Thursday, April 19, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

This is what the garden is looking like right now after a wonderful, glorious rain - almost 2 inches!

As you may know, our 70 or so chickens range freely which means that our fruits and vegetables - or anything green, for that matter, are under close scrutiny and must be enclosed in order to grow, which limits our garden space. We call this "The Garden House".  It contains 10  4X4  square foot garden boxes and is wrapped in chicken wire. Somehow, they still manage to sneak in from time to time.

Here's what's growing now:

CABBAGE - I planted late and question whether they will grow to completion before it gets too hot for them - I'm actually quite surprised that they've done so well - we had a terribly hot, early spring, but thankfully it's cooled down some.

In a square foot garden plant 1 cabbage for every 1 foot square

BROCCOLI - Again, another cool season crop, I have just a few heads left and I probably should pick them, but they're so pretty!  Have I told you that picking the vegetables is my least favorite part of gardening?! My husband has to do it or it dies on the vine. Seriously. I'm a little off that way.
But broccoli we leave to flower because the bees love it!

Broccoli is planted 1 plant per each 1 foot square

Here's some flowering broccoli - it's pretty, isn't it?

ONIONS - Only the second year I've grown them. It seems to me that I don't plant them deep enough - they're way up out of the soil by harvest time. Maybe that's normal. I doubt you can over water onions, especially here in sandy soil!  I'm sure I didn't plant enough. I'll use them later to make hot pepper jelly.

Onions - 16 plants per each 1 foot square

 SPAGHETTI SQUASH - These are newly planted. I had absolutely no room left in the garden so I planted these in a clump. See foot of the pool ladder in the top picture? I hope to train these to grow up the ladder like a trellis.  Last year they grew up and out onto the roof of the garden house where the chickens ate them. They were really prolific. I had never grown them before and was surprised at their spreading vines (very unlike summer squash!) and how abundantly they produced. Definitely a keeper veggie!

CUCUMBERS - Another hardy, prolific plant!  My dilemma growing this is that I cannot plant it on the outside of the square garden boxes or it will vine up the outside chicken wire and be eaten by poultry.  If I plant it on the inside of the boxes - down the middle aisle, it will consume the trellis and block anything growing behind it making it difficult to access the other plants. I ended up positioning a chain link fence panel on a diagonal away from the outside fence in one box, and in another I used large mesh fencing in a semi-circle half way around the square foot planting box.

EGGPLANT - Pitiful. Something is eating it and I haven't found the culprit yet.

Eggplant - 1 per every 1 foot square

TOMATOES - There is never enough room in a garden for all the tomatoes I plant! So, more often than not, the majority get planted in pots. I intend to do quite a bit of transplanting this weekend! I probably have about 20 more plants that need to be in bigger containers. My favorite are Jelly Bean tomatoes.

Here's a cool tomato trick if you have trouble with birds getting your fruit just before it's ready:  While the tomatoes are still green, hang red Christmas bulbs on your plants and cages. The birds will become frustrated and leave the real fruit alone. (or so I've read - sounds clever though doesn't it?!)

Square Foot Garden planting:
4 tomato plants in  4 x 4 foot garden box (I squeeze a 5th in the middle)

SNOW PEAS - My absolute favorite garden plant! Easy to grow and it produces LOTS of delicious pods! They like the cool spring temps and continue to produce until the real heat begins. The more you pick, the more it continues to flower! We never cook snow peas - they don't last that long! I use a hog panel ring as a trellis for snow peas - tomato cages weren't sturdy enough to hold up the plants.

Snow peas - 8 plants per 1 foot square

I also have some pepper plants and corn - mutilated by chickens.  Yesterday I worked to secure the garden house and thought I had accomplished my goal until I found this...

and then this...

                                                            !$&##% Chickens!


  1. I know what you mean about the chickens! It makes me laugh to see those beautiful photos of beautiful gardens (veggie flower) and beautiful chickens strolling among the plants! Very picturesque - very unreal. The chicken will eat just about everything in a flower/garden bed.

    Thanks for keeping it real!

  2. Love your garden! We just started building our garden this year, it was a bit late, but so far it's doing well. Lots of yellow squash, taters (both red and sweet), lettuce (spring mix and arugula didn't do well, but Bibb and Claremont are thriving), and more veggies and herbs.