Posts Tagged With: raised bed

Accessable garden update

This is my Grandson Dan. Sorry for the apple branch in front of his face. He is in the process of top dressing the fall leaves and decorations. There is nothing that will excite a red worm like pumpkin. There will be substantial shrinkage by Spring and I will top dress again with composted horse bedding.

The four beds are filled and nothing to do until spring.


The upper garden is filled also, while nearly. The cyclone fence in the center will be taken out and there is enough soil to fill the beds on the right.


Categories: Accessible gardening | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Planned garden modifications

My planned modifications will not be made until after the current season. This is a sketch up of the garden as it is today except for the weather buffer room on the end of the GH..


This is a sketch up of the intended  modified garden. Eight beds will be reduced to three beds app. 16 1/2″ deep/tall.

Garden Mod

This part of the garden is some 30′ away from the above garden and will be treated the same way.

Garden 2

The beds in the center that form the figure E will be removed to form a figure C.

Garden 2 mod

The remaining beds will also be app. 16 1/2″ deep/tall. There are several photos of the current garden through out my journal and I will post a follow up with photos of the modified garden.

Categories: Accessible gardening, My Gardening Journals, Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Modular Raised Bed Prototype

It’s been my goal to tidy up the garden and eventually move to a raided bed system.   I’d independently slated a deck for demolition, and put two and two together.  The main problems which I’ve tackled are, forst, the pressure treated wood from the deck is not to be used without a little research and planning.  It contains ‘CCA’, which is Copper Chromate Arsenic.   The second aspect of this raised bed design was to come up with something that was flexible enough to let my garden continue to evolve.  By that, I mean the garden is forever changing, and I wanted a raised bed system that gives me options.

First, on that CCA issue, and whether I should even go ahead with the pressure treated lumber.  This link was probably the most cautionary.  She has some other good ‘horticultural myths’ sorts of information, here:

Some other sites mentioned that diffusion of the CCA goes mostly straight down, not lateral across the bed, and that most of the free CCA will come out in the first year.  Without getting into the details you can read at the site, I am going ahead with using the pressure treated lumber with the following precautions:

  • Wood stain on the inside, and/or heavy plastic.
  • No cabbage family, as they concentrate arsenic,
  • no root crops within 6″ or so from the edge,
  • No tilling after initial planting, till only in fall.

My research was not comprehensive, and I welcome comments and new information, but I did not find an overwhelming amount of ‘negative’ data on the topic, so I’m going ahead thinking it’s not completely safe, but manageable.  Certainly, I’m glad the timber I have is from a 20 year old porch that should be somewhat leached out.

Well, on to the second aspect of this, the design of the prototype.  Here’s a picture of the deck in dissassembly to show what I’m working with:

Above I’m just tearing up the old deck surface, and removing the nails.  Still have to fabricate the building blocks.

Below, I’ve built two pieces, the first two, in order to se how it works.

The base unit is 12′ 1″ long, and 4′ wide.  The top unit, sitting at the back there with the little pink flag,  is 4′ square.  In the corners, I nailed (ring nails using a framing nailer) a block 5 1/2″ long, which is the same height as the 2×6’s on the frame.  The trick is the corner blocks are secured 1 1/2″ lower than the frame, so they form little guides that sit into the frame below.

With this system, I can stack the 4′ squares on the base frame and increase the height of the frame as compost is added, or as I switch from one crop to the next.  For instance, I have onions in the lower 8′ x 4′ long section of the 12′ bed.  The upper section, contains lettuce, which is a bit of a waste, as I have a foot of soil below the lettuce.  But, that part of the frame would work very nicely for carrots or some other root crop.

With the base frame at 12′ 1″, I can stack 3 sets of the 4′ squares, one set might be two high, for a total of 18″.  If I put another 4′ section on, it goes to 24″ of height.  I reckon in the fall, if I want to pull a top frame off, and refresh a bed, I can do so and not have to dig down in alongside the frame.

I ‘secured’ the 12′ base frame with a couple bits of re-bar along the side, and at the lower end, I used some PT lumber to keep the soil in the frame.  Those I call ‘dirt skirts, and they also help hold the base frame level, (at least till the frost?).

My plan is to build more of the 4′ frames and have them at the ready as new crops go in, and to install more of the 12’ 1″ ‘base frames’.  I might put those base frames at various angles to the first one to make the garden interesting, and I might make some really long ones, perhaps 16′ 2″ or thereabouts.  The extra 1″ and 2″ is so I can have a little wiggle room to stack either 3 or 4 of the 4′ frames along the length of a longer ‘base frame’, and not have them fail to seat properly due to small inaccuracies in my framing, or the squaring of the base frames.

I hope the pictures post OK…..I’ll take a detailed construction picture next weekend.   Happy gardening all.

Categories: Square Foot Gardening, vegetables and fruits | Tags: , | 3 Comments

2010 sweet potatoes & winter squash harvest

The temps are supposed to be in the mid 30s this week end so its time to get the SP and SQ into the storage bins.

The squash are Burpee’s  hybrid Butter Bush. They have nearly if not the same flavor and texture as the Butternut squash. We prefer the Butter bush for its smaller size and it has been a constant producer. This years harvest is about 55 lbs.



The sweet potatoes are Vardaman and did well for the slips that survived. I bought a pack of 25 slips for about $13 and planted the best 20 slips. Of the 20 slips planted only 12 survived. This problem will be solved by next planting season. I have planted two small potatoes in pots and will take vine terminal cuttings this winter and determine which rooting techniques work best for me.


This the largest sweet potato harvested at 2#.

These came from one plant at 3.5#.



And this is the total harvest from 12 plants At app. 22#. I will let them cure here before  putting them in the bin.


Categories: My Gardening Journals, sweet potatoes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

A vacation in the hospital

What caused my trip to the hospital were heart arrhythmias. The symptoms can be a fluttering in your chest, a racing heartbeat, a slow heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting or near fainting and I have every damn one of them. Along with heart arrhythmias comes an increased chance of blood clots so the Doc put me on Coumadin (rat poison). As a result of that most of my other meds have to be changed and fine tuned which requires weekly blood tests, med adjustment and retesting. I feel like a porcupine turned inside out. I have to eat the same amount of vitamin K every day as it affects the Coumadin and could have very bad results. The table below shows various vegetable and the vitamin K they contain. Keeping track of my diet past and planning future diets for the amounts of vitamin K would be a hassle so I plan to avoid vegetables with high levels of vitamin K. As a result I will be giving many veggies away this year.


I have started planning next year’s garden as to what to plant where and the spacing and nutrient requirements.




Vitamin K





7 spears


Green beans

3/4 cup


Lima beans

1/2 cup



1/2 cup



1/2 cup


Brussels sprouts



White cabbage

2/3 cup



1/2 cup



1/2 cup



2 1/2 ribs


Swiss chard

1/2 cup cooked



2 cups chopped


Collard greens

1/2 cup



6 cups



2/3 cup kernels


Cucumber (remove peel)

1 cup slices



1 cup diced



2 cups



1/2 cup



1 cup chopped


Bibb lettuce

1 cup chopped


Red leaf lettuce

1 cup chopped


Iceberg lettuce

1/2 cup


Mustard greens

1 1/2 cups


Shiitake mushrooms

5 mushrooms


Button mushrooms

1 cup



1/2 cup


Green onion

2/3 cup


White or yellow onion

2/3 cup



1 1/2 cup



2 parsnips


Green pepper

1/2 pepper



1 medium



1 cup sliced



1/2 cup cooked


Yellow squash

1/2 cup slices


Acorn squash

1/2 cup


Sweet potato

1 cup


Tomato sauce (bottled)

1/2 cup






4 ounces


Turnip greens

1 1/2 cups



3 cups


Categories: Greenhouse Gardening, My Gardening Journals, Square Foot Gardening, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 12 Comments

I think this qualifies for intensive gardening.

On the far left are 24 Jersey Giant asparagus plants, left of center are 26 Yukon Gold potatoes, right of center are 26 Kennebec potatoes and far right are 12 Butter Bush winter squash.


These are 20 Nemagold Sweet potatoes.


Here are 12 Endive, 6 per row. Lettuce has been harvested from front and back.


Between the SPs and Endive and on the fence is a Gardeners Delight cherry tomato.


To the left of the Endive and against the fence is a Fourth of July tomato.


These are my peppers, in front are two rows of three Big Dippers, in the back row there is one Sweet Banana, one Picante and one Red Bell.


Here are 6 Black Beauty eggplants.


In the foreground are 5 Little Cloud cauliflowers. Lost one to a wind storm. In the background are 5 Green Goliath broccolis. Lost one of these in the same storm.


Garlic, onions, spinach and lettuce were harvested form the bed in the foreground and is now ready for fall planting. The bed in the background has one Zucchini plant on the right and two Brandy Boy tomatoes on the left. The two tomato plants are over four ft tall and only have 4-6 tomatoes on each. That rate had better pickup or this year will be the last for Brandy Boys.


Categories: Composting, My Gardening Journals, Potato, Square Foot Gardening, sweet potatoes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Three years of core samples

Four years ago I filled my new raised beds with composted lawn and garden debris rich with horse bedding. My gardening style with these beds has been no till and I top dress the beds each fall with composted horse bedding. As the red worms bring bottom soil and casings in to the beds I have to top dress less and less. The next three photos are of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year core samples in that order. In the first photo you can see what looks like soil and/or worm casing on the bottom and many recognizable wood chips and pine needles on the top. The core sample in the second photo fell apart when trying to remove it from the mold. It may have been drier or smaller particle size that caused it to fall apart. There was a good bit more material that looked like soil/casing and just a few recognizable wood chips and no pine needles. The core sample in the third photo looked homogeneous from top to bottom with no recognizable material. It fell apart easier than the second core sample and I am more convinced it has to do with particle size and moisture. When this sample dries out (to save on postage) I will send it to Penn State University for analysis. One of there tests is percentage organic material. Since the only thing I have put in the beds was organic, I think I can assume that anything that is not organic is either soil or worm casing. John


Categories: Core sample, My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Zone 5 and I have to get pro active

Its going down to 34 tonight and 33 tomorrow night but it looks safe after that. The potatoes have been planted, the spinach is up and looking good, onions, asparagus and garlic are also looking good. Come Monday I will plant lettuce, endive and more spinach and onions. On Tuesday I will plant four tomato plants and keep the hot caps handy. Toward the end of the Month, I will plant the peppers and eggplant. Still to come are broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash, winter squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, beets and several herbs. After the garden is planted I will re mulch the path ways, plant posies and re mulch the posy beds. In the mean time the grass is growing like a wild fire and there is about two years worth of fire wood piled in front of my compost bins. 

Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

The winter garden is on its way

It is not a RB or a SFG, it is a RCCAWG (raised container, controlled atmosphere winter garden). The surface area of the containers is almost exactly 16 sq ft. The four containers on the left will be onions and spinach. The four in the center will be peppers, Big Dipper, Sweet Banana, Red Bell and ???. The four on the right will be Red Top and Bibb lettuce and Endive. The two 5 gal buckets will be Early Girl tomatoes. I have grown every thing except the tomatoes and peppers in the GH before with very good results. I think the peppers will do well with smaller fruits though, the tomatoes will depend on the number of sun hours. I should at least get an early spring crop of tomatoes.        John


Categories: Greenhouse Gardening | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Second year RB/SFG core sample

This year’s core sample was taken adjacent to last year’s sample. There was only about an inch of recognizable compost on top and it spilled out onto the floor when I tilted the tube to remove the sample. When I removed the sample, it just fell apart. The bed is about 88% full of what looks like plain old garden soil thanks to the many worms. At the end of next growing season I expect the beds to be nearly 100% filled with soil/worm casing. Then it will be interesting how the moisture retention will be and how the plants perform.


A close-up photo of the core sample.


This is a photo of semi-finished compost that the beds were top dressed with this spring. As usual all comments are welcome.    John


Categories: Composting, Core sample | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The last potato tower for 2009

I should give a recap on the tower. The base of the tower is 8” deep. Two Kennebec seed potatoes were planted 6” deep, then two tiers added and filled with compost. The seed potatoes ended up about 16”+ deep. This was not an incremental filling of the tower. The tower was filled within 15min of planting. After about 2-3 weeks the one sprout broke through the surface and the other never showed up. When harvested there were no signs of it ever trying so it turned out to be a dud spud.


This is the first spud harvested. The stolen is coming from an area very close to the surface. I do not know if it was above or below ground but not any where near the seed potato or root zone of the main plant. The stolen is bent around so as to get a continuous view from potato to stem.


Here you can see three stolen near the top of an underground stem. On the end of that stem is a portion of the seed potato that is about 16” away from the upper most stolen.


The next three photos are a closer photo of each stolen so you can trace it from potato to stem.




The total weight of the potatoes were 4lb 14oz.



The largest was 1lb 3oz.


As Usual, all comments are welcome.   John

Categories: Potato Tower | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My follies with trellising squash

I have been planting Burpee’s hybrid zucchini and butterbush squash for years. This year I decided to trellis the squash to conserve space. The zucchini was easy to tie up to the trellis when the vine was small but as the vine grew wider and stiffer it became more difficult. We had a relatively mild summer storm and this photo is of the top of one vine that had broken off of one of the plants. What broke off was about 1 ½” of the tip of the vine with about 2-3 small leaves and blossoms. I had hoped the plant would start a new branch but it eventually died.

Both zucchini plants had a problem with the leaves in back buckling and falling forward over the tip of the vine and damaging the new blossoms. I had to be vigilant at removing them from that area.


The clincher is, the plants were growing approximately the same place as last years non trellised squash. Last year the squash grew across the pathway and up against the next bed. This year the trellised squash leaves grew with in 3-4” of the adjoining bed, so I only saved 3-4” of space.


The Butterbush squash were planted about 10” in front of the trellis and a dowel rod placed from the plant base to the trellis. It was easy to tie the vines to the dowels.


It became obvious that the vines did not want to grow north although there was plenty of sun. In this photo you can see about four times the growth toward the south as there is to the north. I decided to let them go where they wanted and sacrificed the onions planted to the south of them.


The vines are dieing back and the squash are ripening. There will be about 25 squash, enough for my wife and me but not very many to give away. This is the same area that the squash grew in last year in a conventional hill planting and I will be doing a comparison post about last years yield to this years SFG style of gardening. As usual, all comments are welcome. John


Categories: Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

The anxiety of gardening.

After the devastation of my tomatoes by the Late Blight, I was more than a little anxious about the condition of my potatoes. The Yukon Gold potatoes had been dying back but I thought it was the normal time for them to be doing so. Two 2’ X 8’ beds back to back in the foreground are YGs and had been cleaned off. The two beds behind them are Kennebec potatoes and look great, I do not think they are affected (yet). Both types of spuds exceeded 40” in plant growth and as you can see, my pathways should have been about 6’ instead of 18” wide.


This photo is of the bed on the left. I lifted the spuds for the first 14” only on Aug 07th

P1010005 copy 

These two spuds were harvested on July 20th from the same 14” area and weigh 1lb 7oz


These spuds are the same ones in the first photo and weigh 6lb 2oz. The total weight for 2.33 squares is 7lb 9oz or 3lb 6oz per square. If these two squares are representative of all the squares in the potato beds that will be 204lb of potatoes. Do any of you have tomatoes that you want to trade for potatoes? Hummm….. I wonder how a slice of potato would taste on a hamburger.



Categories: Potato | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

A remarkable potato.

After the garden had been planted, I had a volunteer potato sprout. I soon pulled it out, after a few days, another sprout appeared, and I removed it. Eventually two more sprouts appeared from under the frame of the RB/SFG. I thought if that potato wants to grow that much I will let it go and see what happens. Well I needed to access the backside of the pepper and eggplant beds to harvest and the potato plant had to go.


I found a pile of potatoes on top of the path and a couple under the edge of the bed. That crazy potato had raised the bed from 3” to 4”. There is about 2” to 3” of wood chip mulch on the path.


That one potato plant produced 31/2 lb of potatoes not counting the many small ones. The scale looks like crap but weighs very accurately. The basket weighs exactly one lb. Make sure to read the rest of the post after this next photo as this potato also raised some interesting questions.


The next series of photos are of a portion of the stalk that I cut off that shows various views of potatoes that were growing totally off the ground and potato stolons above leaf branches. In addition, these are Yukon Gold potatoes that are not supposed to do well in a tower, now I am wondering why. Maybe another experiment is coming next spring. As usual, all comments are welcome.   John






Categories: My Gardening Journals, Potato, Potato Tower, Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

There’s trouble in River City

Late blight on tomatoes and maybe on potatoes. Well until last week, I did not know what I had. I knew that I was having some sort of problem with the tomatoes what I did not know was that it could also affect the potatoes. What a bummer. It is the same blight that struck Ireland in the 1840s

 This is what the tomatoes looked like the middle of July.


This is what they looked like a few days later I knew it was not blossom end rot.


It was clear that every thing had to go.

The next two photos are of the same spot before and after the blight. There were between 30 and 40 tomatoes on each plant.





The vent to the GH is right behind the tomato plants. Now do I have to fumigate the GH or what????


 As usual, all comments are welcom.         John

Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

Who said it was a “dud-spud”?

It may have been late but it finally showed up. It must have done some loop de loops or a barrel role. I hope I will learn something from these two spuds.


Yesterday’s harvest brought the potato total to 27oz.


A little OT for my journal, but I have never had ten blooms at the same time on my cacti.           John


Categories: Potato Tower | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

I do grow veggies other than potatoes

I have been posting about potatoes so often I thought I should show you my other veggies. This is my asparagus bed. I planted two-year-old crowns and supposedly, I can make limited cuttings next spring. They look so spindly I sort of dough it.


The bell peppers are Big Dippers and are loaded with blossoms.

Bell Peppers

The Bibb lettuce is fantastic and will be my annual lettuce. It also did very well in the GH last winter.

Bib Lettuce

The broccoli looks good and is about to develop heads. The three plants in front are purple cabbage.


I have not grown Brussels sprouts for a while and will not be able to predict outcome until late summer. And another three purple cabbage in front.

Brussels Sprouts

The Butterbush winter squash have sprouted and have to grow about 10” North to reach the trellis. I will tie them to the sticks to get them off the soil as soon as possible to help me combat the squash bugs.


Cauliflower is not showing any sign of heads yet but it usually takes longer than the broccoli.


The eggplant is chucking full of blossoms and looking great.


I free sowed the endive and thin it as we eat. As soon as I thin it, it fills back in.


Onion plants are just taking root and hard to see. I also planted 12 Alisa Craig onions that can get up to five pounds each.


Cannot say much about the tomatoes except they are on there way to higher places.


The Zucchini are on there way to the first rung of the ladder. I will see how this goes.


The sweet potatoes are growing slowly, the weather has been very cool but I hope the roots are developing well.

Sweet Potatoes

Ok, I have to say something about the potatoes. The ones in the foreground are the Kennebec and the ones in the background are the Yukon Gold. The fence to the right is four ft tall. As usual, all comments are welcome.


Categories: My Gardening Journals, Potato, Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Sprouts in the TPT (transparent potato tower)

The seed potatoes have sprouted and have about 18” to go to reach the surface. The first photo shows three and possibly four sprouts and minimal roots growing. Once the roots get into the compost, I expect the sprouts will grow much faster.p61003601


This photo is the second seed potato, which shows only two sprouts. The curious part is the sprouts look greener and appear to have leaves forming. I do not know what to expect from either one. It would be great if they made it to the surface though. I will make regular updates in my journal if you are interested in potato towers. As usual, all comments are welcome.   Johnp6090885

Categories: Potato Tower | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Some think there is no intrigue in gardening



Today, I was filling a compost bin from a pile of kitchen, lawn and garden debris that had accumulated from late winter/early spring. While doing so, I noticed a particularly long sprout. Upon investigation, it turned out to be a potato sprout about 16” to 18” long. There were several small sprouts along the length of the main sprout (see red arrows, there are several on the underneath side you cannot see). Are they lateral stem sprouts or stolons?



The next two photos are enlargements of the areas of the red arrows. The plot thickens and what timing for my experiments in my journal with potato towers. Stay tuned for further developments. As usual, all comments are welcome.   John




Categories: My Gardening Journals, Potato | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

I dig potatoes



While not yet, but I am looking forward in anticipation. The Yukon Gold potatoes are growing gangbusters.



They were planted 8”deep 16 days ago and are now 16+” tall.



I do not remember what day I planted the Kennebec potatoes but they broke through the surface about 4-5 days ago.



Which brings me to the potato tower; I planted one Kennebec spud in the tower 8” deep the same time as the other Kennebec spuds.



It broke through the surface the same day as the first Kennebec spud in the beds and I quickly put the first tier in place.



This is a close-up of the previous photo.



The next morning I filled the tier about half way and placed some compost up against the plant to the leaves.



This is a close-up of how I covered the plant. It is about 2-3” below the surface of the compost.



By the next morning, it had grown another couple of inches and I pulled some compost into the hole covering the stem.



I repeated this for two more days and the tier was full.



I added the second and last tier and will repeat the process until it is full. The tower is 20 ½” tall and that should be enough to show if the process works for me or not. As usual, all comments are welcome.    John


Categories: My Gardening Journals, Potato, Potato Tower, Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

One thing leads to another



The trellis in yesterday’s post is 15’ long and I used 16’ hog panels which gave me two12” pieces of scrap panel. I wanted to try growing summer squash vertically and needed to come up with a trellis to grow two summer squash plants on. I had some old fence posts on hand and some outdoor electrical cable ties and the two scrap panels was all I needed. Now if I can encourage the Zucchini to grow up the trellis, I will be in Hog Heaven.



Tonight will be the second night in a row with freezing or below freezing temperatures. I gathered up enough containers to cover the veggie plants but the apples are in jeopardy. All I can do now is to hope for the best. As usual, all comments are welcome.   John 


Categories: My Gardening Journals, Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A trellis for winter squash


I was calling my trellis the ‘Mother of all trellises” but that was being a little presumptuous. The cyclone fence around the garden was four feet tall and I thought that would be a little small for summer squash. My DW and I love the Butterbush squash and it vines about five or six feet so I wanted to increase the height of the existing fence to six feet high. The problem was the fence producers do not make couplers to extend the height of the corner or line post. I knew there had to be something out there I could use.



What I found was automotive tail pipe couplers and since line/corner post came at a minimum of six-foot lengths and I would be scraping two feet, so I also used two-foot lengths of tail pipe.


 I reinstalled the original top rail on top of the extensions.



The trellis will be holding about 110 to 120 pound of squash so I added a line post in the center of the span.


I added cross members also to tie in the seams of the panels.


 I checked Tractor Supply’s web site and they claimed to have cattle panel on stock. After driving 20 miles I found out they only had hog panel. The hog panel is made using the same gage steel and the same size, 36” X 16’ so that is what I used. I wish I had taken a photo before I unloaded the truck. Can you imagine hauling 16’ long panels in a Ranger with a 6” bed? You can see at the far end of the trellis where I added a diagonal support to the corner post. When I finish the fence and gates at the open end, I will also add diagonals at the corner and on the line post. We get some strong summer storms with high winds so a little support will not hurt. As usual, all comments are welcome.    john




Categories: Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

While sitting on the porch having a BM


While sitting on the back porch having a BM and waiting for my butt to catch up with me, I was recapping my accomplishments of the day. I mowed the lawn, planted the sweet potatoes, Peppers, eggplant and ran some errands. I started to plant with the sweet potatoes; I remembered a post by Granny about using vinyl floor tile for a template to space plants in a RB/SFG bed. Ok I made my template, now what do you do with a floor tile with a 2 ¼” hole in the middle and a 2” auger? You plant plants of course.sp1


I cannot believe the condition of the sweet potato slips when you receive them. It is amazing that they survive the ordeal. Next spring I will be saving some of the smaller tubers and try to root them in time for planting. I need some information on how and when to try it though.sp2


Last year a pesky wabbit wiped out the sweet potatoes after it was too late to buy replacements. As a result, a fence was installed until they are big enough not to be destroyed by the wabbit.sp3


The eggplant came next; they are planted at one plant per 2.7 squares.e1


Then came the peppers also at one plant per 2.7 squares. Tomorrow I will plant the Cole crops. That will leave only the squash and the continuing planting of the salad bed. As usual, all comments are welcome.   Johnp1


Categories: My Gardening Journals, Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

My cobbler cobra


Sinfonian had commented about the watering system in my potato tower and I realized that, that post did not get transferred from the old journal to this one. I wish I had access to the old journal to see what else is missing. Anyway here it it again

While converting the rest of my garden areas to RB/SFG, I decided to try potato towers at the end of the pathways that would be wasted space. As I was roughing in the plumbing for the irrigation system, the back half of my pea brain was thinking about the water requirements on an elevated potato tower. The base of my towers will be 10″deep and each addition will be 6″ deep.001


My solution was a plumber’s nightmare. The soaker hose will be just below the surface where I plant the spuds. As I add height to the tower, I can move the soaker hose just below the new surface and repeat for each height increase. All I need to do now is learn to play the flute so the hose will rise to the new height it self.  As usual all comments are welcome.        John005003

Categories: Potato Tower | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Sometimes your mind is changed for you

While cleaning up the shop, I checked the potato chitting progress. To my surprise, some of the sprouts were turning black near the very tip. I do not know if it was the low humidity or the temperature variation but it never happened when they sprouted in the fruit cellar. I decided to plant them as soon as possible.p50802252 


My potato beds are 2’ wide and I use a folding rule as a guide to plant location. I will start 6” form the end of the bed with the first row and 12” from the end of the bed with the second row which stagers the plants from row to row. A bulb planter works nice in compost to produce a 2” hole 5” deep which is perfect for the small seed potatoes.p5100228 


Here you can see the full bulb planter and the hole I just made with the spud in place. I use the small end of a dial rod to poke the compost out of the planter and back into the hole. The pieces of mini-blind slats are used to mark the location of the last spud in a row. If I have to leave for some reason, it can be difficult to see where I stopped.p5100229


After all seed potatoes are planted, I top-dressed the beds another 3” bringing the depth of the seed potatoes to 8”.p5100230


I also planted the potato tower and top-dressed it. All potatoes that were planted today were Kennebec and were planted in the same fashion.p5100227 


I could not help noticing how the Yukon Gold potatoes were growing. They were planted two weeks to the day before this photo. If the Kennebec potato in the tower grows this fast, it will require daily attention and early in the morning before the sun hits the plant stem. I think I understand why some people say they got additional potatoes but it was not worth the effort. Nevertheless, I am going to try to do it correctly and we will see what happens. As usual, all comments are welcome.   Johnp5100231 

Categories: Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Tomatoes are planted. (both of them)

We are supposed to have a day and one half with out rain and the grass is too wet to mow so I planted my tomatoes. Another attribute of gardening in a soil less mix is you can plant right after a rain and not ruin the soil. In this photo, I have dug a trench about 6” deep and about 10” long. I add about a hand full of garden tone and a tablespoon of Epson salts and mix them into the soil. Then I will trim the bottom leaves off for about 8” above the root ball and lay the plant horizontally in the trench. p5060222


I temporarily tie the plant to a stake until it grows upright on its own. Then I will install the tomato cages after any danger of frost is past.p5060223


As usual, all comments are welcome.    John

Categories: My Gardening Journals, Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Chitting Potatoes among other things

About twelve days ago, I removed the Kennebec seed potatoes from the fridge and placed them in a standard nursery flat and covered them with another flat upside down. p4220171 


This photo taken yesterday shows the sprouts starting to grow.p5020854 


As you can see, the spuds are forming many sprouts. After all the sprouts are formed, I will remove all but the two nicest ones in an effort to reduce the number of small potatoes. It is claimed that this will increase the size of the remaining potatoes, we shall see.potato3


Speaking of potatoes, I added four inches to the top of my sweet potato bed, bringing the depth to twelve inches (11”).p5020853 


Some of the plants are on the way to there new home. I have several to get rid of yet and mine will be planted this week or next. The GH will then be closed down until mid to late August when I will start the winter garden.p5040219 


As usual all comments are welcome.     John

Categories: Greenhouse Gardening, My Gardening Journals, soil blocks, Square Foot Gardening, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Yesterday was a beautiful day

While yesterday was a beautiful day, I cut grass and got some planting done. The SFG/RB accessories worked great and I could have planted all day. I used scallions and radishes to make my grid, which should/could have been planted earlier. Oh well it will be there for the second planting. 


I planted two types of lettuce, Bibb and Little Gem along with direct sowing spinach and endive. The tomato plant is an Early Girl and should give me some toms very early. J



The winter onions look great but I only use these for onion sets that I grow all winter in the GH.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 


My hardiness zone has changed form 5 to 5B. The minimum temps. and frost dates have not changed so the USDA has confused me again. I am going to take a chance on an early spring though with the planting but keep some buckets and hot caps handy in case of frost/freeze. So here is to a fantastic 2009 gardening season. As usual all comments are welcome.     John 


Categories: My Gardening Journals, Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Daaah—-Soil Block Recipe

The soil blocks are doing fine except the Cole seedlings. With the dried blood, they are just too eager to grow. I have been thinking of using 100% compost and trying different things to bind it together, after all that is what they will be growing in when planted in the garden. The right side of my head said yes do it while the left side said, no, you already have the answer. It was something somebody said in one of the comments but I could not remember. I do not know how many times I scrolled through the journal reading and rereading the comments on all the soil block posts. I just could not find it. In a deep sleep at 2:00 this morning, my eyes popped open and I said to myself “Core Sample”. You know that was the end of my sleep, I came down stares and looked up the Core sample post and there it was. And here it is:


Sinfonian says: March 12, 2009 at 5:31 pm  (Edit)

Cool idea John. And yes, it does look like a soil block. Maybe when I make more I’ll just do it in the garden pulling mix from the beds. Hehe.


The core samples will contain worm casings, garden soil that the worms brought up and all stages of decomposed compost. To produce 100 SBs I will need 16 cores, guess what I will be doing today? Also the SB composition will be the same as the garden.

 As usual all comments are welcome……John

Categories: soil blocks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Soil Test

Since I had the core sample, I decided to do a soil test. The test chambers on the left side of the containers are lighter in the photos than they were with the negated eye. I think the light averaging of the camera screwed it up. The Nitrogen test was between N1 and N2, the Phosphorus test was between F2 and F3 and the Potash test was between K0 and K1. I think I will add some 10-10-10 sparingly this year.


The pH test indicated between 6.5 and 7. I also had some pH test paper and it indicated between 6 and 7. I will not do anything for the pH this year.


Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

SFG core sample

While I could not take, it anymore and just had to see what is going on down there so I took a core sample today. The SFG bed is 8” deep so I cut a piece of 3” drainpipe 8” long and drove it into the bed. I then sliced the drainpipe length wise to free the core. I was not surprised when the top portion just fell apart. I was surprised though when the bottom portion had a smeared surface. It had a good percentage of organic material but there seemed to be a material that was like plain old garden soil. Could it be worm casings?



I broke up part of the bottom portion just to look-see. There were several wormholes that did not show up on photos but they were active. I still cannot believe that they could make that much casing in a year’s time.


 This is a close up of the bottom portion of the core and it almost looks like soil blocks. Does that mean that through time the beds will fill up with worm casings? As usual, all comments are welcome.




Categories: Composting, Core sample | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Mother Nature finally relented

Well maybe not with aging but the weather was beautiful. Sixty-five deg f and partly sunny. I was able to get the rest of my apple trees pruned and I am hoping to get them sprayed twice with oil spray before they blossom. She (MN) has not been very kind since early fall, I am hoping she will have a conscience and give us a nice growing season.


 While I was pruning the apple trees, the UPS truck showed up with my block of coco coir and new burners for the BBQ grill. Both will require there own entry for the journal. 


Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Gardening Survey


I screwed up and broke the link between the survey and the database located on the host. If I try to reconnect, I may lose all the data. I only received a hand full of votes in as many days out of 165 votes, so I will just let it end here.





What style of garden do you have?

The Traditional row garden replies surprised me; I thought they would be a large majority. In addition, I should have supplied more answers like Wide Row, Lasagna, and container.




Traditional row garden



Raised bed with sides



Square foot garden



None of the above





How long have you been using your current style?

The last answer on this question should have been, More than 10 years.




1 year



2 – 5 years



5 – 10 years



None of the above





What type on media do you use for plant growth?

I think the none of the above replies on this one probably uses lasagna style or a commercial media of some kind.




Traditional garden soil



SFG recommended mix



Modified SFG recommended mix



100% compost



None of the above





How do you prepare the bed for planting?

Some people that responded as none of the above did not think that spading by hand was tilling.




No till just plant



Till in the spring



Till in the spring and fall



None of the above





How do you amend your soil?

The number of organic replies surprised me; also, some do not think fertilizer as being an amendment. I think anything added to anything, is an amendment. 










Combination organic/synthetic



None of the above





 How do you irrigate your garden?

I just asked this one out of curiosity.










I do not irrigate



None of the above





What best describes your over all yield?

I think I asked this one out of devilment since there is no standard to judge by. Data that you can find is usually geared toward the commercial farmer and is very conservative.  




Below average






Above average



None of the above




Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top dressing a raised bed

Having no formal education in gardening I am always questioning what I do. Recently there was a discussion on one of the forums about vermiculite. I do not remember the specifics about the discussion but it led me to this inquiry.

I had sent this email to the Schundler Co. the largest vermiculite/pearlite producer on the east coast.

Hi my name is John and I have used vermiculite extensively in the garden and a hobby greenhouse. I have read that vermiculite does not breakdown do they mean chemically or structurally? After about three years I cannot find any of it. Should I be replacing it after so many years?

This is their response.

It is a “soft” rock which is to say it may have just been crushed to the point that you don’t recognize it.  For aeration and water retention you should replenish it.

Now I get in trouble it got me to thinking. I have put literally tons upon tons of compost on my garden every year for 36 years. After all that time and compost the height of my garden has not changed. This leads me to believe that when compost is totally decomposed it must be about as thick as a layer of dust. Also I have learned that it takes a very long time for peat moss to decompose. Some of my friends from the forums are SFG purest and justly so they use the recommended mix of 1/3 peat 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 compost with very excellent results. Can I assume if I had a 6” raised bed and filled it with the recommended mix and did not top dress it for 3 to 4 years I would end up with about 2” of peat with just a residue of compost and vermiculite?  If this is true then shouldn’t you top-dress with a mixture of 50% compost and 50% vermiculite and blend/till it with the remaining mix from the previous year to maintain the integrity of the SFG?

Any comments to set my thinking straight would be appreciated


Categories: My Gardening Journals, Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

My largest project this year

My largest project for the year was converting my garden to raised beds. It was time consuming and a good deal of work. About half of the project was completed during the 2007-2008 winter months and the second half after the 2008 growing season. While converting the garden, I was thinking SFGing but have concluded that my garden does not qualify for a SFG since I do not use Mel’s mix, the grid system, companion planting or the plant spacing. What I have is raised beds in a box.

People that say that you cannot grow vegetables in 100% compost have never tried it. I have always used more compost in my gardens than what is recommended but this is the first year for 100% compost. After the growing season, I dug into the beds and the red worms are very active. This photo is during the mid growing season.


In my opinion, Mel’s suggested plant spacing is too congested. A plant’s roots will usually extend in all directions as far as the foliage. If a plant’s foliage is competing for space, then the roots from both plants are competing for the same nutrients. In addition, nobody told the plants, they were supposed to stay inside the box. This photo was also taken during the mid growing season.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cabbage and eggplant were planted one plant per 1.5 squares. Harvest was ½ size compared to my conventional garden. Also with abundant rain every cabbage split, I had this problem before but not to this extent and not with heads this small. The eggplants were 1/2 size and only two eggplants per plant.


Cucumbers did fantastic with conventional spacing exceeding 10# per plant. Photo taken early in the growing season


Zucchini is doing even better; I have picked about 35# per plant at one plant per five squares. Tomatoes have patches of beautiful fruits scattered thought the vines. The Supersteak seems to be more sensitive to the night temperature and we have had some chilly spills off and on thought the summer. Spacing was at five squares per plant. Photo taken mid season


 Potatoes did very well exceeding 1.5# per plant at one plant per square. Next spring I am going to chit my seed spuds so there are only two plants per spud. I hope to get fewer small potatoes and more larger ones. Photos taken early season and after harvest.


Bell Peppers did ok with less than 1# per plant, at one plant per 1-1/3 square. Photo taken early in the season.


Cantaloupe is too early to tell but some nice fruits on the vines. Spacing is one plant per four squares. Harvest was one lope per vine. A waist of time and space. Photo taken early in the season


Salad greens did only average. Photo taken early in season.


Weeds were virtually nonexistent. I pulled less than a coffee can full all year, previously it would have been several 5 Gal. buckets. My biggest contribution to the garden this year was installing an irrigation system.

Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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