Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Progress in the Vegetable Garden

If you have been following this blog you will know we've been busy establishing our new square foot garden. Pictures of our square foot garden at our previous house can be found here and throughout the archives up to late June 2007 when we moved here. This garden has been 2 years in the making as we focused on clearing out a lot of overgrowth. The planned design is 4 - 4' x 10' raised beds and 2 - 4' x 4' beds arranged in a rectangle. Total raised bed growing area will be 192 sq. feet a bit smaller than my 232 sq. foot previous garden. There is room for expansion if I decided to add another bed or two and there is ample room for planting various vegetables and herbs in the ground and in containers rather than in raised beds. I'm not planning on adding a greenhouse but that might change. In lieu of the greenhouse I will be topping one or more of the beds with a hoophouse. Even though the first two raised beds were constructed the first summer we were here they remained unplanted in 2007 and 2008. I grew vegetables in containers instead as we slowly made progress clearing the property.

The clearing has not been as simple as ripping out. Our first task was to remove 3 pick-up truck loads of various garden decorations, all broken in one way or another! Then we defined the property in terms of usage zones that helped us formulate a plan. In many cases it has been transplanting some vegetation to more appropriate locations and the judicial removal of some problematic vegetation. This also meant marking where spring bulbs were in some locations so they could be moved in the fall. So it's been a lot of work yet we are making progress.

tomato cageGlamos Wire Cage

The square foot garden method requires trellises and supports because in order to maximize the yield, sprawling plants are trained to grow vertically freeing ground space for more plants. We have learned over the years to be creative when it comes to plant supports. I come up with an idea for a support then my husband checks it for feasibility and constructs it for me.

Despite a late start for the garden beds the tomatoes ready for staking and two of the plants have fruit on them! Somehow my tomato cages were misplaced in the move so my husband said he would build a trellis support system for them. Yesterday he came home with 6 Glamos Wire Cages for me to test. These are 12" x 46" folding plant supports. When unfolded the one end piece hooks into the other end piece forming a 1' square support. This is ideal for square foot gardening and can be used not only for tomatoes but any other vining type vegetable. They definitely will be ideal for peas! My husband also pointed out that the cages could be used in a linear fashion linked together then covered with chicken wire for a temporary rabbit control fence. The pieces could also be used to support garden screen material to protect susceptible plants from too much sun. So I think this is a rather useful product for the garden.

tomatoes, peppers, mesclun mixTomatoes & Peppers

I use smaller round tomato cages in addition to the wood trellises my husband makes. Indeterminate tomato vines can get quite long and the beefsteak varieties get quite thick and heavy. Tomato cages provide extra support for the first couple of feet of the plant. They are of little use once the vine spills out of the cage.

Look how good my tomatoes and peppers look! I'm quite pleased. Yes there is still a long way to go and I still have to decide what I'm doing for the pathways yet but things look encouraging. We are making almost daily progress now. If the weather stays cooler we should be able to get those boxwoods moved and the stumps (not pictured) removed to get the other beds in within the next week.

I installed the 6 folding cages this morning in between bouts of rain. They definitely would have been easier to put in when the tomatoes were a bit smaller. Oh I really like these! I used twist ties to secure each cage to another to create a bit more rigidity in the support system. We may not need further support but time will tell.

An added bonus we discovered was a rather neat looking hose holder well hidden under a bush. We decided the bush had to go if we wanted to grow vegetables in that area. There it was! The holder as rusted and neglected but still quite serviceable. I cleaned it up then used 2 coats of Weathershield® Rust Coat spray paint to spruce it up. I'll post on that as well as herbs like red raspberry leaf in a
future post.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome


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