All New Square Foot Gardening

When your plants need a drink, just dip a cup of water from your 5-gallon bucket of sun-warmed water; and pour it in the saucer-shaped depression.

reason people don t like to take a cold shower. The more scientific reason is plants can absorb nutrients in the soil much faster and grow better if the soil and water temperature are warmer. In spring and late fall, sun-warmed water helps warm the soil. Remember the chart in the Appendix showing sprouting times in various temperatures. The warmer the weather, the faster they 11 grow and the quicker you 11 harvest. That's why people have greenhouses. If you build a structure to form a miniature greenhouse around your SFG, the radiant heat from the sun will warm the soil from the surface down. But simply pouring warm (not hot) water into the soil means the warmth tends to go a little deeper—and even quicker—than the sun baking the surface of the soil.

Don't Drown Me

Invariably gardeners water plants too much, perhaps out of kindness or fear that they will fail. So they think, "Oh, I'll give it a little extra. It won t hurt.'' Usually it did hurt with local soil that didn't drain well, but it won't if you have a Square Foot Garden where the soil drains excess water. Most people don't realize that plant roots need air as well as moisture. Lucky for you, Mel's Mix allows air into it because it's loose and friable. (Chapter 5 tells you how to make Mel's Mix.)

With Mel's Mix you cannot overwater. Remember the sponge? Each little piece can hold moisture so a plant root can grow around that piece and take out the moisture when needed. When that little sponge gets saturated, the rest of the water drains right out through the bottom. That's how Mel's Mix works, and that's why you never have to worry about giving your plants too much water.

But because your soil mix drains readily when saturated, it also

Growing and Harvesting has a tendency to dry out quicker than most garden soils. Regular soils stay saturated, so single-row gardeners may be used to turning on the sprinkler or flooding the garden twice a week and that's it. Your All New Square Foot Garden is different. You have to water a little more often and pay more attention to watering.

The secret, of course, is looking at the plants. After a while you'll be able to walk past your 4x4 garden box and immediately spot any square foot that needs water. Perhaps the plants will be slightly wilted. Maybe they'll be just a little droopy or their color will be a little off. You merely water those square feet right then and there because your bucket of warm water is always right next to your garden. And because you're dipping a cup in the bucket you're not going to get yourself all wet and dirty.

Think of your plants in your garden the same as you do your children. If they've been out in the hot sun and playing hard and one of them looks a little droopy and wilted, you know right away to inspect the child a little closer to make sure he or she is properly hyd rated.

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