Texas Heat and Drip Systems for Decks and Containers
The deck container garden is coming along nicely. It’s been quite hot and dry in Central Texas and the drip system for deck and containers that I use has been very helpful. Every plant, except the strawberries, has a planter box irrigation emitter and has bloomed. For container gardening, should they bloom this early/young and should I allow them to keep their blooms? Even through the dry weather, the drip system for decks and containers that I use for planter box irrigation has continued to be set on 5 minutes twice daily and the soil moisture appears to be sufficient. I don’t have anything to test the soil moisture in the irrigation planter boxes but it appears to be OK.
Early Blooms in the Planter Boxes with Drip Irrigation
The cucumbers were the first plants in the container garden to begin blooming. Some of the blooms even progressed far enough to start little cucumbers. I’ve read that cucumbers will start blooming first. Since this is supposed to be a high volume/space deck garden, I think it is more important for the plants to invest in size rather than reproduction at this point. I have a fertilizer feeder for the irrigation system but have not yet added any fertilizer to the mixture – the plants are receiving tap water only at this point.
Then, within a day or so, the cherry tomatoes started blooming as well. This is going to be a great cherry tomato plant when it matures but I think it is still too young to spend its energy on blooms and reproducing. In the past, I’ve been told that container gardening or changing the water schedule for a plant pot can cause plant blooming. The water schedule has not changed and there has been no rain to speak of.
Even the small variety patio tomato plan start producing blooms. In fact, it produced the most blooms of all. Sure it is too early and young for beginning to produce fruit. I use a drip system for decks and containers in this container garden for all of the plants in the garden and they all receive the same amount of water at the same time and frequency.
Actually, I’m kind of impressed with the close up quality of these pictures. Each planter box irrigation setup in the deck garden has one one gallon per hour emitter dedicated to it. This is a picture of the blooms on the patio variety tomato plant, which is dramatically shorter but stockier than the traditional variety tomato plants. Nevertheless, each tomato plan is receiving the same amount of water from the drip irrigation system.
The yellow tomato plant pot was the last plant to produce blooms. This tomato plant is also a cherry variety but has yellow tomatoes instead of red ones. This tomato plant is the thirstiest of all of the plants.
Even the pepper plants started blooming. All of the plants in planter boxes in the container garden receive the same amount of water from the drip irrigation system and are planted in identical containers. Nevertheless, I rigorously hunted and plucked each of the blooms on a weekly basis.
New and More Shades to Protect Soil Moisture for the Irrigated Planter Boxes
The plant box shade that I built as a pilot project seem to be working well. Additionally, the Texas Summer heat is starting and I want to avoid the soil temperature problems I had last summer. So, I built out the balance of the planter box shades and installed them on each plant box. The plant box shades are only three sided to avoid any problems or interference with the drip irrigation system for decks and containers that runs on the back side of each plant box.
We also have a deck shade, not for the plants, for the dogs, and my wife noticed that the plant cages were too tall to accommodate the shade. It’s getting hot enough now that the dogs need more shade and the kiddie wading pool to keep cool during the long hot Texas Summer. It also helps the gardener while container gardening. So, it was time to trim back the plant cages. It was easy enough because I had the foresight to use hose clamps to hold the plant box cages together so it was a simple matter of moving the hose clamps downward approximately twelve inches and then trimming the tops of the cages. The cages are mounted high so they also don’t interfere with the planter box irrigation.
Here, the plant cages for the container garden have been trimmed and the planter box shades have been installed. Both the shades and the cages avoid any interference with the drip irrigation system for the container garden on the deck.
The deck shade has been install and the dogs now have a cool place on the deck and the shade won’t get torn up on the ragged tops of the plant cages. It’s interesting to note that I had this same shade last year but it did not prevent the planter boxes from overheating. I’m betting on the plant box shades to prevent overheating this year. I haven’t yet measured the soil temperature with a soil thermometer but will do so prior to my next post.
The Irrigated Planter Boxes Flower
The cucumbers continue to grow and flower. Since the plants have been planted 9 weeks, I’ve decided to let them flower and product fruit to see what happens. I’d prefer that they be larger before producing but will experiment to see what happens. I expect that I will need to increase the watering cycle in the irrigation for planter boxes soon to accommodate this change in growth and the smaller planter boxes I use in container gardening.
The cherry tomatoes have continued flowering as well. This is a smaller plant than the yellow tomato plant but seems to produce denser blooms. I double checked the planter box irrigation emitters to make sure this plant was receiving the same amount of water as the others.
The patio variety tomato plant does not seem to require a container garden plant cage for it’s plant pot. It’s stem is very thick and strong and it’s branches are short and dense. It will be interesting to compare this plant to the other tomato plants in terms of production as well as drip irrigation water usage.
The yellow cherry tomato plant is the fastest grower of the bunch. It’s stem and branches are slimmer but does not seem to use any more drip system water than the other plants.
The pepper plants are going gang busters. In one case, I already have a very small pepper already. This planter box has two planter box irrigation emitters to provide one for each plant in the box.
The strawberry plant continues to lag the field in the container garden. It does show some growth but not very much. The soil appears to be quite dry but the drip irrigation emitter is sitting directly on top of the root system and all of the water from the irrigation system is going directly to the plant’s roots
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