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            1. Showing posts with label Grow it in Pots. Show all posts
              Showing posts with label Grow it in Pots. Show all posts

              Thursday, May 8, 2014

              Must Knows for Garden in a Bag

              If you haven't already read Garden in a Bag please check it out.
              Kids building Garden in a Bag
              The information that follows is what you need to know before starting your Garden in a Bag. The information below has been adjusted for the United States from the Kenyan method used there by Bridges International Development.

              Just a bit of planning is needed in order to make sure that you bag is a success. Also, don't forget to include your kids. This is a great project to teach them about people around the world as well as an opportunity to pray with them!  My kids (2yrs and  8yrs) really enjoyed building this bag. In fact, if we are able to get plenty bags, they want to plant their very own.

              Finding feedbags suitable for using as a Garden in a Bag
              White bag is example of what you need for
               Garden in a Bag
              The feed bags available in the United States are much smaller than Kenyan bags due to our unit of measurements being different. You will also want to be very cautious of the bag material.  Many birdseed bags or dog food bags look like they would work, but don't use them. The ones that I have found so far have a plastic outer coating that will not allow the water to percolate properly. The green bag in the photo is an example of what you don't want. It's fibers are tightly woven and it has a thick plastic outer coating.

              You are looking for a bag most likely from a feed store or mill that has a loose weave of the plastic fibers without any additional plastic coating on the inside or outside. The white bag in the photo is an example of what you do want.

              Burlap bags will not work for this method. They will deteriorate before the summer is over in most locations and disappoint you. They will also dry out too fast.

              Remember, if you are local and able you probably will be able to receive a bag from thechurch.at’s mission department.

              Placement of your Garden in a Bag
              First, let me say that if you are in an apartment or rent house this low cost Garden in a Bag method will work great!  If you happen to be on the other end of the spectrum and are a home gardener with an expansive vegetable garden - you know who you are - you no longer have grass in your yard because it is all growing beds - this method is for you also!

              Once you build your bag you will not be able to move it. The bag will have a center column of stones and be very heavy. This center column is vital for the bag to function properly and allow water to percolate though the entire bag. If you do manage to move your bag without ripping it most likely your center column will no longer be intact. 

              Placement is key.  You will be planting the entire diameter of your bag. So if everything you plant needs full sun, you want to make sure that your bag will be in full sun throughout the day.  This means morning sun would get ½ your bag and evening sun would shine on the other ½ giving you the full 6-8 hours of sun many garden vegetables need.  If you will only have partial sun then think about planting herbs or lettuces on the side that will receive limited sun. Limited sun will keep lettuces and herbs from bolting, especially when the summer gets hot.

              Plants for your Garden in a Bag
              This low-water high density planting method is great! You only have a couple of limiting factors, sunlight, and in the United States (due to bag size) plant size. If you would like to grow a tomato in your bag you will want to grow it in the top and use a patio variety or else plan on limiting it’s growth.  Remember that you probably don’t want your top plant shading your others (unless that is in your plan). 

              This bag will hold a ton of plants. My initial planting I had 7 plants to put in thinking that would come close to filling it up. I didn’t do any calculations – math just isn’t my favorite.  Needless to say, I will be going back with at least 6 or 7 more plants.  I started with a Ukrainian Purple Tomato, 2 Bell Peppers, 2 Mini Sweet Peppers, and 2 Strawberries. I plan to add Oregano and Black Opal Basil, Sweet Basil and possibly another Bell Pepper.
              Excess Food
              Most likely you will grow excess food. What do I mean by this, food that will spoil before you have a chance to use it. Please grow what you need and then be sure to share the rest! What a great a great way to start a conversation with that neighbor that maybe you've never talked with than giving them some of your fresh home grown garden vegies. Also, many food banks desperately need your donation, no matter what the size. If you are unsure of where to take your donation check out Ample Harvest. Food banks from around the country have signed up requesting home gardeners donations.

              Each time you go out to work in your Garden in a Bag pray for the people, the missions in Kenya and Bridges International Development.

              Coming Next… Step by Step Method for planting your Garden in a Bag

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              Garden in a Bag

              In Kenya, Bridges International Development is combating hunger by teaching people how to grow their food in bags. These are nothing other than feed bags used for livestock or grain that have been repurposed. Bridges has partnered with thechurch.at to share this agricultural technique and raise awareness for the missions in Kenya. I am honored to be asked to participate in this project by receiving the first grow bag from thechurch.at and sharing the adapted United States techniques with you.
              Bridges with a Kenyan and his Garden in a Bag
              The key motive behind bringing the Garden in a Bag project to the United States is to pray for the ongoing missions in Kenya and for people to share similar experiences while growing in the bags.

              With many parts of the US now facing lingering drought just as in Kenya and water being so precious, often even rationed, this low-water growing technique is extremely beneficial.

              You can participate in this project a few ways. Prayer for the missions and people of Kenya while working the bags and for the project is key. If you are close to one of the thechurch.at's locations (Tulsa, OK or Dupage, IL) then contact the mission's department and as grow bags are available you can pick one up and get started. The feed bags are donated to the church as they are emptied, so quantities available will vary.  If they happen to be out of bags currently or you aren't close I will give you tips on locating a bag suitable to grow in on the next post.  

              Coming next... How to set up and plant your garden in a bag

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              Photo Courtesy of  Bridges International Development's website


              Monday, September 9, 2013

              Organic Pest Control using Frogs

              Organic Pest Control using Frogs!
              I love natures little surprises... 

              Can you find the little frog hiding on the leaf of my pepper plant?  I found him just as I was about to pick these bell peppers. The peppers have been grown using organic methods --- and this little guy is an example of that.

              By not using pesticides I am able to preserve natures balance. When pesticides are used in the garden, often frogs are driven away and made sick to the point of death.

              Find more organic gardening tricks, cost saving methods and fun gardening projects with kids on this website.

              Monday, August 26, 2013

              Quick & Easy way to Plant up Strawberry Runners

              If you have grown strawberry plants before you probably know that they spread like crazy very quickly.  They spread by sending out runners as soon as the strawberries start to slow in production.  If your plants are grown in the ground keeping up with these runners can become a pain very quickly.

              When we started our Strawberry plants a few years back I told our son that he was in charge of them.  He had to water them, pick them, and best yet... share them with the family!  The strawberries grown in a pot on our back porch have proven to be a fun gardening adventure for him and especially our toddler.

              Strawberry Runners Ready to Pot Up
              We have managed to create a fun and easy way to keep up with the runners, maintain easy
              maintenance, keep our small porch clutter free, and share our plants.  Here is what we do...

              Materials Needed:
              3 or 4 small pots
              potting soil

              When a cluster of leaves form on the end of a runner, or several runners this is your Que that it is time to begin.  You will need 1 pot for each runner.  You will be placing the smaller pots inside of the larger pot (containing the mother plant).  If you have more runners than you can fit pots just snip off the extra runners. Many more runners will form and you can pot those up after the first batch finishes.

              First fill your small pots with potting soil. Then one at a time take the leaf cluster and push it into the soil in the pot. Next move some of the leaves in your big pot and set your small pot inside your big pot.  Just repeat this until you have all your runners potted and placed inside your big pot.  The picture above shows strawberry runners ready to pot up.  It also shows 3 pots inside of the larger pot!

              When you water your main pot you will also be watering your babies.  You will also have a clutter free patio... well at least from starter pots.

              Strawberry Plants ready to have Runners Cut
              You will wait a few weeks and then you can gently wiggle the baby plant to make sure that the roots are growing well.  Generally after about one month the roots will be substantial enough that you can then cut the runner between the mother plant and the new plant.  You might even find that after a month roots are growing through the baby plant's pot down into the dirt of the mother plant.  This is a sure sign that your plant is ready to cut free!

              As soon as you cut the new plants free, share them with friends or pot them up in a new larger pot to increase your strawberry production next year.  Don't forget to start this process again to keep those runners in-check!

              Be sure to save your small pots from other plants so you can reuse them.  If you don't have any small pots on hand you can repurpose plastic or styrofoam drink containers. Just make sure you poke holes for drainage.

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              Friday, August 2, 2013

              Update on Jelly Bean Tomato Plants

              Prolific Tomatoes on Jelly Bean Plant
              I am going to have to say my new favorite tomato and tomato plant is the Jelly Bean variety. While all of my other tomato plant varieties are void of juicy red tomatoes at the moment, this one single plant is pumping out more Jelly Bean tomatoes than our family can eat. Hard to believe, but there are plenty more on the plant in various stages and colors. 

              This article is an update to a previous article, Are your Jelly Bean Tomatoes Ripe.  While my previous review was a tad negative on the plant, I am extremely pleased with the plant just a few days later.

               The tomatoes are various sizes when ripe, as can be seen in the picture below. Some are smaller than a quarter and some are much larger. Besides the output of this plant, I really like the texture of these tomatoes.

              Normal Cherry Tomatoes seem to squirt in my mouth and honestly it grosses me out just a bit.  These Jelly Bean's don't pop or squirt, which I really really like.  They aren't sweet as the package claims, but they sure are tasty.  My 18 month old asks to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I do cut the larger ones in quarters for her, just to be on the safe side.

              Varying tomato sizes on Jelly Bean Tomato Plant
              The unfortunate thing about this plant though is that the Jelly Bean is a hybrid, so it's seeds if collected from the tomato won't produce the same plant next year.

              This means that I will be purchasing lots of seeds.  This will hands down be Glory Gardening's main plant to give away next year.

              If you received one of these plants from Glory Gardening, or started some on your own, please share your thoughts on the plant.

              My Related Posts:
              Jelly Bean Tomato Plant Give Away!
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Are your Jelly Bean Tomatoes Ripe?

              This is the Variety that I Grow.

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              Monday, July 29, 2013

              Are your Jelly Bean Tomatoes Ripe?

              Jelly Bean Tomato
              We picked our first Jelly Bean Tomato off the plant this week. This was the variety of patio tomatoes that Glory Gardening gave out this year. 

              The tomato was red, and starting to get soft so we picked it. The plant is covered with small green jellybean shaped tomatoes. Because only one tomato was ready, and everyone in the house eager to try it, we decided to cut it into three parts. After cutting into it we realized that the tomato was not yet ripe. Since it was already cut we went ahead and ate it.

              This variety is supposed to have a super sweet taste and to be small like a cherry tomato, but jelly bean shape. Due to the premature picking of the tomato, I can't comment on the taste for sure it.
              Jelly Bean Tomato Cluster

              The plant is supposed to be a compact pot growing variety.  Ours is planted along with a pepper plant in the garden. It is sprawling all over the place - about 5 ft radius. It is shorter in height, but takes up much more space than our Big Boy tomatoes.

              I would only recommed this variety for a large patio or garden pot, unless you wanted to use this as a focal plant. It has a very interesting structure, and the jelly bean tomatoes dangling off are very pretty.

              This is the variety that I grow.

              My Related Posts:
              Jelly Bean Tomato Plant Give Away!
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Update on Jelly Bean Tomatoes

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              Monday, July 15, 2013

              Sweet Basil Give Away

              This evening Glory Gardening will be giving away pots containing Sweet Basil to Brown Mackie College students.  Be sure to stop by the student lounge and pick some up.  I personally love to put a few leaves on chicken while I am grilling it.  These are great to keep in your kitchen window or outside in part shade. Just pinch off a few leaves and your plant will keep going and going.

              Wednesday, May 29, 2013

              Jelly Bean Tomato Plant Give Away!

              Jelly Bean Patio Tomatoes

              It's that time again... Free Patio Tomato Plants for Brown Mackie College Students. If you pick up one of these plants, it is already potted in the correct size pot.

              All you need to do is water it regularly and make sure it gets at least 8 hours of sun a day.

              This variety, Jelly Bean is a new variety for me this year. It will produce small oblong super sweet tomatoes, about the size of Cherry Tomatoes. Perfect for kids or anyone else to eat straight off the bush!

              My Related Posts:
              Jelly Bean Tomato Plant Give Away!
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Are your Jelly Bean Tomatoes Ripe?

              Monday, May 27, 2013

              Indoor Onion Garden in a Glass

              Indoor Onion Garden
              Did you know that you can reuse your Green Onions by growing them again & again? Have you ever heard of re-growing onions in your kitchen window?  

              It is very simple and really quite amazing to watch. You can keep reusing the same green onions over and over again. Just cut off what you need and watch the onion regrow within a few days right before your eyes!

              If you didn’t grow any green onions in your garden this spring, just pick up a pack at the store. This is a great way to keep the ones you buy at the store fresh until you need them.  Your kids will be amazed by the onions that you can see regrow 1/2 an inch to 1 inch overnight!

              Materials Needed:
              Green onion bulb with roots
              Glass or container

              Place your green onions in a container with just enough water to cover the roots and a few millimeters up the bulb.  When you have a recipe that calls for green onions, or you just want a snack, cut off the amount you desire.  In order to regrow the onion make sure to leave ¾ to 1 inch of the white bulb and roots.

              Change the water and prune your onion garden in a glass every week to keep it fresh and mold away.
              If your container is too deep you can ad some rocks to the bottom. This helps them stand up also.

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              Wednesday, February 13, 2013

              Buying Tomato Seeds

              Here are a few key things to know when you are buying tomato seeds. Not all that appears equal really is!

              Determinate vs. Indeterminate
              Just think of this as do you want all of your tomatoes ripe within a few days of each other, or do you want the plant to produce small amounts of tomatoes all season long?  Determinate plants fruit ripens all at once, so if you want tomatoes all season long you will need to stagger your plantings of tomatoes about two or three weeks apart. 

              If you are participating in The Great American Tomato project and are going to donate plants I highly recommend growing indeterminate plants. That way the family that receives your plant can enjoy tomatoes for several months.

              Seeds per packet
              Some packets will tell you how many plants you can expect to grow from a single packet, and others will only have the seed weight on the packet. So don't be fooled, the least expensive one can actually cost more.

              Hybrid vs. Heirloom vs. Standard Varieties
              From Standard and Heirloom varieties tomato seeds can be kept from the tomatoes and plants just like the one the tomato came from can be grown.  If you try and grow a tomato plant from a hybrid seed that was saved from a tomato, you will not grow the same plant.

              Vine vs. Bush
              Bush tomatoes especially dwarf varieties make great patio plants. Vine varieties need more space than what you can typically provide in a patio pot. 

              If you are participating in The Great American Tomato project both Vine & Bush plants are needed.

              My Related Posts:
              Jelly Bean Tomato Plant Give Away!
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Are your Jelly Bean Tomatoes Ripe?

              This is the Variety I grow.

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              Monday, February 4, 2013

              What type of tomato plant should I grow?

              Compact Red Robin Cherry
              Deciding what type of tomato plant to grow is a complicated decision. The selection of tomato plants and seeds at the store can be very overwhelming. 

              When picking a plant or seed the most important consideration to take into account is your space. Most other characteristics of tomatoes can be found in either a compact patio plant variety or a full size traditional plant. Once you have made the decision between patio vs. full size plant the other choices are just a matter of preference. 

              Your next decision is to choose between Heirloom vs. Hybrid vs. Commercially available pants and seeds.

              Product Details
              Multi Color Heirloom Tomatoes

              Heirloom Tomatoes
              As the Heirloom name suggests, these are seeds that have been around quite a long time, often passed down for generations.  The seeds from the strongest plants are kept for the next planting season. With the Heirloom verities you have an array of colors and flavors to choose from. Many of these plants do not produce your typical store bought tomatoes. Heirloom varieties make a beautiful addition to any garden and have flavors from very sweet to even smoky meat. These are believed by many growers to have the best and most unique flavors in the tomato world. Heirloom tomatoes also tend to not ripen at the same time, allowing for enjoyment all summer long. These seeds are popping up in seed displays at garden centers and even more varieties are available online.

              Sweetie Seedless Hybrid Tomato
              Hybrid Tomatoes 
              Hybrid tomatoes have been genetically engineered for specific characteristics, such as more yield and earlier bloom time.  The seeds from these plants will not produce plants like their parents, meaning a new packet of seed must be purchased each year. These tomatoes may or may not ripen at the same time. On the seed packet you will see a “h1” or something similar denoting that it is a hybrid variety.

              Commercially Available
              Commercially available plants are the quick and easy to find plants you will find at Lowes, Walmart or other hardware store that sells seeds and starter plants.  These will produce your typical store bought tomatoes.  These tomatoes often ripen at close to the same time.

              My Related Posts:
              Jelly Bean Tomato Plant Give Away!
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Are your Jelly Bean Tomatoes Ripe?

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              Monday, January 21, 2013

              Free Plant Seeds

              You can come by free plant seeds a variety of ways.  In fact there are many seeds that you can’t just go to the store and purchase.

              Free Pepper Seeds - 2wks after planting 
              Earlier this month I was eager to start my indoor vegetable garden. I jumped in the car and headed over to my local plant store.  Unfortunately, I was about 2 months too early; they don’t have any seeds or their displays out until early February I was told.

              So, what did I do? Remembering that had been successful in growing bell peppers from the seeds that I had harvested from grocery store bought produce, I broke out the sweet peppers I had in the fridge.  Now you must understand that growing seed from a vegetable that was mass grown is a gamble.  Mass produced plants are often hybridized, or have very specific growing conditions, so don’t set your hopes too high.  But many people, including me, have been successful and happy growing fruit and veggies from seeds collected right out of their fridge.

              Sweet Pepper Seeds in Greenhouse
              Some free ways to get seeds:
              Seed swap with friends
              Collect from raw produce you purchase to eat
              Collect from nature walks
              Collect from your own garden
              Leftovers from last year’s seeds

              Don’t forget to use your pop bottles to make your own free greenhouses.  See my article titled “Make your own Greenhouse out of a Pop Bottle” from January 2013.

              Tuesday, January 8, 2013

              Make your own Greenhouse out of a Pop Bottle

              A 2 liter pop bottle makes a great seed starter and mini greenhouse. Not only does it keep the seeds warm and protected for quick germination, but it also works well as a permanent pot.  As an added bonus with this method, the bottle top allows you to keep your tender seedlings covered longer and requires less maintenance than typical store bought systems.

              You don’t need to spend money on fancy kits, or plastic gardening containers to start seeds or grow plants. Use the instructions below to create your own green house that fits great on your windowsill; perfect for your windowsill garden.
              Pop Bottle Greenhouse Planter
              Materials Needed
              Potting Mix
              2 liter bottle with cap
              Kids – if available

              First, cut the bottle across the center at the point where the midsection is uniform – before and after the curves.  The bottom section will be your pot and the top section will be your cover “green house.”  Now you will want to pre-moisten your potting soil.  I like to do this in the bottom section (pot). Add water until the soil sticks together and stir it up.  Make sure there are no dry spots in your soil.

               Next you will make 2 or 3 small drainage holes – less than the diameter of a straw in the lowest point in the bottom edges of the pot.  You can use the end of a pen or scissors to poke a small hole in the bottom; you don’t need to remove the soil.  Just tip the pot to the side and make the holes. Note: if your soil was really wet, water will drain out when you set the pot upright.

              Now for the top, cut a small slit in the side of the top so that the plastic can slide against itself and the top piece can fit snuggly inside the bottom pot.  This is now your greenhouse & future shield.

              Assembled Greenhouse Planter
              You have a pot with soil ready to be planted. Just plant your seed/seeds and place the lid on top.  If you need to vent your greenhouse, just remove the cap.  Make sure to replace the cap when you have finished venting so that your soil will not dry out. 

              Depending on the type of plant you are growing, you may not need to transplant your seedling at all, just grow it in your 2 liter pot. 
              If you are planning on transplanting your plant outside, you can grow your seedling in your pot longer and larger before you need to plant it outside.  You can then use your top as a shield from the wind outside as you are hardening your plant off, or to protect your plant from a dip in temperature outside.

              Related Articles:
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Make your own Greenhouse out of a Pop Bottle

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              Saturday, December 22, 2012

              Grow tomatoes on your windowsill

              Do you miss the taste of fresh home grown tomatoes in the winter? Have you read my post titled, “Windowsill Gardening: Your Indoor Vegetable Garden?” Are you eager to plant some tomatoes to grow indoors but aren’t sure what to plant?
              Orange Pixie Tomatoes
              Red Robin Cherry Tomatoes
              These are a few of the varieties that are suited to grow on your windowsill:
              Toy Boy
              Small Fry
              Tiny Tim
              Red Robin Cherry

              How to Grow Tomatoes on Your Windowsill 

              Materials Needed:
              Potting Mix
              Well lit windowsill
              You will want to start a couple of seeds just as you would with any seeds. Place the seed in the potting mix covered with a bit of the mix (per package instructions).  Keep potting mix damp, but not soggy.  The seeds should sprout in 5 to 10 days. 

              To help aid germination, you can create a greenhouse (trapping heat) effect by keeping your pot covered with a translucent plastic cover. You could use the top ½ of a Coke bottle over your pot until your seeds sprout. 

              After your seeds spout, make sure the seeds get plenty of light from your windowsill and that you turn the plant regularly. Also, make sure that the temperature in the window doesn’t drop below 50 degrees at night. If it does either move it to another location at night or try a different window (does only the North window drop below 50 degrees and maybe the South one doesn’t?)

              If you have room or plan to grow more than one plant and are keeping it for yourself, you will want to start the seeds a few weeks apart in order to space your production of tomatoes.

              What should you do with your remaining seeds? Are you participating in the Great American Tomato Project? If you are able, germinate a few of your remaining seeds and give the plants away to someone who needs food assistance.

              Related Articles:
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Make your own Greenhouse out of a Pop Bottle
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              Thursday, December 20, 2012

              Windowsill Gardening: Your Indoor Vegetable Garden

              If you have a lighted windowsill somewhere in your home did you know you already have a mini greenhouse just waiting for you to plant some vegetables?  All sorts of plants can easily be grown in your windowsill throughout the winter months.

              I bet you are wondering what exactly you can grow in your mini greenhouse?  
              Herbs In Ceramic Pots
              Patio Tomatoes, Patio Peppers – think small bush varieties
              Herbs (mint, basil, thyme, chives, flat & curly leaf parsley)
              Winter Lettuce
              Dwarf Citrus
              Compact Carrots & Turnips

              One word of caution, you also want to make sure that your mini greenhouse (windowsill) doesn’t get below 50 degrees F at night if you choose to grow easily stunted plants like tomatoes.  If it does you will either need to move your plant in the evening away from the window or be more selective about what you grow. 

              I bet your next question is how much light is enough?
              My kitchen window faces north and doesn’t get much light, so it isn’t a candidate to grow vegetable producing plants (although I do overwinter two of my pond plants there). But, my bathroom window faces south and is filled with lots of sunlight.  Just check the lighting requirements on the seed packets and try to match that with your windows lighting. Salad leaves as well as tomatoes and other plants will provide fresh produce provided your windowsill gets plenty of light. Some herbs such as thyme & parsley are more forgiving and will grow in indirect light – although they may become stringy or elongated.  But hey they are just herbs, so give it a shot if you don’t have much direct light.

              These are two varieties I grow and share.

              Related Articles:
              Basil, the Unexpected Flower Arrangement

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              Friday, December 7, 2012

              How to make a mesh pot

              Do you have a Koi pond? If you do, then you know that the little buggers love to eat the roots of your plants.  Instead of spending your money on floating pots or root protectors just reuse your mesh bags that often come around some fruits.  
              Mesh Fruit Bag

              Materials needed:
              Mesh bag with fruit removed
              Possibly hot glue
              Floating material (if your plant doesn’t float)

              I know this is obvious, but make sure to remove the fruit from your mesh bag and rinse it well. You don’t want any contaminates in your water.

              Sealed Mesh Bag

              Next, see if one end is sealed, if it isn’t use some hot glue and gather the ends squirt a line across the bottom to seal. 

              Then roll or fold the edges in and tuck the bottom up to make a pot.  If you have a plant that does not float then all you need to do is use some type of material that floats (could be part of a noodle or other Styrofoam) and hot glue your mesh to it.  Now you are ready to put your plant in.

              Folded Mesh Pot
              One fish proof pot, costing nothing out of pocket and reusing materials you have most likely already have around your home.
              This pot works amazingly well for water Hyacinths and other floating water plants whose roots are a tasty treat for hungry Koi.

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              Mesh Pot