Squarefoot Gardening 2010

I grew up in New Port Richey,Florida and my father was an avid gardener. We always had 2 half acre gardens, one beside the house and one in back. He would grow; okra, eggplants, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, bell peppers, hot peppers and countless other varieties. As a child I hated having to go weed the gardens, spread manure, harvesting vegetables and all the other tortures a 13 year old child hates that his mean father imposed upon him in the garden. 

As I have grown older I look back with fondness on those days. I often watched my father fall asleep on the couch with his glasses askew on his face reading another Organic Gardner Magazine. To him Gardening was like a religion unto itself. 

With all of the insecticides and processing used to bring vegetables to the local grocery now and days you begin to wonder if what you are eating is as healthful now as it was in the past. I wanted to get back into gardening to bring some of these wonderful veggies to our dinner table. My medium sized yard already has a large mews and a weathering yard for my hawk and the dog kennel, how would I fit a garden in? Of course this led me to Squarefoot Gardening by Mel Batholomew.

We decided to start small with only one 6″ raised bed and we followed the books reccomendation using Mel’s Mix, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 compost. We also started a composting bin as well. We laid out the grids using lathe boards and planted, tomatoes, beans, onions, bell peppers, and egg plants. We used the hand watering method which in our Laredo 100 plus degree weather quickly became a pain. So we rigged a soaker hose which we zip tied to the lathe boards to a water timer which solved that issue.

We learned some valuable lessons with our practice garden. One of which was a 6 ” raised bed is not deep enough to protect my plants from some of the high winds we get. Not even staking seemed to help. Another thing we learned after we obtained no useable yield in our garden was that peat moss when sold is very compact and that even though we thought we had only 1/3 in there it was much more. Which basicly caused my beds to dry out and water to not effectively get to the roots. Hence in the next photos you will see leaf curling and yellow on the leaves. We also had various insect that loved eating our plants and I wanted to try and go natural. This year forget that the seven dust goes on.

This year I wasn’t able to get a garden planted because with trapping and training a hawk and all the hunting I didn’t even try. My daughter and I cleared out a section of property which is between the side of the house and the fence for next years garden. We can build a nice table for gardening equipment with a closed in box underneath there for all our tools. There is room enough for three raised bed and a 2′ x 4′ bed which we plan on using for Butternut Squash, YUMMM. We are going to rig the timer to one hose with three hoses coming off it to soaker hoses for each bed. Because of the heat here we set the timer to water the beds twice a day for 10 minutes each time. We are hoping that with the shade of the house and the fence acting as a wind break the garden will have a better chance. Now that we know our soil mixture was wrong we are going to fix that and also add a lot of worm castings to the mix. And because it will be in a closed in space we can make a nice small fence to close it in with a garden gate. Face it pretty things makes the wife happy and I HAVE to keep her happy.

Now you see a good photo of Laredo soil and can understand why raised beds are the way to go. Not even grass has an easy time growing down here. My daughter and I are going hawk trapping like mad on my days off but we will be working on setting up the garden for next year when we can. I will post pics as we go. We will start our seed trays probably mid December and keep our transplants in the house till after the last freeze in January. Wish us luck. Oh and thanks, Mel.

Keep you soil moist  🙂


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