Monday, May 25, 2009

Tiny Garden

I got my garden going!

It's a "square foot" garden because it's tiny and anal retentive.

It took me about an hour Saturday morning to build the box out of 2 8-foot 2X12s (cut in half at the store) and 12 screws. I tried to fill it with dirt I'd gotten off of freecycle, but the dirt was mostly rocks and bark and hardly any dirt. I had to breakdown and BUY DIRT. That is sad. The lawn is made of clay and would have taken ages and even more money to get the soil into shape so I build the 4foot square box and bought dirt.
There is about a cubic foot of chicken poo in it from a friend's chicken coop. That should help. By next year I'll have some compost and when it's time to put in the tomatoes, I'll use the worm poo for fertilizer.

Anyway, it's cute (I'm on dial up and will post photos when I have a better connection).
There are 16 1-foot squares, each planted with a maximum density of a crop or two.
The north side of the box backs up against the clothesline so I don't have to build tomato cages or anything for climbing vines. I'll run strings from the clothesline crossbar (it's made of small iron i-beams) for the climbers which are all planted in that north row.

Here's what went in:
WAY TOO MANY radishes. I'm planting those around the edges of the squares with a tomato or pepper going in the middle. The radishes will be done in 3 weeks making room for the tomato or pepper roots as it gets bigger.

Two squares of lettuce.
A square of kale.
2 squares of onions, 16 onion sets each (32 total onions...I hope).
Room for 4 toms and 2 peppers with 12 radishes around each...see, too many radishes.
2 squares of bush beans with 9 plants max per square.
1 square of marigolds (to keep the bugs off)
2 squares of carrots (purple carrots) with 16 per square.

There will be some herbs in a pot.

The raspberries are coming up very well in the spot that used to be the landlord's junk pile (now there are 3 smaller junk piles sorted by type of junk...wire and flashing, bits of siding, and wood). The raspberries were creeping over from the other side of the fence where the neighbors have a garden. They were blocked by the junk pile (the raspberries, not the neighbors). There are about a dozen new canes coming up already. Very exciting. Hope I get enough for a batch of jam.

It only took about a total of 2 hours this morning to fill the box with dirt (from bags) and get stuff planted.
Since I am anal retentive, I have the garden sketched on graph paper with a list of plants, a dot where each seed is planted, and a table showing when it should sprout and when it should be ready to harvest.

The square foot gardening book recommends watering from a bucket with a cup to avoid wasting tons of water. And it says it's best to cover the new seedlings with mini-greenhouses (1 foot square) while they are sprouting and beginning to grow. The first bit was easy. I have a bucket and a cup.
I have not yet built the mini-greenhouses. I did however have left over shrink-plastic that had been covering the drafty back door of the trailer. Two pieces (as I'd saved the one from last year thinking "that isn't even ripped. It will be useful for something.") of used door-plastic are held over the wood garden box with a few bits of scrap wood from the wood-junk pile. It looked very tidy until I got to the scrap wood bits. But, it's windy an I had to weight the plastic down with something.

I'll get the little greenhouses built one of these days.
They look like handy little things so should be worth the incredible effort to build.
Here's how you do it: Buy welded wire fencing with 4 by 6 inch openings. Cut into 4 foot lengths 1 foot wide. Make 6 inch legs on each side by removing a row of cross wires if necessary. Bend so that there is a little gazebo type structure one foot by one foot at the top, with one foot high sides (two of these are open) and 6 inch wire legs that will stick in the dirt.
these can support bushy plants like the bush beans. Cover with plastic, hold with clothespins or binder clips, and voila...tiny greenhouse for one square foot of garden. Cover with cheese cloth or other meshy-material and voila...a bit of shade and bug protection.

I'd also like to make the card board mulch mats for the next planting. You cut a square of cardboard, 1 foot on a side. Make 1inch or so holes where each seed will be planted (seeds go into a square in groups of 1, 2, 4, 9, or 16). These go down on the dirt before planting. Plant through the holes, water. And enjoy the lovely weedfree garden with dirt that doesn't immediately dry out. I think thin cardboard would work well for this and break down in the compost heap over the winter after harvest.

Time to go enjoy Memorial Day now.

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