Square Foot Garden : How to prepare your beds for planting

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We decided to get our Square Foot Garden ready for planting yesterday, we figured better sooner than later.¬† A couple of weeks ago my wife and I had set up a cheap cold frame to try and get some seed starts going, we have had a really mild winter so far so I figured what the heck, let’s do this.

So I set up my peat discs and let them sit for a few days

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Then this was the reality of the situation all last week, gotta love Maine weather!

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Not one to be deterred I cleaned off the frame and let the sun hit it for a few days.

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My potato frames were buried as well.

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So I cleaned those off to let them heat up some more.

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It has been a regular heat wave the last few days, with yesterday topping off at 60 degrees so I could wait no longer.

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So I pulled the lid off yesterday and I was at 100 degrees, I figured it was time to test it out.

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Since this is a test, I went and grabbed some cheap seeds from wal-mart

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I’m always amazed by the size of seeds, I don’t know why

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So I pulled the lid off, and grabbed the discs that had expanded and were ready to plant

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I am going to do succession planting over the next several weeks, so for now I started 16 broccoli, 16 cabbage and 8 spinach

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I put half of each in the cold frame

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and half in our greenhouse/smokehouse. There was some discussion last year how well it would work without angled glass so I decided to try it

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with such high temps in the day and nighttime temps still in the 30’s, I added a pan of water to help stabilize the interior temps

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and set the thermometer on the pan and locked the tote lid back on

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So I went and checked the tire greenhouses next to see if I could get my potatoes in the ground.

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I had 4 or 5 inches of warm soil

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but it was frozen solid below that, so I will give this another couple days

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I walked down to check the pig area, looks like it’s going to need some work before we get the new ones

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I miss those little buggers

with everything that happened last year, I didn’t get a chance to properly clear out our Square Foot Garden¬† beds and prepare them for winter and it shows

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so I decided to get them prepped for planting next month. I went and grabbed a roll of black poly and my razor blade

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I started on my sunflower and rhubarb bed

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I removed the hoops and pulled or broke off the leftover stalks

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I rolled out the black plastic to get my length but kept it short because the last 4 feet in the bed is my rhubarb plants and I do not want to bake them off

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the roll of plastic was 12×100 feet so I could cut it in half and use one piece on two beds. So I went around and stapled the plastic onto the boards

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and trimmed off the excess

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the short piece worked perfect on the next bed because I have rhubarb sets in that one as well. So I stapled that one down and starting clearing out the next 3 beds

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and covered them up

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before

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after

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A friend had mailed me some ground cherry seeds last year to try since I had never planted them before. Not knowing what to expect I planted 6 plants. Yeah I would do one if I plant them again. They totally took over half the bed

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You can see here how many ground cherries we missed last year. You can’t eat ground cherries when they are green on the plant because they contain solanine, the same substance that makes green potatoes toxic. So you have to wait till they are on the ground, hence the name. If I planted them again I probably wouldn’t even plant them with the square foot method, but just their own spot in the garden because of how much space they take.

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all done, we left the bed in the front uncovered because that is our garlic and onion bed, so I just need to weed it well

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so now I will let the beds bake over the next 4 weeks to kill any weed seeds and break down any organic material down back into the soil. Now to sit down and properly plan out Square Foot Garden layout this year with a pen and paper.

Here is a good site with more ideas to bake off your beds

http://gardenbedsnj.com/baking-the-weed-seeds-out-of-your-garden-beds.html