My Square Foot Garden Love

Friday, March 4, 2016



Anyone who enjoys gardening must be feeling the same "itch" I am beginning to feel.  Whenever March rolls around, I start to fantasize about warmer weather and getting my garden back in business!  I would not call myself an expert gardener or even declare myself as having a green thumb.  All I have ever had was an interest in gardening (thanks to grandpa) and a burning desire to try to build my own.  Four years ago, pregnant me, knew that if I had any shot at building a successful garden, I would need to try before my daughter was born.  As a result, I spent that spring reading and planning and building what felt like the most amazing garden of all time!  Things grew, and we ate stuff, and I, in turn, felt complete AMAZINGNESS!  Here is a picture of my first very own square foot garden:


My grandfather had always professed to being a "Square Foot Gardener" which is creating raised beds to which you add your soil recipe to.  Whenever I paid him a visit at his house, he would parade me through his backyard boasting of his tomatoes, making me smell the basil and feel the soil.  The soil is something that my grandfather swore by.  Organic, composted and made by chemistry and WORMS!  And he would show me the WORMS!  What I didn't understand back then makes complete sense to me now.  I finally get it!

So when I set out on my quest to build my own square foot garden, I read Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening Book and went on my merry way.  I started my own seeds indoors in late winter and prepared my gardening space for the MAGIC!  I purchased the wooden beds from the Christmas Tree Shops because they were a super-great deal.  The soil is comprised of three components which Mel outlines in his book:

1/3 COMPOST
1/3 VERMICULITE
1/3 PEAT MOSS

I then purchased seeds and plants that were already started and planted away!  I really had no idea what I was doing and just went with my gut.  Fortunately, most things grew.  Of course there were some fails (to this day I cannot succeed at growing broccoli), but most successes.  Here is a picture of what my garden looked like later that season:


Cool huh?  Each year, I have added new components and gadgets, to make my garden perfect for me and my family.  I added simple fencing and a gate (which my husband built for me for Mother's Day), irrigation hooked up to my sprinkler system, upgraded my wooden beds to a more durable cedar box with metal brackets purchased from Gardener's Supply Company and some other helpful gardening cages, and trellises.  None of this happened overnight, nor in a season.  Each year I add a little more as I learn a little more.  Here is what my garden looked like last season in year four:



Gearing up for year 5, I do have a couple of goals I would like to try to accomplish.  I would like to start a few seeds again as a fun activity for my kids.  I would like to purchase a composter and finally make my own compost (or at least try to).  Lastly, I would like to try to find more organic plants or seeds to keep my harvest as healthy and natural as possible.

SHANNON'S TOP 10 TIPS 
FOR BEGINNER GARDENERS

 1.  Do a little research.

 2.  Start small.

 3.  Find a good spot.  Gardens love lots of sun and water!

 4.  You do not have to start your own seeds.

 5.  Understand that each year, with experience, you will learn and get better.

 6.  Don't feel like you need to invest in every gardening component your first year.  You can gradually add things like fences, irrigation, special trellises, or make your own compost in the future.

 7.  The soil matters!

 8.  It's ok if something does not grow.  Try again next year!

 9.  Be open to ideas/advice from others who garden.  My favorite resource is FACEBOOK!

10.  Have fun!


Photo Credit:  Creative Heart Arts

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