Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Square Foot Gardening: A new blogging cliche

Yes, add me to the list of gardeners blogging about their Square Foot Gardens.

Our house is on a small lot, but even more problematic than that, it's the side of a hill, and that just doesn't work well for gardening (at least not for me). We've kept a vegetable garden for the last couple of years at a friend's house. It was fine, until he moved. So we started again last year at his new place. And he moved again this year (to get married this time, that was the wedding we went to over the weekend). So when DH and I started talking about the garden this year, DH quickly offered up that we could garden at another friend's house. I put my foot down. I've had enough driving to other people's houses to garden. Gas is too expensive. I hate being stuck out in 100 degree weather because I don't have a house to go into and cool down (or a toilet to pee in). I wanted a garden here, and I wanted to do it my way, because row gardening kinda sucks.

Enter Square Foot Gardening (SFG). I'd encourage anyone interested to check the book out to get the overview (It's a quick read and you can skim over parts of it). And there are plenty of website explaining it too. It's pretty simple... prepare a raised bed using "Mel's Mix" and plant your plants intensively spaced in a square foot grid system. Basically, if a seed packet says to plant 4" apart, then you can put 9 of those plants in a square foot. There are some details that should be observed and a more to the concept of SFG, so do read the book, but in the end, it's pretty simple.

So after some convincing, I got my husband to at least go along with me on this project. We got nice cedar at a good price from his aunt and uncle (they mill their own wood) and my husband built the boxes and did all the digging and leveling, i.e., the hard work (isn't he good to me?). We bought the soil mix components and filled the boxes the other day. Then I planted them up.

I have no idea how this will turn out. I don't really have a green thumb, but I'm willing to try. Some of the techniques are a little foreign, like staking zucchini and squash. I'm growing some things I've never gown before and I'm not sure if I'm too late in the season for some of it (broccoli and leeks).

We have 5 beds. The top bed is 2'x4' and planted with strawberries. The next bed is 2'x4' and planted with asparagus. These two beds will remain the same from year to year (obviously). The next bed is 3'x4' and planted with zuchinni and yellow squash. Those take up quite a bit of room in a SFG, so I just have 2 planned of each and we will see how it goes. The bottom two beds are 4'x4' and have the grid placed ontop of them. Each square is planted up differently.

I made a little map to help me out.  After you harvest one square, you add some compost and you can replant it. I'm pretty excited, as long as I get some food and enjoyment out of it, it will be worth it.

I've got two little pots with nasturtium in them. Nasturtium is supposed to be a good companion for squash because it keeps the squash bugs away. My husband wonders why I didn't just plant it in the bed, but I want to be able to move it if it gets out of control.

I didn't plant any tomatoes in the SFG. I didn't want to take up room with them and I have some large containers from growing tomatoes before, so I just planted them back in those this year. I have some other containers with herbs around the house too.

The down side of the SFG is that, in my opinion, it's not especially toddler friendly. On one hand, it's extremely toddler friendly, easy to dig in, small, good demonstration garden. BUT, you aren't suppose to compact the soil and all my kid wants to do is get in there and tear it up so. I can't just let him plop down in a corner and dig to his heart's content like he could with the row garden. But I can let Michael help me water. He has a little watering can and it's a pretty good activity for him to do. Hopefully he'll get to help more as the season goes on.

I don't know if you can see it, but I've got an onion poking up. Yay! My husband still doesn't think this will work. I hope I prove him wrong.

Oh, and another part of SFG is composting. We really don't have a good place to compost but I've been thinking about it and I think verimiculture (ie, worm poop) might be the solution for us. I'm a little nervous to get started on that. Something about being responsible for a few thousand worms makes my anxiety tick up. Perhaps it's because it brings up bad memories of the fish tank I had in high school... so many innocent fish (and frogs) lost their lives in that death trap, I don't know if my heart can take more loss.  If anyone has experience with that, I'd love to hear about it.


Anonymous said...

Ooh I love the garden! What a great idea. I will have to look into that book. Your DH did a lovely job building the beds.

We have a walk out basement and quite a bit of a hill from the front yard to the back yard and we planted veggies along the back of both sides of the house last year. It worked pretty well, except it was our first year here and we weren't sure how much sun either side would get. The sunnier side did well with corn and tomatoes, and the other side that gets mostly morning sun eventually caught up and we got some awesome peppers and herbs. We apparently have a lot of rabbits around here though, so a lot of stuff got nibbled pretty good. I don't think I have much energy this year to do much unless it's easy and low maintenance.

Michelle said...

That looks awesome! We're also doing that here. I'm very behind though and have not taken any pictures, or gotten much done. I also am trying pallet gardening too. I saw it on a local greenhouse page, and you basically just fill the wooden pallet with soil, and plant in the rows. Easier to manage the weeds too. I plan to blog about it later, and about which garden did better. All new to me this year as well. I have done the row gardens for years at our old house, but not since we moved to the city.

artistefrustre said...

I also want to start my mini garden!! Love your post! Please try visiting my page too at www.artistefrustre.blogspot.com :) followed!

Randiocoy said...

I so love this garden!! I get to have my first Garden this year! Only mine won't be planted until memorial day... I know its a little late, but we aren't moving until this weekend. And I just don't want to wait until next year! Keep us posted on the Garden!! Love it!