Saturday, May 16, 2009

Square Foot Beginner

Well, I've never been good at growing things - not even house plants - let alone vegetable gardens.  However, in an effort to be more organic, healthy and frugal, I've undertaken a gardening adventure.  A good friend of mine and I attended a gardening workshop with Len Pense late last fall.  We were interested in learning about gardening with organic, raised beds.  
We did just that as we listened to what seemed to be a "too good to be true" plan of gardening.  It involved raised beds filled with a growing medium that Len had created.  We looked at Len's beautiful gardens and heard about amazing results.  However, Len builds his beds with concrete blocks.  My friend and I were a little concerned about how were were going to transport and build these beds by ourselves.
With a little more investigation, we also found Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.  It seemed like a plan very similar to Len's, but with beds that were easier to build.  So we decided to blend the two plans by building beds according to the Square Foot method and using Len's formula for a growing medium.
So far, I've got two 4x4 foot beds with frames built for plastic covering as well as the climbing plants on the north side.  I ventured out of the plan and used plastic tubs to plant my tomatoes in, which are staked and will be caged a little later on.  I also had my husband build long, narrow boxes for the deck.  I have a frame on the deck, which I'm hoping to use for climbing plants, which hopefully will provide us with some shade later on in the summer.
I'm thrilled with the results so far!  I've planted just a few of this and that to see what works best for us.  In the 4x4 boxes, I've got broccoli, okra, summer squash and zucchini, bell peppers, oregano, basil, cilantro and thyme.  On the deck, there is more of the same plus zinnias and green beans.  The beans took a beating in a storm a couple days ago, so I'm not sure if they'll recover or not.  We'll see what happens.  
So far, I am loving this project!!  Everything looks wonderful and it has been so easy!  If I can do this - ANYONE can!  It hasn't been a cheap project, but I think that in time it will pay for itself in groceries.  I'd love to add more even this year, but since we are renting I've decided to wait.

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