Saturday, April 6, 2013

Square Box Gardening #11

Drought Breaking  Snow just in Time

The Drought has been tempered here in South Central Kansas, somewhat.  Unlike last year, the Wheat fields are looking very healthy this year.  Where water usage would have been under tight control this year, we may get a respite from that. At least not as severe as it could have been.  All the ponds in the Flint Hills were almost completely dried up and Ranchers were preparing to carry water to the cattle in tankers if possible.  Hopefully that will not happen. We just received another quarter inch a day or so ago.  We used to call this laughinly "The Monsoon Season" starting in March. Actually, Tornado season has started along with the late snow and recent rains.

I removed most of the Heavy leaf and mulch from my 10 square foot boxes with over-wintered Garlic. I experimented with How Many Garlics Can I Grow in a Square Foot Box just 5-1/2 inches deep!  The first box had about 10, then 20 then about 50 in the 10 box.  If I didn't know better, I would say that every one came up.  They made the winter with flying colors!  With watering regularly and a little Organic Fertilizer and Compost Tea, we will see how they do in Mid Summer when they are ready to harvest.  Can you grow 50 Garlic of moderate size in one square foot box? We'll see. 

The Asparagus that I unceramoniously plunked into the 2 Ft. by 2 Ft  by 7-1/2 inch high box. 4 Square Foot of planting area was a little "iffy".  These were purchased early last spring but never left the 2 inch pots because I had so many other things to do. I just kept them over and finally planted them in the Fall. In the one big box.  About mid February, the soil finally froze under the thick layer of Straw and leaves (See Square Box Gardening # 10). The whispy green fonts had finally died back and the Asparagus had evidentally gone Dormant. Nothing. 

  Around mid March, I rolled a little of the Mulch aside and checked to see what I could find.  The fonts had dried up and were completely gone but here and there were a few thin, pale spears about a half inch high.  So I closed the Mulch of dead leaves and straw back over them.  We had good snows that completely covered the Box over with 8 to 10  inches of snow. 

Near the end of March, just after all the snow had melted, I checked the Asparagus  Box again.  I saw more growth.  Some of the plants seemed to have made it OK.  And I saw more growth.  The soil was not warm by any means, but it was completely crumbly and looked almost Scrumptious - or at least Should Have been appealing to a Plant!. 

The next day I removed all the straw and left just a thin layer of half composted leaves in the Garlic Boxes.  I removed all the outer Straw layer from the the Asparagus and left about an inch of nearly composted leaves over the Asparagus.  So they could get a little sun and wake them up alittle. Less than 3 days later, the snow came again and the Ambient Temperature Outside dropped to below freezing. I crossed my fingers.  Today, I checked everything again.  The Garlics are all 5 to 8 inches tall and growing great!  I pulled back the compost on the Asparagus and there they were, Several new beautiful purple and green asparagus spears nearly 2 inches tall and looking very healthy.  Hopefully, by next week, I can pull most of the composted leaves away as Spring finally takes over!

I am running a race with spring. I am building a new model of what I call my Plant Starter Box.  It's time to start Tomatoes and Peppers.  April 11, I will be 70 years old and I move a little slower than I used to. I'm also working out the stiffness of setting around all winter. My hinges are rusty!  But I have confidence that as the weather warms up and the cold goes away, I will be getting a little more exercise and work out the kinks!

There is no better Exercise than Gardening. In one hour of stooping, kneeling, cultivating, watering, weed pulling; you will work every single muscle in your body. You might even find that you are loosing extra weight and feeling a lot more energetic than just a few days ago.  Try it! NOTE:  Sorry there are no pictures on this post. I have them on my computer, but it died.   I am going to try to resurrect it with a new motherboard.  I am posting this from my wifes computer.  Actually, I have been lusting after a new laptop.  But my Banker won't relenquish. Instead we are going to look around for a new motherboard for the computer purchased in 2005.  Good Luck with that .... Wish me luck!

Why not drop a comment.  Or drop me a private E-Mail.  I love to  hear from my readers and I always try to answer them the same day - Sometimes the same hour if I am not outside piddling around the backyard or in my Garden or working in my garage on a new wood project!  My E-Mail for GrandBob's Garden is

Our "Home Town Market" opens in late June! (Isn't that Crazy?) 
However,  There are several nearby small towns that are opening their Farmers Market in April and May.  I Hope to see you Wichita/Hutchenson Area people soon at one or more markets!  Opening Market  Dates are still tentative.

We can talk Garden and Herbs, and Plants and Stuff. Look for the Guy with the GrandBob's Garden Hat or T-Shirt!

Happy Gardening!


Friday, March 1, 2013

Square Box Gardening # 10

When is Winter Going to Start?

I went out yesterday to check on my plants wintering over in my Square Box Planters.  Mostly Garlic, Asparagus and one single cabbage plant.  Planted in a box with a Plant Guard on top wrapped in Chicken wire.  I also have a plot for Herb experiments and a few odd plants here and there like Onions, Leek and even Wild Garlic.

It was a Gorgeous Day.  A warm 55 degrees, almost perfectly calm. Not a cloud in the afternoon sky. I made a tour of my little garden and took a few pictures. Let me show you what I found on this nearly 4th week of JanuaryI thought maybe I might do some bush trimming. the Butterfly Bush is getting Humungous in it's 4 year.  My daughter wants some cuttings taken from it too.  But I didn't have any tools in hand so I just decided to forgo that job For another day. I thought to myself, what can I show to my Friends on my Blog today? Everything's asleep in it's bed.  waiting for Springtime to bring life back to the garden. 
My 2 x 2 Square Box Asparagus Bed

For those who haven't ever been to my Blog, I am a garden experimenter. I like to try new things and check on old garden Wives tales and Tips.  I like to keep up with the latest innovations in gardening as well.  Here is a shot of my heavily mulched Boxes.           

 To the left is my larger 2 foot X 2 foot Box that contain about 250 or more 1 year Asparagus that I didn't have a plot prepared for. When fall came, here I had all these Asparagus plants in 3 inch pots still sitting on my patio waiting to be planted. What to do? I still had a new 2Ft. X 2 Ft. (48 x 48 cm.) Box that only needed to have my soil mix poured in and plants transplanted in.  Hopefully, in the spring I will have a permanent bed prepared. I mulched a few leaves in last fall without covering the plants. Then when Winter arrived, I added a 3 inch layer of Wheat Straw and on top of that added another 2 to 3 inches of Leaves.  Everything was covered in the Asparagus Box.  On the Right of the picture, you see the start of  a long row of 1Ft x 1 Ft (24 X 24 Cm.) Boxes. that hold new Garlic starts.  In the early spring time around mid-march, I will start removing the top layers of mulch and hopefully, the first layer of leaves will be completely composted.  I will not throw anything away, the top mulch of Wheat Straw and Leaves will end up on the compost pile.

 Kind Looks like a Melted Down Hay Stack! 

The stake to the back kind of gives you an idea of how deep the Mulch is which not only covers the Box but also surrounds the box as well.  The stake comes up from the ground about 6 to 7 inches.  The slight discoloration smokey looking thing to the top left with the rainbow colors is a ghost of summer past...  A smear on my camera lens caught it. It just hangs around... The mulch pile consists of a thin layer of leaves among the growing plants put down in the fall After the plants have died down after the first frost, a layer of Straw about 3 inches and then a layer of dead leaves are piled on as icing on the cake.  These will have to be pulled back in the spring as the plants start to grow.  

Readers. Occassionally "Blogger" decides to throw a curve and the background color of the text - or the text itself will change color, font size etc. There is no fixing it. To redo would probably just come up with the same results - different place. There is only so much re-doing and re-editing that I can do. Sometimes I just have to leave things as they are if I am ever to get finished with a post.  I must go on and I hope you will be patient. Eventually this software problem May be resolved by "Blogger".  Until then, I will do my best.  GrandBob




Thursday, January 3, 2013

Square Box Gardening #9

Winter Begins for Real -

 A  Harsh Test for Garlic and Asparagus Starter Plants

Christmas is over.Yesterday was New Years and I managed to live through it All. Today is the first day I have went outside since going to St. Cicilia's -  Christmas Vigil Mass. I came home about 11 am, went straight to bed and woke up feeling queasy Christmas Morning. I fell into a bout of Flu that I Don't even want to talk about for fear of spreading it. 

Today, 9 days later, I tell my wife;  "I'm going to go out to check my Garden."  She looked at me sidewise the way woman do when they are a bit skeptical  "You must be feeling a whole lot better if your talking about going to the Garden. So I put on my heavy flannel shirt. My heavy hoody, my walking shorts and my house slippers and out I went - "shlepping" to my Garden in back.

It looked pretty much the same.  Except it was still covered with a little snow in the shadowy spots. And my lawn chair was turned over since the 2 inch snow a few days ago. Thank God the Jet Stream is staying "up there" in Great Bend or Salina and Kansas City! 

Actually we got off pretty easy compared to everyone else in the area and it was pretty  mild out today with most of the Snow goneCalm. 33 degrees F. and the sun was riding low in the south-west 

And It looked like I had a few minutes of light to still catch a few pictures. If I hurried! So here is a little update on the progress of how my Asparagus starts and Garlic Starts are faring as we start out into 2 full months of Hard Winter January and February.  

 My two large 2 foot x 2 foot
 Square Boxes
The two snow covered mounds are from Back to Front, Asparagus Starts - which I never found time to pull from their pots last spring and needed a place for them to Over-Winter - I hope. And, about 200 Garlic Plant starts that just popped out of the ground wheremissed digging  the parent plant out last fall when I harvested them. On average they should have produced 10 to 15 cloves. These averaged from 20 to 30! That's what I get for just planting what I thought was Elephant Garlic which I got from the Grocery Store! This was from the 2nd generation plants. All I am sure of at this point is that they are Soft-Neck Garlic because they produced no Curlicue ends like Hard-Necked Garlic are supposed to do. That means that these are Braidable Garlic for anyone who is interested.

  I will be giving a few free Garlic Plant Starts away soon to interested folks in Wichita, Peck, Haysville, Derby, Wellington, Whitewater, Eldorado, Newton  Area in the Spring. If you are interested, let me know.  I have about 800 garlic that I don't know what I will do with if they mature as hoped!

 I think I will have something for the Farmers Market [middle June?] this summer.  It opens so late in the season that I won't have any starts to sell there but I should have some nice mature garlic and a few good storys for free. Since I am not allowed by "Town Fiat" to sell plants from my little garden to folks who come to my door, I may start selling some of my Plants over the Internet. I also know of a little town who doesn't believe that Free Enterprise is only for the wealthy. That is $3,000 a Month Leases "Up-Town".

  Asparagus Box Uncovered

As you can see, I uncovered a corner of the Asparagus box first. To see what was happening beneith. Was the mulch doing it's Job through the first few hard freezes and our first real snow. As you can see, the asparagus seems to be comfortable in it's bed so far. The Asparagus Fonts are still alive! I checked the soil. It was not only completely viable and crumbly, at this point it wasn't even Frozen. And it was still moist. So Far - So Good. 

 Garlic Starts in the Small 1 Ft.  X  1 Ft. Square Garden Box

 The Garlic are also looking fine and the soil is loose and moist. No sign of freezing yet. So far everything seems Promising and it's going to be a long 2 or 3 months of weather yet.

 Rosemary and Lavender Herbs

Just to the right and out of the picture, The Oregano is Thriving in the cold. Eventually, knowing how Hardy it is in 6b/7 climate zones, I intend to have a whole 5 x 8 bed full of it.  It seems that Rosemary is almost as hardy.  This picture was taken the same time as the others on this page and they are also thriving in the cold weather. The Lavender - which almost got shaded to death by living next to the Oregano! It survived last winter but this winter after transplanting it to more space, is touch and go.  The herbs have no straw, but are covered with about 6 inches of leaves.  I also tried Ste via which is a perennial but seems to not like our cold and died out rather quickly last fall. I'm thinking, Maybe a better Cover. And I have a few ideas.

Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!