We had received our Vegepod and gotten it assembled, so now the fun could begin. It was time to decide where our Vegepod would spend its inaugural fall season, prepare the site, and get things growing. Here’s what we learned about how to plant in a Vegepod to ensure a successful harvest.
How To Plant In A Vegepod
We’ve been excited to imagine the abundant harvest we might experience gardening with a Vegepod, especially after so many previous gardening disappointments. But enjoying lots of homegrown veggies was still going to require some effort.
For the hoped-for best harvest, we had to:
- Decide what plants to grow and obtain seeds and/or starter plants
- Find the best location for our Vegepod
- Create a stable, level base for the Vegepod to stand on in the chosen spot
- Fill the Vegepod with properly-amended soil
- Get the Vegepod planted
For a finishing touch, I also added my signature no-fade plant markers to the list. I’ll share with you how I make them later in this post. They’re great fun!
Deciding What To Grow
Even before we’d gotten our Vegepod assembled, I had decided to place an order for some seeds.
I had looked at a few garden centers for starter plants, but there were none available. Since I’m still new to the growing cycles in our area of Tennessee, I didn’t realize I was simply looking a few weeks too early. Silly me, but I was not discouraged regardless.
Not finding what I wanted at local stores meant I had a great excuse to do some seed shopping online. I ended up placing an order with Baker Creek for some heirloom seeds. The online transaction was easy, and they even threw in a free packet of seeds with the five I purchased.
Within a few weeks, my happy mail arrived:
The primary goal of this first autumn Vegepod planting is to produce some healthy leafy greens. I chose cool-weather plants with shorter maturation periods that were noted for being both cold-hardy and suitable for container growing.
Getting The Seeds Going
Once the seeds arrived, I immediately got some planted in starter pots. Since we had the Vegepod assembled by then, I kept the seed trays in the Vegepod with the cover closed for protection.
Most of the packets said to allow 5 – 7 days for the seeds to germinate, but I was delighted to see sprouts within two short days!
The lettuces took a bit longer to sprout, but, once they did, those shoots caught up with the others quickly.
Within two weeks, the Merlot lettuce was even showing off its red:
Finding The Right Place For The Vegepod
When we first decided to invest in a Vegepod, we thought we’d enjoy having it on our front deck. This spot is shaded in the summer but gets plenty of sunlight once the leaves drop in autumn. Plus it seemed convenient.
Once we put the Vegepod together, however, we quickly changed our mind. Not only did it take up too much usable space on our small deck, but the best placement of it would also block the view out our front window. I’m too fond of watching the changing seasons and the local wildlife to trade those views for the dome of a Vegepod.
We gave consideration to a number of places on the property and finally decided to set it close against the east-facing side of our cabin. This spot gets abundant morning sun throughout the year and is also somewhat sheltered against high winds (common for us in winter and especially spring). It will also still be convenient for harvesting.
There are spots on our property that get more sunlight throughout the day, but it would have been difficult to secure the Vegepod against strong straight-line winds in those spots. We’re hopeful the location we’ve chosen will provide enough sun for a successful harvest. Time will tell!
Getting The Vegepod On Solid Footing
Once we decided on the location, we used pavers we already had on hand to create a little “patio” for the Vegepod stand. We laid some cardboard first to help deter weeds growing up between the pavers. And we extended the pavers far enough in front of the Vegepod to provide a place for us to stand as well.
The ground around us is primarily red clay, and pavers like to sink over time. We’ll see how well these hold up under the weight of a filled Vegepod.
Creating The Right Soil Mix
The makers of the Vegepod recommend putting a layer of vermiculite in the bottom of each growing container. Vermiculite is a mineral that, when mixed with soil, creates channels in the dirt that allow roots to breathe.
Since we’re headed into fall and winter, however, we couldn’t find any in our local garden centers.
Online, however, we found what we hope will serve as a viable substitute, Coco Perlite by Mother Earth.
This product is a combination of fiber pith created from coconuts and perlite, a mineral similar to vermiculite that looks like small white pearls. It should provide the same water retention and aeration as the elusive vermiculite. I used one large bag, and it divided up nicely between the two Medium Vegepod growing trays:
My little fur-buddy, Gordy, seemed perplexed by it all, but he was happy to keep me company while I worked.
It’s no surprise that, since the Vegepod is a large growing container, the best soil to use is that made for container gardening. Thankfully this was much easier to find than the vermiculite!
We purchased seven bags to be sure we’d have enough since it’s a long way from our little homestead to the nearest garden center. I ended up using only five bags of soil atop the ample layer of coco perlite. I’ll make use of the extra soil when I plant my winter pansies, so the extra definitely won’t go to waste.
Once the container garden soil filled the growing bins, it was finally time to move my little sproutlings to their Vegepod home.
Planting The Vegepod
Sprouts And Starts
In the time between assembling our Vegepod and getting it situated and filled with soil, we’d found some autumn veggie starts at our local Walmart. I knew I’d sprouted enough plants from the seeds I’d bought to take up the available space in the Vegepod, but I couldn’t help grabbing one small flat of broccoli plants.
I happen to love broccoli. Sadly, it never seems very fresh in the local supermarkets, though. So successfully growing even a few heads of our own will be a wonderful treat. Here’s hoping!
Arranging The Plants
Before I got busy with my hand trowel, I gave some thought to where I wanted each type of plant in the Vegepod.
Knowing adequate sun exposure might be an issue, I placed the shorter lettuce plants in the front and the taller kale plants in the back. This would, hopefully, keep the taller plants from casting too much shade on the shorter ones.
I gave a lot of thought to the broccoli, though. Ultimately I decided I cared more about it having room to grow to its full height than I did about it shading the kale. Therefore, I planted it in the center of the Vegepod where the dome cover is the tallest.
So, from front to back, I planted the following veggies in our Vegepod, all started from seed except the purchased broccoli starts:
- May Queen Lettuce
- Merlot Lettuce
- Dwarf Siberia Kale
- Blue Curled Scotch Kale
Making The Plant Markers
As a finishing touch, I pulled out some crafting supplies and made some of my signature no-fade plant markers.
I came up with the idea for these a few years ago when some old mini-blinds fell apart. The blinds had aluminum rather than plastic slats, and I knew I could repurpose them as plant markers. Once I cut the slats down to manageable size with tin snips — a process that took far longer than I’d anticipated, I’ll admit! — I stored them all in a small plastic bin.
I then invested in a 6mm Letter Punch Set, a separate Bee Punch Stamp (just for fun), a small hammer, and a steel block.
I follow these simple steps to create each plant marker:
- Lay out the letters needed for the plant name to be stamped.
- Place the steel block on a solid surface.
- Select an aluminum slat, trimming it to the desired length and rounding any sharp edges.
- Place the aluminum slat on the steel block.
- Hold the first letter punch firmly near the top of the slat, making sure the letter is positioned upright.
- Tap solidly on the letter punch with the hammer (I find a few taps fills the letter out more clearly).
- Repeat Steps 5 and 6, placing letters below each other, until the entire plant name has been stamped.
- Add any decorative punch stamps around the plant name as desired.
The result is a weather-proof plant marker that can be used repeatedly, season after season.
Hoping For A Great Harvest
Now that our Vegepod is planted, it’s time to wait and see how our garden grows. Except for keeping the plants watered when needed, there should be little maintenance involved. We’ll report back in a few months, hopefully with news of a great harvest.
In the meantime, happy fall, y’all!