Guest Blogger: Square Foot Gardening


 

I have another special post for you all today! My friend Jenny has agreed to share about her adventures in square foot gardening.  I’m envious of her green thumb and hope to learn from her to possibly attempt my own vegetable garden next summer. I hope you all learn something as well.

Take it away, Jenny!

Hello friends of Homemade Ginger! Megan is a dear friend of mine and I love her blog and am especially honored to post. Thanks Meg!

This summer I attempted my very first real garden. We had some trouble with chipmunks, but other than that the garden’s first season was a success and I’ll do it again next summer.
I used the Square Foot Gardening Method for a few reasons. Rather than traditional row garden, you use the same spacing method but within a square foot. It’s way more compact and especially great for people with limited space or sun plus it conserves water. It’s a raised bed, which means you don’t have to test your soil or enhance it, because the growing medium is above your actual yard, and consequently you don’t have to weed much.
I built a four by eight foot frame by nailing together two inch by six inch boards that were cut to size (you can do this it at home or have the store do it for you). I chose a spot close to the house and hose and used a shovel to remove the grass. I ended up laying weed cloth down too, but I think this step is unnecessary.
Then, it was time to add the soil. The square foot gardening book says to use a three-part mixture: vermiculite, peat moss and compost. I had to call around to find the biggest bag of vermiculite (it cost about $20), peat moss is sold everywhere and my dad got free compost for me from the city landfill. I mixed it all up a little bit at a time then watered it down.
Next, I used a sharpie to mark the boards at every foot, hammered in a nail on those marks and tied some hot pink twine around it to create a grid. This helps guide me as I space seeds, and makes the whole garden seem a bit more manageable.

This is the basic structure and you can do a few add-ons – I also made a protective cover and tomato trellis. The book is great, easy to follow, and goes step-by-step with a creating and planting guide.
So here’s some of what the garden yielded…I grew a bunch of strawberries (that were all eaten by chipmunks…I’ll make a better protective cover next time!), lettuce, spinach, onions, garlic, peppers, basil and three types of tomatoes (the chipmunks ate most of those too). I also tried cilantro and green beans, but was less than successful with those.
Here’s what it looked like at the end of May (tomato trellis is in back, then onions and garlic, spinach, lettuce and strawberries at the front, all the empty squares were filled with seeds):

 

The garden looks
kind of like this now, but the biggest difference is that the tomato plants are
so huge you can’t see the trellis at all, the strawberries are much fuller and
the basil looks amazing. I’ll be planting the fall crop of spinach soon and
some of the empty squares that were harvested last month will start filling
back up again.
All in all, I
love the square foot gardening method and the inexpensive produce! If this
sounds intimidating, rest assured that it is a fairly simple project, plus you
can build up all your gumption during the winter when you are just aching for
spring!

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