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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Square Foot Garden Update:
Carrots, Tomatoes and a Couple of Mystery Plants

A Square Foot Garden Box containing Cherokee Purple Tomatoes, an ill Pepper plant, and a couple of volunteers that I'm growing to see what they are. Photo by Bobby Coggins

I've been trying a new method of gardening this year, one that was invented by Mel Bartholomew called The New Square Foot Gardening Method, and if you follow me on Twitter, you've seen the photos I've posted of my progress so far.

The two mystery plants are in the square on the left and the ill Pepper plant is on the right. Photo by Bobby Coggins

I have a pepper plant that I think has been snacked on by a snail, and am trying to nurse it back to health by transplanting it to the warm and dry area where I've located my garden. The two mystery plants to the left had sprouted up next to my Jiffy Pellets.

Yesterday, I made an instructional video (and I use the term loosely) showing me planting some carrot seeds. It was an off-the-cuff thing, so I ad-libbed my way through it:

My transplanted Cherokee Purple Tomatoes sitting in my Square Foot Gardening Box

Just a few minutes ago, I decided that my Cherokee Purple had taken up enough space in my germination laboratory, and transplanted them to my SFG [Square Foot Garden] box. It sure was a pleasant experience, having had to deal with clay soil all of my life to just slip them into Mel's special soil.

I'm thinking of putting together another box tomorrow and transplanting some Yellow Tomatoes and planting a few Chinese Red Noodle beans into it. Maybe start some peppers from seed...hoping that it's not too late to do that. But, that's part of the fun of gardening, to try new things and see if it works out!

I'll let Mel explain the benefits of this method of gardening:

To find out more about this unique method of gardening, visit the Square Foot Gardening Foundation. Most libraries carry a copy or two of his book...but I bet you'll have a hard time finding it on the shelf!

Another good place to check out on the Internet is Tim's Square Foot Gardening Page.

Here (courtesy of Wikipedia) is just a few of the benefits of Square Foot Gardening:

  • Much less work. Conventional gardening requires heavy tools to loosen the soil, whereas in this method, the soil is never compacted and it remains loose and loamy. Weeding takes only seconds to minutes, due to the light soil, raised beds, and easily accessed plants. Harvests per foot of garden are increased due to the rich soil mixture, well-spaced plants, and lack of weeds produced when following Mel Bartholomew's method.
  • Water Savings. The soil mixture that is advised has water-holding capacities, so that the garden needs water less frequently, and in much smaller quantities than when using other gardening methods. Water is also spared by hand-watering directly at the plant roots, so that there is very little waste and tender young plants and seedlings are preserved.
  • Very little weeding. One benefit of this close planting is that the vegetables form a living mulch, and shade out many weed seeds before they have a chance to germinate.
  • Pesticide / Herbicide Free. Natural insect repellent methods like companion planting (i.e. planting marigolds or other naturally pest-repelling plants) become very efficient in a close space and thus, pesticides are not necessary. The large variety of crops in a small space also prevents plant diseases from spreading easily.
  • Accessibility. A plywood bottom can be attached to the bottom of a box, which can then be placed on a tabletop or raised platform for those who wish to garden without bending or squatting, or to make gardening easy for wheelchair, cane or walker users.

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