Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: Our Square Foot Garden

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This past spring, I shared with you that we added a couple extra raised garden beds and that I was planning on using the Square Foot Gardening principle by Mel Bartholomew.  After our harvest was complete, I wrote down a few of my observations and thought I'd share them with you.  Not all of them have to do with Mr. Batholomew's method, but I hope you find it helpful nonetheless.

  1. When planting, take into consideration the height of the mature plant.  Although this should not have been an issue for our green peppers and cabbage hanging out together, side-by-side, it was.  The cabbage plants grew more quickly and infringed on the peppers' sunshine making them not grow to their full potential.  This also happened with my borage and cilantro.  I had never grown borage before and didn't know how large a plant it would become.  My cilantro never had a chance.  That'll teach me to read my seed packets more carefully.
  2. In general, give my plants a little more room.  I love the Square Foot Gardening philosophy, but everybody in my garden last year could have used just a touch more room.  So this year, I'm going to mark out my squares at 18" instead of 12".
  3. Keep to my garden plan.  Planting is fun.  But it is frustrating when you (or someone you love...) has planted seeds somewhere other than where you had anticipated.  
  4. Use garden markers.  Whether you have a garden plan or not, I would highly recommend using garden markers so you know what you planted and where.  It can be as simple as a popsicle stick or tongue depressor written on with a permanent marker.
  5. Start some of my plants a little earlier.  I could have started some of my plants a little earlier to get a better harvest.  Tomatoes and peppers are the first to come to mind.  I have been saving cottage cheese and sour cream containers for just this time.  Also, cutting off the bottom of a washed out milk jug to create a planter works nicely, too.  
  6. Keep the top part of those milk containers for a homemade cloche.  In the spring after planting, you may have some tender plants and some chilly nights.  Placing the tall, top part of the milk jug over the plant can insulate it.  If your days are cool, too, leave your homemade cloche on.  If a lot of condensation is forming inside, just take the lid off to allow some air movement inside.
  7. Plant more of what we eat and try some new things, too.  Having a garden is a great way to try some new veggies.  If you find that you have more than what you can use or really don't like what you've planted, you can always give it away to someone who does.  Neighbors, friends, and your local food bank come to mind, too.
  8. Weeding.  One thing I really love about raised bed gardening is the lack of weeds!  Occasionally we'd have a weed or two, but it was very minimal.  Loved that. 

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