Monday, October 19, 2009

Garden Thoughts

I've been meaning to write about the garden we did this year but never really got around to it. Now that the gardening season is almost over I wanted to make some notes about my garden and what I would do again and what I would change for next year.

Because our soil is, well, rock, I wanted to build some boxes and do raised bed gardening the Square Foot Gardening way. You can see my main box here it has 4-4x4 areas. This one had a pumpkin at the end, corn in the next area and a variety of vegetables in the next two. My second main box has 2-4x4 areas. I put a cooking pumpkin plant in one area and a watermelon in the other.
Next I did two boxes that are only 1 foot deep. One I made 4 feet long and put everbearing strawberries in it. Seen below. I had to put a net up to keep animals from snacking on them.
The other one I made 8 feet wide and attached a conduit trellis to the back with a net. I planted cucumbers, tomatoes, pole beans and cantalope in this one.

Here is my first large harvest of vegetables and some strawberries. Later I would harvest lots of carrots, raspberries and potatoes.For next year I wanted to make a few notes about what went well, what didn't go well, and what I would change.

Vertical Garden
We grew 2 cucumber plants and got about 4-5 good sized ones. We ate about 1-2. I would say since the vertical garden space is so limited that we don't grow cucumbers next year and just buy them at the store when we want them. Instead plant peas or more tomatoes.

I want to try peas next time. I didn't start the garden early enough for them this year.

I want to plant more tomato plants so I can have more ripe at once for salsa. I liked the grape tomatoes for salad. I want to get some roma tomato plants (they're KC's favorite) and maybe an Early Girl or two.

The pole beans were great once I got the beans to sprout. Two plants in the square seemed to be enough.

Plant the cantalope plants a lot earlier and give them more water maybe. They grew very slowly and didn't get very big before they died from the frost. Watch for squash bugs on them.

Large Plants
I got some good sized pumpkins but the issue with squash bugs was really annoying. Pumpkins are pretty cheap so I don't know if it's worth the space and the yucky squash bugs.

Maybe I will do water melons again, if I have a whole box available. I need to be more aware of when they are ripe this time and pick promptly. Also the squash bugs can kill the vines if I'm not careful.

We loved the strawberries, they turned out great. I want to build another box and put in June bearing strawberries. This year they were everbearing which was great for making strawberry yogurt snacks or fruit salads perodically.

The raspberries turned out awesome. We need to put in some stakes and supports for the canes so they don't droop on the rock.

Other Veggies
I planted too many corn too close together.. maybe just one or two per square. I need get a different variety the ones we had didn't taste very good.

I planted 4 pepper plants and still have peppers left over. I would use them for salsa or something but I never have enough ripe tomatoes at once to make a large enough batch. I made salsa once this year and it turned our pretty good. So maybe plant just 2 bell pepper plants and another with another kind for salsa maybe.

The bush beans were great. Keep an eye on them because they last a lot longer then I thought they would and put out beans more than I was informed.

Plant broccoli, lettuce, spinach and carrots earlier to take advantage of spring cool weather plants.

Start the herbs earlier or buy the plants at the store, plant just one basil and one oregano, plant maybe 2 cilantro. Try to get parsley to grow again.

Maybe try garlic next year.

Root Vegetables
Plant some onions next year.
Do carrots again, they were great.
Do at least 4 squares of potatoes, maybe more. Plant earlier to avoid those brown spots.

Don't put a mother's day petunia in the same box as an herb. They get hugemongous in the Square Food Gardening soil.
Put in marigolds again and do nasturtiums for insect issues. Also get some organic vegetable insect spray like neem.

Overall it was pretty successful. I just need to train myself to use vegetables more in my cooking. I am a recovering picky eater and it is a long process.
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