Grow Box 1 Overview First Cucumber Flower Tomato Flowers Box 3 - Peppers IMG_3753

The monsoon has ended in Minneapolis, Minnesota (for now).  We have received 25 inches of rain so far this year, and that is as much as we typically get in a whole year.  The climax was a massive rain storm that dropped over 4 inches on Minneapolis last Thursday (6/20/14).

So, how did the garden do as our area went underwater? 

To be honest, surprisingly well!  One benefit of having a raised bed is that heavy rains will drain through to the ground underneath the bed. Even with all of that rain, at no time did I see puddles on the soil in my boxes. An additional benefit of having raised beds is that I manufactured the soils from various materials, so while most of that rain soaked in and drained through, moisture was retained in the soil for several days after the rainstorm. I keep watching the plants to see if they show signs of “drowning” (too much moisture), but I do not see any indications yet. By the way, we are scheduled to get a rash of 80+ degree (Fahrenheit) days over the weekend, and that will bring along some thunderstorms as well.

Here is an update on how the plants are doing (by Grow Box).

Grow Box #1

The plants are doing great. I tied aMost of my 9 tomato plants have their first buds, and that is pretty exciting. Last year was a horrible year for tomatoes here in Minnesota, and I radically changed my tomato-growing methods by going back to a large raised bed instead of a container. I also dealt with blossom end rot last year on the few tomatoes I grew, and that sticks in the back of my mind. I am considering adding crushed eggs shells and powdered milk to the soil to cut that problem off at the root (pun totally intended there). With so much rain, I just want to make sure that these plants have the calcium to grow big, juicy tomatoes this year. I really am proud of these babies since I started them from seed packs in my basement in April.

The cucumbers in Grow Box #1 are really starting to take off. Once I added the trellis lines last week, the largest plants have grabbed hold and started to climb. Two of the plants have their first buds (they popped out last night). I am really happy about these little guys too since they were a target for that nasty pine squirrel. Grow, baby, grow! I am going to do a lot of pickles this year!

Grow Boxes #2 and #3

The pepper plants in Grow Box #2 and #3 are doing great for the most part. The largest are pepperoncini plants I purchased from a local grower. He started them early in the year (February), and they are doing really well. I think one of these plants is 12 inches tall already, and they have buds starting to form. The jalapenos are right behind them, and a couple of the green pepper plants are starting to get bigger. One or two of the banana pepper plants are a bit on the small side, but I am waiting to see what happens with them. I might have to turn the box around since the taller pepperoncini pepper plants are getting so big and will shadow the green pepper and banana pepper plants in the late afternoon.

Grow Box #4

Grow Box #4 took a while to finish with all the rain (and some dithering on my part). As you can see, the beans survived the transfer from Box #1 and are really climbing the trellis lines. A couple took some extra attention before they took to the lines, but they are falling in line now. One of the bean plants is almost 4 feet high!

Grow Box #4 did have a rough go, however, and not everything is rainbows and unicorns. The cursed pine squirrel ravaged the box, and it looks like that bugger had the World Cup in the soil. The pumpkin and squash seeds are gone and eaten. I have to start over on that part of the box and fence it off. Again, this means WAR!

What’s Next?

What’s next for SSG laboratory? If you are following me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you saw an interesting tweet come across last night. I posted up a picture of some new plantings, and I have posted a couple of pictures here. What is this all about?

 Seedlings - Squash and Pumpkin Basil, Lettuce, Spinach, etc

The first picture shows some tomato, broccoli, squash and pumpkin seedlings (or recent plantings).  The tomatoes are going to my brother, and the others are going into the SSG gardens. 

The second picture shows something that I put together last night.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been following Larry Hall’s Rain Gutter Grow System (RGGS) with great interest. I have been impressed with the results, and after seeing how successful my own experiments with celery and lettuce were, I have decided to give it a go! I am going to install a hybrid RGGS this weekend, and I will plant the new seedlings in the basket system. Of course, this is all part of an upcoming series of posts about RGGS and some of the really cool innovations people have come up with across the world. More on that soon!

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