This year (or rather late last year) I decided to try my hand at gardening. I decided to try the Square Foot Gardening method because it frankly just makes sense and our soil is pretty awful. As you can see by the photo below about the only thing that will grow in or rather on our soil is moss, and there are even parts of the yard that it won’t even grow!
I armed myself by reading a number of books and by taking a class titled “Introduction to year-round vegetable gardening” at Duke Gardens over the winter, before I committed to anything or spent a dime on materials or seeds (other than purchasing material for a compost pile).
To start with for this year I built four 4’x4’x12″ boxes. My plans are really quite modest no doubt in part to the fact that I don’t really know how much of any one plant I should be planting and I don’t want to plant too much and be stuck with a huge harvest all at the same time.
One late-January night over a few beers Erin and I compiled a list of seeds we wanted to purchase from on-line retailers (I used Park and Johnny’s Selected Seeds) that mainly included vegetables we eat or those that are hard to find or are needlessly expensive (salsify is hard to find while green onions and leeks are overpriced by my estimation).
In the last week I’ve planted the following:
- Beets – chioggia, red & gold
- Carrots (atomic red)
- Green onions
- Swiss Chard
- Greens – buttercrunch, mustard, butterking, Pirat
- Pac choy
- Radish – patricia & cheriette
Even though I have seeds for cauliflower and broccoli, I completed my boxes too late to start either outside and my friend Dean generously gave me some that he had purchased and didn’t need. So far nothing has germinated (as far as I can tell at least), but then it’s only been a week, and while the temperatures have been above freezing nearly the whole time it hasn’t been exactly warm with the exception of Saturday which climbed to nearly 80 degrees. I am encouraged though by the growth of the cauliflower and broccoli, both of which withstood some heavy winds in their first week without much damage and have shown some new growth.
Eventually my goal is to have four more boxes that will create a 3×3 “circle” with space left in the middle to do something decorative or even useful like build a trellis to grow hops on or something.
As the seasons change and I begin to harvest I’ll update as to what’s going on, what has or hasn’t been succesful, etc.
Here’s a list of the books I’ve used to educate myself to date and all of which I think are worth checking out:
- All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew
- Square Foot Gardening also by Mel Bartholomew – I’ve found this one to be more informative than All New Square Foot Gardening
- Designing the New Kitchen Garden: An American Potager Handbook by Jennifer R. Bartley
- The Kitchen Gardener’s Handbook also by Jennifer R. Bartley
- The Kitchen Garden Month by Month by Alan Buckingham
- Backyard Harvest: A Year-Round Guide to Growing Fruits and Vegetables by Jo Whittingham
- The Complete Book of Vegetables by Matthew Biggs – this includes a few vegetables I’d never heard of plus a few I want to take a stab at like crosnes (or Chinese artichokes) and cardoon