In my last post I wrote about the exhausting shopping expedition I embarked upon in order to gather the materials for my Square Foot Garden. Well all that is behind me now, my dear readers, because WE….HAVE….PLANTED!!
Here’s how it went down. First I built my boxes, as per Mel’s instructions. Now, he says to line the boxes with 4’x4′ weed cloth but I worried that the weeds would find their way in through the edges and so I tried nailing the weed cloth to the underside of the boxes using those little Ikea nails that are used for attaching the back of Billy bookshelves to the frame – you all know the ones. Well, turns out weed cloth ain’t that sturdy and while I was carrying the frames down to the garden the fabric tore off many of the nails. Okay, on to plan B. I decided to lay the weed cloth down but with excess around the edges, like so:
The bricks were just there to keep the edges from blowing around while I mixed up the soil. A word about the placement, too. They are against the west-facing wall of the garage lined up with the south-facing corner. They will get late morning sun all the way to late afternoon, though it is hard to know just how late since right now the sun disappears behind some tall trees around 3 pm and then, soon after, behind our neighbour’s house next door. I think, however, that as summer approaches the sun’s path should be higher in the sky and give us even more sunshine. But this was the best spot I could find for now. I can see it from the deck above, the stairs in the background go right up to the kitchen door, and the walls provide a natural background for my future trellises. Mel says to put trellises on the North side of your boxes but I just couldn’t make that work for two boxes in my yard, and I figure since the sun is moving westwards along the beds I could put trellises on the east side (against the wall) and not have the shadows block out too much.
It was also a handy spot because there was already a garden bed there, although it was not in great shape. It was about half the width I needed, the soil was sandy, and bits of lawn were growing up into the bed. I weeded as best I could and spread the soil outwards to make an area large enough to fit my boxes.
On to the soil mixing: I mentioned last post that I was concerned about not having enough of certain ingredients. I had exactly 4 cu ft of vermiculite so I poured that out onto my giant tarp. Then next to that pile I poured out all four bags of compost (2 Sea Soil, 1 steer manure, 1 mushroom manure). It looked about the same volume as the vermiculite so I’m hoping for the best. The peat moss turned out to be conveniently packed into two half-bales so when I opened the bag, exactly half the peat moss – 4 cu ft – fell out in a big chunk. Daughter and I enjoyed pounding it into bits with our trowels!
Here are all 3 ingredients
Then we mixed it all up and filled the first box.
I didn’t have enough soil to fill up the second box. Recall that each 4’x4’x6″ deep box holds 8 cu ft of Mel’s Mix. I made 12 cu ft so still need another 4 cu ft to fill the second box. That can wait for another day.
When the boxes were filled I tidied up the edges of the garden area like so:
We let the boxes sit after a brief watering. A few days later we went to the Garden Centre to get seeds. I told the lady there I didn’t want to have to start anything indoors and asked her to show me what could be planted now. She listed off various items, including onions. I followed her around the store ready to point out that the packets of onion seeds specifically say they need to be started indoors, when lo and behold she handed me a bag of….onions! As proof of just how much of a gardening newbie I am, I was shocked and delighted to realize that onions are in fact bulbs and thus can be planted as such! No indoor starting required.
I bought two kinds. One was called “Multiplier Onions”. I have no idea what that means, and I am a bit confused that the label says “Good for scallions and dry storage onions”. So, did I buy onions or scallions? Well, the bulbs looked like little onions, the usual yellow sweet variety you get in the store. I also got Red Weatherfield onions, because I like red onions but rarely buy them. Then I got some garlic. It looked exactly like the stuff you buy to eat and I wondered what made these any different from the 25 cent variety at Canadian Superstore. We also bought seeds: sugar snap peas (the only green food that Daughter will eat) and radishes. And for some colour and fun we bought two varieties of flower seeds: snapdragons and sweet peas. We rushed home excitedly to start planting!
But first I had to make my grids. I mentioned before that I’d found some cedar lattice in the garden shed and was planning to take it apart and use that. I discovered, however, that lattice is held together at virtually every cross-point by heavy duty staple-type things that were mostly rusted and which I could not remove no matter how much I tried. I then tried to saw them into long peices using the only cutting tool around, an old rusty hacksaw. That didn’t work very well and the wood splintered so I had to give up on that idea altogether. I pondered and wondered, wanting to do it all now and determined to find something in the house I could use. After a while it came to me: string! Those little Ikea nails that were useless for the weed cloth were just right for tying string to, and in no time at all I had my grid. Not the most attractive solution but again, this is just an experiment year.
The number of items planted per 1×1 square depends on the size of the plant. Onions fit 9 to a square, whereas radishes fit 16 to a square. The photo above shows how, to aid my eye in placing the seeds, I cut 6 short lengths of string and laid them over whichever square I was working on. Then I took them off when I was done. A brilliant strategy if I do say so myself!
And so Daughter and I planted our crops and had a great time doing so. She announced that she wanted to be a farmer when she grew up and I said that me and her father were actually hoping to buy a farm next year (I didn’t elaborate on the fact that we would have to move far away because Daughter, like most young children, doesn’t care to think about changes that much). She thought having a farm was a great idea!
Oh, while we were planting I jotted down what we planted, and in which squares, because it was easy to forget as we went along. I’m going to start a proper gardening journal with information about the seeds, time of planting, and notes on how they are growing. More on that (and other things we’ll be planting) next time on Veggie Tales!