Monday, July 23, 2012

Lots of Square Foot Gardening

New 4X4 Foot Garden for Fall
 It's the middle of July, and I'm setting up for my fall garden. This is the newest 4X4 foot bed that I put out a couple of weeks ago. It's a cedar kit for the 4X4 outside, and my husband used strips cut from our cedar fencing to make my grid. I've started the fall zucchini plants under little net cloches, to keep the borers and squash bugs off of them. There's also parsley and pineapple sage showing in the bed. What you can't see are the 4 squares of bush beans that I planted this morning on the left side, and the 2 square of radishes I planted on the right side.
Net Cloches Keep the Bad Bugs at Bay
     I've found that pineapple sage, marigolds and radishes help keep the bad bugs off the zucchini. This time around I planted "Sure Thing" zucchini from Burpee - it doesn't have to be pollinated by bees to set fruit. We'll see how it comes along, it's the first time I've tried that kind of seed. I grew these from seed in my plant nursery area, then transplanted them into the new bed.Usually I would plan the seeds directly into the bed, but I got the seeds before I got the bed ready - so I went ahead and planted them. It all came together in the end, as you can see.
 The narrow strips of cedar lathe that my husband set up for me to use as my grid had an unexpected benefit - the net cloches fit right into them perfectly! Do you recognize what they are? I am using the small umbrella netting domes that you get for keeping bugs off your food at a picnic to keep the bad bugs off my baby zucchini plants! They will grow too large for the domes at some point, but I've already found frustrated snails and slugs climbing on the netting, trying to find the way in to eat the leaves. I was able to just pick them off and ... dispose of them.

     On either side of the 4X4 new bed are two Growbox planters with two Black Beauty zucchini in each. The Growbox planters are self-watering, which helps with heavy drinkers like zucchini plants. I put a mosquito dunk in each water reservoir. The mosquito dunks contain BT - an organic bacteria that kills mosquito larvae and also helps with squash vine borers. It's an experiment to see whether the BT in the water the zucchini take up in their roots will also inoculate them against the dreaded squash vine borer. Fingers crossed! Those little beggars are tough on squash. 

Tomato Tower and Cucumber Cube
These two beds are across from the new 4X4 bed, with its cedar plank walkway. I put them in last year, and now wish I had some cedar boards or mulch between the beds, so we wouldn't have to mow so close to the garden beds. 

These beds are composite recycled boards, not wood, and the grids are strips from plastic foam board to make the 4X4 grids. I like these grids because they let me put up the bright red 18" square 6" tall tomato towers that I order from Burpee. I like them because they last forever, look cool even with no plants growing on them, and I can fold them flat for storage at the end of the season. The bed on the right has tomato plants that are loaded with fruit and starting to bear. See the bird block netting? There are a nesting pair of cardinals that have their eyes on my ripening tomatoes!

I made a mistake and planted an indeterminate vining tomato in the shorter tomato cage, and when it grew right out of the top, I got a staking system at the garden store to keep it from falling over - so it's double-staked! Sort of like a belt-and-suspender system. Next time I'll learn to READ on the transplant's tag whether it's determinate (bush) or indeterminate (vining) and cage accordingly.
Rooting Tomatoes and Starting Melons
     The further away bed is basil, marigolds and cucumbers, with a couple of determinate tomatoes on the other side. The cucumbers have been bearing heavily all summer. I love going out and picking one, then cutting and eating right in the kitchen. So fresh! and I know exactly how they were grown. It makes me feel very virtuous to grow and eat my own salads! 

 This is where I start plants off from seed, in the plant nursery. There's a concrete slab here, probably from an old pump housing years ago, and I have another Growbox on top of it with baby watermelon and cataloupe vines getting started. That large pot has tomato rootings in it. I cut away large limbs and sucker vines off the vining tomatoes and put them in good potting soil to grow roots. When my spring-started tomatoes are all done, these will be ready to get started and bear through to the first frost.
Supporting the New Plants for the Fall Garden
 Because I'm in Zone 8 here in Central Louisiana, I almost get a chance at two gardens, Spring and Fall. The Spring-Summer plants get tired from bearing all summer, but these new baby plants are all ready to take their places and keep growing all through August and September, for a fall harvest. I plant marigolds all over the place, to help keep the bad bugs away - and to give a splash of yellow color here and there.

Peppers and Pineapple Sage
This is the other side of the tomato square foot bed - it has okra, pineapple sage and yellow banana pepper plants. The okra hasn't started blooming yet - it went in where the yellow squash plants came out when they got finished. We ate all the yellow squash, and the plants were done, so out they came and okra went in their place. That's one thing I love about square foot gardening - it has crop rotation built right into the system. I don't make up a planting chart or anything like that - when the lettuce is done, plant the beans. When the beans are done, plant something else in their place. 
     Also in this bed are some cajun red pepper plants. I've almost picked all of their peppers and used them in banana pepper relish. I like the bright splash of red in the jar with the yellow pepper rings of relish. 

 This is my second year with my square foot garden in this location - I built the beds last year. This year's crop has been much better. It's the first time I've tried a second fall garden - wish me luck!


pam ferrari said...

Love your gardens! Mine didn't do well this year. To many cold nights after planting.

LLYYNN - Lynn Davis said...

Pam, the weather is still too hot here, day and night, for my fall lettuce to germinate. I've started some indoors, so maybe when the nights cool down a bit I can put them out under the mini-greenhouse covers.