Garden Tomatoes

tomatoOur tomato plants are crowded this year. We put too many plants into too little space in the square foot garden.  But despite these close living quarters the plants are producing tasty fruit.  Andrew isn’t a huge fan of tomatoes. He doesn’t mind tomato products like pasta sauce and can tolerate small cooked bits of tomato.  But it’s definitely not his food of choice.  So even a moderate harvest is enough for us.  Though I do like the years where there are enough tomatoes that I can freeze some and pull them out to make chili or sauce in the winter.

I love garden fresh tomatoes.  Tomatoes in season taste so much better than the bland tomatoes from the grocery store during the winter months.  This year I purchased three tomato plants from a vendor at Mill Market.  They turned into very healthy, thriving plants that have been doing well despite out error in how we planted them. Bring on the toasted tomato sandwiches.

Row and Square Foot Gardens

The past four years Andrew and I have planted a traditional style vegetable garden.  Long rows of vegetables marked with wooden stakes.  We have tons of space outside so the idea of having a huge chunk of lawn taken up by a garden wasn’t a concern.

The row garden reminds me of my grandparents who planted a huge garden year after year, even when it made way more produce than two or one person needed.  I remember sitting on the concrete step at the back of their house looking over the garden, watching them work, and hiding in the shade of the house from the hot sun.  My parents also planted a row garden for years which I remember helping plant throughout my childhood and youth.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with a row garden. It’s based on the straight lines and style of growing used by larger scale farmers and has been used by countless families for years. Andrew and I have routinely been excited about planting our garden in the Spring and I love to see the veggies grow throughout the summer. But inevitably we get busy, weeds flourish and the garden becomes neglected.  Maintaining a row garden takes a lot of time and effort.

This year we decided to try something different.  Inspired by a book I got out of the library we have planted a couple of 4×4 square foot gardens.  We are still planting some potatoes, squash, pumpkins, and zucchini in the old garden. But everything else has been planted in the new square foot gardens.

These compact beds are supposed to make gardening more manageable and challenges the idea that row gardening is the only way to plant veggies.  Andrew made the square foot gardens out of trees from our property and we planted the gardens together.  The planting took way less time and considerably less physical toil than the large row garden.  The ease of planting has me already loving the process and I hope the upkeep and yield are as rewarding.  I’ll keep you posted on our progress.