Friday, August 3, 2012

The good points - and bad points - of Square Inch Gardening.

Yes, folks.  You heard it here first.  I am practicing Square Inch Gardening.  I told you I had a competitive streak!  So, how is it faring in this challenging gardening year?  Let's take a look, shall we?

First, the 'Good Points'.
It's a jungle in there!
The dense, jungle-like mass of vegetation provides cover and keeps in moisture.  It also limits the amount of weeds that crop up.

When you do have to water - you can water quite a lot with a few small buckets.  And it's all in one place.  So you can be pretty lazy about it - even if you DO winge and whine and carry on because it's hot and humid and there are bugs.

Your entire salad is in a 4 x 8 foot area.  Basil, cukes, peppers, tomatoes.  One-stop dinner gathering.

It's SO dense that the plants provide support for each other - there's no place else to go!

Now, the "Bad Points".

It's a dense, jungle-like mass of vegetation.

There are scary spiders in it that bite you if you just poke your hands in, trying desperately to find a cucumber that hasn't grown to zeppelin size.

There ARE zeppelin sized cucumbers.
I swear that cucumber in the middle was only
two inches long yesterday - honest!

Your peppers don't stand a chance.

Seriously, it has worked out pretty well, although I will NOT plant four cucumber plants around a tiny-but-decorative-trellis.  I will try mightily to keep to two plants - one regular and one of the Japanese variety.  My pumpkin/summer/winter squash bed has taken off and the plants are making a wild attempt to break the barriers of their tiny bed (5x8).  I finally gave in and fenced in the bed that I didn't fill in.  I'm trying to get everyone to grow in that direction.  So far, it's like herding cats.

Pumpkins, making a break for it...
My horseradish is flourishing in its hillbilly planter.  I have tons of potatoes, although my experiment in
'hilling' with straw did not work.  There are a lot of spuds in the dirt layer - but nary a one (so far as I can tell) in the straw layer.
My horseradish is all 'perky'.
New type of tomato this year - it's almost black when it's ripe.
Doubt that would be a great market variety, but I think it's cool!
I have tons of tomatoes - all green.  Why, I ask you, is it that your tomatoes do not ripen when your zucchini does?  How the heck am I supposed to make ratatouille?   Hmmmm?  And I don't want to hear from those of you who planted everything at its proper time and have synchronized ripening going on.


Sandy said...


Your garden beds look fabulous. I can see you don't have a major drought problem and that's a good thing. I'm not sure why tomatoes and zucchini can't ripen the same time, I wish I could just wiggle my nose and have them ripen at the same time for you, lol....(truthfully, it's the timing thing). You may want to freeze the one vegetable while you're waiting on the other to ripen. I froze tomatoes while waiting on enough to can. It's just a thought.
Have a wonderful Friday and watchout for those darn spiders (I'm not a fan of spiders).
Sandy, Oklahoma Transient

Candy C. said...

Your garden looks GREAT!! :)
You might have to start wearing gloves to protect yourself from the nasty spiders! Yikes!
Here, I can never get tomatoes and cilantro together or cucumbers and dill...

Carolyn Renee said...

I, too, have practiced square inch gardening this year. My tomato and bean jungle are a scary place to be at night. I can only imagine the critters hiding under that dense foliage waiting to ambush me.

nancy said...

I'm still waiting for things to ripen, since I planted late. 0 apples, lots of green tomatoes, and my eggplant has flowers, finally! A few peppers, and we did get 2 yellow tomaotes, delish!

Susan said...

Hey, Sandy! We are in a drought pattern, although not as severe as some parts of the country. I have been religiously watering the roots of the tomato jungle and my squash plants every day. I've used up my rainbarrel contents, so will now be watering every other day. I haven't had luck freezing zucchini, so I am just hoping it continues to produce until I get a ripe tomato!

Susan said...

The only thing that jived this year were cukes and dill. My cilantro 'peaked' in June! And you are right - I don't dare stick my hands in there without gloves...eeeuww, spiders.

Susan said...

I could have sworn I saw something moving in there last night - something large, scaly, with bristles and fangs.

Susan said...

Nancy, I may try a yellow tomato next year - they seem to ripen way ahead of the red ones. I can hardly wait = there are some humdingers in there!

petey said...

Gardening here seems to always challenge me. I do have some good lookin' tomatoes getting ready, the cilantro is reseeding, I got 1 jalapeno so far, all the squash is kicking into high gear, the green beans are starting to set, the corn is close to ready, but I won't talk about the stuff that did NOT make eggs and lots of chicken in the freezer though!

MamaTea said...

Great post! I've always wanted to try the square foot gardening method, but wondered what the downfalls were. Eek - scary spiders that bite? I think its great that the plants all support each other - something we could REALLY use here with the ridiculous wind. But...I'm going to dream about biting spiders now. Thanks for that. Really.

LindaCO said...

Lookin' good, if a little crowded :-) I am always amazed at how much biomass a single pumpkin seed can produce. I think I'm going to plant more herb seeds and see what happens. Happy weekend!

Mama Pea said...

Your garden (jungle) looks very lush and healthy. I think all of us gardeners have a little trouble with the spacing of those itty-bitty plants or seeds when they first go in the ground. I thought for sure I had p-l-e-n-t-y or room between my corn and yellow beans. Ha! I have to crawl down the row to pick the beans and I'm imagining every spider and crawly bug fastening itself to me as I creep along through the jungle tunnel.

Have you grown horseradish previously? I'd be interested to see just what you do with the roots to get good, edible . . . um, ah, horseradish. I love the stuff but have never grown it. (See? You're NEVER too old for new experiences!)

Fearless Farmgirl said...

My garden looks like that too! But I won't take the Square Inch gardening thing from ya don't worry. I was just crazy when I planted and planted stuff so close in the spring. Forgetting how large things get. My yellow summer squash has trailed down it's little mound and is creeping across the length of the garden via the main path. I think it's making a break for the gate. Mad because I keep stepping on it.

SweetLand Farm said...

I hear ya on the tomatoes not ripening when you need them too. My stupid, ahem, I mean wonderful hens, keep eating mine and at the rate they are going I won't have any... grrrrrrrr
I'd be interested in your ratatouille...never had it before, but would like to try it.
BTW your garden looks great, and your very brave to stick your hand in the jungle!;)

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I've kind of got the square inch gardening thing going on with my raspberries... and my hosta... and the lilies...

Erin said...

LOL, I'm the same way, pack 'em in!

russell1200 said...

Your cucumbers et cetera I find overwhelm the other plants. This years best for me was a spaghetti squash volunteer that grew out of the compost bin.

I have the same problem with potatos and I use loose dirt on the upper layers, so I am not sure it is a straw versus dirt issue. I was wondering if I needed to water them more carefully.