Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Square Foot Gardening 101

So I have done my fair share of dabbling in the gardening realm, but honestly have never been that serious of a gardener. Sometime in mid-July I get pretty tired of the whole thing, start forgetting to water and weed, and just let the whole thing go by the wayside. I've been lucky and usually get a pretty good crop of tomatoes and lettuce regardless of my haphazard care taking patterns.

But this year I'm gonna get serious. For real. As part of my efforts to be more green I wanted to find an easy way to grow even more in my own back yard. You've heard of the whole locavore craze? Well this City Girl aims to take it 'bout as local as it can get! Her own backyard!

In order to keep things simple and easy, I decided to give square foot gardening a try. It sounds easy. Less weeds, no need to remove topsoil, till the ground, etc. And supposedly you can grow more in less space! Sounds perfect? I thought so too! And now you get to join me in my square foot gardening experiment!

What is it? In a nutshell - you build a raised garden out of 2x6's and mark off square-foot-sized plots, using weed-guard or cardboard beneath them to prevent weeds or grass. You follow spacing guidelines for your plant to plant one or more per square foot (i.e. if spacing says every 12" then you put one in the square foot sized plot). How do the plants grow in just 6" of dirt? You use a special mix: 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite that supposedly retains so much moisture that they do just fine. And anything that climbs you grow vertically instead of horizontally.

I was originally going to replace my old garden plot with a square foot garden or two, but due to my lackadaisical gardening style, it is now entirely overrun by strawberries which were already flowering by the time I got around to building my square foot gardens. I just could not live with the idea of getting rid of all those strawberries (even if the squirrels do eat them every single year BEFORE they are even ripe), so I kept the strawberry bed AND added two square foot gardens.

Here's the strawberry bed, with some new netting I added to see if I could keep out those squirrels this year.I have a feeling they will still find a way to eat those berries up! I'm halfway considering the advice I read on a message board from someone who literally puts dozens of plastic forks tine side up all over in her strawberries to keep out the squirrels. What do you think? Have any great tips on keeping those pesty guys outta there? See the rhubarb buried in there too? That's another one I just had to let be.

Here's the two square foot gardens BEFORE planting.
And here they are after planting. I have chives, onions, rosemary, Italian parsley, various lettuces (4 romaine, and 6 others), tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, broccoli and cauliflower.

Let's hope that City Girl can actually pull this one off! Next on my list? Figure out how to build a frame for my tomatoes and cucumbers to climb vertically. Stay tuned for updates as the adventure continues!

1 comment:

  1. It's very impressive that you're growing all of this stuff! I'm more of a lackadaisical gardener myself, just tomatoes and herbs and forgetting to water them too, but have toyed with putting in raised beds myself; it's cool to see someone taking it to the next level.