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Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

Garden Updates

A couple of weeks ago I planted an eggplant, a pepper (Thai variety), and a flat of romaine lettuce, and they are all doing well (except for the lettuce leaves that got paver dust thrown on it from a wet saw). Today I dropped in a third tomato plant (San Marsano), watermelon, and some chard. (These are mostly notes for me to remember later).

One thing that has worked out very well is to create little portable greenhouses by folding a 3 foot by 1 foot piece of chicken wire in to a three-sided cube and then stapling clear plastic over it. I’ve used these little cubes on newly planted seedlings and it really helps them get established quickly. I’ve had especially good luck keeping one of these over my basil plants, as they keep the plants warm enough to prevent bolting just two weeks after they are planted. I’ll put some pictures of these little cubes up pretty soon, and then later I think I will build a whole glassed-in bed for the herbs and lettuces.

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Composting Starbucks

I was at a Starbucks this afternoon (I spend a bit of time working there since I have a T-Mobile HotSpot account), and they had a bag of used coffee grounds out for the taking to use in compost/gardens. I’ve seen a couple of posters about this but this was the first time I’d seen the actual bags. I asked a guy behind the counter if it was OK to take one and he said, “sure, want some more?” I ended up walking out with about twenty pounds of oder-licious black gold. Mixed a couple of bags in the compost bin and then sprinkled the rest around the garden itself. I’m hoping that it will keep the cats out from using my planting beds as a sandbox (I don’t think the cayenne pepper is working too well).

Anyways, its kind of a nice service from Starbucks. I’m sure I could get grounds from other local coffee shops, I should start checking around.

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Square Foot Gardening

I’ve had some friends ask me for suggestions on planting a vegetable garden lately, so I thought I’d just put a couple of suggestions up here. First of all, I really have to suggest this book. I got hooked on the idea when I was a kid and watched the show on PBS on the weekends. I think it fit somewhere in the This Old House/New Yankee Workshop Saturday Powerhouse Line-up. The great thing about Square Foot Gardening (SFG) is that it works for real land, for container gardens, pretty much anything.

The book itself is a great reference, with details on all the different approaches, questions, and even crops. Definitely feel free to think outside the book though and plant whatever you find you want to plant. You’ll get a feeling (by comparing the recommended spacing on packets) for how to adapt non-listed crops. Beyond the book, I do have some specific suggestions (read on):
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First Planting

I got up with the sun this morning and went out to get the first seeds in the ground; trying to see if I can extend the growing season past six months total. Note to self, take the time to mulch the bed at the end of the season to keep the clover down (actually oxalis, I think). It would be smart to take some more time to prep the bed before planting next year as well, but I’m impatient to get stuff in the ground so I end up culling through each square on a page-demand basis.

So I dropped one square each of arugula, lettuces, spinach, bok choy, chard, carrots and radishes. I’m hoping to get some time this weekend to setup some type of hot box for sprouting and I can begin some of my own seedlings for plants which aren’t ready to put in the ground yet.

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2003 Garden Notes

I went through and turned all the soil in the garden box tonight after being inspired by an insipid conversation about agribusiness online. I’m hoping to put in a first planting of early season seeds tomorrow, and get some seedlings going. Before I do so, I wanted to write down the notes I scribbled after last year. I’m sure you’re all looking forward to vegetable growing tips for the Richmond Annex micro-climate..

Successes:

  • Chard – Our most bountiful crop. Two squares fed both of us all season.
  • Tomatoes – The favorite of course. The plants in the garden were infinitely more flavorful than the plants in half barrels. I think it was probably the quality of the soil, but it might have been the variety. Best flavor came from the Stupice variety cherry tomatoes and the Enchantment variety plums.
  • Lettuce – Very productive, built somewhat quick to bolt. Best to stage in one square every four to six weeks.
  • Arugula – Now I know why they call this rocket, the second fastest growing weed in the garden (radishes are amazingly fast growers). I’m a huge fan of baby arugula, so this year I’m going to plant them a little tighter and keep them cut way back. Probably stage these in like the lettuce.
  • Pole Beans – These tasted great but the seeds sprouted behind some fast growing radishes, so they never grew very heartily.
  • Radishes – These things always amazed me. When we were playing with hydroponics as a kid I’d see radish seeds sprout within four hours of getting wet. They grew so damn fast that they overshadowed everything behind them.
  • Thyme – My only viable herb. In fact, it’s still growing now! (I had to dig it up so I could turn the rest of the soil.

Failures:

  • Cucumbers, bush beans, bell peppers – The seedlings wouldn’t take, they just never grew past their original size. Same with basil, very dissapointing.
  • Spinach – Grew well, but it got eaten. Bok Choy even more so…so much I’m planting a lot just to attract the bugs this year!
  • Carrots – Never grew too big, never got anything bigger than fingerlings.
  • Cilantro/Parsley – Bolted too quickly.
  • Brocolli – Slow growing for something you only get one harvest from in one square.

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Sprouting Time

Brian posted an interesting article about companion planting, which I haven’t really heard of before (and growing up on an organic farm, I’m suprised I hadn’t). It’s a very interesting idea, and I think I’ll try the three sisters in some of my backyard space this summer.

Which reminds me that I’m starting to get really excited about planting the garden this year. I’ll have to find my notes after last years season and start sprouting some stuff. Being gone in March for honeymoon will give some seedlings a good opportunity to mature in peace without me hounding them every other day.

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Creepy Crawlies

Damn bugs are eating the crap out of my garden. Earwigs and slugs mainly. They’re going crazy on the bok choy, but have taken bits out of the lettuce, chard, beans and cucumbers. I actually planted more bok choy to keep them occupied. Putting copper strips around the garden beds did not work. Even built some traps out of old yogurt cups cut at the top and filled with oil and teriyaki sauce (!?!). Caught a few earwigs, but not enough. Tonight I sprayed on some insecticidal soap (which seems to be not as benign as the name would imply) Several of them dropped right off and it seemed to melt the slugs a bit, we’ll see what happens.

Other notes:

  • Arugula grows like a weed. Probably because it is a weed. Might be a reason it’s called “rocket”. Plant half as much next time.
  • Bok Choy grows wicked fast, and bolts really quickly. Be sure to stage it in properly.
  • Radishes grow even faster, stage them in better. Carrots grow slower than expected
  • Spinach grows slower than expected, plant more than you want or mix it with chard.

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