After a somewhat long journey, and a
fairly lengthy multi-part blog series, we've finally reached the final step of our organic garden project. In yesterday's post, we covered the construction of the raised bed.
With the raised bed complete and full of soil, we had one final prep step to complete before we could focus on our planting arrangement. Alex's parents have a very green thumb and I've always loved their gardens. A couple of weeks ago they gave us some growing advice for our garden. Their words of wisdom, "worm poop."
Alex's mom told him how wonderfully her plants responded when they began using worm castings mixed in the top of the soil. Taking this advice, we ordered a bag of worm poop from Amazon.com and it arrived a few days later. This purchase, besides potentially yielding a bounty of veggies from our garden and being a great all natural fertilizer, also effectively proves the theory that you can truly purchase anything off of the Internet.
We donned some rubber glove for this step, not because anything on the bag told us to do so, but simply based on our feelings that handling poop with your bare hands is gross. Alex spread a healthy amount of castings across the new soil, and then gently mixed it into the top 1/2" of the soil. With the completion of this step, and a little water on the top, our soil and bed was prepped and ready for planting.
Before we could begin planting the veggies, we needed a well throughout plan. This, I learned, is one of the critical elements of square foot gardening. You take maximum advantage of the space in your garden by determining the specific items that you will plant within the spaces you have. Certain plants require the full one foot square, such as broccoli, while others can be arranged with multiple plants in the square foot space, such as onions or lettuce.
My plan started with a basic sketch of the garden and a rough outline of the vegetable plants we had already purchased. Once I had my basic and very rough outline, I decided to turn my attention to one of my favorite organizational tools, the little yellow miracles that are Post-It notes. I treated each Post-It as if it were one of our square foot spaces and wrote down each of the plants that we had in the quantity necessary for each space. Once each note was filled out, I was then able to move the notes around on the table until I had an order that I was satisfied with.
Using the Post-It approach allowed me to figure out which veggies would work best given the location, available sunlight, need for climbing ability near the wall, proximity to other plants, and, of course, the aesthetics of the plants that would surely have cute little flowers. As you can see from the photo above, the end result was an easy to follow plan.
Our vegetable list for this round consists of:
Sugar Snap Peas
The new soils was obviously easy to work with, so the planting process actually went pretty quickly. Alex headed off to our local Ross store to pick up a large ceramic urn to hold our new hydrangea, so I put my head down and started planting. Following my notes, I would make the necessary number of holes for the plants, and gently place them in their locations. By the time he got back, I had nearly the entire garden planted.
One of the things that I made sure to do with each planting was to place the soil immediately surrounding the plant a little lower that the rest of the soil. This created a saucer effect around the base of the plant that would help to direct water to the plant, rather than allowing it to roll away.
Once all of the planting was complete, we were able to give it its first official watering and take a step back to enjoy our accomplishment.
Obviously, the true enjoyment will come once some of the plants begin to yield some edible vegetables, and we can't wait. But at this point, so far so good. We're a few days past planting and everything is looking good. The onions have already started to sprout, a few plants have flowered, and overall it's looking pretty, green, and perky, the one exception being our beets. The jury is still out on them.
As the garden progressed, we'll fill you in on the various veggie's statuses. Overall, this was a fun project and something that anyone with a mild interest in gardening should have fun with. We are by no means gardening experts -- we fall somewhere between having a green and black thumb -- but it's fun and we're exited to learn more. The concepts of the Square Foot Garden were easy to follow and made sense for our application. I know Alex hates when I have ideas for the backyard, but I'm sure he'll enjoy the fruits, or should I say, vegetables of his labor in the coming months.
We're hopeful we won't run into any serious insect issues, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. A friend suggested purchasing citrronella plants as an all natural way to keep the bugs away. Sounds like a great idea, and might make the backyard a nicer place to be for us too.
If you've done any square foot gardening, have had success with a particular plant, or have any tips to share, please let us know.
Be sure to check out our garden update post. Two weeks after planting and the veggies are starting to take off.
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- Wendy & Alex