Tipsy in the Garden

May 12th, 2009


Not Tipsy in the Garden!

I meant Garden TIPS!

A few Garden TIPS from my father-in-law Joe!






















This is the way to Joe’s garden.

Inside there is a bountiful harvest of garden wisdom.  





A few years ago Joe started planting his tomatoes and cucumbers inside of these sunken buckets which were placed inside of his raised beds, which were placed inside of a circle of wire mesh. 

You might need to be a little tipsy to go to all this trouble for the sake of a garden fresh tomato, but there is a method to Joe’s madness.

Joe cut the bottoms off of those buckets (which are laundry soap buckets that he collects from the nearby nursing home).  He fills the inside of the buckets with new potting soil every year, thereby eliminating all sorts of soil diseases that could infect his plants.  This method also saves on watering, as Joe can train his hose on the inside of each bucket and not waste water on the surrounding dirt.

Joe also stuck several Tums tablets in the soil around his tomatoes.  The Tums tablets add calcium to the soil which prevents ‘blossom end rot’ on his tomatoes, and also keeps his tomatoes from getting indigestion.





Besides gardening and farming to support his large family, Joe also maintained oil wells for a living. Because of this, he is a skilled welder and he often puts these skills to use in his garden. Here is a garden implement to which he added some length and reinforced with a second support.






Here is a support he made for his pepper plants. When the plants get tall and heavy with peppers, they can rest upon the metal grid.

All of these welded tools in Joe’s garden caused me to ask him…

“What if you want to grow a garden and don’t know how to weld things?” 

“You can’t grow a garden if your can’t weld.” Joe replied.



I think I may be in trouble with this whole gardening thing.





As many folks do, Joe uses a raised bed system to garden.

No welding required.





To keep the weeds down on his paths between his raised beds, Joe stapled fabric weed barrier from the edge of one bed, across the walk way and onto the edge of the other bed. He then covered the fabric with mulch.




Joe keeps his green onion patch going longer, by keeping a small store of extra onion sets and replacing every onion that he picks with a fresh set.




Joe always washes his hands before he harvests his lettuce so that there is less dirt to wash off later.

I hope to visit Joe’s garden later in the season to show you his shocking asparagus beans.

…and to see if the Tums worked on his tomato’s indigestion.  


Dreaming of my own garden fresh produce someday soon,



  • Theresa from Alberta:

    THANKYOU Mr. Joe for the EXCELLANT idea of of the buckets around the tomatoe plants!!! I am going to try that when I plant mine this year. I am always looking for ways to save $ on water. Here is a tip for you. I use the big blue water cooler bottle’s, i cut the bottoms off and use them as little”green houses” for my tender squash, tomatoe, cucumber plants incase of threat of cooler temps or hail. Because the bottles have the neck opening at the top I can use a bamboo stick to anchor the bottle down incase it gets windy to shield the tender plants.

  • Thank you to you and Joe both for the garden tour and several tips . . . from his tipsy garden. (Or the tipsy correspondent . . . or whomever.) Always great to see pictures of other people’s gardens. Joe’s is very attractive.

    We have such divergent climates for gardening in the good ol’ US of A. Joe’s pepper plants are gorgeous, mine are 3″ tall and ready to be transplanted (indoors) today to bigger pots. Way too cool to even think of setting them out yet up here in NE Minnesota.

  • Martha in Kansas:

    Thank you Rechelle and Joe for the excellent tips. I’m buying tomato plants today and will try the bucket method on them. (And Tums!) Thanks also for the pathway idea. My brother needs that and I’ll pass this on to him. Tho I can’t weld, I can bend and cut wire, which explains why I have oddly bent tomato cages as supports for many things in my garden. Welded supports do look better!

  • E-Jayjo:

    The tomato idea is neato. What a pretty garden.

  • I love the tomato idea! And I’m so jealous of Joe’s beautiful garden. Up here we’re looking at another 3 weeks until you can even *think* of putting a plant outside. We had a hard frost on June 12th last year. Yeesh. So thanks for letting me drool over your FIL’s garden!

  • martina:

    What great tips! I used Miracle Gro soil for the vegetable gardens this year. Wonder if it would still be safe to add the Tums fo the “tumatos”. Would you please ask Joe?

  • Catherine A.:

    Tums! Great idea. Do you think it matters if they are “fruit” flavored tums or mint?

  • jamoody:

    I am so jealous…his garden is beautiful.

  • Great tips. My garden is just getting started so it doesn’t look as good as Joe’s. Every year I just pray that the stuff grows. It most always does, but I still freak out that it won’t.

  • What a clever gardener he is!

  • Wow. I am so impressed with Joe’s garden!

    What a gardening, welding, artist!

  • p.j.:

    Hi! My first time commenting here. What a beautiful gardent Joe has! I have a tiny city lot that is mostly shady, and am therefore completely enamoured of Joe’s sunny spread.

    Just planted my tomatoes (all 3!) last night, with a couple of banana peels in the bottom of each hole ( an old idea from Rodale Press: have never figured out if it helps), as well as a couple of inches of new dirt from last year’s compost pile. The buckets are a great idea . . . that will have to wait for next year.

    One question: what are the red-cup looking things around each tomato plant (within the buried buckets)? They look important to the scheme.
    Thanks, p.j.

  • Wow! That is awesome! I do a hurkin’ lot of gardening, but it’s not nearly that spectacular. I love the welded things (note to self: learn to weld. Scratch that; have husband learn to weld.) and the beautiful and tidy raised bed system.

  • I am the president of the official Joe Rocks Fan Club – Bakersfield, California branch. Even though I never read a response from Joe regarding my potato trouble, I think we could enjoy some great conversation over a lemonade out in the garden.

    I wouldn’t mind welding if it wasn’t for the stink and the heat.

    Rock on, Joe.

  • Maybelline,

    You can’t be the president, because I am. I hope to get your answers soon.

  • Hmmm…I am the Pres of the Vancouver, BC chapter….you can be the Pres of the Whole dang club OK? LOL

    Love this man…and his garden!

  • Um…you can’t just take my presidency away from me, Rechelle. Just who do you think you are?! I remain, faithfully, THE president of the official Joe Rocks Fan Club – Bakersfield, California branch.

    May I suggest that you dub yourself the Empress of the Joe Rocks Fan Club (all branches)?

    PS. What’s with the weird time stamp?