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If you build it, they will grow

by Nanc filed under garden on April 11, 2008 03:36 PM

Matt and I are participating in our food this year and attempting to grow a garden. Last year, we played at this and had a few containers going, but the crazy Texas weather and sheer laziness got the better of us and our plants. We have bigger plans this year.

Based on recommendations from Chris and the internets, we are following the Square Foot Garden (SFG) method.

Basically you ignore the dirt you have, build relatively small raised beds, and fill them with a soil-less mixture. Then you anally plan and plant small quantities of your favorite veg, herb, and flowers just enough for your family to nom on, not excess that'll have your neighbors hide when they spy you holding zucchinis.

Matt enjoyed the building and construction of the raised beds, and I enjoyed the planting and garden tending. We used 2" x 6" boards of cedar with the intent that we'll want these to hang around for a year or two. The instructions in the SFG book are very well done, and soon we had two very nice 2' x 3' frames.

We went with this smaller 2' x 3' beds because the only portion of back yard we have is a small section between our house and our fence; basically a stretch of grass 7' x 30' (not even enough to play cornhole). I call these my north and south beds.

The frames are treated with a linseed oil and paint thinner mixture (on the outside only), and we fastened weed fabric to the bottom. Then it was a simple matter of setting them in place and filling with the compost mixture. I had a small issue with math, so we ended up with twice the amount needed to fill our two small boxes.

Not one to waste (especially at the price) and with a skeptical look at how small those raised beds are, we decided to take over another corner of our yard for a third raised bed (in a much sunnier location). The added benefit of this was that Matt could break away from the tried and true (and boring) square boxes, and play with angles and math to make a triangle. (Both an isosceles and a right triangle, I believe, but math ain't my forte.)

In no time at all, I eagerly planted the north and south gardens and posted my progress up on myFolia. (Oh, I didn't tell you about this before? myFolia is very similar to Ravelry, except being garden-centric instead of fibery. And for anyone looking, my id is NanJo on both sites.) I'm also keeping a paper garden journal, but it is a hard competition between this and the shiny internets.

With the exception of tomatoes, a banana pepper, and marigolds, I planted most of the garden by seed, sowed directly into the compost mixture. Channeling my inner hippy, I cut water bottles in half and used them as make shift cloches. (And they worked wonderfully, aside from Matt joking that my plastic bottle garden is growing well.)

Within a week, I started seeing sprouts! Oh, how exciting. Now a few weeks in and everything has sprouted and doing well. There are still a few sprouts that are tiny and I'm keeping the plastic cloches on until I'm certain they'll survive our Texas storms.

The surprise of the garden? The onions. Those stalks just keep on growing and growing, by far the tallest plant in the garden. I'm growing a lot of things that I've never tried growing before, eager to find some winners. I don't have the greenest thumb, but my childlike excitement must merit something, non?

I've selected pictures with Matt and I being goofy for a bit of visual interest. 'Cause otherwise you're looking at raised beds being constructed and dirt.

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Hi, this blog has been upgraded, but I'm leaving the old pages online until the search engines catch up. If you want to join the discussion, this may be the page you're looking for on the new site.

Posted by: P-la on April 11, 2008 06:08 PM

The whole SFG thing intrigues me and I hope that next year I will be able to give it a shot. Please excuse my ignorance, but why a soil-less mixture?

Posted by: Tracy on April 12, 2008 12:21 AM

This is the first I have heard of growing food this way. I am going to have to check out the Square Foot Garden Method now.

Posted by: Jen da purse Ho on April 12, 2008 01:02 AM

you guys are so cute :)

Posted by: botgurl on April 12, 2008 06:52 PM

Part of me wishes you and Matt had made a video too. Thoroughly enjoyed watching this newest effort of yours.

Posted by: Sean on April 14, 2008 01:32 PM

Huzzah for gardening!

Personally, I'm trying to grow cucumber, jalapeno pepper, sweet pepper, and cilantro, but all in containers. I will be interested to know what you were able to harvest when that time comes.

Posted by: Jennifer on April 14, 2008 03:38 PM

So cool! The beds look great! I'm just starting our gardens too, so THANK YOU for the Folio link! I just went and signed up. :D

Kinda wish I could've started with raised beds but we already had allllll these premade sectioned off beds that have been just sitting there with wood chips and no plants. So trying to amend the soil/ see what actually grows. I'm curious as well about the no-soil reasoning. I've just been working compost into mine.

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