Friday, December 7, 2012

Square Box Gardening # 7

Planting Fall Garlic for Next Summer Harvest

After pulling out the dead summer plants this fall, I stacked the boxes (Soil and all) in my garden and checked out any that needed fixing, repainting or rebuilding and then replaced old Soil Mix with my newer improved Soil Mix. A few days later I found the "left behind" Garlic that I missed and failed to pull Last Summer. They were Now putting out brand new Sets. Up to 35 new plants per Garlic! I guess since I missed them in the ground when I was harvesting, they must have seen it as a golden opportunity to have Children!

  What a great opportunity to start a fall garden with new Garlic Sets that were already putting out roots and green stems for Fall Planting. At this point, I have 10 boxes with 16 to 36 plants growing in each of them. I am trying various spacing to see just how many will still grow decent sized, sturdy new Garlic for the coming late summer harvest. Here is the step-by-step process I used to plant this fall garden in my Square Garden Boxes.

 As you can see, I have set mine on a section of dormant Back Yard Lawn. The bottoms of the boxes are not made of wood - I just tacked on simple heavy black plastic. Most are made with tacked on Landscaping plastic available practically anywhere. Hardware, Garden Store or Lumber Yard. The box sides are made from red cedar fencing. The average cost is $1.50 US. With a stain or paint, most will last up to 5 years. Out of 50, I replaced 3 this spring. Each box has several drain holes around the parameter of the bottom . I never have to worry about my plants drowning out or rotting away from too much rain!

 I have developed my own soil mix that has done a great job of growing Cucumbers and Tomatoes this year. I have found that Cabbages, Onions, even Watermelons grow nicely in these boxes. The Watermelons just sprawl out over the sides.  I not only have complete control of watering to the last Ounce, I also know exactly how much fertilizer I have put in every Square Foot of Garden Space. You can easily and accurately experiment with different types of soil mixes and fertilizers. And, you can even garden on your Driveway, Patio, or even your lawn!

 Just mow around the boxes when you decide that your lawn looks too high!. The boxes will not do the grass underneath any good. Expect only a few dry roots. Any that are in the box most likely grew over and into the boxes - not through the bottom plastic. I am very excited about my new method of gardening in boxes and I really hope you at least try out a few boxes next spring. It only take's a few minutes per box to build them. Scrap lumber will do fine to try this easy method of Gardening. I think you will be amazed. You don't even have to dig up a garden in the spring. You could "till" these boxes in just a few minutes with a small garden trowel!

Everything you need to know is in my articles on this blog about square box gardening.  At this point there are 4 continuing articles now posted with complete instructions.You will save tons of Garden Space and Work. Getting along in age, I needed an easier and simpler way to garden or just give it up. So I tried out a new idea. Square Foot Boxes.  With a simple little hand trowel found in any store, I can cultivate 10 boxes in about 10 minutes and I am ready to replant a cabbage etc. in each box or maybe a hundred bulb onions in 5 or 6 square boxes taking up only 6 square feet of garden space. Can you beat that?

I am also experimenting with 2 ft x 2 ft boxes. This is my third  successful year of using the square foot boxes and the First year for trying out the 2 x 2 foot boxes that hold 4 times as many plants. Again, all I need do is turn the soil over in the spring with a hand trowel. I can also add fertilizers and nutrients as well at this time.  It's a whole new easier and faster method of gardening and I am really happy with the resultsI hope you will try this whole new method of Gardening. Please Note: If the boxes are raised off the ground a few feet and placed on a set of 2 X 4 rails with legs spaced ever few feet, even people in wheel chairs could easily grow a fine garden. I am working on plans that I can include in a future post.

So, lets get started with planting a Fall Garlic Garden.

Dig Trenches for Your Garlic

I am making the trenches in my boxes only 2 inches apart instead of the recommended 3 inches apart usually mentioned by garden books and catalogs. You may want to follow that 3 inch recommendation unless you are experimenting with boxes like I am. I am planting in furrows as shown here - only 2 inches apart. I have 7 rows of plants  by 2 inches apart Furrows by 5 plants to a row. This gives me a possible 35 plants in a single square foot box.  I want to try out more compact planting - just to see how it works out in my Garden Boxes. You might want to use the recommended spacing as found on your seed packets etc.

Gently Dig Out a Garlic Clump

If you do not have Volunteer garlic starts like I had, you should be able to get sets at your local garden nursery. If not, come next spring, get some cloves, plant them and when harvest comes, let them just die down. Come September or October, new sets should be coming up in bunches. Be careful, One clove, I have found, can produce as many as 40 new plants in each clump of new growth! 

Gently pull each plant away from the roots of the one beside it. You might want to soak the root ball in water for a minute or two. Pull very gently to avoid damaging the Garlic's roots. Pull off enough for a few inches and plant as you go. Keep the root ball in the shade under a damp cloth until you again need to pull off more garlic's. Be sure your soil is moist and loose when you plant them in.

Plant the Garlic as you Go

 Do a Few at a Time..


Space Them about 2 inches or so Apart

 Lean Them Toward the Planted Garlic

Leaning them away from yourself as you go, allows you to fold the  soil back over the garlic and clears space for you to dig the Next trench after you have the previous row planted.

Pack the Soil Over the Garlic Firmly but Gently

Set the Plants in to get Light


Your bulbs will vary in height. Set them in so the parts that were already up (green stems) are set in at about the same height as they were before you dug them up. At least allow a tip of the white stems on the late growers to rise slightly above the soil.  I leave at least a quarter inch peeking out. Ones with the green stems should be planted with all the green showing. The cloves themselves, should be all underground. On new cloves, remember, the pointy side goes UP!

Lastly, Water the new Garlic Plants In

With each planting, I water the new plants thoroughly. As you can see, I literally soak the new Garlic Transplants. Using the square box method, any over watering will easily drain out of the box at the bottom.  Here you are seeing 2 new boxes just planted being watered  Notice that the boxes further back are already being mulched with leaves. After the new growth starts, I will also mulch the last two boxes.  When it gets cold enough for the foliage to fall down, I will also add about a half gallon of compost that I have brewing in the corner of the garden to put the new garlic to bed for the winter.

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