Marlingardener wrote:Hi Patrick, I'm not Imafan, one of our best gardeners, but I am in the south of the USA and face some of the same problems you have. For slugs and snails there is a product called Sluggo that is easily available, and effective. You can also put out shallow containers of beer and let the little gastropods drown happily. Any cheap beer will do, no need to waste the good stuff.
Here in Texas we don't put many plants up against a white fence--reflected light and heat problems. As you said, those beds are ultra heavy, and not moveable. If you can shade the beds from about 2 p.m. on, it may help. Shade cloth, old umbrellas (sometimes my garden looks like Mary Poppins landed multiple times!), whatever you can rig up.
Five drainage holes in gardens that size aren't enough. Drill at least five more. Also, the rule of thumb for watering is your thumb. If you stick your thumb into the soil and it comes up dry, water. If not, don't. Infrequent, deep waterings are better than frequent shallow waterings. Roots go deeper to get moisture, which is good. If the soil is dry for the top 4" to 5", give the bed a nice slow deep drink.
Side dressing is applying fertilizer along the sides or perimeter of a plant. I usually side dress when the vegetable first starts to flower (peppers, tomatoes, squash, etc.) and in the case of non-flowering vegetables like lettuces, cabbage, broccoli, when the plants are about 6" tall, and again when the cabbage or broccoli starts to head. Lettuce is so short season for us that one application of a relatively high-nitrogen fertilizer (we have chickens, and their composted manure is great!) is sufficient.
Good for you, teaching the little ones that food doesn't come flash frozen or canned. Let the children plant some radishes--easy to grow, fast, and they love to pull up food from the soil!
MarlinGardener, thanks for all your help! I really appreciate it
I will get the CHEAP beer after work to get the slugs and snails under control if that is what it is. Also can you please recommend a dressing for the garden?