I thought it might be fun this year to share a bit of what takes up most of my free time during the summer months (besides the kids, and Dan, and the house, and work that is…) When we moved to our house in late 2011 I knew that I wanted to have a garden the following summer, so in Spring 2012 we chose a back corner section of our large yard to dig up sod and plant some veggies. Unfortunately the act of tearing up about 6X12 feet of sod by hand was about as far as we got (it was my first year with a full schedule of weddings and I also had an 8 month old and 27 month old…man I was nuts!) So the garden grew weeds for a year, but then in 2013 I was determined to get some seeds into the ground. So I did, and had a very small, meagre little garden. I grew about 8-10 items and only 6 or 7 of them grew well enough to make a few meals out of. I loved it though and knew I wanted to try again; this year my ambitions were a bit higher.
I decided to go with Square Foot Gardening for my garden this year. Basically the idea is to quadrant off your garden into 1 by 1 foot sections and to plan that way versus rows. Last year I had a ton of ‘wasted’ space so this year I wanted something that would grow more food in the same amount of space. I spent an afternoon researching companion planting and square foot gardening and mapped out the garden. My dad tilled it and actually expanded the garden by about 3-4 feet, since one end of the garden was too wet last year, leaving it pretty useless. I bought some small bamboo stakes, some garden twine, and measured out 15 inch by 15 inch squares (12 seemed too small, haha). In the end I ended up with two 7X5 sections and a 7X2 section, for a total of 84 squares. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been planting seedlings and seeds, working on a few squares at a time. This week I got about 99% of everything planted, with just one row left to do.
[For the record, I planted: Green and yellow beans, parsley, potatoes, spinach, kale, green onion, peas, carrots, leeks, tomatoes, peppers, dill, basil, cucumbers, corn, pumpkins and squash.]
So far I really love the square foot idea because it’s neat (I’m big into having ‘pretty’ gardens), and I can just go out and work on a few squares at a time and feel like I’m accomplishing something. Like last year, I go out most evenings to inspect and pick at the weeds here and there, so it never feels like a lot of work, since I’m constantly checking on it. It’s relaxing, settles my mind, and I love that period in the summer when I can walk out to the garden and pick a single/double serving of veggies for supper that night (and, if all goes well I’ll have some chickens soon, so eggs will be added to the list).
I’ll hopefully share a few shots weekly, but until things start to sprout it basically looks like a bunch of twine and stakes and dirt and mulch (tip: instead of buying mulch at a garden centre for my walking rows-set up every 5 squares-I went to a local tree trimming company and used their leftover wood ‘chips’ (aka their garbage) from various jobs. I called ahead of time to make sure it was ok, but it does the trick, has a pleasant cedar odour, and best part-it’s free!)
Have you tried square foot gardening before? I’d love to hear any tips or tricks, since I’m still very new to the whole gardening thing!
(Besides the veggie garden, there’s not much going ‘on’ around my yard…I don’t have many flowers and prefer just to let things go a bit wild (I prefer perennials to annuals). Loving the lilacs, though sadly they are already on their way out…such a short loved summer pleasure!)
(Inspiration for this post from an awesome homesteading blog, Soulemama)