One of the reasons I started a blog was to document my adventures in gardening. My father, and his father before him, were avid gardeners. And by avid, I mean they grew lush vegetable gardens that spanned acres. Unfortunately, I did not inherit this green gene. My husband and I have been married almost thirty years, and have lived on the same piece of land that entire time. We have, on occasion, tried our hands at gardening, to no avail. But to be honest, my husband wasn’t really interested in gardening, and he is the one with the strong back. So I gave up. Until this year. I have worked outside the home a lot of the years of our marriage, but a year ago was able to quit my job. One of my goals of staying home was to be able to start a garden. So at the beginning of the year, while strolling thru Lowe’s, I spied a couple of gardening books. “The New Square Foot Garden”, by Mel Bartholomew, was one of my purchases. The concept is simple enough: Build a 4’x4′ raised bed, fill with a soil/compost mix, top with an inexpensive grid made of those thin stakes from the lumber store, and add your seeds/plants! So off I went to the home improvement stores and nursery for supplies. The main appeal to this was the fact that I thought, “I can do this myself!” I did have my hubby nail the 2″x6″ boards together to form the square. Then I simply picked out a nice sunny spot close enough to the house where I could both water and enjoy my garden. Next I laid down weed cloth on top of the ground and topped it with my square bed. The hardest and most expensive part of the project was purchasing and mixing the five different types of soil/compost. But Mel insists that this is a crucial step in order for your garden to grow a healthy crop. So being the rule follower that I am, I did as he directed. Everyone I talked with thought I was crazy, including my husband! Once the soil was mixed and added to the frame, I topped it with my grid. This also is important. Mel says, “If it doesn’t have a grid, it’s not a square foot garden”. Now for the plants! Yaay! My favorite part! The plan is, if it’s going to be a large plant, you only plant one seedling or a couple of seeds per square foot. For instance, I wanted to grow cabbage, so one cabbage plant per square foot. Smaller plants, more per square foot. It’s all in the book. I had never grown cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, or lettuce, so these were the spring plants I chose. I also added a couple of strawberry plants. I have grown those before, but only as an individual plant in a pot on the porch. So I had sixteens spots to fill: 4 cabbage, 4 broccoli, 4 cauliflower, each in their own squares. Then I chose two types of lettuce (red & bibb, 4 plants per square, and two strawberry plants, one each per square. The strawberries died immediately. Bummer. Guess they didn’t like the soil. Or maybe too much sun. I’ve yet to figure that part out. But, within a couple 2-3 weeks, the other plants were flourishing! Oh, I guess I should add that I started with small seedlings that I purchased. They were probably 4-6 inches tall. That is what is in the first picture at the beginning of this page. As I’ve said before, I live in Indiana, where, along with much of the nation, we have suffered a severe drought this year. This is one reason for having a square foot garden close enough to the house that it can be watered. We had so much lettuce from those eight little plants this spring, that we were sick of it. We had salad at least three times a week for a month!
In addition, here is a picture of my ginormous Juliet tomato plant. I’m telling you, this square foot garden works!