Tag Archives: raised-bed square foot garden

Garden Clean Out

 

 

We are STILL having super hot, high humidity days here. (The heat index is supposed to be around 106 this afternoon.) Even with our irrigation system, my garden bit the dust. Over the course of several days I cleaned out the plants – murdering fire ants that were in the boxes as I pulled – and finally have things cleaned up.

We built our raised-bed square foot garden for several reasons. We live on top of a ridge line and there is very little ‘soil’ here. You try to dig a hole to plant something and you immediately hit rock – endless rock. So after trying to build a garden, trucking in topsoil, evaluating it in order to add what was needed, etc., we finally gave up traditional methods. For a bit we had two long rectangular boxes on the ground, marked off into squares, filled with Mel’s Mix (peat moss, Vermiculite, and as many different compost types as you can find. We put a fence around the boxes to keep deer and other critters out. We added chicken wire around the base of the fence to keep smaller critters, like rabbits, out. This worked pretty well for awhile, but I was finding it harder and harder to either bend over double or get up and down over and over on my hands and knees.

We decided to build ‘tables’ in effect, raising the garden boxes up to my chest level.  The ‘tables’ are linked by lengths of hose with a sprinkler in the center of each box for easy irrigation. We have an outdoor faucet and a timer attached to it so the whole garden is watered automatically each day.

 

 

This picture shows the irrigation system a little more clearly.  We have six 4 foot by 4 foot boxes in which to plant. The boxes are divided into squares by wire.

 

 

 

This picture shows the fencing a bit more clearly.

 

Behind the shop and beside the garden is my supply of ingredients to make Mel’s Mix. I have one trash can for each ingredient. The red thing under the tarp is a portable concrete mixer. I put the proper proportions of the ingredients into the mixer and use this to mix things thoroughly. I then dump the mixed soil alternative into a big bucket and take it inside the fencing to dump into each of the boxes.  I also mix stuff to take by wheelbarrow around to the converted brick planters we use for tomatoes on the opposite side of the house.

I wish that our weather here in Arkansas were not quite so harsh during the summer. It’s been MUCH too hot to try to get plants started in my greenhouse, for example I mainly use it at the end of winter to try to get plants started for the spring garden.

 

I’ll have my eyes open for any fall plants available here locally, but mostly, we’re finished until the spring now.

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The Ant Assassin Strikes Again!

This is an old picture of one of the raised beds in our square foot garden. We don’t have the shade fabric over the top anymore and the beds are looking nice and clean in this picture. REALITY Is lot of old plants that have given up the ghost in the relentless sunshine and weeds all over the place.  :0/

I went – ARMED – carrying the 2-gallon sprayer filled with EIGHT bug killer that will kill the bugs, but not harm plants, animals, or people.

I pulled out a bunch of the plants, then quit when I got overheated. I went out again, prepared to pull out the remaining two large plants. I pulled out one and was IMMEDIATELY attacked with a SWARM of fire ants overflowing out of the box. I brushed them off my arms as soon as possible, then grabbed the sprayer and hosed everything down, assassinating as many of them as possible. I then came in the house, washed off my arms, took two Benedryl tablets and then put Benedryl ointment on both arms where they were still stinging.

I’m HOPING that I have now gotten being attacked by fire ants and the treatment of it down to a science now. My arms are still stinging, but I only have a couple of welts. (My whole arms would have swelled previously.)

I’ll rest a bit, then go out again, hose down the box again, and see if I can finish clearing that box out.

I remain open to lists of what good things fire ants do – and why I shouldn’t murder them – but have to tell you it’ll be a hard sell.

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My Garden Exploded!

I’ve told you we’ve had non-stop rain the past day-after-day-after-day around here. I haven’t been able to even THINK about getting out to the garden. The rain has stopped for a minute, so I went out there, not knowing whether my sweet little plants would have been washed out of their little squares, totally inundated with water and lying sadly dying, or what.

What I found amazed me. My garden is happy, healthy, and has exploded! :0)

This first post is to show you the raised bed, square foot garden as a whole.

My husband and I made six 4’x4′ wooden planter boxes and then mounted them on metal support ‘tables’. We have irrigation hoses that attach to a sprinkler in each box. We have a timer on the main hose so that the garden is watered daily (except for lately – since Mother Nature has no idea when enough is enough!)

I had one lettuce plant in each marked off square. I also planted one broccoli plant in each of other squares. I planted 12 radish seeds in each of several squares, and then I planted a BUNCH of sweet red onion sets in one whole box, since they won’t be harvested until the end of the summer or the fall.

As you can see, it’s hard to tell where one plant ends and another starts!

Apparently, the plants really love the too-much rain (we made drain holes in each square.) and the intermittent sunshine.

 

As you can see here, the broccoli is blooming. That’s bad, and it means the probable end of the broccoli crop. I cut off the blooming part because I have read that sometimes, when the main broccoli head is gone, the side shoots will produce heads.

In the next post I’ll show you what I’ve already harvested today. There is MUCH more out there, plus a LOT of work to do, harvesting more, weeding, etc.

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Veggies After the Storms

We had some really hard rain off and on yesterday, with more this morning, so I was a bit worried about what I might find in our raised bed square foot garden.

We built 6 ‘boxes’ that are each 4 feet by 4 feet, installing them on metal supports about my chest high. This enables me to enjoy adding soil, planting, weeding, and harvesting without having to get down on my hands and knees, or bend over double.  You can see 5 of the 6 boxes in the photo above.

 

I planted one whole box with sweet red onion sets. I’ll leave these alone until harvest, other than weeding and maybe thinning out as the bulbs grow.

 

This is a combination of broccoli plants and radishes that have just sprouted. No sprouts from the spinach yet. :0(

 

Here is some of the lettuce plants and more radishes. I’ll start harvesting some lettuce leaves tomorrow.

This is what I call the NOOK planter, since it is cradled by the back of the house and the end of the back porch. The tomato plants are quite sheltered from the wind here, plus get more shade.

And this is the second tomato planter. It is more exposed than the other. It seems to depend on the year whether the tomatoes produce better in the sun and wind or relative protection and shade.

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Playing in the Dirt

grilloservies.com

I’m trying to spend a bit of time each day in either my veggie garden or my flower planters. Yesterday I didn’t do anything heavy, recuperating from earlier endeavors, so today I’m redoubling my efforts to get outside.

We’re having way-too-soon hot weather here, so my romaine lettuce plants are bolting. :0(    We’ve been able to harvest a couple of times, and I’ll try to save as much as I can in the few days we have left before the plants soar to the sky, getting several feet high – I guess in their efforts to live a bit longer and make seed.

My husband wanted to go today to get flowers for the deck, but I’m so behind in my garden and my flower planters I asked him to wait until tomorrow or Thursday. I usually jump at the chance to get more flowers, but I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, particularly since I can’t work very long in this heat and don’t get as much accomplished as I would like.

I love spending time playing in the dirt. I’m concentrating my efforts in the morning and then in the evening, when the sun isn’t as strong. I work a bit, come in and rest and gulp water, then go out again, over and over. I love watching my plants thrive!

I’ll try to get some pictures to share with you later.

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The Spring Garden is Started!

I got my plants in this afternoon. This picture gives you an idea of where the garden is in relation to our shop.

 

We have six 4’x4’x8″ raised bed boxes in our garden. It is surrounded by fencing, with chicken wire also around the bottom. I’ll run some bright surveyor’s tape around the perimeter about chest high and also down each of the guy wires at the corners to warn critters that there is a structure here.

 

I’m planting fewer things this year, with wider spacing. I planted 12 broccoli plants, 12 romaine plants, 12 spinach plants, and 12 iceburg lettuce plants. I had already planted two bunches of onion sets. I have several empty squares. I’ll plant some radishes, plus celery transplanted from plants started in the house later.  I’m going to play with growing some gourds because my friend Kay brought some seeds to Lunch Bunch recently. :0) I also have a six pack of tomato plants still in the greenhouse. I’ll wait a couple of weeks to plant them.

 

Last year I  lost some produce because the plants got too large and crowded each other out in the squares. This year I’m only planting one plant per square (other than the onions) and we’ll see how that works.

 

In this picture you can see the line of trash cans along the back of the shop, plus the blue tarp, etc. The light gray trash cans are filled with the components of Mel’s Mix (peat moss, vermiculite, mushroom compost, barnyard compost, and cotton burr compost.) I have our personal composter toward the house. The darker gray trash cans hold supplies for planting.

I had some trouble with the end of one of the irrigation hoses being messed up. My good husband came out and replaced the messed up end of hose with a new end and then we could water the garden! We won’t put the system on a timer until we’re sure all chance of frost and  freezing are past.

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Tomatoes! July 21, 2017

We had a GREAT harvest today. It’s so hot that even though we have an automatic watering system, the plants are pretty stressed. I’m not sure if we’ll have any more or not this year.  We mustn’t be TOO greedy, though. We’ve had a truly great year for fresh tomatoes – plenty for us and more for family and friends, plus ones to freeze. YUM!

The next time I go out, I’m planning to weed the raised bed square foot garden. I’ll take pics to post.

 

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Garden After the Storms

The temperature right now is 58 F., and there is a gusty wind. The sun is finally shining. I’m feeling really grateful that the Greenwood area of Arkansas seems to have come through the storms pretty well.  Fort Smith got some hail damage, power outages, and some wind damage, but overall, it could have been a lot worse.

I went out for the first time since Thursday to see what was left of our garden.  There is no major damage. The plants are beaten up some, but seem to still be alive. I’ll be spending a lot of time out there, once it warms up a bit, trying to prune the dead parts off the plants, etc.

This is the largest of the spaghetti squash plants I started in my kitchen from one I bought from the store. It seems to be doing fine, although there is no sign of any veggie yet.

 

I think I’ll probably go ahead and harvest all of the radishes and plant more in other squares.

 

This is the largest of the celery plants I started inside, cutting the bottoms off stalks I bought at the store. I have a couple more plants to bring out to the garden. Again, I have no clue what to expect. I may just get leaves, but I’m having fun watching. :0)

 

I’ll need to do a LOT of pruning on the lettuce and the spinach. They both got pretty battered with all the wind and rain.

 

I’m going to go ahead and harvest the broccoli plants before they shoot spears up. I’m hopeful I’ll get more heads from the other parts of the plants.

Look at this! I’m delighted to see this sweet cauliflower head. I think I’m supposed to arrange for the leaves to cover the heads so the head will stay white.

 

As you can see, LOTS of pruning will be needed to get the plants looking the way they should, but I’m grateful that the garden seems to have come through all the severe storms okay.

 

 

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Garden Images – April, 2017

I’ve just come in from a little over an hour of weeding and pruning in the garden. The pictures here were taken BEFORE I did that, ad I’m cringing a bit that you can see some little weeds and leaves that need to be removed, etc., but I wanted to share my delight in how well things seem to be doing now.

I actually have little bitty heads of broccoli coming on!

 

This is a terrible picture, but I have TWO cauliflower heads showing!

 

This is the largest celery plant, though I have several others. No clue yet whether I’ll actually get a stalk or not. (See what I mean about the little weeds? Most of them are gone now.

 

These are Georgia Sweet Onions. They seem to be happy now, rebounding from the hail storm.

 

This is one of two squares of radishes.

 

Red leaf lettuce.

 

This is the largest of the spaghetti squash plants I started from seed in the house.

 

And spinach. I was so delighted to find plants for sale this year at the local co-op. I hope that I thanked the guy effusively enough that he’ll try to get them again and again. I can’t be the only person looking for them and wanting to grow it.

I mainly cut up spinach for salads, or put the leaves in the rare sandwiches we eat now. I’m going to try to actually cook the leaves this year. It might be a thing where we love the stuff in the can, but the actually fresh leaves taste like a completely ‘different animal.’

Does anyone have directions for how best to cook fresh spinach leaves?

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First Fall Lettuce Harvest!

firstfalllettuce

I went out to the shop to finish repainting the Catbert mailbox message, plus put another coat of polyurethane on the ceiling fan blades, and went on around to check our garden plants. I discovered that the lettuce plants were twice as large as when I planted them!

 

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I was able to find two different kinds of lettuce to plant this fall: “Salad Blend,” and “Head Lettuce.”

 

 

firstfalllettuce3

I washed it and filled a gallon sized ziplock bag with the first fall harvest. We’ll enjoy a bunch of it with our baked chicken this evening. YUM!

The very best part of the harvest was that I did it standing up! I simply moved from one square to the next, happily snipping off the longest leaves of each plant, not having to bend over double, strain to reach things, or get down on my hands and knees. WHOOPEEEEEEE!

(We’re waiting for a pipe puller tool to arrive in the mail. As soon as that arrives, we’ll tackle getting out the three (I think) lengths of pipe in the ground, clearing the way for us to install the first raised bed square foot planter on the north side of the garden!)

 

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Eureka!

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I was starting to lose hope on finding salad plants for my fall garden. My husband said he wanted to go to north Fort Smith after Lunch Bunch today, so suggested I call Neumeier Nursery & Florist to see if they had lettuce. (I had gone to, or called everyone else, including Sutherlands in Fort Smith, who said they MIGHT get some in the next few weeks, but they didn’t know for sure.)

We got the supplies my husband wanted and then made our way to the far side of Fort Smith to Neumeier’s. This is such a wonderful place. I’m very thankful we don’t live close to them, or my husband would be VERY upset at all the money I would spend. Not only did they have lettuce plants for me, they also have a wonderful shop with all KINDS of wonderful, useless things I WANT. Even my husband saw a ceramic painted and glazed tree frog on the wall he wanted. When we discovered the price, we decided we could live without him…

I got ten ‘salad blend’ plants. The lady told me to wait a week before planting them to give them time to grow better roots. My husband suggested that I put the whole flat of plants on top of the free raised bed planter. This way they’ll get sun and be watered each day while they continue growing their roots.

I’ll try to get them planted Thursday or Friday of next week. When I get these in the ground, my fall garden will be complete, except that I’ll start another square of radishes, and have one remaining square to try to grow celery from the bottoms I’m cutting and sprouting from my grocery store celery. I’m excited. Last fall was the first time I’ve ever tried to have a fall garden. We had fresh lettuce and spinach through January!

I also harvested yesterday. Here’s a picture –

 

cucumbers

I think these are the weirdest cucumbers I’ve ever had. The dark green one in the middle MIGHT be Zucchini, but I’m not sure. Things are really winding down in the main garden now, even though we still have a lot of greenery. I’m going to start pulling things up and cleaning things out in preparation for transitioning the north side of the garden into the rest of the raised bed garden. We have three 4’x4′ boxes and the metal support supplies ready whenever the garden is over and I get things cleaned out. Happy gardening!

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