Friday, July 23, 2010

Update on Square Foot Garden!

Many of you have been wondering about our success with the square-foot gardening method I wrote about in April. I am happy to say that we are having great luck. Below you can see a photo I just took in July after adding the vertical frames. For those of you who will wonder, the vertical frames were VERY easy to construct. We used some pieces of rebar and pounded them into the ground on the sides of the raised beds. I had 3/4 inch electrical conduit cut into 5 foot lengths (for the sides) and 4 foot lengths (for the tops) at Home Depot. The conduit was less than $2 per 10 foot length, very inexpensive. The corners are held together with connectors that can also be found in the electrical area of a hardware store. Those babies were over $4 apiece so that drove up the cost a bit. Luckily we won't ever have to build these again. They easily slip onto the rebar and can be slipped off and stored inside for the winter if needed. I used nylon garden mesh attached with zip ties for the netting. I couldn't find this large sized mesh locally and had to order it from Burpee. I have a ton left over. The zip ties were in the electrical section of Home Depot.

So far we have harvested broccoli (from plants), peas (from seed), green beans (from seed), onions (from sets), basil (from seed) and carrots (from seed). We have MANY green tomatoes on the vine and I am practically drooling over how awesome they will taste. We also have strawberries, cucumbers, mini pumpkins, gourds, radishes, and peppers planted. (And asparagus and lemon balm. The lemon balm is overtaking my youngest son's garden.) I am planning to move the strawberries to their own bed this fall and add more. You can see them taking over the front of the garden closest to the front in the photo above. We also planted marigolds, zinnias and four-o-clocks from seed. The zinnias did not do very well......only one grew. The marigolds are taking over my oldest son's can see them in the back left garden. I will probably plant a smaller variety next year.

Here is what I've learned: I will probably not do broccoli next year. We did have good luck with it and got several heads. However, the last head I brought in had a chubby green worm in it. I knew broccoli was prone to worms, but it really grossed me out. Also, I didn't realize how big each individual broccoli plant grows. The leaf-span was probably almost 2 feet which meant they were overshadowing the little pepper plants that were trying to grow nearby. We may try lettuce from seed again this fall when it cools off. I didn't have any luck with lettuce this spring. However, I was using old seed so that may have been the problem. The peas were SO good right from the garden..........I will definitely do them again and plant more next time. Below are a few photos I snapped recently.

Roma tomatoes............cannot WAIT to eat these!
 boys took marigolds very similar to this one to the fair this year.

Basil...........we had some of this in a pasta dish this week. It was awesome to go out and pick it right from the garden. It took 2 plantings of seed for me to get it to take off though. Not sure why.

Our green beans grew really well. I may even pull them now that they're mostly harvested and try for a second crop yet this year.

One last main reason for choosing this way of gardening was so I wouldn't have much weeding to do and I have to say that the weeding is VERY minimal. It's so easy to stay on top of it. I would love to add more beds for next year. I am planning to at least add a big bed of just strawberries. That will free up space in the other beds so I may not add any more vegetable beds until I go another year to see what grows well here.

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