Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Caitlin and the Square Foot Garden

If insanity is inherited from your children, a passion for gardening is an addiction you give to your children. I got mine from my mother and my father, who is known for building the Cadillacs of all holes to put an apple tree in the ground. It's finally my turn to hand the planting fever on to Caitlin, who is now old enough to care for a little garden of her own.

I had heard about the square foot gardening technique previously, but didn't really get into it and lay out my own beds in a similar matter. Instead, I just went big. However, since we had some 6' boards laying around and sort of a dead spot in the middle of the one flat space in my yard, it just seemed like a good place to start.

Yesterday, as good as my word, I spent several hours mixing together peat moss, vermiculite, Eko compost and mushroom compost on an old bed sheet and then shoveling it into the 6' x 6' box we'd made. After evenly moistening the perfect new soil and raking it smooth, I had Eric put in screws every 12" and we wrapped green gardening twine around until we had formed a grid. Then we added a trellis in the row closest to our fence to support vining plants.

At that point, we were ready for planting, but it was almost bed time. However, we didn't let that stop us! Caitlin and I put 3 kinds of carrot seeds in and some romaine seeds in the front section. I have to admit to having garden bed envy - this is perfect soil! It's on perfectly flat ground! It doesn't still need to be cleaned up from last fall because someone was too lazy to do it then!

Oh well. Maybe I'll do better this fall.

While I realize that a normal SFG bed is only 4' x 4' so that you can reach all parts of the grid, I didn't want to have to deal with cutting any boards, so we're just going to have to deal with the 4 difficult to reach squares in the middle. I'll just pop some flowers in there that are low maintenance and not worry about it. Caitlin has big plans for all of the other squares. Here's her list:
  1. Tomato 'Super Sweet 100'
  2. Watermelon 'Saguar Baby'
  3. Green beans
  4. Peas
  5. Pansies
  6. Violas
  7. Marigolds
  8. Zinnias
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Strawberries
  11. Pumpkin
As for me, I started a bunch of tomatoes, bell peppers and basil from seed and then I went out and bought a couple more packets of seeds because apparently I have a tomato deficiency. In my defense, I will be putting in less tomatoes than last year. I've cut my list down to
  1. Snow White
  2. Cherokee Purple
  3. Black Krim
  4. Green Zebra
  5. Yellow Pear
  6. Brandywine Red
  7. Roma
I felt that I needed to get the Roma for sauces and the Brandywine for a "simple" red tomato. Since I lost my only Green Zebra last year and my Black Krim and Cherokee Purple couldn't compete with the mass around them, I thought I'd give them all a second chance. The Yellow Pear is for fun. Also, when they're so pretty and tasty, how can you resist? Except that this year, I'll put all of them in a bed by themselves and not try to stuff the pepper plants underneath them. This way I hope to get a whopping load of bell peppers because they were delicious! I've also decided to devote an entire bed to squash again, but I'll skip the spaghetti and acorn squashes and instead try out delicata, while repeating butternut, buttercup, zucchini and replacing crookneck with straightneck yellow squash. Also, lettuce, potatoes, pumpkin, a single watermelon (Sugar baby) and a honeydew melon, just for grins.

I'll also plant a load of green beans and basil because we just couldn't get enough of either last year!

How does Caitlin feel about all of these plans and her new garden?

She's happy!


Just remember: it's never too soon to infect your children with a planting obsession!


Scylla said...

Yay Caitlin! I am glad she will be enjoying her garden. Monkey enjoyed the heck out of ours before we had to move.

This year we are planting several large whisky barrels with veggies and greens.

Hopefully our salad plants will be as prolific here as they were in NJ. Yummy salad.

Drama Queen Jenner said...

Just wondering... How many square feet is/are your main garden(s)?

Ed said...

See, in Queens we don't have as much room. My garden's about 6' x 1.5'. If I want a bigger one, I'll have to cut out some trees, and I like them. This year it's tomatoes and bell peppers.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Misty: I may have a tomato plant for you, if you'd like one. In a few weeks. You know, to refill the whiskey barrel from last summer.... : ) As for being prolific, just remember to water. A LOT.

Jenner: My 4 raised beds are a total of 238.5 sq ft. This does not include the garden space I have for flowers. You can see assorted pictures of those all over my blog. I can't remember their measurements, but...enough to make me feel overwhelmed with weeding every year. I'm slowly revamping the flower beds and including more shrubs so that I don't have as much maintenance to do, but it's a slow process.

Ed or Eddie - I can't actually think of you being "Ed". "Ed" is another friend of mine. : ) Ta da! Welcome back to your teenage years! So...that's a small garden! Got a deck? Or any other space in full sunlight? "Full" being at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. If you do, you should consider pots.

Oh, Jenner, I didn't include all of the pots on my deck that ALSO have veggies in them. Heh heh heh! Did I mention this is an addiction?

Ed said...

Yep, lots of pots. Those are really for the flowers though, Agnes really likes planting flowers! The deck is pretty small, and most of the yard is shaded. I've taken down about 4 or 5 trees since I moved in just to get more sunlight. There's still 4 left, and I'm still amazed that all those trees fit in my small back yard!

Drama Queen Jenner said...

I saw what you were writing earlier about planters here and there. Seriously, I'm overwhelmed considering a topsy-turvy for ONE tomato plant. Much admiration and respect from this corner!

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