Me and my wife are starting to plan our veggie garden for 2014. I know, it’s only January but we just moved into a new house with a really amazing raised bed and we are exciting to put it to use. I’m sure I will do lots of posts this spring with beautiful pictures of all our successes and failures. But today I’m just going to write about one strategy/concept we will definitely be utilizing in our garden.
Neither me nor my wife are expert gardeners. We have dabbled in it here in there in life and this last summer we even worked on an organic farm in France for 3 weeks. We learned a ton but this will honestly be our first raised bed experience from scratch. To say the least, we are excited!
So we went into our local gardening store, Garden City Garden Supply, where we spoke with Danielle (the owner) about our endeavor. We learned so much in just 20 minutes. She is going to be integral to our raised bed veggie garden journey. She is a wealth of knowledge and her shop is only about a 6 minute bike ride from our house. I’m sure we will be in there frequently, crying on her shoulder.
Okay, so, the focus of this post is to talk about the high level general direction of our garden. Danielle almost immediately recommended that we utilize something called square-foot gardening. Square foot gardening is basically a simple method for planting seeds in a specific way in a raised bed garden. What you do is lay down a grid on your bed that divides your surface area into square foot sections. Then, based on the area requirements of each plant, you use seeds accordingly.
Here are the general guidelines:
Extra Large – one per square for 12 inch spacing
Large – 4 per square for 6 inch spacing
Medium – 9 per square for 4 inch spacing
Small – 16 per square for 3 inch spacing.
Look at the seed packet to see how much space is needed between plants and then use the guidelines above to plant the appropriate amount.
The purpose behind square foot gardening is “to teach self sustainability and reliance through gardening. To promote a lifestyle that manages your health in a positive manner.” It does this by ridding the world of row gardening and over use of seeds and precious resources.
Different seeds are planted in each square to ensure a rational amount of each type of veggie is grown. This also allows gardeners to conserve seeds instead of overplanting, crowding and thinning plants.Square foot gardening also recommends multiple small beds so the garden soil is never stepped on or compacted. Natural insect repellent methods such as companion planting (example: planting natural insect repelling herbs next to insect prone veggies) become more efficient in a smaller space, which can eliminate the need to use pesticides.
Using the recommended soil mixture within the beds can help to increase water-holding capacities, so that the garden needs less additional water than in systems reliant on the native soil. The founder, Mel Bartholomew, recommends the following soil mixture: one-third compost, one-third peat moss, and one-third vermiculite.
So that is sort of the skinny on square foot gardening. To supplement my words, here is a little video of the man himself who coined this type of gardening (sorry, it’s a little old and hokey but you’ll get the idea).
I hope to document our whole gardening journey this spring with lots of photos, stories, and maybe even a few videos of our own. Square foot gardening makes a lot of sense for novices like us, so we will give it a try. Our goal is to decrease our consumption of fruits and veggies that come from really far away places at a really high price (think about the precious fossil fuels that were burned to get those kiwis and bananas or mangos to your home). While we will continue to support our local farmers market, we hope to grow a fair amount of food on our own and reap the rewards that come from eating luscious home grown organic produce. We are hoping for an epic success. Thanks for our journey!