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.
One of my favourite parts about having a garden (other than eating the delicious veggies) is sharing produce and talking about gardening with other people. I love the idea of trading vegetables, sharing bountiful produce, and having a gardening community.
Within our local family and friends we try to share plentiful produce. This summer we’ve been treated with cucumbers from Andrew’s parents garden – they had far more than they could eat. We plan to share some of our garlic with local and far away family members. I also enjoy cooking and sharing meals that were made out of food we grew. There is nothing more satisfying than eating a meal that you cooked from scratch and that contains the food you laboured over. Those meals are true works of love — even if the occasional dish ends up being a creative failure.
Some of the best gardening tips and advice I’ve received have been from other local gardeners. I have tendency to want to read a lot before starting a project. There are a ton of gardening books and blogs out there and beginning to read about a topic like vertical gardening can be a bit like venturing down a rabbit hole. Which is great but sometimes it’s hard to find suggestions of what will work in our specific climate and soil quirks. Even locally there is a lot of variation in soil, but local success stories are heartening and highlight the ability to grow such a range of produce in the North.
Where do you turn for gardening advice? Who is your gardening guru?
This year has included many gardening firsts at Oslicken Acres. One of those firsts included the planting of pole beans. In the past Andrew and I have planted both green and yellow bush beans. These have typically grown well and provided us with lots of tasty beans — some years so many beans that we’ve blanched and frozen beans to enjoy over the winter.
This years we planted both bush and pole beans. Andrew built two vertical gardening trellis as part of our square foot gardens which have worked really well. I loved watching the pole beans grow and slowly inch up the trellis. Ascetically pole beans are a beautiful plant. They are delicate climbers and the small flowers they grow are lovely.
The bush beans in our garden were ready a couple of weeks ago and we’re just starting to enjoy the first tastes of pole beans. The timing worked out great. We’ve had lots of produce but not so much that any of it is going to waste. I have future plans for a tree sisters vertical garden – which will include pole beans. Andrew and I have also talked about other decorative trellises or arches covered in climbing veggies. Never ending construction projects for Andrew — or maybe just a trip to a garden centre.
As 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.