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June 20th 2013
archived under: Gardening
Last summer, we skipped having a garden (deployed husband, newborn). The year before, same story (deployed husband, baby, pregnant). But the year before THAT (husband home, pregnant) our garden was so fun.
So since my husband was coming home, I planted another square foot garden this year. I posted about it on facebook (do you “like” my page?) and whatnot, as I was painting the wood, starting seeds, assembling the planters, and so forth. But this is my first blog post about it. Oops.
In a square foot garden, each plant gets a certain square footage within a raised bed with perfectly mixed soil. The whole thing is very space-efficient and easy to care for.
It's also semi-portable, though the planters won't last forever since you use untreated wood. (We moved our soil and planters from Mississippi to California. Then left it in Hanford when we came to Lemoore, but we will be moving our soil and compost wherever we go next!) which makes it great for military families too – unlike investing lots of money into perfecting the native soil, then having to leave it behind. Yay for square foot gardening!
The planter says “sun + soil + water + love.” And so far, everyone seems to be doing pretty well! There are baby zucchinis and squashes, and lots of tomato and cucumber blossoms. My Brussels sprout is getting nibbled a bit but nothing too bad.
And the other garden bed has more goodies. I have been working hard to keep the tomatoes pruned, something I never much worried about before. I'm trying for an efficient single-stem plant that can put all of its efforts into tomato making. We'll see how the experiment goes!
Hello baby zucchini. I am going to eat you. And all of your siblings.
Oh hi, little squash! Did you hear me talking to your cousin over there? No? Good. I mean, nothing.

Keep growing, little one. Just a while longer…

Unfortunately my newspapers-as-weed-blockers under the soil didnt work so well. I should've used cardboard. Or the fabric meant for that. So now I have to weed the garden of grass every few days. Bummer. But could be worse.

What's in your garden? Are you already harvesting? Or was your planting schedule a bit delayed like mine was? Would you ever give square foot gardening a try?

 





Sarah (2 comments)

First I want to say I LOVE YOUR BLOG! I am entering my second trimester and you are such an inspiration to me as a mother. I saw your note here about tomato pruning and thought maybe I could help, I wrote a tomato blog entry (I’m an avid gardener) you may find useful: http://www.simplicitystudio.com/gardentable/tomatoes-101/




Janine (56 comments)

Love your garden! I need to get on top of starting mine. I say I’ll do a patio garden every year and never make it happen. I did set up my sweet potato to sprout today though, so hopefully I’ll at least have sweet potato plants.




Nik (5 comments)

I’m not site what you mean by a single stem tomato as tomatoes produce the majority of their fruit from their side shoots. The main thing you want to do is to pick off suckers (they grow between main stem and a primary side shoot, like a little extra arm that just takes up space) they will produce fruit as well but if you’re keeping your tomato plant as compact as possible – those would be the things to pinch off. Also make sure you keep the bottom stems/leaves pinched off too. Tomatoes will grow roots wherever their stems touch the ground, and the less leaves you heave near the bottom of your plants the less likely you’ll have issues with mildews/rust/virus and wilt.

Also to the poster about the pumpkins – did you have a lot of cuke beetles? Sometimes they destroy the flowers before they pollinate. If not then the pumpkins likely did not pollinate on their own and need a little help. Just use a paintbrush and paint a little pollen from a male to a female flower. You can tell by the difference at the base of the flower stem.

Hope these little bits help….I’ve been gardening since I was 8 and my grandmother owns 7 greenhouses with her floral and produce business so I sometimes have a little info to share :)




Emily Chapelle (227 comments)

Thank you Nik! That’s helpful! The square foot gardening book describes how to prune them to be efficient and compact but there are no pictures or anything for it. I’ll have to look up how to identify shooters vs regular branches. Thanks for the comment.




Pam (9 comments)

I happen to know that one. I had a friend show up one day while I was gardening and she showed me. =]

Shooters are ones that do not have any flowers/fruit producing on them – also called suckers. All they do is suck water and nutrients.




Nik (5 comments)

Correct suckers, I should have posted the term….duh! They will produce fruit tho, and usually quite a bit of it. BUT it’s not worth the expense of the main branches. You will result in smaller fruit with less flavor. Do pinch those suckers out! Pun intended :) as with most plants, airflow needs to be maximized, so by keeping those pruned off you will keep fresh air flowing between all the leaves giving you less rot, disease and pests in the end. Love it.

Happy gardening!




Sarah (2 comments)

A single stem tomato plant is a plant with a strong core stem. It needs less support this way and is actually more healthy and productive.




Delora (17 comments)

I own, so don’t have to worry about moving or killing the grass at a rental. I’ve been amending the soil in my back garden for a decade now with lots of grass clipping and shredded leaves every year. I do a heavy mulch all season long, so don’t have to worry about weeding since the grass clippings smother all the weed seeds out, plus the worms love it! I’ve gotten frustrated with the lack of sunlight in the back garden though, so last year on a lark put a couple tomato plants in our front yard where a tree had been removed and we hadn’t yet planted grass. They did so well, that I expanded the front garden and put in several tomato, pepper, and eggplant plants this year. I’m doing tomatillas, chard, peas, carrots, radishes, and all my herbs (4 kinds of basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano) in the back. I’m also trying pumpkin pie pumpkins in the back this year. Last time I grew pumpkins I didn’t get any actual pumpkins, only large vines. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Would you ever consider keeping a worm bin? They’re super-fun and would be easy to move. You’d probably have to keep it inside with your summer heat.




RebEkah (6 comments)

I didn’t even realize it was possible/feasible to move soil and compost! I’ve been wanting to plant a garden for the last 4 years but haven’t because we’ve lived in 5 different homes between Florida and Hawaii in that stretch.

Is your garden set up along a perimeter of the yard? I’d be concerned about killing the rental grass. (When I own my yard, of course, I’ll do what I want!)

Thanks for posting on this. I’ve been following your progress photos. :)




Karin (2 comments)

We do this as well. We moved since last summer so we started with new soil this year. We tried the lasagna method layering cardboard newspaper and compost and have been weed free so far!






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