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My first garden - partially square foot

Posted by dirtroadmama Iowa (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 20, 10 at 10:45

I'm so very excited! I grew up with huge gardens, but I've never had one that was completely of my design, my choice of vegetables, and completely my responsibility. Hooray!

I'm starting out with a rectangular plot. There will be four varieties of heirloom tomatoes running in two rows from north to south taking up the entire west side of the garden area, with a total of 20 plants. I plan on using the Florida weave staking technique.

I've built two 4 feet by 4 feet raised beds, and have placed those in the south-east corner. I have very limited time to work on this, so I just got the garden tilled, leveled the box area as well as I could, and put the boxes directly on top of the regular soil (I do have good soil to start with), and then filled the box with organic top soil and organic peat. I would have rather had the time to sift the soil and do the rest of the stuff talked about in the SFG book, but I have a 2 year old and another on the way, and I'm doing this all myself, so I just don't have time. I've read that I can continue to build the soil from "the top down", so that is what I'm hoping will work for me!

One of those beds (the northern one) will be a modified three-sisters planting, with corn, beans, and squash. The squash will all be in a row on the eastern side of the bed, and will go up a cattle panel trellis, which will end outside of the garden (arching over the exterior walkway). The corn and beans will be in the remaining 3x4 space, intermixed to replace nitrogen for next year's crop. The southern bed will contain lettuce, carrots, eggplant, cucumbers, and potatoes. The cucumbers will take the southern row, and will also follow a cattle panel over the walkway and out of the garden.

Three more cattle panel trellis will be installed around the property (I have 3 acres), and each one will have it's own type of melon. Two trellis will have watermelons, and one will have a breakfast melon (for lack of a better term).

In the north east corner, there is a large, un-tillable (? well, that is what the guy who tilled it said - he said there were too many rocks) area, and it was only tilled down about 2-3 inches. I'm going to plant that entire area with Bee's Friend flowers, picking out the rocks as I go. I'm planning to save those seeds from this year, and then cover crop half of that area with winter rye. Then, next spring, I'll try to till the winter rye area under again, but leave half the area to replant the Bee's Friend flowers. I hope to eventually put three more 4x4 boxes in the north east side, and move the Bee's flowers to outside the garden area. Additionally, I'm hoping to build a top-bar hive this winter, and get a swarm of honeybees next spring to help pollination.

Finally, I'm keeping an eye out for a bottomless metal water trough to use for my compost bin.

Here's a list of what I'm growing. All of them are heirloom, and I got all of them from Seed Savers.

Bean -Climbing French
Carrot -Dragon
Corn -Country Gentleman
Cucumber -Snow's Fancy
Eggplant -Listada de Gandia
Lettuce -SSE Lettuce Mixture
Melon -Emerald Gem
Tomato -Hillbilly Potato Leaf
Tomato -Kellog's Breakfast
Tomato -Cherokee Purple
Tomato -Gold Medal
Watermelon -Blacktail Mountain
Watermelon -Criss Cross
Zucchini-Green -Black Beauty
Zucchini-Yellow -Golden Zucchini

Ok, that was a really long post. I'm so excited to get this going, and I hope to post lots of pictures to document the progress!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: My first garden - partially square foot

Thats a big garden you're putting together. Sounds like its gonna be awesome! Am looking forward to seeing pix.


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RE: My first garden - partially square foot

Thanks, marzy!

I've changed my mind about trying the Florida weave. I'm concerned that it might take a lot more monitoring to make sure it all stays enclosed.

So, my second idea was to get cattle panels, and use those as row trellises, and just keep on pushing the vines back and forth through the openings. But, then I thought about the size of the panels (four feet high), and thought about how big indeterminates can get, and thought I'd have to stack two panels to get them up to 8 feet, which means 10 foot t-posts and monster supports so it won't blow over. A 8x16 foot space presented to prairie winds... yeah, that sounds secure!

So, here is my new plan. I'm going to put the tomatoes in two rows of 10. There will be 5 arched cattle panels, making a long tunnel of arches. There will be 4 plants per arch; two on each side. This will give the benefit of 8 feet of growing height per plant, while presenting only 4x8 feet of wind barrier per panel.

I haven't managed to figure how much space I'll have underneath each arch. If there is enough room, I thought that might be the ideal location for lettuce, carrot, and spinach crops. The shade that will occur during the hottest part of the year might enlarge the growing season.

It's been raining all weekend, and we're due for more rain all week. *sighs* So it's going to be a while before I can get all my arches set up in the garden. There are supposed to be a couple of clear days this week, so I'm hoping I can get the three melon panels set up, since those are going out in the field, and not in the tilled up garden.


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RE: My first garden - partially square foot

I have lots of pictures up in my thread over at the new gardener's forum. :)


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RE: My first garden - partially square foot

The florida weave is not time consuming and works great for rows. Once its up you add more lines as it grows. I use tomato cages myself cause I am a container grower, not a row grower.


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