Thursday, April 7, 2011
square foot gardening
We put in a garden a couple of years ago after being inspired by the square foot gardening concept. The basic idea behind square foot gardening is that you can plant much more in a small space compared to traditional gardens. Traditional gardens typically waste space. You can plant up to 16 carrots in one square foot. Also, four green bean plants in one foot space, usually two heads of lettuce (one in each corner), and lots of spinach. Bigger vegetable plants like tomatoes, cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, squash, and cucumber should be planted one plant per twelve inch space. The soil only needs to be about 6" deep also (unless you are planting potatoes).
I learned that If I raised the garden beds and stapled plastic sheeting over each bed, my garden would be virtually weed free and use less water. Two major incentives for me. (especially the weed part). It takes a little bit of work in the spring to staple down new plastic and plan out the garden, but saves much time in the long run. I usually plan and plot out my garden on paper first to rotate plants from year to year around the garden (and to give me a master map to indicate what is growing where). We hammered nails into the wood that outlines the beds (use wood that is not chemically treated) every twelve inches and then wrapped string around them to mark off the square feet. We cut the twine off at the end of each year, but re string around the same nails the next.
I'm a little behind this year, but this Saturday I hope to get the cold weather plants in...sugar snap peas (LOVE them... planting lots more this year), cabbage, and broccoli. The next photo was taken before we learned to pick up free compost from our township to make the soil more nutrient rich.
And yes, don't laugh, it is planted right over the septic! Which, incidentally, we learned is actually a really good spot for it. We didn't put it there for that reason, we just wanted the garden to be close to the kitchen and to cover up the septic eyesore that was already there. The previous owner had a beautiful herb garden there, but we don't eat a lot of herbs, and they grew to be more than we could handle. I don't know everything about gardening, but the square foot concept has worked well for us so far! I don't remember the author, but I checked out a book on square foot gardening from my local library. If you are interested, I am sure you can do the same. I believe the title is simply Square Foot Gardening, and I don't believe there are many books with that title, so you should be able to locate it easily. (Or google it!)