This year I decided that I was going to do Square Foot Gardening instead of just planting rows in the ground. Last year everything was a huge weedy mess, nothing got very big (I’m wondering if my soil is imbalanced), and it was a pain to water. So this year I wanted to try something different.
First I bought these books, which I think are a great resource (if a bit overpriced). These books will tell you pretty much everything you need to square foot garden, including exactly when to plant everything in your garden. It’s super helpful! Next I made my 8 foot by 4 foot by 1 foot box. It holds 48 squares, which was the maximum recommended for your first year by the book. Honestly, I don’t know what I would do with more squares! It was difficult finding enough things to fill the squares.
Next I made my Modified Mel’s Mix. I wasn’t willing to spend an arm and a leg on the mix, but I wanted it to be good enough for my plants to thrive. So I ended up going with a big scoop of compost from the recycling center one county over ($25 and it filled my mom’s long bed truck so that the top of the pile was about level with the top of the bed), some compost from my friend’s chickens (which will be my chickens soon, eek!), a 3.5 cubic feet bag of vermiculite ($30), and a 3 cubic feet bag of peat moss ($11.50). It was quite an investment with the mix and the box, but these are things I’ll never have to buy again (beyond a bit of compost when I plant next year to replenish). I also bought everything I need to do an indoor seed starting area. I’m not quite sure how much I spent on the whole ordeal (I meant to save reciepts so I’d know, but you know how it goes), but it was definitely less than $200 for everything including the stuff I’ll need yearly for the garden (like seeds and what not).
I started most of my seeds (or planted them as seeds outside) myself. The exceptions being that my peppers and tomatoes didn’t look happy (and I really wanted tomatoes and peppers), a basil plant since mine were small, watermelon, and cantaloup (the last two were just because they were there and nice and big). I got some of them from a local high school who was doing a sale and some from a local gardening store. I tried and failed at both broccoli (when I transferred it, it disappeared overnight) and carrots (only two ever sprouted and were tiny). In the broccoli spot I ended up doing sunflowers and basil (both of which are Peanut’s, but I’m still taking care of them).
When we went on vacation, I came back to an absolutely blooming garden. It was really hot while we were gone and I had my friend watering them for me (I’ve been using a big cup and bucket to give each square one cup of water a day. Yes it’s tedious, but it makes me go out and check on the garden every day).
Top to bottom, left to right: pepper, pepper, tomato (four squares), peas (two squares) that are now dead, watermelon. 2nd row: pepper, pepper, more of that tomato plant, more of the dead peas, more of the watermelon. 3rd row: small pumpkin (two squares), another small pumpkin (two squares), 3 sunflowers and a basil, used to be spinach (they all went to seed in the hot weather), squash, used to be spinach. 4th row: more pumpkin, more pumpkin, one basil and two lettuce, used to be spinach, more squash, used to be spinach.
Top to bottom, left to right: corn, cucumbers, tomato plant (4 squares), onions, pie pumpkin (two squares). 2nd row: same. 3rd row: cantaloup (two squares), lettuce, used to be carrots, used to be carrots, onions, pie pumpkin (two squares). 4th row: same.
Thus far, I’ve had mostly a bunch of lettuce and spinach. I did 10 plants because I needed 8 to fill my two squares and assumed some would die, but none died! So I’ve been having bowls like this a couple times a week. It’s just barely starting to slow down.
I’ve also had a couple of ripe tomatoes and there’s a lot of new stuff growing, like this cute little tomato. Everything is thriving (except the couple things I mentioned). I’m really happy I decided to do this method and I’m sure that the amount of harvest I’m going to get (and all time I’m saving without weeds!) is going to make this worth it in no time.
Do you do square foot gardening? Do you do traditional gardening? What are you growing this year!?