Friday, March 20, 2009

Starting my Square Foot Garden

Are you limited on space? When we moved into this place 3 years ago, I knew having a garden in the back yard was not a possibility. I remembered that my aunt had a small but productive garden when I was a child, so I checked with her to see what was so great about the garden that she did. It's called Square Foot Gardening, and I'm a convert.

Basicly, each plant gets it's own square in the plot. Every thing is really close together, but actually has quite enough room to grow, and you can grow exactly what you need. I have never had to deal with having a ton of extra plants to care for, or have too much food that my neighbors run when they see me working in the zucchini. The gardens can be configured however you'd like for your space and needs. I reccomend the book "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholemew. I checked it out from the local library and had it read in 2 days. There are a ton of tips and tricks to get the garden to work for you, but I just used what I needed.

At a spring farm auction in 2006 I got my hands on some railroad ties that I knew I wanted to bulid my raised beds from. I think I paid about $7 a piece. I had to buy 20, I used 8 and sold the rest on craigslist. They say not to use rr ties because of the creosote, but they haven't damaged my plants at all. I was in labor when I was stacking the ties and building the actual garden. It was a beutiful pring day, and I wanted to get something done before I had to go to the hospital and be laid up for a few days. I made a 4x12 box that is two ties high. We put a metal rod through them to make sure they wouln't topple over with time. We filled it with dirt from the cow pens at a nearby feedlot. I made a grid with nails and yarn. This marks out the square feet. I studied the book carefully and spent time making a chart with graph paper and on the computer of my grid garden. I also made little squares with dots on them, showing what I planned to plant. Some plants go one per square, others are placed 16 in a square, or anything in between. Some, like watermelon, need 9 squares. There are some plants that need a trellis to grow on. That I made with steel pipe and yarn. This is what my cukes, squash, pole beans, cherry tomatoes and peas grow on. Okay, I didn't edit this photo and tip it the right way, just turn your head. These photos are from my 2007 garden. You can see how everything is in it's own little spot. Do you see any weeds? No? I've never had to weed until last year. It took that long for them to find my raised bed. Even then, it's very easy to sit on the edge of the garden and lean all the way into the middle. I measured my arms before I built the garden. I made sure that I could reach to the middle if I was kneeling outside the bed. I go out and play with the kids and they help me weed for 10 minutes here and there and it keeps up pretty well.

Phew! I think that will be more than enough to keep your mind reeling for the night. Next time I blog, I'll tell you about what we have done (and what you can do) to get ready for 2009.

1 comment:

Amy J. said...

That looks amazing! I am always impressed when people "dig in" and garden. I am blessed with a live in farmer! :)

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