Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An Update- Square Foot Gardening in Edmonton's 2010 Season

(Check out the Square Foot Gardening Label for more square foot gardening in Edmonton.)

Being so far north, one would imagine that our summer here in Edmonton is as short as our winter is long. But not so fast, oh-prejudiced-one-against-northern-communities, Edmonton's got a longer season than Calgary (which counts for a lot as we shiver through the winter, cursing our lack of warming chinooks). Edmonton's frost free date this year was May 2. I planted broccoli, spinach, some carrots, peas and chard at the very beginning of April, and I optimistically planted out my beans, corn and tomatoes May 9.

June 2, snow and frost! Grrr, northern communities be damned.

Well, I and the rest of my plants survived the cold and rain of spring, but its sure been slow going for my little garden. Around mid June I added extra compost and some all purpose fertilizer to give the plants a boost that the weather couldn't or wouldn't. 

Here are my boxes, pictures taken around the middle of June:
The Spinach and Garlic actually overwintered (above ground!), the peas along the fence have desperately persevered mowing by birds. In the nearest corners are marigolds, seeded in other parts of the garden from last year, then transplanted here this year.

Again, garlic has overwintered successfully, as did the lettuce. I have tried planting onion seeds (not sets) in this bed, but they are desperately slow.  Beets and carrots are in the empty squares, tomatoes and cukes are at the back.

This year, I used this box as a cold frame. I planted my broccoli, alpine strawberries, marigolds, strawberry spinach and some lettuce in this bed early April, then when the weather got cold I covered it with a blanket or tarp over the pvc pipe and held in place with bricks. I transplanted all of those seedlings to other, more appropriate parts of the boxes and gardens. It worked so well I will add another cold frame set up in 2011.

The transplanted broccoli is a new crop for me... Peas are growing at the back of each square to cover the lattice, and carrots are planted at either end.

A new bed to compliment a weedy back alley! Mat built this bed for a demonatration we did on square foot gardening in May. He bought two 10 foot, 1x6s then cut it to make a 2x8' bed. He then added the 2x2' potato box at the end, which has a false bottom so its only 1 foot deep (I wanted the aestetic of this part being higher). Then, creative guy that he is, he fancied it up by adding cedar trim. The box cost us $10 since we had the screws, stain and trim.

In seeding it, I experimented with the familiar companion planting 'Three Sisters'. One row is planted with corn and beans (3 corn and 1 bean to every square foot), the second row is squash, marigolds, onions and nasturtiums (to trail along the front). In the higher section I've planted 16 seed potatoes in 4 square feet, with a depth of 1 foot.  

Here is the new bed, as of June 30:

The potatoes are doing really well; I now must add more dirt. 

This new bed has proved to be in an excellent position. Lots of sun, lots of reflection off the cement, easy access to the rain barrel. I think I may have to convince Mat to build four more beds to stretch across the 'guest parking spot' affectionately known as 'dandelion cove'. The dandelions may serve as excellent ground cover for all my aisles!



Michelle said...

Your blog is so charming! And it's really nice to find a good, local perspective on day-to-day green living. Did I see a CD hanging in one of your garden pics? I'm a new gardener... is that just decorative or is it to scare off birds or something?
Thanks for the insights!


An Avenue Homesteader said...

Thanks Michelle, The CD has worked fairly well among the peas and broccoli in keeping the birds away when the greens are young and tasty. Its radius of protection is quite small (need about 1 every 2 square feet or so!). Once the plants are bigger, the birds stop being a problem. I've tried this on my saskatoons and raspberries- but to little avail! I think I'll have to break down and purchase a net for the berry bushes.