Saturday, April 7, 2012

First Planting 2012 Square Foot Garden Plot

My original plan was to plant by 17 March 2012.  That didn't happen.

On 18 March, I placed seeds into plastic sandwich bags along with damp paper towels to begin germination atop my refrigerator.
Why the top of my refrigerator?  The process of refrigeration involves warm air.  Warm air is blown from the bottom of the refrigerator up the back and exits across the top.   I placed the seeds I wished to germinate atop the refrigerator to take advantage of the exiting warm air.
17 days later, the seeds had germinated.  Each bag was labeled with the contents - vegetable, name, days to fruit and germination start date.

You can see the roots have grown through to the other side of the paper towel.  Not something I wanted to happen.  I had waited 17 days.  What did I expect?  Of course the roots would be long after 17 days.

I originally wanted to use unbleached coffee filters, for two reasons-
  1. No bleach would be present that might damage the seedlings
  2. The paper of the filters is less porous, not allowing the roots to grow through the paper
Alas, the day I started the germination project, I had no coffee filters in the house.  I made due with what I had, paper towels.

4 April 2012 and I was ready to plant my seeds in the square foot plot.  I began with the following supplies - 
  1. a 10 qt /9.5 l bag of organic seed starting mix to use as a bed for the new seedlings
  2. a huge stock pot I found in the trash to use as a mixing vessel
  3. a 6" /15 cm shovel
  4. a supply of water
I dumped the starting mix into the stock pot.

added water to damped the starting mix

enough water that when the mix was compressed, it retained the shape of my hand.

The next step was to stake the garden.  I brought out a bucket of stakes I used last year to create the 1' x 1' /30cm x 30 cm grid within the 4' x 4' /120 cm x 120 cm plot,
a heavy hammer, in this case a ball peen, and twine.

I beat the first stake into the corner of the plot and extended a tape measure to 4' /120 cm and placed four more stakes along the tape measure at each 1' /30 cm increment.

When driving stakes it is important to hold the stake far from the end, so as not to strike your hand rather than the stake.  Another tip is not to hold the stake with an iron grip, so that if you do miss the stake and hit your hand it won't do as much damage or alarm the neighbors with all the yelling and swearing.  Wearing a glove also has the advantage of keeping the blood and broken bones together in a neat package until you arrive at the emergency room.

Once the stakes were set on the first side of the plot, I repeated the same process on an adjacent side.

Again on the third side.

And finally the fourth side.

It was time to begin stringing the stakes.  I tied the end of the string onto the stake with a clove hitch.

Then finish it off with a half hitch to keep the string from untying.

I went around the stakes until the string crated a grid of 1' / 30 cm squares.  There by getting its name "Square Foot Garden"

Each square was ready to plant.  Well almost.  I smoothed the surface of each square, removing any large objects from the surface.  In this case, I removed some of those roots I said didn't need to be removed from the soil when I mixed in the organic matter.  I also removed all large leaves from the surface.  They would smother the tiny seedlings.

I then formed three trenches and placed starting mix in each trench, tamping down the damp mix in each trench.

I tried carefully to remove each seedling from the paper towel in which it was entwined.  Some seedlings didn't make it and broke.  Those seedlings that were successfully freed from the towel were placed in the trenches leaving approximately 1" /25 mm between seedling.

I then covered the seedlings with starting mix and lightly tamped the mix atop the seedlings.  It wasn't necessary to have the leaves of the seedlings above the mix surface, they would find their way to the surface on their own.

I continued from square to square, flattening, smoothing, trenching, filling, tamping, planting, covering and tamping.

I photographed each square with the type seedling planted, for later reference.

One of the squares has half one seedling and half another.

These are the pea squares before I covered them.  I changed the direction of the trenches for no good reason except I liked the design.

Here is the plot fully planted, ready for water.  I watered by hose with the spray head set on shower.  I have a valve between the spray head and the hose.  I find this valve is a much better regulator than the squeeze handle of the spray head itself.  I watered until the plot was thoroughly moist.

My first planting of my square foot garden for 2012 was complete.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

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