My 2016 Garden Projects

 

I used to watch the PBS TV series many years ago, and bought Mel's book.  I've tried traditional gardening, as well as using Earthboxes, and a variation of the Rain Gutter Grow System (RGGS).  I've had more success with SFG.  Partially due to the high heat much of the year in Florida.  Above ground containers get very hot during the Summer with the sun roasting it all day long.  Plants wither and die.  The SFG isn't perfect either during the peak of Summer for the same reason, but I can get an extended growing season by a month or two.

This year I built 5 boxes.  Two will be the traditional 4'x4' platform, divided into a grid of 16 squares.  These two boxes will be used for vegetables.  The other boxes will contain blackberries, pineapple, banana, and some marigolds for decoration and bug control.

I will still have an Earthbox for herbs, a planter for strawberries, and might even give the RGGS another attemp.

 

Square Foot Gardens

 

 

1

BRAZILLIAN SHIELD

01/31/2016

PLANT

2

CANTELOUPE

03/11/2016

SEED

3

SNACK PEPPER

03/15/2016

SEED

4

GARLIC

02/07/2016

SEED

5

WATERMELON

03/15/2016

SEED

6

BUTTERNUT LETTUCE

03/15/2016

SEED

7

RADISH

03/15/2016

SEED

8

ONION SCRAPS

03/13/2016

PLANT

9

GREEN BELL PEPPER

02/15/2016

PLANT

10

STRAWBERRY

02/15/2016

PLANT

11

BONNIE LETTUCE

02/15/2016

PLANT

12

CUCUMBER

02/15/2016

PLANT

13

CARROTS

03/15/2016

SEED

14

HUSKY CHERRY RED TOMATO

02/15/2016

PLANT

15

BIG BEEF TOMATO

02/15/2016

PLANT

16

BROCCOLI

01/31/2016

SEED

17

FOOLED YOU PEPPER

01/31/2016

SEED

18

BUNCHING ONIONS

01/31/2016

SEED

19

SWEET POTATO

02/07/2016

PLANT

20

RED POTATO

02/07/2016

PLANT

  

TRIPLE CROWN BLACKBERRIES

01/25/2016  (PREVIOUSLY ESTABLISHED)

PLANT

BLACK BUTTE BLACKBERRIES

01/26/2016  (PREVIOUSLY ESTABLISHED)

PLANT

BANANA

01/31/2016  (PREVIOUSLY ESTABLISHED)

PLANT

PINEAPPLE

01/31/2016  (PREVIOUSLY ESTABLISHED)

PLANT

 

 

 

I bought 2x10x8' pressure treated lumber.  Not that a real problem ever existed (studies have shown), but arsenic hasn't been used in standard pressure treated lumber in years.  This material is treated with copper.

They were cut in half, and left outside in the sun for a week to dry out a bit.

I used two 3 1/2" nails, then added two 4" deck screws, on each corner.

Here's a tip, unless you have a helper, or a mechanical way to move these boxes once built, build them where you plan on using them.  Wet lumber is VERY heavy!

I've had good success using Miracle-Gro soil before, but this is a new mix to me.

This is the first of several truck loads.  These are quite heavy too.  There is an initial expense of buying all the materials, but it will be used for many years.

All 5 boxes built and measure per the drawing.  This area will later be covered with weed cloth, and mulch.  I don't want to have to mow and trim around these.  The idea is the make growing vegetables less work, not more.

A coworker gave me a banana tree pup from his yard.  These require lots of water.  The marigolds discourage some bugs, but are here more for asthetics.

I ordered two Triple Crown blackberry bushes, and planted the tops of a couple of store bought pineapples (these were in containers for a year).  I think the RGGS provided them with too much water based on the color.

There are two Black Butte blackberry bushes, and two pineapples I had growing in the yard for 2 years.  Much healthier color.

I've seen various ideas on how to make a grid to separate the squares.  This is my simple method.  I put a stainless screw around the perimeter, spaced approx 1' apart, then tie parachute cord to one corner screw, and zig-zag the string as shown above.  This is one string, only tied on opposite ends.

The process is repeated for the other axis.  These last at least two seasons in FL before the sun starts to deteriorate the nylon.  Quick and simple to replace when needed.  The dirt level is just below these, avoiding the potential of them getting accidentally buried.

All boxes now filled with dirt!  Weed cloth and mulch will be added to the surrounding grassy areas.  This will avoid the need of having to trim around them every week.

 

Seeds are starting to sprout.

Update, Feb 7:  Bought a couple of red potatoes, sweet potatoes, and garlic.

I've seen people put these in water with toothpicks, or let the sit in a dark area for them to sprout... but my grandmother had a different method.  Slice the potatoes in half, bury them.  No waiting, no making sure there's an 'eye'.  It worked for her for many years, so I'm using her method.  I buried each of these under an inch or two of dirt. Four cloves of garlic where put in the other SFG box.

About three weeks since the last update.  The red potatoes have started to grow.  All 4 now have sprouts.  This one is a little ahead of the others.

My grandmother was correct.  Simply split the potatoes in half, drop them in the dirt.  Mother Nature knows what to do afterwards.  Still no sign of the sweet potatoes, but they might require more heat than we've been having.

The blackberries are doing well.

Lettuce, strawberries, pepper, and garlic, all starting to take off.

Sure hope I get these before the birds do when they ripen.

Update 3/16/16:  The lettuce is ready to start harvesting.

Snapped off a few of the outer leaves, gave them a quick rinse (no pesticides were used), and chopped them up.  It's taco night! 

As delicious as dinner was, the tomatoes used, and the salsa, were store bought.  Hopefully I'll be able to use my own veggies instead soon.

Both tomato plants are doing well, expect lots of blooms soon.

The red potatoes are really starting to take off now.

All the squares are now occupied.  The chart at the top shows what is where, when it was planted, and if it was a store bought plant, or started from seed.  I will add another column showing when the veggies (from seed) should be ready to harvest.

More updates will follow as the garden continues to grow.  The temperature here in Central Florida hit the mid 80s today, and it's the middle of March.  Only root veggies typically survive our Summer heat.  I'm going to try adding some sun shade as Summer approaches...

 

Update 5/1-2016

The Triple Crown blackberries are getting very tall.  I will put in some poles and cables and try to train them to grow horizontal. 

The Black Butte blackberries were spreading up to about 4' from where they were planted.  Not really suitable for a square foot garden.  My neighbor wanted them for his garden, so they were pulled out this morning.  Those two plants took up 8 squares.  Now I have to decide what will replace them.

Other Gardens

 

We bought this planter 7 or 8 years ago.  It's terra cotta, with 7 pots all connected.  Ideal for strawberries.  Each pot has a drain, and I've added a dripper to each.

The Earthbox is next to the pool enclosure.  It's also tied into the sprinkler system.  The white PVC box and trellis system was purchased on Amazon, for too much money!  Looks nice though.

More on these later.  

 

 

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