Monday, August 22, 2011

Square Foot Garden 2011 II

View of my backyard from my sliding glass door
Closer view of my 4' x 4' garden

Square foot gardening gets the name from the fact that you stake out the garden in 1 foot squares.  So in my case a 4' x 4' garden has 16-1 foot squares.  Each tomato plant is placed in the center of its own square.  I planted four Delicious, one Mr Stripy, two Cherokee Purple and two Sweet Millions grape type tomato plants.  I also planted a few Thai pepper plants.  These little Christmas tree light bulb shaped fruits pack a punch of spicy heat and they are prolific producers.  I also planted one Sweet basil, one Rosemary, one square of sweet corn and one square of Stevia rebaudiana or sweet leaf or just Stevia.

There were two elements to this bed that I overlooked but became apparent quickly.  The first to become a problem was drainage.  This loose sandy soil with all its amendments was placed into a bed I cut in the rocky clay of the lawn creating a bowl that holds water.  This May, soon after planting my young plants, heavy rains came to my backyard.  In four days 1.6" of rain fell.  My bed was wet, really wet.  My tomatoes began to die.  I lost the Cherokee Black and several Delicious.  I should have put in some kind of drainage or put up the money to raise the beds.  I did neither and had to deal with the wet soil.  I purchased replacements tomatoes but not the same variety.

View of the North facing side
The other problem I encountered with the placement of plants in the grid.  I placed three of the tall indeterminate tomatoes in the rear(north from east to west) row, leaving open one square for sweet corn seeds that were not purchased at the time of tomato planting.  I placed three additional indeterminate tomatoes in the row to the south of the first row on the east end.  The third row starting in the east, I planted the two Sweet millions, the Rosemary and the Sweet Basil.  The last row(southern most from east to west) I planted the two Thai peppers, an empty square and the Stevia.  This arrangement ended up shading the Rosemary completely.  The foliage produced by the indeterminate tomatoes is massive.  With my red/green color blindness I really need to search for the tomatoes in the jungle of foliage.  I have found some fruit so ripe that most of the fruit needs to be trimmed to get to something edible.  The corn square is shaded also, that combined with the square being planted with too many corn seeds has stunted the stalk growth plus limited the pollen to get to the corn silk.  The result are spotty kernels on the small ears.  Lessons learned this year not to repeat next year.

Northwestern most square planted with corn

View of corn square from the West

View of West side of 4' x 4' garden
corn on right basil third sq from left Stevia on right

View of South facing side
Stevia on left, two Thai Peppers on right
Rosemary hidden beneath the vegetation second row back second column from left

View of South facing side with indeterminate tomatoes in rear

Closer view of Thai Peppers on right

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