I have been remiss in my update of our little square foot garden. I’ve been several times since my last update but kept forgetting to take my camera. And I was so hot when I got home I didn’t update you. We had a very hot summer and I didn’t water enough. It’s 20 miles to my friend’s house, and by the time I paid for the gas to get there, it was really not very economical. The watermelon and cantaloupe vines both died before any fruit even started. We got 3 baby cukes, then the vine mysteriously disappeared altogether. By the last visit we had really nice parsley, basil and rosemary. They loved the hot, dry weather. The tomatoes looked good too, especially after I picked off the caterpillars and fed them to the chickens. I also had to chuck several tomatoes to the horses, as the caterpillars weren’t happy just eating the leaves off the plants. Interestingly, I had four plants–cherry, heirloom, Roma, and a slicing tomato. The worms loved the slicing tomatoes and left the others alone. I had planted marigolds and basil by the tomatoes because of their value as good companion plants. I guess they worked, at least partially. The tomatoes tasted great! I was very happy with them, especially after I found Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Caprese Salad. I could eat that every day.
School started three or four weeks ago and I have yet to go back up to the garden. Adding my fourth child into the mix of lesson plans and stuff has really been a zinger. I’ve been extremely busy trying to figure out a new system with four children, adding back ballet, soccer, and swim team. Wednesday night at church just started this week, and it’s all been a little much. So when my sweet friend who has let me use her farm land for my garden–came to get her CSA veggies (we’re splitting a share), I told her I was bequeathing her my square foot garden. I’m having to pull back on all the stuff I’m trying to do, and so the garden had to go. Since she was having to drive out of her way to get the veggies, she bequeathed me her CSA share. 🙂 That’s what friends are for.
So what did I learn? Twenty miles are too far to drive to keep a good watch on a garden, especially with gas almost $4 a gallon. I lost many tomatoes to caterpillars because I wasn’t there to pick them off when they were cute and tiny. By the time I got there, they were huge and using my tomatoes as a condo. Blech. The advantages to having everything at your backdoor are more evident after my long drive and neglected vines.
I liked making the boxes and inventing my own PVC pipe veggie support. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. They were all still growing strong, supporting my heavy tomatoes. It was fun to make the boxes and plant everything. I used compost and perlite, but not sterile soil, so I had lots of weeds. Especially from such a distance, it would have been better to use the sterile soil since I couldn’t be there to weed as often as I should have.
When I make my boxes in the spring, I’m going to put metal screening on the bottom to keep out the moles. That wasn’t a problem at the farm, but we have a very active mole population, even with Buckeye the Wonderdog keeping the numbers down. I can see moles totally eating everything I plant underground and rabbits nibbling everything above ground. And my Wonderdog loves to dig, so I’m wondering if I’ll need a fence to keep out the dog. If the critters don’t scare me off from planting, I’d like to do a fall planting and build cool weather boxes for lettuce and broccoli. Or maybe I’ll just go to the organic farmer’s market and call it even:).
Thanks so much to my friend, AE for generously letting me use part of her land for my boxes. It was fun to weed and watch our kids play. If nothing else, our friendships grew and we learned about how to and how not to garden. I’m not afraid to keep trying and at least partially failing with some of my plants. It’s part of the fun of the garden. I hope my experience hasn’t scared anyone off. Try it next year. It’ll be fun!