Living in a duplex, I miss having a garden like I used to have in my old house. Normally while living in a duplex, I grow a few herbs and a few flowers. Sometimes I have potted a tomato plant and/or peppers. Nothing much. I miss having a garden garden. Picking a few radishes, some lettuce, tomatoes and grabbing a fresh cuke for a fresh dinner salad. Can't beat the taste of fresh vegetables. Not to mention saving a few bucks on the grocery bill!
Jez, a co-worker has been telling me to try out a "square foot garden" as described
Finally, I got pumped up a bit and decided to go do it!
So first I went to Helliesen Lumber. Didn't have prices listed for each item, so an employee there kept calling over a radio, asking for the prices for me. At first, I found some 8 foot 1x8 boards and the price was $25.00 for each. I wanted three boards, so Ouch! I knew wood was getting more expensive, but that was a bit much. The second set of boards of the same dimensions was $20.00 per board. That's $60.00 bucks and just for wood!
Finally told him I wanted something cheap and he told me about the $10.00 per board that they had up in the rafters. OK $30.00 - a bit more than I thought I would be spending, but ok, I'll get it. The employee was fantastic and cut each 8 foot board into 4 foot lengths. So I had 6, 4 foot 1x8 boards. Also purchased 8 braces and some nails.
After getting the wood, I went to Bi-mart to get potting soil and tarp. Found some tarp for about $4.00, but no large bags of potting soil.
So next, I go to Ace hardware. They had the potting soil and compost, so I got three bags of each at $2.45 each and took all my purchases home.
Got everything out of the car and ready to assemble.
Ah! How hard is it to assemble 4 boards!? Yup, sure - I'm the carpenter! I did it though. The only tool needed was a hammer. Banged my finger only twice. And I think those
are inside the joint brackets, not outside. That's ok though, I prefer the exposed nails on the inside of the box and not poking through the outside. The box wasn't perfectly true, but good enough.
Took the remaining two boards and nailed them to the bottom. Better frame support and lifted the box off the ground a bit.
Added in the tarp. Online it says that you should just use a bottomless box, but I didn't feel it appropriate to put all the dirt directly on the patio. I will need to be careful that water does not pool or collect in the garden. If need be, I can put holes in the tarp for better drainage.
I have the box in place and soil added! Not bad for a couple hours of work.
The Square Garden man stressed that in order to have a proper square garden, you must have the squares defined. So, the next day and using some cheap cotton twine and
a staple gun, I have all my squares marked off!
For such a small amount of space, it is surprising how much you can fit into that space. I have 16 1-foot squares and a whole lot of
ideas. Tomatoes are a must and since they will be the biggest plants, I put them in the back.
All done! Well almost. There a few other things I want to do - like adding a trellis or netting for the tomotoes and cucumbers,
but it is looking like a garden!
In my squarefoot garden, I have:
I even have more space left! I have one whole square completely free. One square with only chives, so there some space there. And at least two squares where there would be room for some small plants.
Added more plants:
Now this wasn't as cheap as I thought it would be - and the best part about growing your own vegetables is that you can save quite a bit of money. I spent about $58.00 for the wood, nails, braces, plastic, and twine. Also spent $25.00 for a staple gun because I can't ever seem to find mine when I need it (I think I have three staple guns somewhere). So it's going to take a couple years to pay for itself. But it's going to be nice having fresh vegetables again and there's nothing like ending a hectic day tending a garden.
Went to Ace to get two 10 foot 1" PVC pipe (they only sell them in 10' increments), two PVC elbows and 4 pipe braces. Cost: about $7.50. Went home and cut one of the pipes so that I had an 49.5" piece. That left 70 inches. So I cut the other pipe so that it was 70 inches long as well. I nailed the braces to the box frame and it all went together nicely.
Next I needed something for the plants to hold onto AND since I had a bunch of string, I thought I would learn
how to make a net. Had a book that outlined how and started tying the strings together.
OK, so my netting skills need improvement. Still it was my first and if I get bored enough I might redo it.
I think though that it will suffice and it is sturdy. Of course, when the plants are 6 feet tall then nobody
will be able to see the net anyways. Here's the result:
Keep thinking of other things to do. I suppose a squarefoot box is like a web page - it's never finished. If this garden works out as well as it should I may make another next year. Keep thinking of other fruits and vegetables that I would like to have in my garden. With some tomotoes at $3.00 a pound, you can never have enough vegetables.
...Been picking the lettuce starters and spinach which have given us a salad almost every day (I pick 4 leaves from each plant).
Radishes are growing very fast. Had a few radish leaves to go with my salad, but no radishes yet.
The toms are growing good and fast!
One of my cuke plants are now on my trellis net and the other cukes (after too many days of freezing temps) are now finally growing but are a bit behind.
Carrots are slow but growing.
Pepper plants have just been sitting there doing nothing til the little heat wave we just had with 90+ deg temps. A small spurt of growth, but it's chilling down again.
Darned Siberian Elm is seeding all over the place. I can't keep up! No more complaining about a lack of garden chores! The elm seeds keep me plenty busy!
Notes: The tomato plant 2nd in from the right was from a larger starter than from the earlier pics. The other three toms are the same ones that I had originally planted.
Expanded the trellis so that the cukes wouldn't have to share with the toms. My netting skills improved!
Moved the herbs into their own pot. Glad I did as the oregano and basil are growing fast!
The weather is doing the plants good but they are growing too fast. I've had peppers and tomatoes in pots before but never with the tomatos growing over 6 feet tall. It has been difficult keeping them properly nourished. They drink water like a teenage boy drinks milk. I've had blossom-end rot in a vast majority of the tomatos, loosing a good portion of my yield. With the peppers, at first they wouldn't grow well and when they started to come to life, the stray cats and earwigs and a heatwave killed all but one of eight. Had to replant and then stray kittens killed my favourite pepper plant. The cats had to go. Can't have that poopin' in the garden and they also stomped down the onions and lettuce. Not sure how the onions will fare after all their frolicking. Have eaten all the spinach - a fantastic treat! Radishes grew nothing but leaves. Carrots were devistated by the earwigs (a lot of them this year) and the heat.
Those tomatoes just keep growing! Especially the pear tomatoes. They are over 8 feet tall and running up and down and around everything else in and out of the garden. Cool! Peppers have been growing and even got a couple cukes. If you think you're eye-site is bad, it's not. The wind has push on the tomatoes so hard that they are leaning the whole trellis to the right. Had to add additional supports! The top of the trellis is six feet.
Took a q-tip over to my mothers who has cantaloupe to get some pollen. I worked, now I have two cantaloupe (Ambrosia) growing! I'm slinging the cantaloupe since it is growing from a trellis. Everyone said to do so, although cucumbers do not need it.
Still having problems with carrots and radishes. This time I have radishes, but they are slow growing. The carrots are the most problematic. Very strange! When I previously had a larger garden, I never had any problems. Have replanted some spinach and a lettuce mix, so I hope to have more of that soon!
You might have noticed that I have installed some mini sprinklers. They help keep everything watered even when I am away hiking. This heat has been troublesome and the sprinklers have helped greatly.