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Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

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Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  mghuff on 5/17/2014, 6:55 pm

2014-05-17   Hi Everybody,

Well it didn't go below freezing last night and the weatherman says we've turned that corner so I planted my first square foot garden today. I actually went with a square 18-inch format. I may be out there with cover cloths a few nights but our growing season is so short in Edmonton, I really wanted to get started. So many people buy veggie bedding plants up here, but I don't have that kind of money. Of course our longer days during the summer help to offset the fact that snow can fly by late September or mid-October here. 

Anyway I'm excited and I sure hope my seeds sprout quick and get growing. I scraped the rock off of spots for two 4X4 beds in what was a RV parking space behind my garage. I located the beds so nothing shades them and installed frames for trellises on the north side of each bed. In the west bed, I planted (north to south/east to west):
sugar snap peas
green bush beans - beets (I eat them young with spinach + swiss chard) - zucchini
yellow bush beans - swiss chard - cilantro/basil/organo 
yellow bush beans - more yellow bush beans (I really like 'em) - bell peppers

In the east bed I planted (north to south/east to west):
sweet peas
spagetti squash - carrots - more carrots
Roma tomato plant - Early Girl tomato plant - a sweet cherry tomato plant (can't remember the name)
lettuce - colored swiss chard - spinach
(and I wrapped marigolds around the outside of the south side squares.

There's nothing much to look at yet, other than the tomato plants which I bought, which is just as well because I got all excited and took a picture but can't figure out how to include it in this post. I'll let you know when things start to sprout.

Margaret  flower

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  quiltbea on 5/17/2014, 7:09 pm

glad you\'re here to the forum.  Being so far north, you'll get a later start than many but you can learn by reading what's happening a bit south of you and plan accordingly.
There is lots of growing information on this forum and if you have anything particular you want to know, just ask.
Lots of folks here are knowledgeable and eager to help.  Good luck.

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Thanks for the encouragement

Post  mghuff on 5/17/2014, 7:13 pm

Hi QuiltBee,
Thank you so much for replying. I've never done anything like this before and it's really cool that somebody actually talked to me.

Margaret flower

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  quiltbea on 5/17/2014, 7:46 pm

Oh hon, you'll find we talk a lot.   Laughing

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  AtlantaMarie on 5/17/2014, 7:50 pm

Hi MG.  Welcome!

Quiltbea's right - we talk.  A LOT, lol!  I joined recently and have met some absolutely wonderful folks!  Not a bad one in the lot....

Of course, that means that our topics get a bit "off-topic" sometimes...  But we have fun and that's what counts.

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  greatgranny on 5/17/2014, 8:42 pm

Welcome.  Yes, being north does make our growing season a challenge but eventually we get into the habit of planting what will make it and sometimes we are wrong. 

That's the best part - most of us keep a good attitude even when we are wanting to say naughty words.

You really started out "full steam ahead".  Hope you feel free to ask for help here.  I do all the time and am amazed how helpful everyone is.

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Hey there AtlantaMarie and great granny

Post  mghuff on 5/17/2014, 10:29 pm

Hi ladies, Thanks for joining the conversation. I've never talked to people all over North America before. It's neat. I got an email regarding hosting my picture so I'm going to try to post it again.......no that still didn't work........is there somewhere where I can get step by step instructions about how to get pictures into my posts?

Margaret flower

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Determined to learn how to post pictures

Post  mghuff on 5/17/2014, 10:51 pm

OK, thanks to Boffer, I think I can post a picture. Here goes....


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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  boffer on 5/17/2014, 11:14 pm

Nice boxes!   

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  Marc Iverson on 5/18/2014, 12:11 am

Welcome! And those sure are pretty beds. I notice no netting -- are you going to single-string whatever will be on your trellis?

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  sanderson on 5/18/2014, 1:09 am

@boffer wrote:Nice boxes!   

+1

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  AtlantaMarie on 5/18/2014, 9:15 am

Wow, MG!  Those look fantastic!  What are they made of?

And I see you have room to expand...  Yipee!

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Plastic boxes (cheaper than wood)

Post  mghuff on 5/18/2014, 11:17 am

Hi AtlantaMarie, My boxes are made of plastic. Each side is made of an upper 'board' that slides onto the lower 'board. Each 'board' has a pair of pushed out 'barbs' near the ends. The 'barbs' slide into slots cut into the post pieces and then a post cap just snaps on. I got them on an end-of-season sale at Home Hardware last fall - much cheaper than wood. They went together in 10 minutes flat, which was nice, but getting them 'square' was a bit of a challenge. I don't think they would appreciate me putting a nail in them, so I marked off my squares by laying a long stick on the surface. My gardening this year is a bit of an experiment, so I didn't want to invest too much. I've developed inflammatory arthritis and am having a very hard time with my hands. I don't know how long I'll be able to continue doing 'yard' work. I do have room for expansion. If I can manage physically, I'd like to add two more beds to the east next year (it would be nice if I can find the same style because they do look pretty sharp). Adding two would still leave me with room to store my brother's tent trailer.

Margaret

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  Kelejan on 5/18/2014, 12:32 pm

@quiltbea wrote:Oh hon, you'll find we talk a lot.   Laughing

You're so right, quiltbea.  Very Happy 
 glad you\'re here Margaret, I have read through this thread and you are doing well.  Perhaps you might think of doing table top beds in the future that will make it easier for you to enjoy your gardening.  I intend to do some, next year.  Thanks for the pictures, I should be doing some when I find my camera and learn how to use it again.
I visited Edmonton years ago during the month of June and remember it still being light at 11pm. At the same time I realized what it must be like in winter time.

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Hi Marc and Kelejan

Post  mghuff on 5/18/2014, 2:53 pm

I've got a spool of twine and plan to tie a net using it. I also have an old clothesline post in my yard and I'm going to plant scarlet runner beans around it and make a spiral of twine for them to climb. I like the bright flowers (and the hummingbirds they sometimes attract) and I also eat the beans if I pick them young.

I enjoy photography. I worked for years in the newspaper industry and got pretty good at it, but now I usually use my camera for more practical stuff like taking pictures of things I'm selling on Kijiji. I've been turning a bunch of hanging baskets, stepping stones and planters I'm not using into cash lately. Gotta get the money together to pay for all of that vermiculite, compost and peat moss somehow. Man, mixing that up was like stirring cake batter the size of a rowboat.

I used some of my Mel's mix in planters I've got halfway across the front of my house. Last year, I had them planted with double petunias (bedding plants) but I seeded trailing nasturtiums this year. Cheaper, but I don't know if I'll end up with anything or not. Crossing my fingers.

Well, I've got to sign off and go wet down my gardens. Happy gardening everyone!

Margaret  flower

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  mollyhespra on 5/18/2014, 11:52 pm

Hi, Margaret & welcome to the forum.  I'll echo what everyone else has already stated:  yes, we are a chatty bunch.  

Have you ever tried growing nasturtium from seed before?  My seeds didn't sprout well at all last year, even though I thought I scored them well.  I'm thinking of scoring AND soaking this year.  I looooove nasturtium & garlic quiche.  YUM!!!

 drooling  OK, I'm hungry now.

But anyway, your boxes are looking great!!!   Keep us updated on your progress and, again, WELCOME!!!

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Hi Molly

Post  mghuff on 5/19/2014, 12:21 am

Yes, I've grown nasturtiums from seeds before. I've never heard of scoring and I didn't soak my seeds this time around. I can't remember whether I soaked them before or not. I know it was several years ago and I seeded direct into a planter I had built on the ground and filled with some soil and a whole pail of well-rotted manure. I kept the planter wet until I got sprouts showing. I got fantastic germination that time and tremendous growth and flowers. I kidded around, saying the plants grew so big and so fast because they were trying to get away from the manure. I see you are Zone 4. I think I'm Zone 3 or 4 here in Edmonton. My location was beside a large spruce tree so it was fairly cool. Maybe your seeds got too warm. If I were you, I'd give it another try. A good rich growing medium, some shade and lots of water might be the charm.

I'd love to have your recipe. I've never actually eaten the flowers (love the capers) but I'm always up for a new taste sensation.

Margaret  flower

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  mollyhespra on 5/19/2014, 1:44 pm

Yes, the scoring is supposed to help the seed get enough moisture through the tough seed-coat to aid in germination.  It may also be that my seeds were old.  I don't remember now if I bought new seeds for this year, I'll have to look.

As to the recipe, it was kinda random: gather some young leaves, a handful maybe, chop them up into strips, saute with some garlic and onions (I think I used onions) and add to your basic quiche base and bake.  YUM! 

It's been a few years since I've made it so I don't remember exactly.  I'm a throw-it-in-and-hope-it-tastes-good kinda chef.  When I make something really tasty I have to scramble to remember how I did it.  IIRC I didn't add any pepper since the leaves already have that punchy-spicyness to them.  I hope the vague recipe works out for you, LOL!
   to Nasturtiums!

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I'm a throw-it-all-in cook too

Post  mghuff on 5/19/2014, 5:11 pm

I shouldn't have asked for a specific recipe. Other than when I'm baking, I do the same thing you do. I throw in a bit of this and a sprig of that as fancy takes me. Thanks for the run-down on the general procedure though. Just a question -- do you use the leaves or the flowers of the nasturtiums, or both? Maybe I'm being dumb and what I think of as flowers are actually orange leaves. I've only ever heard of eating the flowers or the seeds.

Margaret flower

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  mollyhespra on 5/19/2014, 6:38 pm

I used the leaves.  Young, but large enough, maybe 2" in diameter?  I know the flowers are edible, but I leave those for the insects to have their pollen/nectar-lunch.  I always feel bad about eating the flowers, like taking candy from a baby or something, LOL!  I imagine the flavor of either would be similar, though.    Very Happy

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squre foot garden

Post  buttonschartier on 5/31/2014, 8:19 pm

I am new to this as well, however I live inJoshua tree California HIGH DESERT, and I am trying various gardening techiques as my soil is quite depleted of nutrients and I don't have much money as I am on disability, so I am trying fix the soil I am having a little bit of success by using clove seeds and daikon radish seeds you buy for sprout and just throwing in my yard to get them to sprout to put nutrients back but I do have 2 raised beds that seem to be better but we haven't really had our winter like normal so many are bolting and dying.. and now I have seedling that are being eaten by my birds...I don't want them to go away but don't want what little success to be eaten either....

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  quiltbea on 5/31/2014, 9:27 pm

button..... glad you\'re here 

I can't help you with your specific regional garden probs since mine are entirely different tho I'm sure someone can jump in here to help.

I would think any layers of old mown grass, dry leaves, shredded newspaper, stalks from past crops or flowers, can help improve your soil.  It might be slow, but it should build you some good soil eventually.

Many years ago, in the 1930s, my Dad would bury the kitchen waste in the spaces between the crops.  Every nite he'd take out the 'garbage' and bury it along the path.   He did row gardening back then.  The next year he sowed seeds and transplanted seedlings over the paths where he'd buried the kitchen waste.  He had the best crops in the neighborhood.  The stuff had composted naturally thru the year.  The new paths were the old crop rows so he buried waste along those rows for the following year.

There's always a way to improve your soil.  Having raised beds makes it even better because you aren't walking over the beds and compacting them.

Good luck with your garden.

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  Marc Iverson on 6/1/2014, 12:40 am

Button even an old sheet, like from Goodwill if you don't have a really expendable one yourself -- can keep bugs and birds out until your seeds have sprouted and gotten a bit bigger.

I agree with quiltbea -- soil building is kinda slow. But that means start NOW if you possibly can. Those kitchen scraps and rotted veggies at the back of the fridge are gold, when it comes to your soil. Old newspapers(many if not most use soy-based inks these days, but you can call your local paper and ask), cardboard boxes (the kind without the slick wax/plastic coatings are best), cardboard inserts, garden trimmings if non-diseased, your or your neighbor's lawn trimmings if and only if you can be very sure they were not sprayed with toxic chemicals, fallen leaves, free wood chips from tree-trimming services or the power company, spoiled veggies from a local market that is throwing them away, manure from people who keep horses or chickens, etc., old eggshells ... over time it adds up. If you can get into composting, you can make huge improvements in your soil.

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  sanderson on 6/1/2014, 11:42 am

Button,  Welcome to the Forum!   glad you\'re here 

@Marc Iverson wrote:Button even an old sheet, like from Goodwill if you don't have a really expendable one yourself -- can keep bugs and birds out until your seeds have sprouted and gotten a bit bigger.  

I agree with quiltbea -- soil building is kinda slow.  But that means start NOW if you possibly can.  Those kitchen scraps and rotted veggies at the back of the fridge are gold, when it comes to your soil.  Old newspapers(many if not most use soy-based inks these days, but you can call your local paper and ask), cardboard boxes (the kind without the slick wax/plastic coatings are best), cardboard inserts, garden trimmings if non-diseased, your or your neighbor's lawn trimmings if and only if you can be very sure they were not sprayed with toxic chemicals, fallen leaves, free wood chips from tree-trimming services or the power company, spoiled veggies from a local market that is throwing them away, manure from people who keep horses or chickens, etc., old eggshells ... over time it adds up.  If you can get into composting, you can make huge improvements in your soil.

Marc listed quite a few things that can be composted and I will add used coffee grounds.  Starbuck's is pretty good about giving out their used coffee pucks.  It's the compost that nourishes the plants.  As far as leaves, try to used thin leaves instead of waxy desert-tolerant plant leaves, like privot. They take longer to break down. If there are any pine trees, the needle can also be used in the compost or as mulch. I would try used sheer curtains instead of old sheets to cover the seedlings.  They can be used as sun shade after the seedlings get going.  

I don't know how much you know about Square Foot Gardening, but it is a really good solution to desert gardens.  Check out the topic "Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!" in the Latest Topics list to the right.  He has done a great job.   There is another hot climate gardener but I can't remember the name of his topic off hand. But, he has also done an impressive job. Get a copy (library?) of All New Square Foot Gardening, 1st or 2nd Edition, by Mel Bartholomew.  I think it will really change your approach to gardening.

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

Post  AtlantaMarie on 6/1/2014, 8:17 pm

Hi Button.  Welcome!

+1 on ALL the advice you're getting so far!

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Re: Just planted my first Square Foot Garden

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