Friday, July 15, 2011

Update on Square Foot Gardens 2011

Japanese Perennial Onion flowering.
An apology to those regular readers! I've been so slow on the uploading of photos and new posts but I've got a valid excuse. Turns out my body- unexpectedly- began making a human being about thirteen weeks ago. This will be the third baby to join our house and now that I'm feeling less tired, it doesn't sound as exhausting as it did to me four weeks ago! 

As for the square foot gardens, they are doing well despite the lack of sun: besides we're thankful for the rain (and a working sump pump!).  I took these photos on June 29th- the date of my 2010 update. My biggest challenge continues to be nutrients as I don't have a great compost system yet (though Mat just built me a huge double-bin compost that should be a big help next season). This year I've added significant amounts of sheep and cow manure, as well as used a flax/hemp based fertilizer from the farmer's market. Based on a great Mother Earth News article, I will soon begin experiments with liquid fertilizers using the common household material: diluted urine. I'm hoping the girl's enjoy peeing in a bucket!

Pictures were taken July 29th:
Spinach bolting and peas a-flowerin'. The greens in front of the box are hardy, oriental poppies.

The back row are my potatoes (see below for a close-up), and the onions are a perennial Japanese onion. My girlfriend smelled them and marvelled, "They smell just like baked potato with all the fixings!" I love how this picture shows the succession planting of the carrots in the front two rows. We are just now beginning to harvest from the far left box.

The lettuce in the front, centre boxes has been harvested two times already. I'm really happy with this butter lettuce I bought from Richters. The arugula (on the right) has bolted, but the flowers are just as delicious as the now-very-strong leaves. The peas  make up the back row, with swiss chard taking over the middle. 

More lettuce. I can't keep up! Unfortunately, this prego lady doesn't have any craving for salad. Just oranges?!

The left row (north) is lettuce and arugula. THe front row are tomatoes interspersed with self-seeding marigolds. The tomatoes have grown well. I did an experiment this year and planted them successively to see if the early planted ones are stunted. They all seem to have grown at similar growth rate, with the one planted early May (second planted) being marginally further along.

Also featured is my sweet ride to work everyday. I love our scooter- $4 fill every three weeks!

Yarrow bordered by squash. These squash aren't doing great, but they may be a little crowded!


Bob Barnetson said...

Your square-foot gardens look fantastic. Like you, I haven't notice a lot of difference in terms of early or late planted tomatoes--sunshine sure makes a difference though!

Anonymous said...


i sure you grow babies like you grow should be a beauty!

take care
su :)

Anonymous said...

Great progress! I love looking at pictures of other gardens, especially since you live in the same city as I do, with similar growing conditions. I am just starting to pull up baby carrots and beets now, raspberries coming in, strawberries a few, peas flowering too, beans a bust, and tomatoes climing high! It is so fun and exciting, this is my first year around. I am already scheming for next year. I did squarefoot gardening too. :) Good luck and congrats on your little bean!

Rachel said...

I planted squash last year and they looked like that too around this time of year (we are in Lethbridge). But in August they took right off and took over that whole patch of garden. So I am sure yours will come along fine too!

Middle Earth Garden said...

One thing to consider with urine fertilizer is it can have high salt content (so I've read), depending on the person and how much salt intake. I have not yet found a good info source to indicate how much of a real issue this may be. I use it sparingly for this reason, but no ill effects noted so far. Some plants are more salt tolerant than others, so this is another factor to consider.

Also, the urine could have an alkaline pH which could increase natural soil alkalinity (clay based prairie soils are typically alkaline). Urine pH depends on diet and the person (more info on web). Most veggies like a somewhat acidic soil, so the urine could potentially work against this. This could perhaps be mitigated by adding acidic compost such as pine needles, which I've experimented with and no ill effects. The dilemma is how much of each to get a good pH balance. I have a soil pH meter but I don't think it is very accurate.

And as you likely already know, the urine should be diluted (i.e. 20 times) if placed on plants (dilution for compost is not so critical).

If you have any other tips or info on using urine for fertilizer, please post as I'd be interested to read up.

If everyone used a bit of urine in their garden, this would add up to a large cost savings at the wastewater treatment plants!

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