Saturday, October 6, 2012

Square Box Gardening # 5

Square Box Gardening - #5

And here it is again. The first hint of Winter approaching.  The nights starting to cool way down into the 60's 50's and sometimes even into the upper 40's.  The Monarch Butterflies already passing through. Even a few leaves starting to fall. Out in my garden - a ways from the patio in back where I sit with my wife in a shady spot, each with our book in hand; a single squirrel is wobbling his way back and forth from some nut tree of my right neighbor across to his home in a big tree owned by my neighbor on the Left. His tail swishing and a dipping and a bouncing as he tries to stay balanced with a big walnut in his mouth. Almost more than he can handle.  Trip after trip. He must have hit the mother-load!

The Grass in the back yard needs mowing but I just don't feel like it.  I notice the lone pine tree that I transplanted this spring from a garden plot to a good corner of the garden is beautiful and about 4 inches taller than me. It grew over a foot this year. I discovered it in my hoop-house a year or so ago only about 2-1/2" tall. It is now almost 6 foot tall.  The Pickling Cucumbers are noticing the cool down too. Very few blossoms. The leaves are dropping and the stems are starting to look naked although I did pick a small bucket full a few minutes ago. The Regular Cucumbers on my Trellis are starting to grow a little slower but here is Yours Truly holding a few that I harvested about a week or so ago.

 We Still have tomatoes ripening. Because of all the extra work building many garden boxes (maybe have to build  3 or 4 boxes next spring instead of over 40, Tomatoes got in a little late. I didn't get Zucchini or Watermelon in at all.

 I am new to growing garlic but I decided I had better plant some this spring. The vampires are really getting thick this year... (I know, your supposed to plant garlic in the fall and then harvest them from early spring until fall of the next year) I went and done it all bass-ackwards . Garlic weren't really big when I pulled them this summer but I cleaned them and put the cloves in a fruit jar coated with olive oil "to keep them fresh" according to my daughter. Then stuck them in the fridge. That was the first batch.  Then I cleaned out the other half of the patch I had planted in one of my plots and decided to use Those for a Fall Planting like people tell me I should do.  OK. I also wanted to know how many I could plant in one of my square wooden Garden Boxes.  I planted them in about 3 square inches apart and got about 24 to one box and 35 in an other. Then I have 1- 4 ft Sq. Box where I planted about 75 garlic. Here are a few pictures:

   Large 4 Square Ft. Box of Garlic. Using 1 x 8
          Lumber from Old Red Wood Fencing. 

They started coming up right away. I'm not sure they are supposed to do that!  Probably still to warm to plant in the fall... Anybody in South-Central Kansas know?   Next year I will try planting garlic in September .   In a few weeks, I plan to cover them over with Old Maples Leaves and Wheat Straw - after adding a little cow manure stirred into the upper box soil. I am thinking maybe about a Cup of Manure mixed into a gallon of my favorite purchased mulch - Cotton Boll Compost.  Is the mix right? I don't know. But this is a Blog on Experimental Gardening in South Central Kansas.  About 5 miles into where they say the Great South West Begins!  On the tip of Zone 7.   I'll know in the spring and fall next year when I harvest them -  If there is any to harvest. Stay Tuned!   I don't know how well these little garlics will take the winter in a wooden box with mulch over them. The garlic were cheap. I got their parents from the grocery store. I thought they were Elephant Garlic - but they looked like awful little elephants. Maybe they will grow bigger next year!  And they will be growing in my Famous -  Garden Box Soil Mix!  I figure, if I can come up with a good dependable mix for most vegetables - why buy little bags. I can mix my own.  So far I am pretty happy with the all-purpose mix for my boxes that I have come up with. Then I will experiment with Additives. That is the great thing about using these boxes. You know Exactly what you put into each box and Exactly what that plant or plant group grew on.   For Tomatoes, I might mix in a little more bone meal  and test out a cup of Corn Meal - which is purported  to counter Tomato Blight.

When I filled my Square Foot Boxes, I wanted to be sure the soil was firmly packed in the boxes. I used 6 Gallons of my Soil Mix to each box. Half the first time. and pack firmly but not hard with my hand. Then the rest poured over that and again packed firmly. I used my fingers to pack even more firmly around the edges.
If you fail to this, a rain or just pouring or sprinkling water in will tend to run to the edges and right down the sides. You might add a gallon of water, and most will run down the sides and out at the bottom through the seep holes at the bottom sides of the box that should be there for Hard Rain drainage or over watering by your Grand Kids! Check once in a while for soil cracks along the sides - especially in the hot dry part of the season. Push soil down into these cracks.  The soil around the plant may be hard too! If so, you should break it up a little with a small trowel or even a large screwdriver. This allows the plant roots to not only get Water, But roots need Air, which usually gets in with loose soil, and the help of earthworms.

Speaking of worms, Maybe I will add a dozen worms to a few boxes next year and see if there is a difference. The climate changes so drastically here that it is hard to predict when and where I can find worms short of going down to buy fishwoms at the local GOMart! And I understand that these are not the best for gardens and probably wouldn't survive anyway. I have started a small bucket size worm farm in my garage which is Hot in the Summer and Cool in the winter. The Lordetts of the Manor will not allow me to bring them into my closet inside nor even in the basement where tempertures are nicely moderated!.  So they are stuck in my Garage from Hell. They managed to survive the Summer heat. Now comes the Winter.   There Are lot of baby worms in the bucket so I assume they must be getting along famously!  Again, Check back with me next Spring folks. If my worms survive through the Winter,  I will build a proper Worm Ben for them next Spring. Just what I need. Another Project for my Garden. You should see my List!

I also plan to get closer records on different fertilizers. This year, I used recommended amounts of Miracle Gro on my Tomato plants. Nothing exceptional happened. And Fish Emulsion on my large Salad Cucumbers and my Pickling Cucumbers. They seemed to flourish and prosper!  But I did not really keep good notes. So I really can't give you a Quantitative answer on the results.

Check back soon for "More Square Box Gardening - # 6 where I will go into more detail about the Soil Mix I worked up for my Garden Boxes - an All Around Mix that I am very happy with. I will also show you what happens when you just set them on the turf, pour some soil in, insert seeds or transplants and water. You'll be amazed at some of the uses and results. Have a nice Fall! I already have my " Long Handles" patched and ready to go for what looks like a Cold Winter Coming On. Tonight we will have a Low of 40 degrees F. in South Central Kansas. Atchinson is expecting a Freeze. Kill all the tomatoes - and then warm up into the 70's for the rest of next week . What's Up with That!


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