Monday, March 30, 2009

starting the garden

image of square foot gardening via urbangardencasual

This weekend my parents came to visit, and I took no pictures. Oops. But we had a lot of fun anyway.

On Saturday, Neil and my dad built a 4 x 8-foot raised bed and a compost bin--we're going to try the square foot gardening method out this year, and I'm super excited (check out the book if you're seriously considering it--lots of really good info there too). We decided to build one box and fill it with really good soil (a mixture of vermiculite, topsoil, peat moss, and compost) rather than spending the $$ to work over our whole garden. So we'll plant most of the row-style crops in the box, then dig holes and improve the soil within the hole for big spready things like zucchini, tomatoes, etc.

Since I always wish I did a better job actually documenting the garden, this year I'm resolving to try. So here goes! We have some changes this year to accomodate the fact that I won't be able to do as much work as I've done in previous years (the summer Juliet was born I was weeding like mad), and I'm excited for them--more pole crops, wider mulched paths to cut down on weeds, etc.

Tonight we're planting all our early crops (after we have FHE about gardens, of course), which means that into the box goes the following:
  • Peas (Sugar Daddy and Super Sugar Snap varietals, 8 squares up trellis)
  • Broccoli (4 squares) with onions around the perimeter of each square
  • Leeks (3 squares)
  • Kale (Red Russian varietal, 1 square)
  • Spinach (1st of 4 squares)
  • Arugula (1st of 4 squares, Rocket varietal)
  • Lettuce (Lolla Rosa and Simpson, both varietals 1 square initial planting)
  • Radishes (1st of 2 squares, Crimson Giant varietal)
In another two weeks, I'll plant the second squares of spinach, arugula, lettuce, radishes, and a square of chard (Fordhook Giant), and continue with the consecutive plantings until the squares are full.

What I really like about the square foot method is the way in which you gradually rotate in new crops as you harvest each square. The broccoli/onion squares and leeks squares will stay untouched, but everything else will rotate out. So as we transition into the full-summer garden, we'll start rotating in new plants:
  • Pole beans (Blue Lake, 4 squares in two successive plantings)
  • Indeterminate (climbing) tomatoes, 4 squares
  • Peppers (6 squares)
  • Bush beans (Bush Blue Lake, 4 squares)
  • Eggplant, 3 squares
  • Cilantro, 2 squares in two successive plantings

And then as those get harvested, we'll rotate in the fall crops of cool-weather plants again. Yee-hah!

In the "main garden," we've got plans for more tomatoes (Roma, beefsteak, and cherry--not sure about the varieties yet, but I definitely want at least one Early Girl and I'd like a Brandywine) and peppers. We're also planting 2 hills each of butternut squash (Waltham), cucumbers (Bush Champion), 3 hills of zucchini (Burpee Hybrid) and yellow crookneck (Pic 'n Pic Hybrid). And several more rows of bush beans, about four rows of sweet corn (Early Choice Hybrid), and then the herb patches--more cilantro, a double-wide space of basil, and oregano and chives, which are perennials returning already from last year.

I'm so ready to get going on this--I was loading up my grocery cart today with tomatoes, cukes, romaine, radishes, and cilantro, and thinking about how nice it will be to walk outside and just pick them again.


Ruth said...

wow, your garden sounds great! you amaze me with everything you know how to plant!

Crapos said...

I am very jealous. Gardening in the desert isn't so easy. Our yard is large by desert terms, but still small. We're putting in raised beds all around the perimeter of the yard. I was hoping for a nice garden this year but with Neil's bad back and crazy work schedule my beds still aren't in. And now it's too late to plant the early summer things - no tomatos. They'll burn up if I try to plant them now. So sad.

Laura Waltz said...

How fun! I can't wait to see pictures of the progress throughout the year. Oh the joy of having homegrown tomatoes! Yummy!

Kritta22 said...

I'm so excited that you are doing the rise garden!

I tried commenting on your post before but my internet was being bad!

I was going to say that it will be nice cuz you can mow around your boxes too.

tricki_nicki said...

Are you even kidding me? That looks so cool! I seriously wish I had the patience and know-how to do that. Good luck, and we're going to need lots of pictures!

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