Thursday, April 26, 2012

Square-Foot Gardening

Day in.

Anna cooks a lot for me.  And often times(like every dinner), she makes things with fresh vegetables.  In my never ending quest to save money, we thought it would be fun to have our own garden.  I talked to a guy at my work, who I knew had a garden, for advice on the initial set-up, and he told me about square-foot gardening. Thanks James!

James went on to explain that square-foot gardening (SFG) was developed by a former engineer, Mel Bartholomew, in an effort to make gardening as efficient as possible.  Perfect for my personality and the small plot of land we call home.

So two Saturdays ago (April 14, 2012) we went all in.

Anna and I went to Pike's to get seeds, dirt and this book that explains SFG in great detail.

Nice carrots, Mel!

This book is about 3"x5", 62 pages, and contains everything you need to know about creating a successful SFG. It ran about $5.

We used some old boards, from the fence that used to contain the bamboo, that I cut to four feet.  We used a total of 8 boards because we wanted to make it about 12" high.

The start of our SFG!
I secured the corners with a square post from some other old wood the previous homeowner left behind.

Note: the screws were too long...
So I used the dremel tool to cut them off
Next, we needed to put the bottom on the garden. We used a 1" drill bit to cut drain holes in the bottom.

It's hard to grow anything in a 4'x4' wooden box without dirt, so we created "Mel's Mix".  The reasoning for this soil mixture is explained in great detail in the book.  Basically it provides necessary nutrients, holds yet drains (?) water, and is loose enough for roots to easily grow.

1/3 Peat Moss

1/3 Compost (Mel suggests your own if you can, or at least a variety of composts)

Vermiculite (this is some sort of crushed stone or something)
Since the dirt was probably the most expensive part of this adventure, we didn't want to lose any.  We opened all of the bags on a tarp which actually helped us mix to a homogeneous state.

All mixed up
We put the dirt in the SFG in 3 layers, per Mel's instructions.  At each layer, he suggests watering it to help to soil compact naturally.

"I love shoveling!"
Then to make it a true SFG, we divided it into 16 equal parts.  This has since warped and kind of failed.  We might use string instead...

16 amazing square feet of life sustaining goodness.
We picked some veggies that would be good for the weather as we go from spring into summer, and mostly things we want to eat.  The number of crops to plant in each square-foot depends on the mature size of the crop.  We ended up planting the following in each square foot:
4 Yellow Squash
4 Zucchini
4 Okra
4 Tomato
4 Basil
9 Onion
9 Spinach
9 Beans
9 Spinach
16 Carrots
9 Beets
16 Carrots
4 Cilantro
4 Basil
9 Onion
9 Spinach

Mel also mentioned pre-soaking your seeds, so we read online how long to soak them.

Toby Keith would be jealous of all the red solo cups.
In only one week, we already had sprouts!

Baby beets!

At the time of this blog post, almost everything has sprouted and they are growing fast.  We'll update again when we harvest some!  And if you visit us on the right day, maybe you can pick your own vegetable from the garden and Anna can make it into something delicious!!

Day out.

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