Square Foot and Container Gardening

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Hi Folks

So it’s getting close to planting time for me! In fact, I am currently finishing up my garden plans for this year and will be ready to start putting some of the cool weather friendly plants and seed in the ground within the next week.

I’ve been gardening using raised beds for a few years and for a while I was using a blend of regular dirt and some garden soil blends, but nothing really fancy.  I chose raised beds because of their supposed ease of use.  I was promised no major digging, or having to turn the soil like you would if you were planting directly into the ground however this simply was not the case.  With the dirt blend that I had, I had clumps of rock hard soil that I had to break up just like I would if I had an in-ground bed.  My yields weren’t spectacular either so I was ready for a change.

I started to research Square Foot Gardening to see what it was all about based on something that I saw on Pinterest (yup, I’m one of those crazy pinners, lol).  I could find bits and pieces of information online but I didn’t get a lot of definitive information until I found the book “All New Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew.  In his book he discusses everything from how to build the box (which I had), what blend to use, how many plants of any specific type you can out in any Square Foot (i.e. 16 onions or 1 pepper plant), when to plant, etc… This book gave you any little bit of information that you could ask for to start using a Square Foot Garden.

From my experience with this, especially when considering what I was using before, I LOVE IT!!!  SFG has completely revolutionized how I plant my garden.  I get a ton more in my yields, and as soon as I’m done using a Square foot I can immediately allocate that space to plant something else.  It’s so much easier to plant because I don’t have to dig in the ground; with “Mel’s Blend” I can just push it out of the way with my hand and plant.  No more digging, no more turning (I’ll use a hard rake to fluff it back up a little after this winter), I will be completely ready to go with little effort.

I have 6 beds, 5 of which are available to be used for SFG, the other one has strawberries and if you’ve ever planted them you know that they have a mind of their own and refuse to be confined to a mere square foot, J however I am debating on whether or not to take those out his year and use the bed for something else. Each of my beds is 3’x5’ giving me roughly 15 sq. ft. in each bed to play with.  My garden will consist of plants that I’ll purchase as well as items that I’ll start from seed.  The plants are always super easy to just plop down in the blend and let them do their thing.

This year I also plan to add more container planting to my mix. Doing this will allow me the flexibility to move plants around if I feel like they aren’t getting sufficient sunshine. My plan is to get some buckets and bins to plant things in. Will it be the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen in a backyard? Not at all, but my goal is not about having a backyard that is aesthetic beautiful, but instead, have one that serves a purpose. That purpose happens to be providing healthy, fresh, and yummy food for my family to enjoy for the summer, and if I have more than I can handle at any given time, I will share with friends and neighbors and learning to can so that I can enjoy MY food for a longer period of time.

Many people are really nervous about gardening but it’s actually pretty simple. Plants generally only need food, water, and sun. Nothing fancy, just simple things. The other thing is that by using containers, gardening is accessible to people who have very little outside space. In fact, fresh herbs can be grown indoors by a window.

I am, by no means, an expert at gardening, but many members of my family have grown food for many years. I can remember going to my great grandfathers and looking at his neat rows of food planted in the backyard. There was little to no yard (play) space, it was all allocated to the garden. My grandmother has always kept a small garden (which my brother has taken over and is very successful with). My mom has always had one too. The example that has always been set for me is that it’s a good thing to grow your own food and to have that connection with your food and the earth beneath you. My husband and teenage kids love going out to the garden and getting tomatoes or whatever else they want, when they want it. I definitely appreciate the lessons that I’ve learned from my family and the love and respect that I have for my little plot of land. It’s such a blessing.

Happy Planting!

Jess

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