As most of my family, friends and casual acquaintances are well aware, I love having a garden. Especially a vegetable garden. That’s my favorite. Every year, I plan my vegetable garden to the nth degree. I tend to bite off more than I can chew (Ha! Puns :D), and then I end up trampling through the brush every August to fetch a tomato. I don’t think I’ve have really solid plans in the past.
But this year will be different. I started in the planning stages of said garden back in January, because what else would I be doing on a -18 degree day in 600 feet of snow? Okay–maybe a bit of an exaggeration there–but you get my point. I downloaded new software (Thanks Mother Earth News! You can find their info here) and began to plan in earnest then. I bought the seeds in February. I love Annie’s Heirloom Seeds. You can get to that website here. I started planting the seedlings indoors in February, but wasn’t able to actually transplant them outdoors until the middle of April, which is when we started building our raised beds.
Another change I’ve made this year, that I believe will help in my quest for a less labor intensive, more successful garden is that I’ve decided to use the Square Foot Gardening Method (read all about it here). In years past, I have had all great intentions when marching out to the garden area armored with all the appropriate tools, but the weeds invariably roll over me and I give up. This year, I vow things will be different. We cleared the ground before the weeds had a chance to take over, put down landscaping fabric and put the raised beds on top of that. I purchased a carefully constructed loam/manure/compost mixture (way cheaper when bought in bulk–even with the delivery fee!), laboriously filled the beds, and when the time was right……… the seeds were planted and seedlings transplanted. I started with the cool weather crops, of course. The broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, carrots, onions, and peas went in first. Love the peas…….if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the peas. Only about half of them actually make it into the house. I usually eat the other half in the garden while I’m picking them. Delish!!
Just this past week, I finally got my beloved tomatoes in. They’re my other favorite. With the SFG method, I was able to plant 48 (that’s right, 48!) plants in 48 square feet of space. Canning season should be fun around here.Then there’s the pak choi and more Swiss Chard than George and I will ever consume.
I’ve also planted jalapenos, radishes, all kinds of lettuce, yellow summer squash, zucchini, bush beans, pole beans, beets, kale and potatoes. And I can’t forget the okra–we’ll see how that turns out. I don’t know that I’ve ever tried to grow that north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
I won’t lie, that one bed is crooked and it makes me twitch a little bit every time I look at it. I am only consoled by the fact that when the plants grow bigger, I won’t be able to tell it so much. But I digress……
Here’s the okra in the same bed as the spinach. While the spinach is growing at the speed of light, the okra seems to be lagging behind. Okra really likes the heat of my native south Georgia, not the coolness of May in southeastern Massachusetts. We’ll see how this turns out.
When fully filled, there will be 17-18 beds. I already have little tiny, barbie sized heads of broccoli……
The potatoes are growing almost faster than I can keep up with in their bag. They’re a lot of fun to grow. If you have children, you should definitely try this–kids love it! It teaches them the basics of gardening and they get to eat the fruits of their labor!
The radishes are already almost ready to be pulled out of the ground…..
And our bees have found their way into the garden!! That’s super exciting to me….
You really get so much more bang for your buck with SFG, not to mention not having to weed the space nearly as much. I can grow plenty of food for George and myself in our little 20′ x 40′ space! And with a little luck, I’m sure there will be plenty left over for the neighbors and our friends, as well. Thank goodness Spring is finally here!!