Monday, April 17, 2006

Yet another rambling garden post.

I finally got some seeds planted this weekend. I'm a little late with the carrots and peas, but we'll see how they do. I also got some bush beans, lettuce, mesclun, sweet onions, and Swiss chard in. (If you like salad greens and you've never grown Swiss chard, give it a try. It's super easy to grow, doesn't mind the heat of summer, it tastes great, and the stalks grow in a rainbow of colors.) The farthest bed has nothing but Tri-Star strawberries. There's a two-compartment compost bin at the end.

I also got my sad little tomato and pepper seedlings moved into bigger pots. They are struggling big time. In fact, I bought some transplants at the garden center the other day, because I have very little confidence that my little seedlings are going to make it at this point. On the advice of an article I read, I tried starting my seeds in pure perlite instead of a soil mix. Don't try this at home. I think that writer was drunk or something. Maybe I did something wrong, but a lot of my seeds didn't sprout at all, many died, and the ones that didn't are small and sad looking. They are in potting soil now. We'll see if they recover.

I bought a little Brussels sprout transplant too, just for fun. I've never grown them before. In fact, it never occured to me to grow them before. A total impulse buy.

After reading about various gardening methods, from French intensive gardening to the keyhole beds of the permaculture world to wide-row gardening, I decided to go back to square foot gardening. It just seems like the most straightforward to me. I had some success with it before, on a very small scale (4ft x 4ft). Now I've got two 4x8 beds. It's amazing how much that adds up to in the square foot gardening world. That's 64 different slots to fill, and each one can be pretty productive. And no thinning, so that'll save some effort later.

Weeding is going to be bad though. This property was just fallow field for at least a couple years, so it's got lots of weed seeds floating around. And the straw I spread to try to get some grass established probably brought more with it.

I've discovered that gardening and landscaping out here in the wide open spaces of Pickaway county is much different than I'm used to. It's so windy out here all the time. In the fall I cut in some flower beds around the house, put in some shrubs, bulbs, ornamental grasses, etc. and filled in with mulch. Then I spread some grass seed over the bare dirt of the yard areas. Now, most of the plants are windburned, a good portion of the mulch has wandered off, and the grass seed migrated from the lawn to the flower beds, or just left the area altogether. In late winter, I tried again with the grass seed, but put some straw down in hopes of giving it a little buffer from the wind, and to get a little organic matter into the soil. Within a week, the straw was gone. Well, except for the straw that ended up in the flower beds.

So now I have grass, and straw in the veggie garden, and the flower beds, mulch in the "lawn" (a.k.a. hog wallow), and weeds everywhere. Did I mention it's windy out here? Luckily, I happen to like dandelions. We have literally (I'm guessing) tens of thousands of them in bloom right now. I've never really understood our culture's obsession with eradicating them. Apparently the leaves are chock full of nutrients too. Maybe I'll try some one of these days. I'd say a dozen little yellow blooms per square foot in some areas. How much does dandelion wine sell for these days?
Okay, enough rambling for now...


At 4/19/2006 7:57 PM, Blogger Beo said...

I happen to like the rambling! If the potting soil doesn't save your transplants in a ay or so throw in some diluted Fish Emulsion-smells like distilled Satan in a jar, but it is doing wonders for my non growing lavender seedlings.

Nice looking gardens!

At 4/20/2006 7:01 PM, Blogger JBTW said...

I use a sphagnum peat moss & perlite combination. (Ends up being a 2 to 1 1/2 mix, respectively.) And I toss some time released plant food granules for good measure. Water really throws the seeds around if you don't wet the mix it first. (Put it in a plastic container, add warm water until it's a nice consistancy -- pretend you're going to make dirt balls, just starts to stick, & let it sit for 4 or more hours...) Then do your planting.
Happy planting!

At 4/20/2006 7:03 PM, Blogger JBTW said...

Oh... my family used to eat dandilion leaves with bacon dressing. Maybe you could give that a try with your wine. (My husband's family's preference!)

At 8/13/2010 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We tried the Square foot method, but it's WAY more work, because the dirt is higher than the ground and dries out quicker. Also the yield wasn't half of what we have with our row garden.

Look forward to hearing if it worked for you.



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