Those of you who follow this blog, know we are always trying to raise new things in our garden beds. We have a few square foot style garden boxes. The lengths vary, but none of them are more than four feet wide.
One of our oldest 4'x4' boxes has been through several different incarnations. We created it to be a simple, unassuming herb garden, and for several years it worked quite well, producing a variety of herbs, but also included one 'rosemary monster' who rose up and took over half the box one season.
We uprooted Rosemary and moved her to another part of the yard, where she pouted and decided to give up the ghost, no matter how hard we had tried to appease her. We tried resurrecting her, in a way, by buying more of 'her', time after time, planting, then digging her back up 'cuz she didn't like it there...or there....or nope, not there either. Finally, we put her in Peg's new shade garden; the same spot 'she' had liked so well before. Well...so, then she got 'squashed' this year in the onslaught of the "Great Renegade Butternut Squash Takeover, Summer 2015." She's dead again, or so it appears.
Next, in this same 4'x4' garden, we planted strawberries. This experiment lasted for several years. We bought strawberry plants from the local big box garden centers, and from the local ag. Since both of those efforts were unsuccessful, we then we hunkered like fiends over brightly colored seed and plant catalogs and rubbed our hands together waiting for our next strawberry specimen's arrival. Meanwhile, we fluffed up their bed with fresh straw from a feed store 15 miles down the road. We fertilized and watered and checked the chemical makeup of the soil. The healthy young strawberry plants arrived and got planted in amongst the paltry few who were still faltering, in their effort to survive.
Oh, they grew alright, these new ones. The bugs, the birds, and the blankety-blank weeds were having a ball in that bed, but we got barely a berry. And that last sentence was the best thing that we got out of that whole strawberry box deal.
Talking with folks, we agree, that because of our extreme southern heat, strawberries will never do well here; at least in our yard. We live just south of prime strawberry growing territory. Drat! Foiled again.
Back to Square One. What to try next? Research!
After picking a few brains; that of friends and garden forums, we decided to grid off the 4'x4' plot and try to bring new life into it. The body of our investigation and consultation of my associates led us to believe that we might be able to breathe new life into our garden by growing garlic. With that in mind, we decided to execute this plan.
We dug through the old soil, worked it over and prepared it for another undertaking.
We scurried to the market and brought home a few cloves of garlic, then we pulled off their toes and stashed them in a large aluminum wash basin.
To make sure they were properly spaced, I dug out our old 4-hole garden stencil. Wiping off the cobwebs, I discovered it looked like it was old, decrepit, crumbled and mangled, so I quickly disposed of it. Peg, my accomplice, unearthed a 1 foot square piece of cardboard and I laid out plans for making our new stencil. The trick is to go in 3 inches from all the edges; that way all bulbs get planted 6 inches apart with 4 to each square foot. This way they will be buried 6" from their neighbors, as well.
After laying out the grid, I used a circle templet for the holes, then knifed them out with an exacto knife.
They didn't come out exacto, but what the heck, close enough for planting garlic.
This old pine box is, as best as we can remember, around 13 years old. The 2"x12" boards are starting to decompose and several of the nails slipped out and had to be relocated. Several others had were rusted, decayed and broken off . I put the pattern down on the bed and poked holes into the sod with my finger, while Peggy took pictures and helped me place all the toes in the plot, and cover them. It was hot and thirsty work, and frankly, my stein of beer made that whole body of laborious toil well worth it.
We had prepared the garden box by working the old soil and adding compost, organic garden fertilizer and to top it off, we dumped in a sack of Miracle Grow garden soil. When we find it deeply discounted, we get a few sacks and use it to supplement whatever needs burying or worked into the soil around the yard...whenever it's called for.
This was 5 days ago. We must have done something right 'cause this morning when Peg went outside strolling and looking at the empty plot, she saw something coming up out of the ground! An early riser poking its little garlicy head out of the ground. So far, this experiment looks like it's working! This time if we have a successful crop, we'll be able to say, "That stinks!" but this time it will be a GOOD thing.