This year is my second year of veggie gardening. While I can’t say I’m any expert, I did learn a lot last year. A lot!
As a quick recap, Felix and I made 2 sub-irrigated garden boxes that are 3ft x 6ft and about 20″ high or so. I sectioned off my boxes into 12″ squares (ie cells) so I could get more bang out of the space – as in planting more varieties since I want to grow ALL THE THINGS.
I’d walk in my backyard nearly every day after work to check in my green babies. I’d pick some lettuce for a salad, grab some herbs for my buns, see what was germinating (or not) and give some buddies an extra drink of water in the hot temps.
What I grew last year:
2 Red Bell Peppers
1 cell of Dandelions
9 – Green Bush Beans
9- Yellow Bush Beans
3 cells Red Beulah Lettuce
2 cells Little Gem Lettuce
2 cells Baby Oak Leaf Lettuce
3 cells Butter King Lettuce
2 – 1/2 cells of Arugula
1 – 1/2 cell of Spring Greens
A Few Findings from 2016:
I got a bit of a late start in sowing my seeds in for spring 2016. It resulted in some delayed yields – mainly in the tomatoes and bell peppers. Neither of which I am planting this year, so it happens.
The internet may shudder, but I’m not a big lover of tomatoes, nor is my husband. So I am not dedicating any space for those. And the bell peppers, they take so long to yield fruits and they all seem to ripen at the same time. While I enjoy eating the bell peppers, I can’t eat 20 bell peppers all at one time and they actually taste exactly the same as store bought. So I decided to skip those this year also.
I got some squash bugs attacking my squash plants near the end of the season. I had things so crowded in my box that I wasn’t able to even notice the destruction of these until it was too late. But I did get some decent yields of all my squash, so no complaints there.
Spaghetti Squash was awesome in my box! I got at least 12 spaghetti squashes that have lasted all winter long (and I still have a few remaining to eat as I type this).
I made some slings with my knit fabric scraps for the larger spaghetti squashes.
My super favorite from last year – Beans! I loved picking my green and yellow bush beans all summer long. The more I seemed to pick the more the plants kept producing. I kept finding new recipes to make with them too, which was fun.
And lettuces – they were all very good. Between you and me – I had planted lots of lettuce in order to feed my buns. While they got a good share of my production, I was also hoarding some of the baby oak leaf lettuce and butter lettuce for salads for myself. :D The buns are good at sharing with me.
While I did plant a great number of veggies for my space – I’m scaling back a tiny bit. My squashes, tomatoes, and beans took up oodles of room which ended up drowning out some of the other plants in the near vicinity. Okay…. I’m probably planting the same amount – but I’m just being smarter about placement and scaling back on some lettuce during midsummer’s heat.
What I’m Planting/Planning for 2017:
I’m dedicating a bit more room in my garden for some vegetables. And by this I mean my ground space (not the garden boxes). I have very sandy soil and I have a hunch that carrots might do well in my yard. I worked on amending the soil near my back fence over the weekend so I hope its nutrient rich for growing some of these heavy feeders.
Back Fence Area:
3 Varieties of Carrots
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
tbd – I may decide to add some other items back here on a whim as this will be a work in progress
This is the space by the back fence. It’s about 12″-15″ deep and runs the entire length of my backyard. Please note this is my neighbor’s fence and their repair. :( I wish it were more sightly but hopefully soon it will be filled with green and I won’t have to look at that eyesore any longer.
Peas – a mixture of bush and traditional climbing peas (Spring) (new)
1 Spaghetti Squash plant (reduced from 2 to 1)
9 – Green Bush Beans
9- Yellow Bush Beans
9- Purple Bush Beans (new)
1 cell Miner’s Lettuce (new)
Slow-Bolt Cilantro (new)
1 cell Bunching Onions
This is Garden Box #1, which is closer to the house. (seen just below)
I’m trying to garden a bit more with Spring Vs. Summer Vs. Fall in mind. I’ve already sowed some green peas into box #1 – and when those are spent I’ll be sowing my spaghetti squash in it’s place for summer. That way I get a bit more bang for my buck all in the same space.
If you look carefully you can just see my pea sprouts coming up. *yay*
1-Yellow Scallop Squash (new)
1- Yellow squash (tbd)
1 cell Mache (new)
Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce (new)
Brown Winter Lettuce (in the Fall) (new)
Lunix Lettuce (aka Red Oak Leaf Lettuce) (new)
Triumpheter Lettuce (aka Green Butter Lettuce) (new)
1/2 cell Arugula
1 cell Endive (new)
1/2 cell Spring Greens
Box #2 already has 8 Mache and 5 Endive lettuces transplants and I sowed some spring greens and arugula seeds over the weekend. These are happy in cooler temps – and are fine with 40 degree F. So once these bolt in late spring, I’ll replace them with some herbs or other heat tolerant lettuces.
If any space remains I’ll add in some of these lettuces I used last year:
Red Beulah Lettuce
Little Gem Lettuce
Baby Oak Leaf Lettuce
Butter King Lettuce
One of my lovely readers noted that I never gave a recap last year of how my sub-irrigated planters worked out for me. These were very time and labor intensive to build, and costly to boot, but I have no regrets. When I was researching self-irrigating systems I was torn between a soaker hose style box and the sub-irrigated box. They both have their pros and cons – but decided that a sub-irrigated would be best for us.
I work a normal 9-5 schedule, as does my husband. So we can’t tend to our garden all the time – nor do I want to be restricted by a strict watering schedule. I want to be able to go out of town for a week or weekend without worrying that all of my hard work would die if we don’t get any rain.
There’s a water table at the bottom of my boxes along with an overflow pipe when we get lots of rain. So if it rains – my job of watering is done. And if we have a dry spell – I can fill up the reservoir with my garden hose. I can count on less than 10 fingers, the number of times I had to fill up the reservoir last summer! It was pretty amazing as these boxes are in full sun.
I still needed to water my seedlings and seeds in the spring until they were established. But once they’re looking happy my main task of watering is done.
The downside to these boxes is the soil composition. In order for water to travel upwards for the roots – the soil needs to remain light and airy. So NO compost or manure is allowed in the box to nourish plants.
What I do is to start all of my seedlings off with some worm casings and organic fertilizer (red bag below from Happy Frog). And throughout the season I also have a granular and/or liquid fertilizer for my heavy feeders like tomato, bell pepper, and squash.
Beyond that – my boxes are maintenance free! I’m quite happy with my decision to go this route and I hope they hold up for at least 10 years.
Happy Spring! And please – don’t hesitate to ask me any questions. I feel like I only scratched the surface with this post so I’m happy to chat about more details in the comments section.