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How does my garden grow?

May 24th, 2008

I’ve been busy working in the garden for the last few days. I’ve planted a lot of transplants and seeds. Here’s a list of the transplants I’ve planted so far:

Tomatoes
I bought 6 tomato transplants from a local CSA to which my husband and I used to subscribe. The varieties are:
Brandywine (an heirloom)
Early Girl (a hybrid that fruits early)
Sun Gold (a pretty orange cherry tomato)
Debaro Plum (a rare Russian purple tomato)
Unknown Plum (the label says “BL Plum”)
Unknown (the label says “Yellow Perfect”)

Peppers
I planted 3 pepper plants.
Jalepeno (a hybrid from a nursery)
Emerald Giant Bell (a hybrid from a nursery)
Purple Beauty Bell (a hybrid)

Herbs
I planted 7 herb plants.
Lemon Thyme (2)
Minette Basil
Purple Sage
Tricolor Sage
Genovese Basil (2)

Other
Two market packs of marigolds to protect the tomatoes from pests
1 “silver falls” dichondra

I’ve also planted quite a few seeds. Including the seeds I planted last week, I have so far planted the following (asterisks indicate crops that I am succession planting, so I’ll be planting even more of these over the next few weeks):

Early White Vienna Kholrabi* (2)
Bull’s Blood Beets* (4)
Cosmic Purple Carrots* (4) — I have a soft spot for purple veggies
Nutri-red carrots (8)
Cherry Bell Radishes* (8)
French Breakfast Radishes* (8)
Oriole Chard (2)
Vulcan Chard (2)
Lemon Squash (1)
Catnip (several)
Chives (several)
Nasturtiums (2)

And still to come Tomorrow I will finish planting a few more seeds.
Cylindra Beets* (4)
Early Purple Vienna Kohlrabi* (2)
New Zealand Spinach (1)

And finally, I’m still trying to get my hands on some purple bush bean seeds — those are the last seeds I need for my summer planting. But I may have to settle for green ones.

Square Foot Gardening

May 19th, 2008

I am a fan of Mel Bartholomew’s approach to gardening — he calls it “square foot gardening.” There are tons of websites and books about it. My previous gardening experience has been mostly with containers, so I’m not speaking from experience — but the square foot gardening approach just feels right to me. It’s intuitive.

The basic idea is that you divide your planting space into a grid of roughly 1×1 foot blocks. Here’s my southwest bed with its grid:
Southwest Garden Bed

I made the grid by attaching some nylon cord we had laying around to the wood sides, using small nails. Other people use yard sticks or horizontal blind blades or bamboo or sticks or all sorts of things. Nylon cord is what I had, so I used it.

Then you intensively plant each square. The grid helps you to space your plants very closely — this cuts down on weeds and makes the most of the space you have. It also helps to visually organize the garden and keep it tidy. The idea is to never have a bare spot in your garden — when you harvest something, you immediately plant something else to replace it.

I live in a fairly moderate climate (USDA zone 7), so I have a long growing season — theoretically it lasts from April to early November, and I could extend it even more by using a cold frame. I could grow a lot of food in those seven months by starting with cool season crops (spinach, broccoli, lettuces, beets, turnips, etc.), moving on to warm season crops (tomatoes, beans, peppers, etc.) then going back to more cool season crops. My garden is only 32 square feet in size, but it has the potential to provide a lot of food for my family — provided I can figure out how to make the most of it!

There are a few more principles that underpin the square foot garden system: a particular mix of components for the dirt (for various reasons, I haven’t used Mel’s Mix), succession planting, automatic crop rotation, and planting only what you will eat and no more. But the heart of the square foot garden system is the grid.

It made me happy to nail my grid in place this weekend, and to push a few seeds in the ground — radishes, beets, kohlrabi and carrots. This upcoming weekend, I will plant my tomato and pepper transplants, and fill a few squares up with flowers (marigolds and nasturtiums — they are pretty and control certain pests).

I hate technology

May 17th, 2008

I noticed yesterday that a comment I posted on this website didn’t display, so I went poking around MovableType — and discovered that my comments have been set to moderate for some time. I had no idea. I’m not sure how this setting got changed — I can’t recreate the history of it. I apologize to people who’ve been leaving comments that didn’t get posted — I wasn’t getting the e-mail notifications about them.

I was kinda bummed about the lack of comments, but I figured Breaching the Web had so little traffic on it that no one cared! Now I know better.

Tiny Farm

May 15th, 2008

I live in a tiny townhouse. And behind my tiny townhouse, I have a tiny backyard. And in my tiny backyard, I have a tiny lawn.

I hate my tiny lawn. The tiny lawn is about 12×20 feet. The grass is nice — it’s much nicer than the grass in my tiny front yard, but it’s still grass, which I find useless and uninspiring. Here’s a picture:

My tiny backyard

The tiny patio (which you can’t see) is about the same size as the tiny lawn. I like the tiny patio.

I’ve decided to turn my tiny lawn into a tiny farm. I’m giving it the entirely expected name of “Tiny Farm.” I’m approaching the establishment of Tiny Farm with tiny steps so that I don’t get overwhelmed. I have a tiny tendency to bite off more than I can chew.

To begin Tiny Farm, my husband and I built two 3×6 foot raised garden beds. Here’s a shot of one of the raised beds:

Garden bed

I put one bed on each side of the tiny lawn. The beds are made from 2×12s, cut to size by a nice guy at Home Depot. My husband and I screwed them together with deck screws, then put them on the tiny lawn. I lined the beds with newspaper to smother the sod, then I filled them with the dirt left over from last year’s container garden (which was great — a mixture of composted manure, kitchen compost and nice sandy dirt). I need to add more dirt — I’m planning on a mixture of coir, compost and vermiculite. And then Tiny Farm will be ready for it’s first tiny transplants.

I love Tiny Farm.