Archive for June, 2012

Sprinklers!

There isn’t much to this post, but I’ve added some drip sprinklers.  Here are some of the parts I used:

expansion valve

yard watering kit

1/4″ drip tube

pressure regulator

sprinkler

 

More planting, pruning, and caging in a square foot

Tonight after I arrived at home, the girls and I went out back to see what we could put in the ground.  We decided that it was time for more onions and carrots since the current crop of onions and carrots are two weeks under way.  This will be our first attempt at succession planting or stagger planting which I can already tell will take some planning to ensure we have a continual harvest without having a huge abundance.  We used the planting boards to put green onions in as well as three ‘presses’ of carrots – all different varieties.  What I’m calling a ‘press’ is when I take the 2′ x 1′ planting board and press it into the medium creating the spaced holes required to plant seed.  We planted 6 square feet of carrots and 2 square feet of green onions which should yield about 32 green onions and 96 carrots when they mature.  Maybe I’m wrong but this is incredibly efficient gardening.  In one 4×4 section of bed (16 sq ft), I can plant 256 carrots.  I have 16 of these 4×4 sections so I could plant approximately 4096 carrots at one time – not that I would, but you get the idea.  Radishes are on 1.5″ centres so double for radishes – 8192.  We also used the boards tonight to plant 18 red onions in bed 3 on four-inch centres, this should provide a nice variety of onion.

I decided to see how my tomatoes measured up after a week and here are the results : Mortgage Lifter tomato gained 4 inches at 21″ tall.  Park’s Whopper gained an impressive 7 inches at 29″ tall.  The Beefsteak tomato gained 5 inches at 18″ tall.  My pizza peppers have sprouted and I suspect I’ll need to transplant them in a week or so as they are way to close to the tomato cage and will quickly get choked out.

Planting boards – the end of row cropping

I realized this the first year we planted, but it’s just not practical to utilize row cropping in this system.  Your rows are 4′ long and if you space them out by the seed packet instructions, you are wasting a lot of space.  Len’s latest book includes instructions for building planting boards that are 1′ x 2′ with different spacing options.  I took the time to build some planting boards in different spacing widths and I’ll be using them in a few days when we plant again.  Another advantage to using the planting board is that you don’t have to ‘thin’ your crops.  In the row method, you’d drop seeds very close and then thin them out to be 3″ apart (carrots for our example).  I think that’s a waste of good seed.  In our medium, very few seeds fail to germinate so if you plant it, you can be almost assured that it will grow.  I can already see that when I use the planting board, I’ll be able to plant 32 carrots in a 1′ x 2′ space – radishes (at 1.5″ apart) 64 in a 1′ x 2′ space – that’s ~2048 radishes or ~1024 in one 4×16 bed – now we’re talking.  Goodbye row cropping, hello densely planted vegetables.

Tomato Cages / Towers and Pruning

One of the things I learned from Len’s book and video is how to support and prune tomatoes.  I won’t go into major detail on the pruning but it involves leaving some of the suckers and pinching off the leaves to get more base stems going up the supports.  His pruning style is similar to that found in the book How to Grow World Record Tomatoes by Charles Wilber who is a Guinness Champion tomato grower.  Len goes into much better detail than I can about pruning in the video you can pickup on his website.

Cages
The growing medium we are using is so loose that it is not possible to steak up a tomato in the traditional manner with a pole, wire cage, or other trellis that sticks in the ground.  Besides the loose medium, the indeterminate tomatoes we are growing can get very large so whatever we do, it needs to be robust enough to support a large plant.  Read the rest of this entry »

In a pickle

Bed #1

The radishes were the first to show, much to M’s delight, less than a week after she planted them.  I thought this was so awesome until I read that radishes can germinate and be a small plant within 3 days.  The radishes are joined by thin grass looking green onions and some small carrots.  The white onions we transplanted have greened up and are pointing to the sky now.  I’m no expert on sweet potatoes but they do look good!

Bed #2

The mortgage lifter tomato is now 18″ tall but no suckers have showed themselves yet (more on this later).  The Parks Whopper is coming strong at 22″ tall and very healthy looking.  I pinched off 6 of the leaves leaving the suckers and stabilized the plant with dowel rods on the cage (more on this later).  The Beefsteak tomato I had was just small.  It’s early June and I don’t want to waste any time so I was at HD replacing some of the peppers that sucked and saw that they had a larger Beefsteak.  This guy looks amazing – full, green, thick and healthy, so I transplanted it tonight @ 13″ tall.

A note about Home Depot in Southaven, MS and their garden center – I picked up a variety of pepper plants last week of which most of them looked very good.  Within 3 days I had 6 plants wilting on me while the rest of the garden including 9 other peppers within the same 4’x4′ area were doing fine.  I sent the dead peppers to Mississippi State Extension office in Hernando and they reported back that the peppers had Pythium Root Root – possibly from over watering at the store.  When I returned today to give it another shot, the peppers and tomatoes looked much better.

Bed #3

We picked up some pickling cucumbers , okra, and melons at Dan West in Memphis which made their way into bed #3 tonight.  The first few years, we grew all salad cucumbers.  What we found out is that even with giving away salad cucumbers to family and friends, we always had too many that ended up in the trash.  This year I planted one salad cucumber and three pickling cucumbers.  I’m going to make an early year prediction – we’ll have way to many pickling cucumbers that will make their way into the compost pile.

There is nothing wrong with having an abundance, but I never had a ComposTumbler before so anything I didn’t use went into the trash.

 

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