Spring is in the air. This means it is time for gardening! Kevin has for 10 years used the square foot gardening method for his vegtable garden. What is that? Square foot gardening is a method whereby a frame 4' x 4' is constructed of wood, place on top of any surface and then a special soil is mixed into it. Plants are then planted and grown in about 6" of fabulous soil.
You might think that 6 inches is too shallow- it's not. Not for most little plants, and veggies. This is not for planting trees - they need more soil to grow!
This season I have been inspired to plant and grow more. The reason for this inspiration is my delight at seeing the first bulbs start to come up, and my amazement that the garden I started last fall has not died! My beautiful plants are starting to re-establish itself. Even the catnip that the neighborhood cats decimated in the fall (the sluts!) is creeping back.
Kevin has used SF gardening for his veggie garden. Typically he uses about 3 squares, and our household simply cannot keep up with the yield. We have lettuce, swiss chard, beets, marrows/squash, tomatoes, parsely, spring onions, and cilantro.
This season I decided I would like to create a flower garden (using drought hardy xeriscape plants) out of a SFG. I had thought of creating one at the side of the house facing the street. But after Kevin had constructed one, it looked stupid, and I wanted to enjoy the flowers not hide them away for only the street to see. So we plonked it in our back yard. Kevin went on to make an additional 2 squares to add to his vegtable garden. He now has a total of 6 squares. (One had been defunct, but he is now growing strawberries this year.) The new squares are experimental squares for plants that he just wants to see what they look like. We plan to plant sunflowers (because I like their bright cheerful faces) and maybe black eyed Susan's.
But before our plans could happen we need to do some hard work and preparation.
We had to plan this right since the weather forecast predicted a nasty spring storm coming through the neighborhood on Saturday night, with snow falls of up to 2 feet. The best day for gardening was Saturday.
Kevin had made the squares by attaching 1" x 6" boards cut to 4 feet together. My square was slightly different as I had half of the square raised 12".
Position the frame carefully. Once it is full of soil it is extremely heavy and impossible to move.
We put the frame on landscape/ weed blocking fabric to prevent weeds and grass from growing through.
For the deeper raised portion we used fill dirt from the garden and then cut cardboard out and placed it over the fill. You do this so that next season you know where the good soil ends and the crappy (note technical terminology) soil begins.
Here is a picture of the ingredients:
Then we had to create the soil. Use 1 part vermicullite to 1 part compost to 1 part peat moss. (1:1:1)
I used a mixture of mushroom and cow manure.
The best method is to use a bucket for measuring the different ingredients. Place in a mixing bowl and mix mixture together when it is dry.
This photo is of my measure of vermicullite.
It is much easier mixing the mixture in another larger container than in the squares themselves.
So I poured 1 bucket of vermicullite, 1 bucket of compost to my mixing bucket. Mix together, and add 1 bucket of peat moss, and mix together.
Here's my mixing bowl.
After mixing add water, and continue mixing. You are looking for the consistancy of mud pies. When ready pour into frames. You have to do this a number of times before the squares are full. Make sure that the soil comes up to the top of the square.
Done! Now the soil is ready!
We covered up the squares with clear plastic to prevent the neighborhood kitties from turning our gardens into litter boxes. Since we were expecting a snow storm we removed the plastic just before the ETA of the storm so that the nice wet snow could cover the soil, and keep it nice and moist.
The next step? I have to order my plants. I will probably only have them delivered around the second week of May, for planting around then. Colorado weather is deceptive - we have been having 70 F days, yet it can still drop below freezing during the night.
For more accurate information about SFG go here. FYI - Kevin and I do not use the planting grids recommended by Mel. I find that the planting area is small enough not to need it. Besides, I like a slightly unstructured look to a square.