Saturday, November 17, 2012

Square Box Gardening # 1 - Great New Idea in Simple, Cheap, Gardening.

  Great New Idea in Simple, Cheap, Gardening - No Wasted Space , Garden Anywhere, Cut Water Costs Drastically Practically no Weeding.

 About 4 years ago, I moved to where I am now in Wichita,         Kansas. I had been doing a lot of plot gardening and was doing fairly well I thought. However, when I got here, I ran into some real problems. The first was a good location. I finally decided to plant tomatoes along the South fence of the back yard.  I also found that the soil was perfect for potters to use for their clay source. The soil was very heavy and I found out that I would sometimes dig up big fist sized clumps of nearly pure clay.  I had about 2 inches of Top Soil and probably several feet of nearly clay soil beneath. that our house had been built on a river bead that had long ago moved to the next county!I would have had to bring in several truckloads of good soil to even start to build a garden. I either had to come up with something different of forget about a garden.

I first started building Raised Beds. However, while they were fine for things like Radishes and Onions and Beans, Etc. They didn't seem to work well for such things as Tomatoes and Cucumbers and Squash and Watermelon and Peppers, etc. I liked the complete control of the Raised Beds but needed more separation and space for some vegetables. When I had tried planting my Tomatoes directly in the Ground they did thrive for a while.

When a long heavy rain came that lasted over a period of days, (the tomatoes just starting to set well) actually suffocated and drowned in the clay soil they were in! It was about then that I came up with the Square Foot Box Gardening idea.

It's really taking the idea of Square Foot Gardening a Step Further. You actually put the plants in Individual square foot boxes. Not just spaces in a plot.  This way I could control the Soil mix, the watering and the fertilizing Exactly. If a plant was getting to much Shade, I could pick it up or slide it to a new area...and keep track of the results. I could easily number each box and keep notes on watering, fertilizing, and soil mix results and see where I was making obvious mistakes for better gardening in the future - if I wanted to.

I first tried bottomless boxes - but the grass and weed seeds soon invaded the boxes where they stole nutrients and water from the plants.

I then tried a box with a wooden bottom. This worked, but made the boxes heavier and more expensive to build. I could build one box with one, cheap 6 ft  Dog-Eared Cedar Fence Board. With only a 6" scrap of  Dog Eared end leftTo keep the weight down, I hit upon the idea of trying to cover the bottom by tacking on a piece of heavy plastic sheeting. I used landscape plastic. But I found that just about Any heavy plastic would do.  Even light-weight tin.

 Don't worry about drainage. The cracks will actually help drain away into the ground extra water if you over do it or heavy rains come.  I checked boxes that set through the summer, over into winter and into spring. When I looked under them, I found that all the heavy Bermuda Grass underneath the box was dead  or dieing and That part of the Bermuda garden patch was clear of grass and weeds. Of course after a few weeks, the grass that was outside the box again took over the spot and any roots still alive start growing again.

I only have to cultivate the One-Foot-Square-Box. Not the whole area. You will see how I easily mow the grass between boxes and clean up with a Weed-Eater. I spent about an hour - 3 times a Season keeping things looking clean, nice and comfortable for me and the plants set out on the Bermuda Lawn!  There were almost No weeds or grass to cultivate in the boxes all season long. I found 3 invading grass roots in all of 50 boxes this fall when I was removing the old plants for winter.  I picked out about 5 small weeds. The ease of this type of gardening is...well, almost sinful! There is no Comparison to the work I done preparing my garden in past springs. The boxes should last over several seasons with little cost or rework, if at all.  Build a few, put in some good garden soil, plants some plants or seeds, water regularly and see how they work out for you. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

 In the spring, with a small trowel, I will break up the soil, add a couple cups of new soil. A few amendments like a teaspoon of fertilizer and maybe a little bonemeal. With a few seconds of work for each box, I can then plant new seeds or transplants in and I'm  good to go. My garden is in for the Season. I'm done.  I only have to Water about a half gallon a week, pick a weed now and then, and watch my garden grow! And of course, I have a few strategically placed old lawn chairs and a little Parsons table in the shade for my Tea or Cold Cola after a "hard" day's work. I purposefully tried to make my Gardening as easy as possible. At nearly 70 years old, the creaks are calling for an easier way to garden. 

You're of course wandering about drainage, Tomato Growing in a Box and growing Cucumbers in a square foot box. Watch this Blog. At this time, I have 4 more articles you can read for more information including building instructions and diagrams to make your own Square Foot Boxes. Lots of pictures accommodate my future articles. If you have read this far, you are in for a treat!

  I will tell you about these and other questions and how easy it is to grow plants in these Square Foot Boxes.  All this will be included after I show you how to build these garden boxes out of cheap wood in the next article and much more...

     Copyright Robert Mader 2012   All Rights Reserved 

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