Apr. 24, 2012 12:06 pm
Updated: Apr. 28, 2012 6:09 am
Hello all! I’ve been a bit of a stranger to AR lately, but with spring having “sprung” at my house, I thought it time to share what’s been keeping me away. Besides school (only two weeks until
final exams!), I’ve been watching my garden grow! Last year, my sister-in-law and I planted a large garden at my in-laws farm and traveled the 40 miles a couple of days a week to tend it and harvest our bounty. It was such a success that I began looking into
ways that I might plant a garden in my own back yard this year. Understand that my yard is a larger town lot that is bordered by Bald Cypress on two sides, a giant Maple on a third side, and the house in the front. This equates to a very shady yard, which
is great for summer cookouts but is not conducive to gardening. There is, however, a swatch of yard just beyond the deck that manages to get around 7 hours of sunlight a day.
The question then became how to use this limited space effectively. The answer to this question came in the form of a technique called Square Foot Gardening. Way back in November (after we harvested
the last of our fresh off the vine tomatoes), I began to plan for this year’s garden. By Christmas, I had purchased a book by Mel Bartholomew
titled All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space. By the end of January, I had a sketch of my garden layout complete with the locations of each bit of manna I planned to produce thanks to this website:
http://www.growveg.com/Default.aspx. The Grow Veg site allowed me to design my garden space in the proper format for square foot gardening, so all I had
to do was wait for planting season. In the meantime, I set up a compost bin. I built a 4x4 frame out of scrap wood from our shop and began depositing my kitchen waste on a daily basis the key to composting is:
1) don’t put in anything that had a mama, and 2) turn, turn, turn. I’ve been composting for a couple of months now, and have a beautiful, if small, pile of dirt.
At the end of March, I built my 4x4x12 wood frame, placed it atop a piece of weed cloth, and filled it with equal parts peat moss, vermiculite, and manure compost.
I then built a 4x4 lattice top to divide it into 16 separate square foot sections and placed it on top of the garden. The last week of March, I planted Black Headed Simpson leaf lettuce, Romaine,
carrots, radishes, onions, broccoli, and spinach.
As you can see, a permanent black marker on the edge of the frame clearly identifies what each square foot contains. Most people assume that the chicken wire is to keep rabbits out--not so! The dogs
keep the rabbits out; the fence keeps the dogs out:) The back four square feet of this box are reserved for (insert Hallalujah Chorus here) TOMATOES!
The far side of this view is the north side where the tomatoes will planted later this week. I'm putting them on the north side so they won't shade the other plants. I'm thrilled with the outcome
of this gardening method so far.
I plan to install another "plot" in the next week or so. It will contain bell peppers, cucumbers, bush beans, summer squash, zuccini squash. I may even plant some basil, oregano, and chammomile! I
used the last of my canned tomatoes from last year for pizza sauce last week, the week before we finished the last of the zuccini relish, and I have two quarts of green beans left. I can't wait to eat my first real "Garden" salad this year!