Showing posts with label vegetable growing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetable growing. Show all posts

Friday, 6 December 2013

Square foot garden update

The seedlings are up in the trailer bed in which I am trialing square foot gardening. The beans are towering above everything else but most of the seeds have sprouted.

I have taken the advice of Mel Bartholomew and thinned the seedlings to the appropriate number and spacing per square foot, it caused me great pain to pull out good seedlings and volunteer plants from the last crop so I hope it pays off.

The bush beans are growing so fast they will be taller than the strawberries by tomorrow.

You can just see the carrots coming up.

The lettuce is looking healthy inside it's square.

The Tokyo Bekana is up, and it needed thinning.

 I am watering the entire bed at a rate of 10 litres per day, I scoop out the water from our showers and use it to water the whole garden. When the seedlings have all grown a set of true leaves I will mulch between them with a fine mulch like dried grass clippings or chaff to help retain moisture in the soil.

I am now wondering if I could combine square foot gardening with my Hugelkultur beds to make use of the best qualities of both methods, or would it be better to  use the Hugelkultur beds for large vegetables like zucchini, brassicas, corn and tomatoes and use the square foot gardening bed for small vegetables that can be grown intensively. What do you think?

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Hugelkultur update

The Hugelkultur beds (stages one and two) have been in for a month now, so I thought it was time for an update.

The beds themselves look great; there has been minimal sinking and the soil below the mulch layer is moist despite only having been watered twice and rained on several times. So the moisture holding capabilities of this gardening method are proving to be exceptional.
The seeds of beans, peas, tomato, lettuce and cucumber have failed to come up so far, that could be the age of the seeds though. The seeds of grain amaranth and fenugreek that were strewn over the beds as a green manure crop (and to clear them from the seed packet container) have sprouted extensively so there will be a carpet of green on the beds within the next month, which should help to hold the soil together and prevent too much erosion if we get the wild spring storms common to our area.

You can't tell from this distance..but things are stirring in there

One tiny plant coming up....possibly a tomato

I also bought some seedling in from our local nursery; broccoli, cabbage, zucchini , tomato and lettuce. I planted these out in the Hugelkultur beds too and so far they are doing Ok.
Zuchini in the Hugelkultur beds
Cabbage in the Hugelkultur beds

I have also had some success with planting in the trailer bed; with everything I have planted in there growing wildly.

Strawberries are going well in the old trailer bed

The broad beans are trying to make up for a slow start by growing really fast

Some late calendula is growing well, destined to be ointment one day

 So that is the extent of my garden at the moment.
Work continues on stage three of the Hugelkultur bed and on the half tank herb bed; both of which are still at the 'collect a heap of old wood' stage. I try to collect at least one wheelbarrow full of wood every day I have at home, but have been sadly lax lately. The beds will be built, even if it takes until next school holidays.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Dirt is worth it's weight in gold

What a wonderful surprise I had this afternoon; I had rung my mother to check on the possibility of getting a loan of the tractor to dig up some dirt for covering all that wood for my Hugelkultur beds only to find out that the tractor is broken down. About an hour after that I was out digging a big hole for the new drop toilet (and harvesting the soil for my new beds) when my mum drives up with a ute full of soil. Blessings Mum.

My reading today raised one issue I hadn't thought of; nitrogen. When carbon breaks down it uses nitrogen in large quantities and wood is mostly carbon. So I thought I would add a heap of blood and bone (high nitrogen) to the bed to try to mitigate the nitrogen drain of the wood breaking down. My first crop will be bush beans, snow peas and maybe an early tomato or two; the bush beans ans snow peas are legumes (draw nitrogen into the soil via bacteria) and the tomatoes don't need lots of nitrogen.
 You can see the pile in all its glory here.
Anyway I have spent a productive afternoon carrying soil in to the bed and only need another trailer full to finish stage one of the bed. The next step is to cover the lot with straw from the sheep shelter and a heap of blood and bone for nitrogen content then I can plant it.