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Square Foot Gardening - Update

| 6/3/2011 3:36:32 PM

Peat pellets 

We’re into June already and I’m lagging even farther behind in my garden chores because of supply problems. But I've finally gotten the peat pellets I needed to start the next round of plantings. They are the wrong size; the diameter of the compressed “pucks” is 1/4” too large to fit into the grippers in the tray but I’ll work with them anyway. One advantage of these larger “pucks” is that when they are wetted and expand, they end up with a hole down the middle (think doughnut) that makes it a simple job to drop the seed right down inside. This would not be good for small seeds, but today I’m planting beans and chard. I set up 18 pinto beans, 18 black beans, and 12 Swiss chard. The chard is for Mom. Marie doesn't care for chard but Mom does. I've never had it, so I don't know... but I will try it when it's ripe. I set the clear cover on top and set it in the window to make a small greenhouse that will speed germination of the seeds.

Seedlings hardening off in trays 

When the seeds sprout, I remove the peat pellets and their seedlings and put them in small planters with potting soil. Here I gradually acclimate them to full sunshine while the first (baby) leaves are replaced by the plant’s initial mature leaves. Once the small plant has been “hardened off” (or made able to stand full sunshine without withering up and dying), I’ll take them out to the garden and plant them in the designated squares. The beans will go into the ground on the inside of the fence line, with the corn/cucumber row outside the fence. These three play well together, but crop rotation will require doing something else next year as beans can be planted in the same place only once in every three years. Maybe the beans will go outside the fence and the corn/cucumbers inside next year.

Farm overview as it stands now 

Overall, the garden is doing well considering that I’m new to this. My one major ‘fail’ this year has been the cauliflower and broccoli; Looper worms ate the centers out of the plants, then started chewing holes in the leaves. Once the centers were destroyed any chance of getting edible parts from there was gone so I pulled them out. The gardening sites say to prevent Loopers I must spray both sides of all the leaves with insecticide at least once a week. I wanted to avoid insecticides if I can, Mom has a “natural gardening” book - I think it’s by Jerry Baker, which offers several suggestions. One is to sprinkle corn starch or rye flour on the leaves. The bugs eat this, it swells up inside them and causes them to burst. There’s a visual I don’t want to entertain! Adding a little salt or cayenne pepper helps to repel the bugs. I’ll give this a shot and see if it helps on the second round of these plants.

James Davis
6/24/2011 8:01:47 AM

Seeing that garden reminds me of the wonderful days on the farm. I use to pull out some green onions and eat as I worked on the garden, pulling weeds. hahaha

Nebraska Dave
6/4/2011 9:52:24 PM

Alan, you are doing great for being new at this. I can't believe how the garden is growing since it heated up. We have had several days in the 80s and the tomatoes and potatoes have literally jumped several inches in growth. You are miles ahead of my garden but I expect a good harvest this year. I harvested my first lettuce ever. It was only enough for one salad but I'm definitely going to plant more in the fall. My radishes turn out all tops and no radish. I guess the soil must be too nitrogen rich. I should replant and hope the next crop will be better. Have a great day in the garden.

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