Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Garden Lessons From Years Past

I have been rather busy planting seeds and plants out into the market garden the past few days.
We have got over 10 different varieties in covering the Zucchini, Acorn Squash, Chard, Spaghetti Squash, Watermelon, and Cantaloupe Families. (Yes I know that Spaghetti Squash is not usually considered a "family" However, I decided to include it as plain winter squash did not do justice to the varieties we did.)

I have been moving forward on my "Square Foot Garden." I have been transplanting quite a bit of the plants I have inside out to it, and will continue to do so for the next few days. This process could be accomplished much faster, but I have been much to busy to spend a lot of time on it, and all the red tape that comes along!

My overall plan for the "Square Foot Garden" is to (obviously) use every square foot and maximize the amount of produce I get out of a small area. I also want to begin working on a comprehensive gardening strategy where several elements work together to attain one goal - A healthier, more productive garden with less work.

Before I begin to describe my plans for the "Square Foot Garden" allow me to give a brief history on some past gardening learning curves.
My first gardening year was in 2007 when I started working at a seed company. During that year I began to apply the knowledge I was learning at work. My garden was fairly large roughly1/8 of an acre if I remember correctly. I managed to get a decent amount of produce from it, for a first timer, but I was far, far from what can be obtained from that size of garden. My biggest problem of that year was being able to water the garden more that every other week as I was working full time and keeping the weeds under control. I remember one incident in particular when I watered about half of my garden really well one weekend in July (It had no weeds at all, just plants and dirt) and I could not find any time to get out to the garden for the whole week. Well, when I returned the following weekend I found that I had weeds over 3 feet tall. What?!!!! I spend one week away in JULY when it is well over a hundred degrees out and I get weeds OVER THREE FEET TALL!!!
Needless to say I was not able to retake that half of the garden over, However I did find the time to wage a successful campaign to remove approximately 100 square feet of those terrible weeds so that my Jumbo Pink Banana squash could survive.

Last year's gardening lessons: Last year we started selling produce at a couple of new Farmers markets one at The 29Th Street Mall in Boulder named Market Fresh and one in Brighton.
Because of the fact that we were now going to be a produce vender we planted a large garden, probably an acre and a half. Our biggest dilemma was providing adequate attention to each of the growing areas because we had spread the garden out over a large area with the intent that we would be able to have multiple hoses going at the same time. It did not quite work out like we had planned. The weeds began to take over quickly, we tried to keep on top of the watering and weeding, tried to do the mulching, and plant half an acre of pumpkins.
We were unable to keep on top of all the areas we had planted. While we managed to mulch most of the garden over time, and deal with the most pressing weeds, we were unable to get the garden to produce its full strength. Yes, we did get a very large amount of produce and what we did not sell filled up all of our freezers.
Overall the biggest lesson of last year was mulch and focus less on the amount planted and more on the amount of yields per square foot. Hence this years theme for me Square Foot Gardening TM

In a later post I will explain my plan for The Square Foot Garden TM, but for now I will leave you to digest what I have already written.

Respectfully Submitted,

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