Red lasoda potatoes

Red lasoda potatoesI tried a few squares of a different variety this year in addition to our all-time favorite-Red Pontiac. These are red lasoda’s and they tasted very good. But they weren’t quite as tender as the red pontiacs. And they didn’t produce as heavy of a yield. I’ve been able to get 6 pounds of potatoes per square in the past but the lasoda’s were just over 4 pounds. Don’t get me wrong-they still tasted better than anything you can buy in the supermarkets. Caesar salad with a plate of steamed potatoes topped with ranch dressing for dinner-good stuff.

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Winter is getting closer!

Winter is getting closerI woke up three times this week to a light frost on the ground. Winter approaches. There’s still a fair amount of lettuce, leeks, chard, and poc-choi. This will be the last week of actual planting in the main garden area and I’ve only got 10 squares remaining. Those will be filled with spinach, radishes, mizuna, and tatsoi. And it’s just about time to use floating row cover, which gives me a few extra degrees of protection for what’s around the corner. From the picture, what do you think we had for dinner last night? Potatoes, leeks, and chives makes the simplest and best tasting potato/leek soup. Add a Caesar salad with homemade croutons and you’re set. Over the period of the next 6 weeks my blog will be undergoing a make-over. Lots of changes, lots of work but I’m hoping to make it an even better place to visit.

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Composting material

compost material 100114I’m often asked what, when, and how to compost in the fall/winter. For me, this is the greatest part of the whole year. Leaves are falling, bushes are being cut back, and there’s a lot of things coming out of the garden. I’ll use anything in our kitchen that isn’t cooked for compost. I’ll begin to bag up the leaves and store them for next year. I put all my bigger items-trimmings from bushes and trees-through a shredder. If you don’t have a shredder try using a lawn mower. In another 2-3 weeks I’ll empty both of my compost unit material in a big tub. This will be covered and stored for use during the winter and to start next spring. I’ll then fill one bin which gets the most sunlight to the very top with all my ingredients. Think lasagna layering: alternating layers of greens and browns. I’ll completely water it in and then I’ll do nothing until spring time. I know some folks continue adding water to their bins in winter if they get a bit dry but I don’t. When I’ve done that in the past it takes a lot longer for them to thaw out come spring. It turns to a huge ice-cube if you keep watering them! The other unit will only have a small layer of leaves and horse manure. This bin will be used to gather compost material all winter long from the kitchen. I won’t add any water but will use this time for just collecting material. By March it will be time to start adding water and turning it. I’ll keep a close eye on the other compost bin that I filled to the top in the fall and will begin to work it. In a matter of a few short weeks I’ll have my first big batch of compost. I’ve done it this way for 14-15 years and it’s always treated me well.

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Time for garlic

garlic 92314Thinking ahead to next summer, how much garlic do you want? I usually don’t grow that much only because it takes up space for a long time. Planting now will get you heads of garlic in 9 months-at least in zone 6. Growing your own garlic turns out a sweeter and more aromatic head than you would otherwise get in stores. I have 3 squares planted for a total of 27 heads of garlic-perfect for us. Right now I’ve got 4 more weeks of planting things to get ready for the winter garden. This year I’m doing something a little different-I’ll be harvesting all winter out of my 4X16′ bed, but I am overwintering my entire 2X16′ bed with only 5 crops. This will give me a great head start come early spring. The remaining 5 boxes will slowly be put away for the winter.

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Fall garden heading into winter

91414 fall gardenThe gardens have been spectacular this year! It’s certainly slowing down but it’s starting to transition to the full winter garden. The main 4X16′ bed will be all I do this winter. Last year I also winter gardened in the 2X16′ next to it. I’ll be using that bed to overwinter 4 or 5 different things to get a quick jump on spring. To date I’ve planted kale, tatsoi, beets, scallions, leeks, spinach, claytonia, cilantro, lettuce, chard, mache, minutina, and turnips for the winter harvest. I’ll be doing a repeat planting of many of those next week. Arugula, mizuna, and radishes will finish off the planting season and will be completed by October 20th. It’s going to be a great winter.

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A look at a variety of summercrisp lettuce

mottistone august 2014This is one of the many varieties of summercrisp lettuce that I grew this summer. We’ve come through the hottest months of the year and now it’s time for us to start eating this delicious lettuce. It’s very difficult to successfully grow lettuce in our hot summers but with a few tricks anybody can do it. My ebook that’s all about this subject-growing lettuce in hot weather-didn’t make it out in time. I finished it but it was too late. I’ll be publishing it in the spring of ‘2015. In the meantime, as you look at this wonderful head of lettuce and think to yourself “I should have planted some of this”-start your fall and/or winter garden right now. Or you’ll be saying the same thing to yourself in another 6 weeks with some of the other things I’ll be growing. I’ll be having my last class of the year in a few weeks. We’ll be discussing low tunnels and other things that will help you have an eventful winter season.

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Got leeks?

leek and potato soupThis is gardening site but the taste of some of the things coming out of the garden just can’t be matched anywhere! This potato leek soup was our dinner tonight, along with fresh harvested corn and toasted baguettes. You can buy all of the things you need to make this at any grocery store, but you cannot come close to what it tastes like with just harvested fresh crops. Potatoes, leeks, and chives-so easy, and so good. In the SFG system, you can sneak by with 9 leaks per square. A traditional row garden will take up 3 linear feet to have the same yield. You can decide which system is better. These are bandit leeks from JSS.

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This is a summer lettuce!

cherokee summer lettuce 081516This tastes so awesome! No bitterness at all-a bavarian lettuce variety that grew right through a couple of 100 degree days and most the rest of the days in the mid to high 90’s. There are some very unique advantages to the SFG system, and this shows why. If you can protect your crops and lower the temperatures by 10-15 degrees, you can do anything you want with lettuce. For most folks the hot weather is largely behind us. Maybe southern California with it’s hot month of September is a candidate for this. You really should give it a try. If you’re tired of lettuce failure in the summer months and the bitter taste of the lettuce that remains in late spring, try some of these great summer lettuces.

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How to have a great fall/winter garden

harvest greens on 121613 after a 7 degree nightFor those in northern Utah-My first class on the fall/winter garden will be on August 16 starting at 10:00 AM. Class runs for 90 minutes and the price is $40 per person. I will start with an abbreviated course in square foot gardening, but since many feel comfortable with their own gardening styles, that’s all I’ll be covering-just the bare bone basics. There isn’t enough time in the growing year to even worry about some of the advanced techniques. I will then show you 3 or 4 different ways to successfully protect your gardens. If you would like to bring your own 1/2″ galvanized electrical conduit to the class I will bend it for you. As long as your gardens aren’t wider than 4 feet it will be perfect. That way you leave the class with the structures need to cover your crops in our harsh winter conditions. Make sure it’s the 1/2″ EMT. They come in 10 foot lengths and cost about $2.50 each. If you’d like to bring your own PVC conduit, I can cut that as well. I’ll finish the class by talking about the specific crops that do well in the fall and even into the winter if that’s goal. Some of these seeds will be available at the class at $4 per pack. They all do well in cold weather. If you’ve always wanted to harvest fresh salad greens in the middle of winter(as pictured), come on out and learn how to do it. Nothing beats fresh produce out of the gardens at any time, but even more so in the winter. Contact me if you’re interested in attending. Space is limited. Eat like a king/queen this winter.

Leeks

leeks 080114In this gardening system you can plant 9 leeks in a square. If you were to grow this in a traditional row garden it would take up 3 feet. So many advantages with the SFG method. These are Lexton leeks and the white stems will be about 8″ tall-all done without the “hill” technique. More to come on this later. I was very bummed this week as I was hit by the squash vine borer. It was the first time I’ve ever had it, and I know why. I broke all the rules. When they say don’t plant squashes(and tomatoes and potatoes)in the same place in back-to-back years, they know what they’re talking about. That’s what did it for me and now I just hope I can get some butternut squash out of my gardens by the time the first frost hits. I sprouted a couple of seeds immediately and got them in the garden. I don’t think there is enough warm weather and daylight for me to successfully pull it off. Oh well, lesson learned. But I do have all kinds of things coming up now that are just outrageously delicious.

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fall crop kale 091513

Time to start thinking “fall”

fall crop kale 091513It sure is hard to believe summer is almost over. Seems it just got here. In zone 6, it’s time to think about your fall garden. If you’ve had a fun summer and want to put your gardens away for the year that’s great. But you’d be missing out on the best season of all-fall and even winter for those wanting to do just a little more work. Right now is the time to direct seed certain crops that will be ready in late fall-things like kale, carrots, beets, etc. If you’re lucking enough to be in a place where they have brussel sprout plants-now’s the time to put those in. In another few weeks it will be time to plant your entire fall/winter garden. There is little work. And the crops for winter are the absolute best! I have my first fall/winter garden class on August 16th. We’ll spend a minimum amount of time on the SFG system since participants will usually have their favorite gardening methods. For those who want to learn the SFG way-this will cover it. It’s abbreviated because we don’t spend time on things that you can’t do at this time of year-like vertical gardening. But you’ll leave with the basics. Then we are putting together a variety of low tunnels. These enable you to grow all fall and deep into the winter if that’s your goal. I’ll be bending your electrical conduit right here so you leave all set to go. If you’re garden space is big enough you can go right through winter. We’ll talk about protection methods, and then I will be discussing the crops that do best in our zone. I’ll spend additional time on the “dandy dozen” for winter. Also available for purchase will be a small sampling of seed packs at $4 each. Some may be things you’ve never known about but they will have you looking forward to each fall and/or winter season. If you’re local, please let me know if you’d be interested in attending. I’ll have another class in late August.

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Growing cantalope vertically

cantalope 72614Looks like I’ve got at least 5 cantaloupe growing now! I haven’t grown melons in years but I may have to start growing a lot more of them if it’s this easy. In the SFG method you grow 1 cantaloupe per square. Make yourself a vertical support out of 1/2″ electrical conduit, and then tie up the nylon netting. I always make sure to pull the netting tight. If it’s not, plants won’t climb up. It’s got to be tight. Make these yourself for about $12 each and you’ll have them forever. They are strong, never blow over, and never fall apart-no matter what you’re growing on them.

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Mottistone

mottistone lettuce 72114This is Mottistone lettuce-categorized as a “summercrisp.” Summercrisp lettuces are more heat tolerant than other varieties. When attempting to grow lettuce in weather of 80+ degrees, it’s hard to germinate the seeds. If you have lettuce that’s already up, the hot weather usually makes them bolt and turns them bitter tot he taste. But by utilizing just a few easy techniques, you can grow the heat tolerant varieties right through summer. I grow 6 different kinds of summercrisps and each one tastes different from the others. Learn how to be a square foot gardener. By limiting the size of your gardens you have better control over what you can do and are better able to protect your crops from not only cold, but from heat as well. In several weeks I will be having classes at my home. These are designed to teach you how to build an inexpensive “low tunnel” so you can grow right through winter. If you want to learn how to assemble a high tunnel, we’ll be doing that as well. I’ll spend a minimal amount of time on the square foot garden method. If you’re a row gardener, no problem. It’s more work and not a big harvest, but that’s your option. Classes will fill up. The fee is $25 per person and I’ll be selling specialty fall/winter seeds from Johnny’s. You’ll save shipping charges if you buy them from me and nobody around here has these varieties. Stay tuned.

First squash of the season

golden egg squash 71514I can’t tell if I’m a little late on the first squash or not. Some of my neighbors have already been pulling zucchini, but that’s only been for the last 2 weeks. We love this squash-it’s from Burpee’s and it’s called Golden Egg. It’s a heavy producer and I’ve got 3 of them growing. It’s growing vertically on a tower and this saves a lot of room. Also notice that great looking basil just in front of it. Looks like it’s time to start having our famous fresh tomato pizza for the summer!

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Black beauty zucchini….

zucchini 70414in one square foot. Just put in a green tee-post, place your seeds next to it, water, and it starts to grow. I juse tie it up every 6-8″ and let it go straight up the post. Works every time-the leaves are large and it shades the squares next to it but I’ll use those squares for things like lettuce. This variety of zucchini only gets to be about 5′ tall. I plant one in May and another zucchini plant the first week of July to get me through the fall. If you ever hear/read that it’s impossible to grow this kind of zucchini in 1 square foot you’ll know someone doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Happy 4th of July everyone…

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