Spencer Square Foot Gardening

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there!I didn’t think I was going to get to be a father on Father’s Day this year since Joy’s due date was originally July 20th, but since Spencer is here and doing well, I will definitely celebrate it! This morning, Joy gave me an awesome Father’s Day present, though not as awesome as giving me Spencer! She had a family friend come take come photos of Spencer a few weeks ago and today she presented me a cool collage of the “many faces of Spencer” in a bike-themed frame.

This is the awesome Father's day gift that Joy got me this year (2015)
This is the awesome Father’s day gift that Joy got me this year (2015)

Karen, Kristen, and Leanne visited us last night in the hospital and gave us this beautiful blanket and stocking cap that Leanne made. They’re super colorful and that cap and blanket will be perfect for keeping Spencer snugly and warm this fall!

Spencer blanket and knit cap

Both Spencer and Joy and I have had a busy week this week. Last weekend I broke down the remnants of our square foot garden we started a few years ago. We had some luck with cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers and we had some jalapeño plants that were dynamite performers. For the most part, bugs and the birds got to everything else.  So after tilling up the soil, I laid almost a whole pallet of sod on Monday. Wow, was it hot! While I drank lots of water, I still probably stayed out a little too long. There was a few times when I stood up that I got a little dizzy. We ordered two pallets of sod since that’s what the farm said we needed for our bare areas and we had at least half a pallet left over so we called all our neighbors and gave it away. One of our neighbors was so appreciative, she brought us over a chocolate cake!

Gabby is inspecting the newly laid sod that covers up where our old Square Foot Garden used to be.
Gabby is inspecting the newly laid sod that covers up where our old Square Foot Garden used to be.

In anticipation of Spencer’s return home (still no firm date yet), we had all the carpets in the house steam cleaned and deodorized. I’ll be taking the dogs in tomorrow to have them groomed and “furminated” so maybe there’ll be a lot less fur in the house when Spencer comes home. We also took delivery of a new washer and dryer, replacing our faithful units of 10+ years of service.

Spencer’s feedings have been upped this week to 60 mL and he’s back to a 4-8-12 schedule. They’re hoping the increased feeding will help him grow a little more since he’s not exactly where they’d like him be. We’re quite proud of him, especially since he’s now a proud member of the 5 lb club!

Spencer became a proud member of the 5 lb club on Friday, June 19.
Spencer became a proud member of the 5 lb club on Friday, June 19.


From our family to yours, hope everyone has a Happy Father’s Day!

The Martin family on Father's Day 2015
The Martin family on Father’s Day 2015, check out that smile!
Cars Square Foot Gardening

Under the weather

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I got hit by some kind of allergen or bug last Monday and I’ve been feeling under the weather since then. I had a fever and stayed home from work for a few days. Even with my fever gone, I’m still feeling a lot of sinus pressure and drainage, so it’s off to the doc today.

On the weekend just before getting sick, I went to Decatur for the VW club’s 3rd Saturday cruise-in. Usually we all just chill at the Dairy Queen in Priceville, but during the summer there is also a large cruise-in on the 3rd Saturday at the Steak-n-Shake in Decatur, just down the road. Some of us decided to peel off and check out the show. There were lot’s of great-looking muscle cars and classics Detroit steel. There were even a few VW Beetles! What really blew my socks off was this gorgeous recreation of KITT from the TV series Knight Rider.

Camera Roll-449
“Scanner indicates crumb-snatchers ahead”

The owner did a great job with the exterior, which had a new fiberglass nose that held the red scanner and he even had the correct wheel covers. What really blew me away was the interior. He had all the lights, bells, and whistles! Check this out:

Camera Roll-453
Now this is attention to detail!

When I watched this series growing up, I loved KITT and wanted one of my very own. I saw the owner of this great looking machine sitting next to it and I said to him “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how old are you?” He didn’t look old enough to be the right age to have fallen this much  in love with Knight Rider when it came out. Turns out he was 31 and he said he wasn’t even a thought when the series came out. That sounds just about right, since Knight Rider debuted in 1982.

I’m 38, so a definite child of the 80’s and I’ve always wanted to build one of my childhood hero cars, like the A-team van, the General Lee, or my own KITT from Knight Rider. It seems like painters and handymen have snapped up all of the 1983 GMC panel vans, and don’t think I could afford a ’69 Charger in good condition, but I did end up painting Pokey the exact same color as the General Lee. Props to this young man for keeping the dream alive and bringing back some good memories.

Time for a square-foot garden (SFG) update. Most of our plants are fairing pretty well. There are a few “munchie” holes in the leaves of a few plants and we’ve found some cabbage worms and green-horned tomato caterpillars who are probably responsible for that. It looks like these pests are destroying our bush beans. The leaves are turning brown on the edges and there’s holes everywhere. I snuck out last night to sprinkle some crushed egg shells and I noticed at least 3 slugs near the beans. We wanted to keep our garden organic, but we’re going to have to find something to treat for slugs and caterpillars.

Sad Bush beans
(Sad Trombone) Our bush beans have seen better days.
Camera Roll-470
Despite the damage, there’s always a few new leaves ready to bud.
Camera Roll-472
Here’s one of the vile Cabbage Worms that’s been wrecking havoc.

On a positive note, we have some tomatoes coming in! Sorry for the poor focus, but the iPhone takes terrible macro shots. We still need to get our tomato trellis in place and some netting to keep the birds away from our “harvest.”

Camera Roll-474
Looks like a little green eggplant, but this is a baby tomato.
Pokey Square Foot Gardening

Weekly wrap-up

What’s Bug’n Me

Been kind of a busy week this week, but not the “We got a whole lot done” kinda week. It was more of a “Finally made it home, let me eat something and relax for a few hours before bed.” I had a Volkswagen club meeting on Tuesday so I spent Monday night getting paperwork ready for our charity car show next month, Bug’n in July. Since I was on a Volkswagen kick and I was at the computer, I decided to spruce up the club website. I had to switch to a new theme awhile back when WordPress did a major update and I never got around to styling it. I added a funky, retro background, switched to a dark theme, and rearranged the widgets. Check it out:

Here's the newly refreshed NAVWC website.
Here’s the newly refreshed NAVWC website.

Since there were only three of us at the club meeting and we all drove our Bugs, we decided after the meeting to go on a cruise. We drove through Madison, down University Drive and cruised up to Monte Sano park via the twisty Bankhead Parkway! It’s been way too long since I’ve been up that road. We had an absolute blast. Fast cars are nice, but there’s just something about drive a slower car fast that’s more fun. Here we are the scenic overlook ready to cruise back down:

Camera Roll-430
It’s hard to decide which is the better view!

I decided on the way back down the “mountain” that I like hill climbs better, at least in Pokey. The brake pedal is a little too close to the driver for good heel-toe downshifts. I gotta say, the new disc brakes sure worked great. Maybe once I get the front ride height the way I want and I put in a thicker anti-sway bar, I’ll talk the club into hitting Deal’s Gap in Tennessee and riding the Tail of the Dragon!

Back in the garden

Our square foot garden is doing pretty well. The bush beans still don’t seem to be fairing too well. Their leaves are still pretty dry and they’re shriveling up. We have the sprinklers in the backyard watering the lawn for 15 minutes during the middle of the night. I don’t think it’s enough. We’re probably going to have to hand water the garden every night, a task I actually enjoy because it lets me get up close to garden and check out it’s progress. Speaking of progress, let me show some pictures of the kids!

Broccoli has finally decided to make it’s presence known.
Camera Roll-445
Check out the red stems… them’s radishes!
Camera Roll-444
Our tomato plants are growing like crazy!
Camera Roll-444 by Gumby_Mac72
Doesn’t look like much now, but our lettuce is starting to sprout.
Camera Roll-442
Carrots. I really hope these do well, but I’ve heard it’s hard to grow carrots unless you have deep and soft soil.
Camera Roll-439
We’ve got two squares of cilantro. If we had planted purple onions, we’d have everything necessary for my homemade salsa (except for limes).

And finally, we found another “pest” in our garden, dogs. Joy went out to admire the garden and found paw prints and divots near the lettuce and spinach. We had planned on building our tomato trellis this weekend, but now it looks like we’ll also be constructing some “critter cages” to keep the junior farmers out.

Square Foot Gardening

Square Foot Garden Update – Week 2


Well it’s been about two weeks since Joy and I started our garden, and we can already tell that it is doing really well. All of the potted plants that we bought are doing very good, especially the tomato plants that we bought at Walmart. It on’t be long before we have to start building a trellis for them to grow on. We may also need a trellis for our cucumbers, and probably our bush beans. Speaking of beans, these have to be some of the fastest growing plants that we’ve sown. The first picture  below was taken in the morning, and the next picture below that was taken just one day later. I think that our bush beans will be ready to harvest in a short time, and that we will also be a will to replant bush beans again before the end of the summer growing season.

I took this picture in the morning before going to work.
Camera Roll-425
These four vertical squares are all planted with bush beans (green beans)
Camera Roll-417
This row in back is our tomato plants, two Cherry, one Roma, one Big Boy.

It wouldn’t be a garden if we didn’t have a few pests. I started noticing some holes on the leaves in our garden and when I turned over the leaf on one of the cucumber plants I found this little guy.

Camera Roll-422
I found this guy underneath a leaf and can you can see all the holes he’s left behind

That’s a horned tomato worm. That magical unicorn coming out of his butt must allow him to do a lot of damage. There were holes everywhere. I’ve heard that if they are left unchecked these guys came decimate a tomato plant overnight. It looks like I will have to go down to the local farmers co-op and find some kind of organic pesticide. I’ve also heard that you can wash used egg shells and crumble them up, and sprinkle them around your plants to deter pests.

That’s about all the updates we have this week for our garden. Almost everything that we’ve planted has started to show some signs of life, except for the lavender. Either our seeds were duds, or this stuff just takes a lot longer to germinate and sprout.

Square Foot Gardening

It’s Hip (and Healthy) to be Square

This weekend Joy and I decided in an effort to be healthier to start our own garden. Joy’s sister Julie has had good success with what they call a planter or raised garden down in Texas so we thought we’d do a little research and try one ourselves. I had heard of this type of gardening before and it’s supposed to be much easier and more productive than regular row or large-scale gardening.

So last weekend, we bought a few books at the local B&N and have decided to try Square Foot Gardening. SFG was developed by Mel Bartholomew as a more efficient and easier way of gardening. Instead of tilling up 200 square feet of soil, planting long rows of one type of plant, and wasting 80% of  your garden space with empty space between the rows, Mel’s method advocates setting up smaller 4’x4′ boxes that are 8″ tall. Instead of tilling the soil to a depth of 6″ and testing the soil, adjusting the pH or adding more nutrients, you create a box on top of your existing soil and fill it to a depth of 6″ with a perfect mix of soil that’s ready to plant.

Since we were new to this and a few weeks past the planting season, we opted to build four 4×4 boxes for a total of 64 sq.ft. We spent most of our Memorial Day weekend buying supplies, building boxes, and laying out our garden. Our garden boxes are placed smack dab in the middle of our backyard. Aside from being too large and hard to work, Mel says most people put their gardens in the furthest corner of their yard, practically on their property line, which leads to neglect. Since we already have a smallish back yard, we decided to make our garden the focal point. We stained the boxes and added nice roomy walkways between and around and covered them with mulch.

Our herb planter

Once our garden boxes were filled with Mel’s mix (which is 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 vermiculite), we went to Lowe’s and Wal-Mart for seeds and potted plants. We opted for as many potted plants as we could since we’re new to this and a little late in the planting season. We’ve got 4 different kinds of tomatoes, some green, red, and yellow bell peppers, watermelon, cucumber, zucchini, squash, carrots, beets, radishes, lettuce, and even a jalapeno plant! We also threw in some marigolds, two mosquito plants, lavender, and dusty miller for color and to attract good bugs and repel the bad ones.

Finished Square Foot Garden!

We probably could have skipped on the mulch walkways and edging and stuck with seeds instead of potted plants to keep the cost down, but we knew if this was going to work, our garden had to be something we wanted to spend time in and care for. Even though my 3-day weekend was mostly consumed by starting our garden, I didn’t seem to mind. The weather was great, we got some fresh air and sun, it was nice being outside with my wife and dogs playing in the dirt. Hopefully I’ll still feel that way when it’s 95° in August and it’s time to “harvest our crops.” Actually, if we get to harvest anything to eat that isn’t fried or covered in sugar, I’ll consider this whole endeavor a success.

Here’s some photos from our weekend setting up our square foot garden.

[AFG_gallery id=’5′]