Square Foot Gardening

Square Foot Garden Update – Week 2


Well it’s been about two weeks since Joy and I started our garden, and we can already tell that it is doing really well. All of the potted plants that we bought are doing very good, especially the tomato plants that we bought at Walmart. It on’t be long before we have to start building a trellis for them to grow on. We may also need a trellis for our cucumbers, and probably our bush beans. Speaking of beans, these have to be some of the fastest growing plants that we’ve sown. The first picture  below was taken in the morning, and the next picture below that was taken just one day later. I think that our bush beans will be ready to harvest in a short time, and that we will also be a will to replant bush beans again before the end of the summer growing season.

I took this picture in the morning before going to work.
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These four vertical squares are all planted with bush beans (green beans)
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This row in back is our tomato plants, two Cherry, one Roma, one Big Boy.

It wouldn’t be a garden if we didn’t have a few pests. I started noticing some holes on the leaves in our garden and when I turned over the leaf on one of the cucumber plants I found this little guy.

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I found this guy underneath a leaf and can you can see all the holes he’s left behind

That’s a horned tomato worm. That magical unicorn coming out of his butt must allow him to do a lot of damage. There were holes everywhere. I’ve heard that if they are left unchecked these guys came decimate a tomato plant overnight. It looks like I will have to go down to the local farmers co-op and find some kind of organic pesticide. I’ve also heard that you can wash used egg shells and crumble them up, and sprinkle them around your plants to deter pests.

That’s about all the updates we have this week for our garden. Almost everything that we’ve planted has started to show some signs of life, except for the lavender. Either our seeds were duds, or this stuff just takes a lot longer to germinate and sprout.

Square Foot Gardening

It’s Hip (and Healthy) to be Square

This weekend Joy and I decided in an effort to be healthier to start our own garden. Joy’s sister Julie has had good success with what they call a planter or raised garden down in Texas so we thought we’d do a little research and try one ourselves. I had heard of this type of gardening before and it’s supposed to be much easier and more productive than regular row or large-scale gardening.

So last weekend, we bought a few books at the local B&N and have decided to try Square Foot Gardening. SFG was developed by Mel Bartholomew as a more efficient and easier way of gardening. Instead of tilling up 200 square feet of soil, planting long rows of one type of plant, and wasting 80% of  your garden space with empty space between the rows, Mel’s method advocates setting up smaller 4’x4′ boxes that are 8″ tall. Instead of tilling the soil to a depth of 6″ and testing the soil, adjusting the pH or adding more nutrients, you create a box on top of your existing soil and fill it to a depth of 6″ with a perfect mix of soil that’s ready to plant.

Since we were new to this and a few weeks past the planting season, we opted to build four 4×4 boxes for a total of 64 sq.ft. We spent most of our Memorial Day weekend buying supplies, building boxes, and laying out our garden. Our garden boxes are placed smack dab in the middle of our backyard. Aside from being too large and hard to work, Mel says most people put their gardens in the furthest corner of their yard, practically on their property line, which leads to neglect. Since we already have a smallish back yard, we decided to make our garden the focal point. We stained the boxes and added nice roomy walkways between and around and covered them with mulch.

Our herb planter

Once our garden boxes were filled with Mel’s mix (which is 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 vermiculite), we went to Lowe’s and Wal-Mart for seeds and potted plants. We opted for as many potted plants as we could since we’re new to this and a little late in the planting season. We’ve got 4 different kinds of tomatoes, some green, red, and yellow bell peppers, watermelon, cucumber, zucchini, squash, carrots, beets, radishes, lettuce, and even a jalapeno plant! We also threw in some marigolds, two mosquito plants, lavender, and dusty miller for color and to attract good bugs and repel the bad ones.

Finished Square Foot Garden!

We probably could have skipped on the mulch walkways and edging and stuck with seeds instead of potted plants to keep the cost down, but we knew if this was going to work, our garden had to be something we wanted to spend time in and care for. Even though my 3-day weekend was mostly consumed by starting our garden, I didn’t seem to mind. The weather was great, we got some fresh air and sun, it was nice being outside with my wife and dogs playing in the dirt. Hopefully I’ll still feel that way when it’s 95° in August and it’s time to “harvest our crops.” Actually, if we get to harvest anything to eat that isn’t fried or covered in sugar, I’ll consider this whole endeavor a success.

Here’s some photos from our weekend setting up our square foot garden.

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