Square Foot Garden Year Two

Last year Andrew and I planted a Square Foot Garden for the first time.  We loved how easy it was to plant and how little maintenance it required throughout the growing season.  This year we decided to keep with the square foot gardening and built two additional square foot gardens. We learned a bit from last year about placement of different types of plants and how to organizing climbing plants in the square foot garden.

One of our beds this year wasn’t planted in a grid format. Instead I put tomato plants and flowering kale in the corners of the bed with lettuce in between.  It’s a bit more free flowing, less organized, and I just wanted to try something new.  We also needed to build something new for our pole beans to grow on, the fencing we used for them to climb on last year couldn’t handle their weight and ended up breaking the frame.  Andrew created some poles out of trees and built a teepee style frame that sits over top of the one bed. We also planted a new asparagus bed as the one we planted a couple of years ago wasn’t in an ideal location — it was too close to some of our rhubarb plants and to where Andrew piles snow in the winter.  Changes and hopefully improvements.

Little Miss also helped plant the garden this year.  She loved copying me by poking holes in the dirt with her fingers.  Andrew and Little Miss were also responsible for planting all of the sunflowers, she seemed to like dropping the seeds into the holes. Bring on summer and fresh veggies!

Oslicken Acres Garden, June 2016.

Oslicken Acres Garden, June 2016.

Square Foot Garden Update

20150719_142120As I mentioned earlier Andrew and I are trying our hands at Square Foot Gardening for the first time this year.  When I last wrote we were thrilled with how quickly we were able to plant the garden.  It’s now mid summer and our new gardens are thriving.  We’ve already been treated to lettuce, radishes, marigolds, and chamomile in abundance and many of the other plants are thriving.

The smaller garden is also making it much easier to stay on top of the weeds.  Normally by this point in the gardening season the weeds are out numbering the plants and we’re struggling to keep the traditional style garden under control.  Andrew and I have found that the smaller gardens are much easier to stay on top of and that weeding is no longer as time consuming.

We were using this year as a trial of the square foot garden method and built two beds to start.  Based on how well things are going we are considering building a couple more beds for next year — more construction projects on Andrew’s never ending list. One thing we will do differently next year is the number of tomato plants per square foot.  As you’ll notice by the picture below our tomato plants are huge and are taking over the one bed.  We’ll definitely give each plant more space in the future.20150719_142110

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.