Scanning a survival blog, Maj. Clark Davis found a treatise on gardening that piqued his interest - and his appetite. "I didn't want to invest in a rototiller or put up a fence to keep out rabbits. I didn't want to tear up my lawn, and I didn't want to spend hours weeding." Davis said he needed a concept that didn't require a farmer to operate.
Scanning a survival blog, Maj. Clark Davis found a treatise on gardening that piqued his interest - and his appetite.
"I'm not a gardener, but I wanted a garden," said the retired U.S. Army officer who lives in Dunlap, Ill.
"I didn't want to invest in a rototiller or put up a fence to keep out rabbits. I didn't want to tear up my lawn, and I didn't want to spend hours weeding."
Davis said he needed a concept that didn't require a farmer to operate.
That's why the design of a PVC garden appealed to him. He found it on www.SurvivalBlog.com.
"This gives us the opportunity to raise a lot of our own food without needing a lot of land," said Davis, who also is enrolled in a CSA (community supported agriculture) that supplies his family with fresh local produce from a nearby farm.
This is the second year Davis is harvesting from his PVC garden. He built it with 10-foot long, 6-inch diameter PVC pipes mounted horizontally. He put screening on the ends of each pipe and mounted them on sturdy hooks on three 4-inch by 4-inch posts set in concrete. The lowest pipe is 18 inches above ground, too high for rabbits but high enough so he can mow grass underneath.
Then he drilled 2-inch diameter holes spaced 1 foot apart. He filled the pipes with Miracle Grow soil and planted one seedling in each hole. He waters almost daily.
Then he sits back and watches his vegetables grow.
"Tomatoes, peppers, broccoli - anything that grows above ground. Not carrots or potatoes," he said. "This works so well. There is no effort. All I do is put the sprinkler on it. Last year we got buckets of tomatoes."
His tomato plants started producing before others in the neighborhood and continued into the fall after other plants stopped producing. He doesn't use any chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
"Look around here," he said standing in the backyard of his subdivision. "You see quite a few gardens, but they require weeding, and they are all fenced because of rabbits."
His wife, Maryann Davis, said, "The vegetables are incredible. They're delicious and unlike store-bought that don't have much flavor."
Bob Streitmatter, manager of Luthy Botanical Garden, said this type of tube garden is popular with people who don't have a lot of space and time.
"They are pretty efficient, but like any hanging basket, they need to be watered often. Because they are up in the air, they dry out quickly," Streitmatter said. "This is basically vertical gardening that fills a niche, helping people connect with nature and plants."
He advises using potting soil mix that's weed-free.
"If food is ever in short supply, these PVC gardens could go up all over," he said, "but they don't have to be eyesores."
Clare Howard can be reached at email@example.com.