Posts Tagged ‘Len Pense’

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.

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 »

Starting my garden for 2012

It’s sad but I’m getting the garden started late this year.  I intended to get it started earlier but some weather delays coupled with some availability of digging equipment pushed it back to mid/late may.

Our first year
…of gardening was 2010.  My mom came down from Branson and helped us build a 4’x16′ raised bed cinder block garden.  She heard about a gardening technique that a man named Len Pense from the Springfield Missouri area.  I purchased his downloadable manual which covered a lot of what you need to know to make these raised beds work so.. we built one bed.  I learned several things my first year:

#1 – Indeterminate tomatoes grow big – HUGE – in these beds.  I put two plants at one end of what I’ll call Bed #1 and they took off.  I made the mistake of planting two tomatoes together and buying the ‘big size’ tomato cages made of concrete reinforcement wire.  These cages are about 1.5′ in diameter and 5′ tall – great for most gardens – not for this one.  By the end of the growing season, both tomato plants were overflowing out the top and fell over.

#2 – I hate squash bugs.  I first saw the squash bugs and thought – eh.. no big deal – gardens are supposed to have bugs right?  No dummy – gardens are supposed to have worms.  The only reason most bugs show up is for dinner.  Thinking that gardens were supposed to have bugs, I paid these cute little white creatures no mind.  My yellow squash were the first plants to start to die followed by my beloved Zucchini.  I though.. what on earth would cause these plants to just die – was I not watering them enough? Watering too much?  No.. these white critters were now brown and there were even more little white critters … they were having dinner on my plants!!  Into the garbage heap and out to the street they went.

I learned several other lessons but those were the big ones.. oh.. and building raised bed cinder block gardens was challenging at best – especially when you have to dig out a hill to make it level.

Our second year
…started out pretty good.  I took some of the lessons I learned and tried to apply them:

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