No green thumb? No room for a big garden? A few weeks ago, I wrote answering “no” to these questions and some others might make you a great candidate for Square Foot Gardening.
This year, we’re giving Square Foot Gardening a try, with little prior gardening experience.
Developed by Mel Bartholomew in the mid-1970s, Square Foot Gardening (SFG) works because this method is precise, efficient, simple to understand and easy to implement.
After examining our backyard last year, our first full year in this home, we decided to give SFG a try this spring.
This post is an update on our progress.
My wife and I decided to use natural stone (instead of the typical SFG materials (four 4’ lengths of 2”x6” pressure treated lumber)) because we liked the durability stone will provide and we wanted the garden bed to match existing stone used for flowerbeds. Based on my last update, we spent the following time and money on materials and supplies:
- Natural stone, almost 1 ton: $250.
- Heavy-duty landscaping fabric: $10.
- Wood lath material for square foot grid and screws: free from nearby lumber yard.
- Mel’s Mix: $60.
- Time: about 1 full workday, most of that attributed to transporting stone and lifting it into place.
Since late May, I spent another $50 and worked for another 3-4 hours to build a chicken-wire lid, to keep resident chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, birds and other small critters out of our garden. For the most part, the lid is doing its job but the odd chipmunk has been seen stealing a few of our strawberries. It’s annoying but I’m willing to tolerate it, at least for this our first growing season.
After filing our 5’ x 3’ SFG using “Mel’s Mix” (1/3 Peat Moss + 1/3 Vermiculite + 1/3 Blended Compost), we watered the mix thoroughly and planted our seeds and transplants over the days that followed. We planted:
- 3 broccoli (3 sq. feet used)
- 8 green leaf lettuce (2 sq. feet used)
- 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 yellow pepper (3 sq. feet used)
- 4 bunches of Swiss chard (1 sq. foot used)
- 16 carrots (2 sq. feet used)
- 16 radishes (2 sq. feet used)
- 8 plants of strawberries (2 sq. feet used)
With frequent watering, especially early on during seed development and by avoiding all fertilizers (Mel’s Mix has tons of natural, organic material), results started to show up a couple of weeks ago. We harvested some great radishes first, that were part of many dinnertime salad dishes. Recently, we were able to harvest the green leaf lettuce for those salads. In the next few weeks, we expect to harvest our carrots, more lettuce, the Swiss chard and hopefully, if the sweltering Ottawa heat doesn’t kill it, our broccoli. A picture of our SFG:
Aside from our SFG, we’ve also planted some tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and mint in pots on our deck, all of these I’m happy to report, are surviving the heat and growing steadily.
My passion for investing and personal finance is big part of what I share and write about on My Own Advisor, but I also have a growing passion for gardening and growing our own food. It’s very satisfying to build a garden, plant some seeds and see the growing process from start to finish. There is also something very satisfying about knowing where your food is coming from. A few annoying chipmunks aside, I’m enjoying the SFG and the great food coming from it…let’s hope there is much more to come from this growing season. Wish us luck!
What about you? Are you gardening this year?