Friday, May 6, 2016

Planting Pumpkins and Squash

We started both the squash and the pumpkins indoors, allowed them to grow 8-12 inches before transplanting them outdoors. Pumpkins and squash are plants that will cross pollinate with like plants if you plant them too close. We've planted them fifteen feet apart, I'd recommend more if you have the space for it.
Two years ago I had some amazing lovely (they really tasted fantastic) Zucchini/squash crosses. They tasted like zucchini, had the dark outer film of the zucchini but the size and shape of a squash. That year the accidental cross pollination worked in our favor - it doesn't always, so try to space them away from each other.

To give them extra protection while they get established outside, we mini green housed ours. My mini green houses are cut up washed out soda bottles (2-3 liters). The benefits of using them are each plant gets a mini green house to keep it warmer and wetter. We are reusing something we had on hand instead of purchasing something else - making it both eco friendly and budget friendly.
As we are not heavy soda drinkers it took us all winter to gather a small collection, so if you like the idea you may need to plan ahead for next year. (If you are like us - some people really love their soda).

Beware Soil Rant Below

Since this is such a large project of space and we needed to do so much work it reminded me of a conversation the other day on one of my homesteading boards. It was simply: How to kill weeds in the garden? What would kill them the best and still be great on your plants.
Here's the thing. NOTHING.
I know many people swear by vinegar, DE or other more natural methods but in reality they still add a chemicals to the dirt. They still kill things - which changes the mini ecosystem of that area.

Gardening is hard work. If you can't do tons of hard work than the second best thing is controlled gardening.
Plastic sheeting a mound, cutting holes into it for that one plant to thrive.
Using pallets and planting in between - each of those will in turn help keep your weeds down, but again they come with the cost of not using the whole ecosystem of your yard. Less worms and bugs will be in the soil around your plants (unless you compensate and add them in - in the end not saving you money and possibly not a lot of time either).
Some ways to control the area around the plants like the methods posted above - people are very creative and clever so these methods vary - so does the budget of each person. These options go from $-$$$$.

Our garden style is very old fashioned - we till or dig, rake, add compost, rake, and plant. Daily to weekly weeding out whatever grows up that I don't want.
Is it a lot of work? YES.
Is it worth it? Oh heck yes!
The only things I add to the soil are things that I believe will benefit the soil and plants. Compost, water, coffee, eggshells - fish heads for tomatoes ect.
Things that will break down, enrich and benefit it. If you look at soil as a living component, you want to create a healthy soil ecosystem for your plants.

Where I live working the soil isn't easy, dig down 4-6 feet in any part of  Northern Utah valley areas and you will dig straight into clay. Southern Utah you are lucky if you can dig a foot down before reaching clay.
To find so many people wanting to add chemicals to a rather precious commodity here baffles the mind. We don't live in an area where the dirt is rich and deep. We don't have loam. Good soil is rare and takes work.

I feel deeply thankful that the family that built this house and the large wall around it, had a deep love of gardening. They spent time and money bringing in good soil - adding to it.
When we bought the house it had been let go for several years - they had grown old, died and the house sold to people who acted like renters for a few years. It was weed choked, neglected and filled with debris.
The soil however, was still great! Worth every bit of extra work to have a healthy area without any chemicals. Our entire lives seem to be filled with chemicals! Its in our drinks, our water, our food, the air, we should be taking some measure, some step somewhere in our lives to leave the chemicals alone. This is 100% my mini rant on the subject. I know many people will praise weed killers, bug killers ect to the sky and back. At the end of the day the choice in your garden is wonderfully that - your choice. You have full control over what you eat, how you eat and how its grown! Which is why gardening ROCKS!

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