Not much has changed. If you look closely you’ll see that the cucumbers are just starting to grow, the squashes and melons are sprawling across the lawn, the cabbages and carrots are ready to be picked and processed, the garlic is gone, and the sweet potatoes are leafing out nicely. The strawberries are alive and sending out runners, and I still need to get out there and plant a bunch of fall green beans for my wife.
Posts Tagged ‘square foot’
When I originally built my first set of garden beds in 2008, I had a brilliant idea. Every web site and book I could find was telling me that I wanted my garden beds to be 4 feet wide, for the convenience of reaching the crops easily and the benefit of never having to set foot into my soil. I promptly built each bed 6 feet wide because I knew better and I’ve been kicking myself for my arrogance ever since. I figured that 50% more growing area per bed plus much less wood needed would save me a ton of money by using a 6×8 foot layout. Well, it’s just been a pain in the ass.
This first drawing illustrates this year’s idea to help take advantage of these oddly-wide square foot garden beds. I plan to build a two-foot-wide middle section that has a trellis on each of these beds. I’ll grow climbing crops up the trellis in the middle and use the two-foot section on each side for crops with shorter growth habits.
So with this idea in mind, I got out my handy-dandy graph paper and planned out my 2011 garden. You can click the image to enlarge the photo. Each of the 5 beds I have numbered 2 through 6 will be getting a trellis topper with it’s own double-raised bed section (6 inches higher) beneath.
I have rotated every crop to an area of the garden that it hasn’t been grown for at least a year. Ideally I would use a 4 or 5 year rotation, but that isn’t possible in this amount of space unless I grow less tomatoes.
Because I have 12 growing beds, I plan to have several beds entirely dedicated to single crops, including sweet potatoes, potatoes, beans and tomatoes.
I also have planned some succession sowing with early spring crops, spring crops and fall crops. Carrots will follow the radishes and lettuce, Beets will follow Kale, and the green bean bed will be planted multiple times.
I found a place online where I could download a nice spreadsheet to help me with my seed-sowing dates. I entered my (average) last spring frost date into the spreadsheet, and it adjusted itself to display a range of dates where I should probably start my indoor seeds for best success in my garden. I moved these recommendations to the calendar on my computer and printed out a copy for easy reference. I have two trays of seeds started so far. Pictures coming at a later date!
The boys have been big helpers with the seed starting. They get a little bit of cabin fever when they are snowed in.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I plan to add a little more space to the garden this year. The raised beds numbered 10, 11 and 12 will be new this year. Last year I added 7, 8 and 9. (But they were numbered differently.)
The plan in the graphic rotates every crop to a new place. I have kept track of where I have grown everything for the last 2 seasons (since starting) and I’m making sure that I won’t move them back to the same place until after the third year.
I am also going to start a second compost area this spring as soon as I can get out there. It makes sense to have one pile composting while adding to another one.
If this goes as planned, the garden will have expanded to 428 square feet this year. I’m still not making enough compost even to amend my existing beds, let alone to fill up three new ones. I’ll buy bagged stuff 3 for $5 again this year…probably enough to squat the van 2 or 3 times.
Starting a couple weeks ago I built the frames for 6 raised garden beds. Last Saturday (a week ago) the dirt was delivered…to the front driveway. I had to load it into a wheelbarrow (about 40 loads) and push it to the back yard. Luckily downhill all the way!
Below is my one-string method for the grid lines on a raised garden bed: