Thursday, September 18, 2008

You say tomato, I say bug farm

How is it that a 15x10' plot of land can offer such a range of experiences, from the most blissful when I see new dahlia blossoms emerging, to the most dreadful, when a much awaited, heavy Hillbilly flame heirloom tomato, is on the verge of ripening, and in my eagerness to see it's changing colors, I turn it over only to discover a bed of roly-polies feasting on the flesh that was to be mine? I've had a few major disappointments in gardening by now to not think that the end of the world is near, but still, I REALLY wanted that tomato, and I am REALLY sad that it is now sitting in the bellies of creatures who I'm sure won't appreciate it as much as I would have.
I suppose I should look on the bright side. I did, after all, bring home a radish today as a fruit of my labors.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Square Foot Garden Update

Welll, summer has finally arrived, at least temperature-wise, in the Bay Area. I'm usually not thrilled with warmer temperatures, even of those in the 80's, because usually it translates into the 90-100's in our third-story apartment. But, having a garden at least gives me perspective. The tomatoes and zucchini love the heat, and I've been bringing home a couple pounds a week. Last week I also harvested some thyme and tarragon to use on a delicious herbed roasted chicken.

So far, I haven't been that impressed with the results of my square foot garden vs. the normal soil. Here are a few notes:

Square Foot Garden:
* Transplants in general take a lot longer to adjust in the square foot garden. Maybe the soil is too artificially prepared. The only thing that has done well as a transplant has been my tuscan kale. However, as I've added more and more compost in as I've replaced old plants with new ones, I've noticed the adjustment time decrease. For example, I tried planting a sage initially, and it just turned yellow and shriveled up, but I tried planting another one later in the place that the dill used to be, and it's perfectly happy.
* Tomatoes will grow, but they will be smaller and less abundant. I've gotten some pretty sweet tomatoes from my square foot box, but there haven't been as many. I'm assuming that the main reason is not enough room for root development. I had four tomato plants spaced out in a 4x4' plot.
* Weeds have been minimal, but they still exist. In fact, it took no time for some comfrey to bust through the weed fabric, and now even some crab grass has crawled its little tentacled way over into my boxes. The soil does remain much more friable, though, and so the weeds are usually pretty easy to pull out.

Regular Garden:
* The soil is more compact (a natural result of the clay-based soil we have here).
* Things take root more easily. I think that the accumulation of years and years of different plantings have contributed a lot to the nutritional value of the soil. That said, however, I need to do an analysis this fall as I build up my beds.
* Many more weeds.