Monday, June 21, 2010

Gutter Garden Details

A few people have asked questions about the details of my gutter garden.  I will try to answer your questions here, and please let me know if you have any more. 

1.  Does it really grow enough lettuce?  Yes!  Right now the lettuce is not fully grown yet, but it is a 10 foot gutter, so I have one ten foot row of lettuce.  The plants are jut starting to get big enough to pick the lettuce, but I think that I planted them a little bit late.  The problem with the water displacing the dirt also put me back a little bit.  I have had enough lettuce for the occasional salad so far, but more importantly I use it a lot for lettuce in other recipes, or on a sandwich, in tacos etc...

2.  What did you buy and how much did it cost?  I purchased a 10 foot piece of gutter.  My balcony railing is about 12 feet long, so this worked perfectly for me.  If you need a shorter piece you can cut it smaller, and if you need a larger one there are connector pieces that you can buy.  I also needed to buy a total of two end caps to seal the gutter at each end, and three pieces for mounting the gutter.  These were both found next to the gutters.  I wish that I had thought to take pictures of the pieces before I assembled the gutter. . .  I had to choose between a metal or plastic gutter and accessories.  I went with the plastic because it was thicker and seemed like it might withstand the weight of the dirt better than the metal.  Then I picked out some wire to mount it with.  I chose wire because in my condo complex there are association rules that nothing can be screwed into the brick or railings.  With the wire I can take the gutter down leaving no damage to the railing at all.  There were many different weights of wire to choose from.  I chose one that is about the same thickness as a paperclip.  I found this in the section near hardware to mount pictures on your wall.  On the same shopping trip I also bought organic lettuce, cilantro, parsley, basil, and dill seeds along with a bag of organic potting soil.  For all of these items the total cost was about $35.  I also had to purchase the piece of siding that I used for an awning at a later time.  The siding is twelve feet long and it cost $13.95. 

3.  How did you hang the gutter and the awning?  Pictures will help here.  The first thing that I did was drill a hole about every six inches along each side of the bottom of the gutter to provide adequate drainage.  Then I had my sister help me hold the gutter on the outside of the railing while we attached the gutter to the railing with wire in three different places.  Below you can see the wire in the middle of the picture. 

Below are close ups of three different angles.  I hope they help.  There was a hole at the top of the gutter hanging piece meant for a screw (I think) so we threaded the wire through the hole and then up and around the top of the railing to hold the gutter up.  Then we went around the side of the railing so that it could not slide back and forth or swing outwards. 

We also drilled this hole seen on the bottom of the L shaped piece holding up the gutter and fed the wire through so that the gutter would be held securely to the railing in two different places.  This is just to add security and stability.  Once we had all three of the L pieces secured to the railing the gutter seemed very secure.  We filled it with dirt and then planted the seeds and watered them. 

Now for the awning. . .
Here is a picture of my balcony so that you can see the brick pillars  that sit in each corner.  I wrapped the same wire that I used to hang the gutter around the pillar.  I wrapped two pieces of wire around each pillar and put one a row of bricks higher than the other.  

I threaded the higher wire through the corner of the siding closest to me, and then twisted it as tightly as I could to keep it secure.  I used a pliers to really pull it tight. 

Then I threaded the lower wire through the outside corner of the siding so that it would hang lower than the inside side.  This way when the water drips onto the siding it all rolls off out over the edge of my balcony.  

Here you can see the edge of the balcony above me and how the water drips onto the awning and then right out over the edge of the gutter so that the lettuce stays safe from the rough water drops.  The gutter does still get some water on it though, which is good so that I do not have to water it too often using non rain water. 

4.  Do the neighbors below you get mad because the water drips onto their balcony?  No, if you look closely at the picture above you can see that the awning hangs out past the bottom of the balcony above.  All of the balconies are lined up. so that means that the water actually drips out past the balcony below me and straight down to the ground.  They actually probably got more wetness from the rain before I had the gutter there because the stuff dripping from the balcony above me would then continue on off the edge of my balcony and to the one below me. 

- Laura

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