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Garden Boxes for the Fall and Winter

Block gardening. Leafy greens!

With summer wrapping up in a month or two, it’s time to start thinking about garden boxes for the fall and winter.

Last October, I found myself in Fort Bragg, California.  During our stay along the misty seashore, we visited the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens to tour the grounds and get a look at their dahlia garden which was blooming like crazy in many colors, shapes, and sizes.

The gardens span 47 acres from downtown Fort Bragg to the ocean.  The paths take you through a number of different gardens along the way providing botanical surprises around every turn.

Dahlia Garden

Along our hike to the Dahlia garden we stumbled upon a half-acre vegetable garden.  As story has it, David Parish, an understudy of the “wizard of horticulture,” Luther Burbank, moved his family to the area to farm potatoes and peas along the ocean bluffs.  The original farmhouse, apple trees and a show-garden still remain on the premises.

Block garden with lettuce, chard and parsley

Block garden with lettuce, chard and parsley

One of the things I really found interesting was the concept of a “block garden.”  The philosophy behind the block garden is brilliant:

  • Keep it simple
  • Keep your interest
  • Keep it well maintained

If these three simple three rules are practiced regularly, a single block garden can feed a person a fresh salad every day.

Lettuce and spinach block garden

The setup, planting an maintenance is pretty simple.  First, pick a spot with sunlight for your block garden.  It can be constructed with any sort of materials, such as wood or blocks, or you can plant the garden directly into the ground with the normal soil conditioning you would need for leafy greens.

Next, using string or sticks, divide the garden into squares.  Each square gets a single plant.  Make sure to pick greens based on their harvest time so that you aren’t overwhelmed with a one type all at once.   As we’re going into winter, kale, chard, and some of the more hearty lettuces will get you through until spring.

You can also add edible flowers or herbs to a square or two.  This provides color as things flower while keeping edible plants growing among your greens.  They say chives and parsley work particularly well.  Considering the season, chives and garlic might be a good place to start.

Super block - feeds a family of four a salad a day.

Super block – feeds a family of four a salad a day.

Again, the key to this garden is its simplicity.  With a total of between four and eight plants arranged in a square, weeding is easy, you are not overwhelmed with maintenance nor do you feel the pressure to eat 15lbs of greens before they go bad.

As I get ready to start our winter garden, I am thinking a block garden is the way to go.

If you are excited about growing your own produce at home, you should check out our Kickstarter Campaign where we are raising funds to bring our very first product, TogetherFarm Blocks™, to you.  If you have a small space you can use these to quickly build a custom garden box without tools or carpentry experience.  Check them out!

Can Your Garden Box do Tricks

Can Your Garden Box do Tricks?

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Stop Watering Those Tomatoes!

Stop Watering Those Tomatoes!

Sungold tomatoes in my raised garden bed.

This article will explain why to stop watering your tomatoes and when to stop watering your tomatoes.

One tip that I’ve always found helpful, although a little counterintuitive, is to stop watering tomato plants mid to late summer. “Stop watering,” you say. “That’s seems silly.” Here is the reasoning.

Tomatoes work hard to grow new green foliage all through the growing season. The more water you give the plant (and nutrients), the larger it will continue to grow. As soon as you stop watering the plant, the plant begins to realize that it is coming to the end of the season and begins to focus on producing fruit rather than growing new foliage. When you stop watering the tomato plants, the fruit will ripen quicker too.

The reality is that this does not work with all tomato plants. If you grow your tomato plants in smaller containers, then you need to keep watering them well throughout. The plant cannot survive without a deep root system. If a tomato plant is marked by the nursery as a variety that is suitable for container gardening, then chances are you will need to water it evenly throughout the grow season. If you want more info on how to best plant your tomato plant, then check out this article: Planting Tomatoes – Best Kept Secrets.

Stop Watering Those Tomatoes!

I stopped watering this Sungold tomato plant about 4 weeks ago. It is doing excellent and producing more fruit than we can eat!

I’ve tested out this theory a couple of seasons and here is what I have learned. This techniques seems to work well with Sungold Tomatoes and Brandywine Heirlooms. Those are the two varieties I grow each year. One of the most helpful things I’ve learned is to make sure the plant is well supported if you decide to stop watering. If the plant isn’t supported, the branches start to droop and can sometimes even break off – not so helpful!

Let us know if you’ve tried this before or if you have other techniques that work well with tomatoes.

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