gardening genetics

June 1, 2008 at 11:17 pm 13 comments

We spent much of the weekend outside again this weekend. First, we stopped by Bachman’s (told you I’d be bach. Is that joke done yet? It wasn’t even very good the first time.) and picked up some plants for our garden. To refresh your memory, this is our garden:

Jason mixes manure into the dirt in our garden.

The garden is 16 square feet, and is divided into 16 1-foot sections (a la Square Foot Gardening). According to Mel Bartholomew (author of the aforementioned book and this website), this is the best way to maximize your garden with a minimum amount of space and effort. Sign me up!

I wonder if this technique comes with the straw hat and rocking chair…

Mel Bartholomew and his by-the-square-foot gardens. [Image Source]

We’re going to grow half of the vegetables from seed and half from plants. And then we’ll see what does well and maybe by next year, we’ll be experts. (or maybe we’ll have given up). Here’s what we’re growing from seed: pumpkins, radishes, lettuce, scallions, onion, tomato, habenero peppers, serrano peppers, and cilantro (the tomato, peppers, and cilantro were started inside a few months ago and transplanted to the garden). Here’s what we’ve got that’s already a plant: roma tomatoes, jalepeno, cucumbers, muskmelon, watermelon. And the garlic… well, we just threw a couple of cloves in the ground to see what will happen. We’ve been searching for seeds or plants but haven’t found any. Does anyone know if this technique (or lack there of) will actually produce garlic? Any other tips for a nice garden with a good yield?

Garden layout. A little hard to see, but you get the picture. One type of fruit/veggie in each square, then you plant only as many of that plant that will fit in the square. For example, you can get 16 scallions in a square, but only 1 tomato plant.

I figure that even though JT and I are completely inexperienced with this gardening business, we’ve at least got genetics on our sides. Jason’s grandfather used to grow tomatoes, corn, and “a bunch of other crap that he used to sell on the side of the road” (men are so sentimental sometimes). My Great-Grandma Behnke used to live on a farm and I remember going over to her house as a little girl and playing while my mom, grandma, great-grandma, and aunts spent time out in the garden. I think my great-grandma grew corn, but I can say with absolute certainty that she grew rhubarb because I can remember eating lots of rhubarb kuchen at her house! Yummy! Of course, I also remember my Grandma and Grandpa Bruskewitz growing lots of stuff in the little greenhouse they had… and, man-oh-man, can my Grandma B make a mean rhubarb kuchen (although, in accordance with recent family legend, I cannot promise said kuchen will be bug-free. Sorry, grandma!). My Grandma Perry also has an amazing rock garden. The rock garden used to have raspberry and blackberry bushes in it and they were so yummy (but also, kind of a pain to pick because they were on a hill and it was tricky to pick them while standing on the hill). And my mom has done pretty well with her own garden… things are really starting to flourish in the backyard of their house (I remember planting things, then digging them up, then planting them again… perhaps now she is satisfied with the location of everything? nah, I suspect not.). Anyways, I will let her tell you about it in her new blog. But! If anyone knows of any other family gardening history, or has any good gardening stories, I want to hear them! Now! That’s an order, mister.

The current status of the garden. Not too impressive… but also not too bad, considering that it hailed 2 hours after we planted them.


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the dress a less controversial garden post?

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Uncle Brian  |  June 2, 2008 at 7:30 am

    Your garden is too small. The tomato and pepper plants will grow tall and wide and will mingle with each other. The watermelon, pumpkin and cucumber will vine out across your lawn and make it hard to mow the grass. Jackie’s garden has less variety but is 4 times bigger. Good Luck.

  • 2. GGG  |  June 2, 2008 at 8:48 am

    When we lived in Red Lake we had a huge vegetable garden.Living in the land of midnight sun our beans grew overnight! My favorite was the potatoes cause you could take a shovel and have fresh taters enery night. Grandpa liked the beans. He says they make you feel real good about all your work. One bean plant gives lots of beans! I don’t think you could grow potatoes in a four by four but beans would work and they are really fun because you can almost see them grow.(maybe that was just in the land of the midnight sun)

  • 3. theperryfamily  |  June 2, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    ditto on uncle Brian’s comment. Those melons need a lot of room to grow and once your tomato plant gets bigger, you need some kind of support for it. As long as you can keep bunnies out of the yard (and deer), you may actually eat some of your harvest. The seed growing should be interesting because you started kind of late for some of them but I understand lettuce grows pretty fast. Teresa recently had a veggie garden and tried to keep pests away organically. You may want to email her….she’s not a blog afficionado!

  • 4. Mandy  |  June 2, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    I have too much advice to post on your blog. I will send you a proper e-mail regarding your choice of plants and how to fix some of these errors in planting.

    And if you want advice on organic pest control, I have that knowledge as well. The best defense would be to get some companion planting going. But as the previous posts have pointed out — you haven’t left yourself much room in your tiny garden-in-a-box!

    Think of me as your personal Ortho Problem-Solver!

  • 5. Debbie  |  June 2, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Jason, Poppy used the back ACRE of his yard to plant his vegetables. You were probably too young to remember when they lived in that house but he had quite a bit of room to plant. Too much room, I suppose, That’s why he had to give his produce away. (Unfortunately, we live out of state then and couldn’t reap the rewards of his hard work).
    You’ve already received much advice so that is all I will contribute.

  • 6. GGG GpaCC  |  June 2, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    I had a victory garden of about 50ftx50ft on the farm on Burleigh road(the woods we now live in were part of the farm). At any rate,it was fun but hard work for a 12 year old kid, Iam not going to tell you any thing because you all ready received enuf advice. I will tell you this tho something in all that stuff will grow to maturity and you will enjoy sitting down and eating the product of your efforts,(even if it’s only beans that turn out)
    Luv ya,

  • 7. Mandy  |  June 2, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Also, did you find “Square Foot Gardening” at Menard’s? Because that would make so much sense. Ditto if you picked it up for 50 cents at your local Salvy.

  • 8. jp  |  June 2, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    @Mandy – Why do you have to slam Mel (and Menards) like that? Ouch!
    @GGG, GpaGG, Debbie – Thanks for the stories!!!!!!
    @GpaGG – No advice!?! But you ALWAYS have advice!!! πŸ™‚
    @Grandma Bruskewitz – Did you forget to teach your kids “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all?” Or were they too busy picking on each other to listen? Either way, you get double thumbs up for putting up with them all these years… they are tough critics!

  • 9. Nickey  |  June 3, 2008 at 5:58 am

    You’re really not going to plant pumpkins in that small, tiny plot, are you? Well, if you already did – good luck with that. The pumpkin will be bigger than the allotted square! πŸ™‚

    And yes, you can grow garlic from a clove, but you should make sure it’s a locally-grown garlic clove so it will match your soil.

    Well, good luck! looking forward to seeing the end result.

  • 10. D  |  June 3, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Scrap the whole deal, get a big roto tiller, till the entire yard, plant corn, apply for an AG zoning change (this will drop your taxes possibly by 90%), grow the corn, skip the basement brewery and convert the barrels to Bio and go into the ethanol biz, apply for government grants for the supply line and sit back and “live off the land”.

    Boy won’t “Larry” (i cannot remember his name next door) be happy! You’ll possibly have to send Jason out to talk to him….

  • 11. GGG GpaCC  |  June 3, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    To old ! ! ! ! . Last century’s gardening advice is not relavent in the 21st century.

  • 12. Gramdma Bruskewitz  |  June 3, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Don’t have any advice for you. My mom ( your great grandmother) worked so had in her garden I had no desire to have one. I guess I wad lazy at heart. I want to clear this up – the bugs were not on the rhubarb , they were on the black raspberries we picked in my fathers woods. Those bugs were the same color as the berries and very had to see. A little protein in your pie is good for everyone. I hope your garden will be very successful. I planted one tomatoe plant and one pepper plant in a large pot 2 feet off the ground and last night a deer came and ate them so that ends my attempt to have fresh vegies. I’ll go buy them at our farmers market her in West Bend.. Love you

  • 13. jp  |  June 3, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    @Nickey – Thanks for the advice… you are more optimistic than I am about the size of the pumpkins. Hopefully draping the vines out of the box will do the trick… who knows.
    @Grandma B – Too bad about the deer! Fortunately, we don’t have deer here, but we do have rabbits. I’m hoping Barley will scare them all away… sorry for giving you a hard time about the bugs! I was just joking… I will gladly eat your baked goods any day!!


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