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my square foot garden 2008

my square foot garden 2008
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  • my square foot garden 2008

    Post #1 - May 6th, 2008, 9:11 pm
    Post #1 - May 6th, 2008, 9:11 pm Post #1 - May 6th, 2008, 9:11 pm
    After a couple years of doing peppers, tomatoes and herbs on my deck and along our fence, I got more ambitious this year and decided to do a square foot garden. As prices of premade boxes was a bit high, last weekend I built my own 4'x4' planters out of 2"x12" planks from Home Despot. The wood was cheap, but the stupid galvanized L brackets were $2.50 each :mad:

    The space before:

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    an individual box:

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    This past Saturday, I gathered up the compost, peat & vermiculite. Lots of vermiculite left over. If anyone wants 2 4cu/ft bags for a bit off cost, let me know.

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    dug out the spots for the planters

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    filled them w/ the mix

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    and laid out the grids with some vinyl tape

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    Yesterday, I again gave Home Despot some of my hard earned $$ and got a soaker hose, timer and pipe straps to lay out my attempt at an irrigation system that would require minimal effort

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    Some thoughts after the first part of this process mainly have to do w/ the watering. The soaker hose works well for the first 2 legs, but it's barely a trickle by the time it gets to the very end. Also, the mix seemed very swampy in parts after only maybe 20 minutes. I guess this could be solved by restricting the water flow and running it for a little longer but then I don't think the end of the hose would get enough water pressure. But, the soil does hold moisture very well as it was still quite wet after 24 hours, as the water meter I bought registered off the chart in most spots.

    This Saturday, I'll go out and start planting the following:

    peppers - jalapeño, habanero, sweet, maybe an heirloom or 2
    tomato - 2 green zebra, 2 brandywine
    parsley
    basil
    carrot
    celery
    romaine
    buttercrunch lettuce
    spinach
    cabbage
    onions
    scallions (maybe)
    leeks (maybe)

    Pretty much all but the tomatoes & peppers will be from seed, which will be interesting as I've never done that before.

    If anyone has any comments or suggestions, feel free.

    Stay tuned !
    Last edited by tem on May 28th, 2008, 7:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #2 - May 6th, 2008, 9:36 pm
    Post #2 - May 6th, 2008, 9:36 pm Post #2 - May 6th, 2008, 9:36 pm
    Those are some gorgeous boxes, and I think the timer/hose set up is beautiful for watering during the workday.

    I didn't use brackets, though I think they are probably an excellent way to ensure longevity of the boxes.

    I'll be interested in seeing how the tomato plants work out -- they could create shade that would crowd other plants, though such a problem could be overcome by placing them in the boxes so that they get sun without blocking sun from other parts of the garden.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #3 - May 7th, 2008, 2:31 am
    Post #3 - May 7th, 2008, 2:31 am Post #3 - May 7th, 2008, 2:31 am
    David Hammond wrote:I'll be interested in seeing how the tomato plants work out -- they could create shade that would crowd other plants, though such a problem could be overcome by placing them in the boxes so that they get sun without blocking sun from other parts of the garden.


    That's what I do. I put my tomato plants on the North side of my box so they get plenty of sun, but don't cast a shadow over the other plants. I also don't use brackets, but I suppose it's not a bad idea. The first box I built lasted 5 years without them, but eventually got loose at the joints.

    I'd love to buy at least one of those bags of vermiculite if you still have them.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #4 - May 7th, 2008, 7:40 am
    Post #4 - May 7th, 2008, 7:40 am Post #4 - May 7th, 2008, 7:40 am
    Nice set-up! Sometimes, it's those little things that add up (i.e. brackets). In the future, you may have been able to cut down your cost by using a 4x4 in each corner for additional support. Also, if your yard doesn't drain well in the first place, you could have dug a few inches down and added a layer of sand or sandy mix. I really don't think you'll have much to worry about though - it really is a nice set up.

    My only advice is to really look into starter plants. Many people had started their lettuce 3-4 weeks ago and the cost for starters is pretty low. I found many nice varieties at Gethsemane in Edgewater - at reasonable cost. To get an idea, I just planted all of my starter plants last Saturday and posted the pictures on the "Rooftop garden" post. The onions will be sets (little dried onions) that you just push into the soil. Mine sprouted in a week and the greens have doubled in size in the last few days (maybe 2-3 inches). Parsley and basil plants are cheap and will grow well in your boxes.

    Keep us posted and good luck!
  • Post #5 - May 7th, 2008, 11:12 am
    Post #5 - May 7th, 2008, 11:12 am Post #5 - May 7th, 2008, 11:12 am
    tyrus wrote:My only advice is to really look into starter plants. Many people had started their lettuce 3-4 weeks ago and the cost for starters is pretty low. I found many nice varieties at Gethsemane in Edgewater - at reasonable cost. To get an idea, I just planted all of my starter plants last Saturday and posted the pictures on the "Rooftop garden" post. The onions will be sets (little dried onions) that you just push into the soil. Mine sprouted in a week and the greens have doubled in size in the last few days (maybe 2-3 inches). Parsley and basil plants are cheap and will grow well in your boxes.

    Keep us posted and good luck!


    Oh, I'll definitely get starter plants if they're available. I do remember seeing lots of lettuce/cabbage at Gethsemene so maybe I'll try to get up there before the weekend to beat the inevitable crush on Saturday. Actually, now that I think of it, I think the only items I haven't seen as seedlings/starters are carrots & onions. Everything else should be available somewhere.

    As for the tomatoes, those (and most of the peppers) will go along the left (west) edge of the boxes closest to the sidewalk. By the time 2 or 3 rolls around the boxes will be in the shade of the building anyways.
  • Post #6 - May 10th, 2008, 11:21 pm
    Post #6 - May 10th, 2008, 11:21 pm Post #6 - May 10th, 2008, 11:21 pm
    Part II

    Got home from work Friday night and since I didn't have any plans, I decided to drive out to Pesche's in Des Plaines as the seemed to have a better selection now than Gethsemane. It took about an hour to get there, but I was glad that I went as it meant I didn't have got up early today. Pretty sure they were cheaper than Gethsemane as well. You could get an entire flat of 24 containers (each with 3 or 4 plants) for only $16.

    This morning, I got to planting. I didn't put the tomatoes or peppers in the ground as it's still too cool outside for the most part but that's where they will go.

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    top to bottom row:
    thai hot pepper(1); jalapeño (1); melrose pepper (1); habanero (1)
    celery (4); gardenia & nasturtium; celery; radish (9)
    spanish onion (1 bunch); red cabbage (1); green cabbage (1); red onion (1 bunch)
    escarole (3); spanish onion (2); red onion (1); bibb lettuce (3)

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    brandywine tomato (1); lemon boy tomato (1); green zebra tomato (1); green zebra (1)
    romaine (3); gardenia; romaine (3); gardenia
    parsely (4); carrot (16); parsley (4); carrot (16)
    scallion (2 bunch); leek (1); leek (1) scallion (1); leek (1)

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    yellow bell pepper (1); super cayenne (1); melrose (1); jalapeño (1)
    parsley (4); parsley (4); nasturtium (2); <empty>
    parsley (4); marigold; parsley (4); parsley (4); <empty>
    beets (3 bunches); carrot (16); carrot (16); spinach (9)

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    And since I forgot I was going to put a few flowers in the planters as well, I ended up putting more celery, cabbage, red sail lettuce, endive and bibb lettuce along our fence. It will be interesting to see how they do compared to the planters. I'll also be putting a couple tomatoes and peppers on my porch as there will be a few left over. Hopefully the seeds will germinate in the next week or so. I just wish this miserable weather would pass ! :x

    I also think I'm gonna put some paving stones around the boxes as it can get a little muddy when wet.

    And yes, I'm a parsley addict.
    Last edited by tem on May 27th, 2008, 6:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #7 - May 11th, 2008, 6:55 pm
    Post #7 - May 11th, 2008, 6:55 pm Post #7 - May 11th, 2008, 6:55 pm
    Hoses.
    You want to feed your box-bed hoses in parallel, not in series. Otherwise you'll have precisely the problem you note: high pressure on the front end, low on the back end.

    Get yourself two brass siamese-Y hose fittings. Screw one into the other, which now gives you 3 'faucets'. You can cut that soaker hose easily into 3 sections, and put in 1/2" female fittings on one end, male fittings on the other. Use screwcaps over the back end male fittings. Another $10 in hardware, but it'll work forever, AND it'll end your pressure problems.

    Here's a shot of my two 4' x 8' beds, which my housie has cleverly fed in parallel in a closed loop. Works for us! :)
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    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #8 - May 12th, 2008, 11:46 am
    Post #8 - May 12th, 2008, 11:46 am Post #8 - May 12th, 2008, 11:46 am
    gah ... more $$$ to spend :)

    I'll check it out. thanks.
  • Post #9 - May 21st, 2008, 9:26 pm
    Post #9 - May 21st, 2008, 9:26 pm Post #9 - May 21st, 2008, 9:26 pm
    so here are things 1 week in. I'm a bit disappointed in the lack of growth from the lettuces & cabbage, but the radishes and spinach have sprouted. I also redid the irrigation as was suggested by Geo. I may have to redo one of the soaker hoses as one of the boxes isn't quite getting enough coverage but overall everything seems to be getting & holding plenty of moisture. 20-30 minutes of watering and my water meter still registers high levels 24 hours later. A cautionary note -- the plastic hose menders initially bought to make my triple-forked soaker system are *crap*. Very difficult to get secured tightly as they would pop off if the pressure was too high. I ended up taking most of them back and getting the 'pro' brass ones with the much better hose clamp.

    The other distressing thing, I guess, is something seems to be rooting around in the boxes -- like a squirrel or one of my neighbors dogs. I'm constantly finding things pushed around and tonight one of the gardenias was snapped off at the base :mad:

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    radish sprouts
    Last edited by tem on May 27th, 2008, 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #10 - May 22nd, 2008, 4:18 am
    Post #10 - May 22nd, 2008, 4:18 am Post #10 - May 22nd, 2008, 4:18 am
    tem wrote:The other distressing thing, I guess, is something seems to be rooting around in the boxes -- like a squirrel or one of my neighbors dogs. I'm constantly finding things pushed around and tonight one of the gardenias was snapped off at the base :mad:


    You need to erect a fence to keep the bunnies out.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #11 - May 22nd, 2008, 6:48 am
    Post #11 - May 22nd, 2008, 6:48 am Post #11 - May 22nd, 2008, 6:48 am
    Yes, you'll need to protect your hard-won veggies, otherwise they'll get eaten alive. Check out this topic:

    viewtopic.php?f=35&t=19561

    Good luck!
    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #12 - May 27th, 2008, 6:20 pm
    Post #12 - May 27th, 2008, 6:20 pm Post #12 - May 27th, 2008, 6:20 pm
    week 3

    My Lettuce Angst is in the past as they seem to be coming in better. In a few days I will probably be able to start harvesting. The radishes are making nice progress, as is all my parsley. Not much action on the peppers or tomatoes, but that's to be expected, I guess. Spinach started to sprout last week and all the carrots have started up as well. The only oddity this week is that the nasturtiums seem to be yellowing and starting to die. Any ideas ?

    Redid the irrigration *again*, splitting each soaker hose into two parts for each box. Each gets nice coverage now when watered via timer 30 mins at 5pm.

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    Last edited by tem on May 27th, 2008, 7:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #13 - May 27th, 2008, 6:39 pm
    Post #13 - May 27th, 2008, 6:39 pm Post #13 - May 27th, 2008, 6:39 pm
    Nice work. I told you that lettuce would start. I've been cutting off the outer leaves and think it makes the plants grow quicker. I swear, it's a two day turn around - especially in this cool weather.

    I think I'm just a week ahead of you and my peppers are still small but my tomatoes are starting to take off.

    Keep us posted...
  • Post #14 - June 10th, 2008, 7:55 pm
    Post #14 - June 10th, 2008, 7:55 pm Post #14 - June 10th, 2008, 7:55 pm
    about a month in, and things are really kicking into gear. the tomatoes grew almost a foot in about 8 days and I've never seen such big, broad parsley leafs. It only takes a few chopped up sprigs to be enough for a bowl of pasta. I'm giving away it and lettuce to neighbors as I don't eat nearly enough salad. Those grown from seed -- spinach, carrots and radishes are doing well and I should be able to get some baby spinach soon as well as radishes in a week or two.

    I did, however, have the two cabbage plants go belly up. I don't think they're getting enough sun as the 4 along our fence (which gets much more light) are doing well. I moved two pepper plants into their spots as they were being blocked by the parsely.

    Some advice that would be nice is how best to possibly thin the beets or carrots to ensure that they grow to large-ish sizes.

    I have to say, this is fun !


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    beets

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  • Post #15 - June 11th, 2008, 7:39 am
    Post #15 - June 11th, 2008, 7:39 am Post #15 - June 11th, 2008, 7:39 am
    Wow, things are really looking great. I'm sorry I can't help you on the thinning part, although I thought I saw something about it on the "My Garden 2008" thread. Keep up the good work!
  • Post #16 - July 27th, 2008, 2:59 pm
    Post #16 - July 27th, 2008, 2:59 pm Post #16 - July 27th, 2008, 2:59 pm
    it's been a while since my last update. Since then, the lettuces are gone and I ditched the radishes as they were going nowhere. I've started to harvest the celery and pulled all of the beets, which I guess were more baby beets. I'll have to find a way to cook them.

    The tomatoes are ridiculously big, all being at least 5.5-6ft high. The 2 green zebras on the left have at least 2-3 dozen fruits each, as does the lemon boy on the right. The brandywine, however, only has a few. Could this be because of the lack of bees for pollination ? Or are they just slow to develop ? I was out there today and saw a multitude of bees buzzing around.

    The peppers are all coming in. I've snipped a few melrose and jalapeño but they probably need a couple more weeks to fully ripen. The cayennes & thai have tons of activity as well. The yellow bells are much slower, however.

    The nantese carrots will probably remain smaller than normal since I didn't thin them. I pulled a bunch to see how they looked and while small, the taste was very nice, sweet & peppery. The onions, scallions & leeks will probably also be "baby" size as I didn't thin them, either.

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  • Post #17 - August 30th, 2008, 9:16 pm
    Post #17 - August 30th, 2008, 9:16 pm Post #17 - August 30th, 2008, 9:16 pm
    so it's been totally nuts harvesting all my tomatoes. The totals so far are:

    40 green zebra / 7.5 lbs
    27 lemon boy / 11.1 lbs
    7 brandywine / 3.6 lbs

    At $6/lb for heirlooms at Whole Foods, that's a nice haul.

    and there are still dozens of all 3 types (tho the Brandwines are very, very sparse) out on the vines. I've had more BLTs, salsa and caprese salads to last a lifetime and given away probably half of them. I've also harvested a lot of celery, carrots, an eggplant and have boatloads of cayenne, jalapeno, thai and melrose peppers. These have gone into things like ragu bolognese and giardinaira. All in all, it's been a bountiful harvest !!

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