Monday, April 29, 2013

Digger's Diary #7: Troubleshooting Seedlings, Square Foot Gardening, Me VS the BIRDS

Everything's looking relatively good. The tomato plants I got from my neighbor are budding with flowers and two even have little tomatoes, the strawberries look fab (except for where some a-hole bird pecked at a couple of them...more on this later), and I think I've figured out what was wrong with my watermelon, cucumber, muskmelon, and squash seedlings. See, about a week before I FINALLY got them into the ground, they were so yellow. They weren't droopy or diseased looking, but their color sucked. I thought it was just because they were becoming root bound and had sucked up all the available nutrition in their little newspaper pots, but transplanting them didn't help. I tried watering with very weak fish emulsion-nothing. My friend suggested fish meal, but when I went in search my purveyor had none. I got some worm castings instead and side-dressed the transplants with it, working it gently into the soil immediately around them. For those of you who don't know about worm castings-it is the poo. Literally. It's worm poo. But it's odorless and not gross at all and so rich in nutrients you can't actually plant anything directly in them. After the side dressing I watered generously, and in the next few days I noticed improvement in their color. Still not much growth, although the squash appear to have a few promising (albeit premature given the size of the plant) buds. The tomatoes and peppers I grew from seed are progressing nicely, and the basil is beginning to show true leaves.

Square Foot Gardening: this is a concept I've read about in several places. The basic idea, as I understand it, is you take a perfect square or rectangle space and divide it into however many 1'x1' spots as you can. Using this chart, you determine how many of each of your plants will fit into each square. I.e. something like 4 carrots but only 1 squash will fit in a 1'x1' area. It seems hard to believe to me, but since I don't have a lot of space I'm giving it a go. I rearranged my cinder blocks to give me a 9'x4' internal space, and then marked the squares off with twine. Next I put the plants in based on the chart. I don't currently have enough space to fill the garden, so I gave them more space than true square foot gardening apparently needs, but we'll see just the same.

Last week I spent over an hour digging holes, burying posts, and cutting and stapling bird netting around my garden. This is to keep out the birds and the cat. Dang birds keep getting at my strawberries. Dang cat just walks straight through it like there aren't OBVIOUSLY things going on in there that don't need the input of his rotten kitty paws. He'll never know how that bird netting saved his life.

So that's the latest!

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