SFG : Plant growth update (May)

A little time has passed since I last updated my SFG story and with everything that has happened it would probably be better titled ‘The Trials and Tribulations of Square Foot Gardening’.

First off, Once Spring arrived Mother Nature decided she wasn’t in the mood and provided very inconsistent, and largely wet, weather conditions which proved to be not at all conducive to strong plant growth. This produced very lethargic growth from many of the cold-tolerant plants, eg. sugar snap peas, carrots, spinach, lettuce and onions that had germinated. And the garlic seeds flat out refused to even germinate ! This was quickly remedied by planting several cloves of Whole Foods finest organic garlic in their place.

Once the weather changed for the better, it quickly became apparent that something else may be limiting growth of many of the plants and I had an inkling of what the problem may be due to some yellowing on a few leaves…Nitrogen.

NPK Soil test kit

Armed with a Luster Leaf DIY NPK Soil Test Kit (1609CS)…I tested the Square Foot Garden soil and was more than a little surprised to find that the Nitrogen level was ‘Very Low’. On reflection it made some sense as I had not used as much real compost as was suggested in Mel’s Mix in Mel Bartholomew’s definitive tome, “All New Square Foot Gardening”. But had instead relied on potting mix. So now began the supplementation of the missing nutrients into the soil in an attempt to provide the optimal conditions that would enable the plants to thrive. The first supplement I evaluated was a soluble kelp supplement that I provided via foliar feeding – this involves spraying both sides of the plants leaves (and stems too) early in the day or later in the evening when there is no chance of leaf burn and the water evaporates before more sinister micro-organisms have a chance to attack. The theory states that the plants can absorb all the required nutrients within about 30 minutes from spraying and it was obvious that they were appreciative of the kelp ( and urea ( supplements that I used. I will continue to supply these nutrients on an ongoing basis until this planting season is complete and then hopefully my compost will be ready to add to the soil in the square foot gardens to provide the nutrient boost in a more natural manner.


Here’s a few photos of the raised beds…


A few things to notice – marigolds as companion plants, deer ‘fence’ erected and the eagle-eyed will spot a scarecrow (3rd pic) that will give any critters a quick, high pressure blast of water if they get inquisitive and encroach. I am also experimenting with mulch around the plants. Planted are the peas, beans, spinach, garlic, onions, chives, lettuces, ground cherry & wonderberry seedlings, carrots and a sweet pepper. In the back corner of the right-hand bed is my sweet potato sitting in water where I await the growth of the slips. The sweet potato and seedling tray are brought in at night, but benefit from the warm, sunlight hours during the day.



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