The Gardening Experiment for the Year

So many of the posts recently have been all about chickens, but my first adventures into homesteading were actually gardening.  There is just something wonderful about being able to go out to your backyard and pick your own food.  Every year I like to try something new.  I entirely shook things up this year and chose a new method of gardening.  I’m doing square foot and vertical gardening.  I tried some vertical gardening with a few of my tomato plants last year and I had some of the biggest tomatoes ever.  DSCF8194

My husband has built me planter boxes over the years and they are the best.  I love being able to control the soil and it helps keep the weeds down a little. With the vertical gardening I got some very heavy-duty T posts from the Tractor Supply store.  I picked up some 2″ by 2″ fencing from the Cal-Ranch store.  It is the same fencing we used on the run.

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The T posts came with metal clips that allow us to simply attach the fencing to the post.

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To separate the boxes into square foot sections I measured around the box and put a screw every foot.  From there it was easy to string the twine and knot it to the screws.  Voila, a grid!

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I actually got a spring garden planted this year.  I have tried a lot of new things this year since there is a lot of room for planting different crops with the square foot method.  You do need to make sure that you are allowing enough space for your crop.  For example, you can only put one tomato plant per square, but you can plant 12 radishes per box.  The tomato really needs a vertical space to climb up so it can stretch out.  Speaking of radishes, I have really come to love them this year.  They grow so quickly.  I used to hate them as a kid, but it is funny how tastes can change, and did you know that radishes cooked are delicious?  They lose their spice and take on a whole new flavor.  I like them cooked with my eggs.

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Currently in the spring garden I have radishes, atomic red carrots, red beets, golden beets, peas, kale and spinach.

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I’ve never had success with peas, but I think I planted them early enough that we might get some. Here’s hoping.

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I planted several summer plants from seed and for weeks they sat on top of my table soaking in the sun.  Peppers, tomatoes, tomatilos, jelly melon, cucumber, butternut, amaranth, watermelon, and marigolds have all been transplanted.  My square foot gardening book said to plant a tomato every square foot.  I’m a little skeptical.  My tomatoes often take over the garden, spilling out of tall tomato cages, weighed down with fruit.  I’m very curious to see how this patch is going to turn out.  My tomatoes are never red.  I have become such a lover of heirloom tomatoes and I often like exotic colors.  This year is no exception.  I have purple, green, orange and other colors in-between.

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The only thing using a tomato cage this year are my tomatilos.  I ended up with a lot of empty spaces despite all my plants so I’m hoping this weekend to plant more beets, radishes, spinach and kale.  Maybe I’ll even get in some more marigolds.

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