves off it,
that will actually encourage more of its growth and also to keep it smaller so that it won’t
shade out everything. In addition, on the tree collards, the nice beautiful tree collards,
hopefully it’s going to make the transplant all right. So far, so good. I probably would
at least thin out some of the bottom leaves for now and just leave some of the top growth
to grow. In general, my recommendation for harvesting crops like this, I would probably
take, for example, looking at this chard plant, I probably take comfortably 25 percent of
its foliage or its leaves now to eat and consume and leave the other 75 percent and let that
grow a little bit more before consuming it or consuming more. The more you pick the leaves
off a plant, the less photosynthesis it will be able to make, so it won’t actually be
able to grow as fast. So there’s that healthy balance. You could pick off all the leaves
except for two, but then it’s not going to grow as fast. Or you could leave it all
and not get to enjoy it and get those nutrients in your body from some of these delicious
and very nutritious leafy greens. Now before I go, the last thing I want to
show you guys is very important. It’s what I got in this bottle. And yes, for those of
you guys that can see that, it’s like nice and yellow. This is my pee, and you don’t
want to tell her that we’re going to pour this on the garden. Actually, I’m just kidding.
I would never do that without actually telling them. But actually pee is actually really
rich in nitrogen and it’s a great fertilizer for your plants, although I don’t know that
I would pee on my leafy greens that I’m going to eat. Maybe my trees or tomatoes.
But what we have in here, guys, is Boogie Brew Compost Tea. Besides the rich soil mixture
that I mixed up, the other thing I’m going to do by adding some of this Boogie Brew Compost
Tea is add some of the biologics, some of the beneficial microbes and bacteria so that
we can get her soil alive because that is the thing that’s missing in today’s soils.
With conventional fertilizers and things that basically kill your soil, all of the beneficial
things. So basically, this is going to enrich her soil and basically supercharge her plants.
So we’re going to pour a little bit of this stuff – one – right at the base of each
plant so that all of these plants will be real healthy. This is pre-brewed, and it’s
very important when you’re using your compost tea to brew it and use it before you lose
it. We’ll have to thank Josh for that one. This one was just freshly brewed. I bottled
it up a little bit earlier today, brought it over here, and now we’re getting to water
all of her plants with it. All right. That’s all of the compost tea we’ve got. We’ve
emptied out this whole bottle into two of the beds. The next step is that she just needs
to fill all of these up with water right through the watering tube and make sure that they
have enough water. I did pre-water them yesterday, but, you know, now it’s up to her to keep
these alive. I’ve done my job and now I’m glad that at least one more person on Earth
will be growing their food too. If I have made a difference in your life, hey, please
post that down below to let me know that I have also made a difference in you guys out
there in YouTube land are also growing food to eat. Nothing makes my day more than knowing
that I can help somebody else become healthier and grow their own food today. Hopefully,
you guys enjoyed this episode learning how to set up these patio pickers or city pickers.
They’re really simple and real easy. You can do it. This video can hopefully help you
guys. Once again, my name is John Kohler with GrowingYourGreens.com. We’ll see you next
time, and keep on growing!

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