We don’t have much space for gardening, but I am looking to expand on last year’s garden anyway. A garden-enthusiast co-worker of Aaron’s recommended the book Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. It describes a gardening technique perfect for my beginner’s status and limited space, time, and money. I’m so excited about it! If you check out or buy the book, I highly recommend getting the most recent revision – the information and layout is much improved.
We picked a small portion of the yard and made a raised bed out of concrete blocks, which is where most of our produce will be. We also have an area on the side of the driveway for grapes and some flowers, and a couple of sections I’m hoping to use for perennial cutting flowers and medicinal herbs (for teas mostly). I’ll post about those plans later though. We put in some good soil last fall in all the garden plots, and now I’m preparing them for spring planting.
Here is the “square foot garden” we made – not much to look at now, I know. The trellis is nylon netting tied to electrical conduit pipe on rebar driven into the ground (pipe and rebars purchased at home improvement store, along with concrete blocks for frame). According to the book, this trellis should be able to hold pretty heavy produce like butternut squash and cucumber without a problem.
The book also describes structures to build for things like protecting the soil/plants from animals, excessive heat, frost, etc. and a mini greenhouse structure to warm up the soil for earlier planting. Although the overall cost of building them is relatively cheap, it was still a bit much for my budget.
While searching for the nylon netting online I stumbled across this great product: the Harvest Guard Row Cover. It’s light enough not to weigh down plants as they grow, heats the soil up in early spring, protects from light frosts, protects from excessive heat, and my cat doesn’t poop on it. 🙂 It’s working out well so far, and it was only $15!
The only other thing missing from my “square foot” garden is the grid that marks off the soil into square feet. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for some free horizontal blinds on craigslist so I can make the grid myself (seems to be the most efficient and cheapest solution for a concrete frame). Otherwise I’ll see if I can pull it off without one.
This is the layout for the produce garden. I plan on planting bush beans, swiss chard, carrots, butternut squash, sugar peas, spinach, radishes and lettuce (bib, romaine, butter crunch, green leaf, and red leaf) all from seed. I’ll get starts for cucumbers, onions, parsley and broccoli. The holes in the blocks will be filled with nasturtiums, marigolds, and creeping thyme as pest deterrents and prettiness. As the crops are harvested, I’ll clear out the roots from that square, work in some homemade compost, and plant a different crop.
Right now, I’m collecting seeds and letting the soil warm up a bit. I’ll probably start planting soon and right up until the baby comes. So… there’s my grand gardening experiment for the year! 🙂 Should be fun.
Do you have any gardening adventures planned for this year?