Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our Square Foot Garden Adventure

As I sit here trying to remember just what it was that made me want to try a garden this year, I'm having a hard time putting my finger on it.  I know part of it was wanting to work on eating better and hoping that growing our own veggies would encourage that.  And of course, the educational value of it, especially since I knew we'd be studying plants this spring.  Nothing like hands-on learning!  I suppose the other contributing factor was hearing that the square foot gardening method was simple and could be done on a small scale (remember the cucumbers, mom? *grin*).  So, off to the library I went!

After reading Mel Bartholomew's All New Square Foot Gardening, I was chomping at the bit.  It really sounded like something we could do--so much less intimidating than plowing up a section of the yard, figuring out if the soil was good for planting (probably not, from what I've heard) and treating it if not, and then spending lots of time planting, weeding, watering, harvesting . . . the smaller scale and simplicity of the square foot method sounded like fun.  Plus, each square would be small enough that we could try several different things--surely *something* would work!

So we decided to go for it.  We got the supplies to build a 4x4 ft. square (divided into 1 sq. ft. sections, as you'll see) for me and a 2x4 ft. rectangle for the boys to share.  The initial outlay this year was a little expensive (for our budget, anyway!), but pretty much all we should need to pay for in the future is compost, seeds, and any plants we want to buy to transplant.

Aaron built the frames (thanks, hon!) and then we put together the soil mixture suggested in the book, filled the frames, and watered the soil.

A few days later (after Aaron had added the grid to mark out the square foot sections), the boys and I got busy planting seeds.  I let them choose what to plant in their squares (keeping in mind the growing season and nixing a couple of things that would've been too much for the small space).

Connor chose carrots, johnny jump-ups, marigolds, and lobelia, while Brennan chose lettuce (which he won't eat!) and zinnias.  The bigger plot has (or will have!) carrots, lettuce, marigolds, cilantro, cucumbers, and petunias.  After just a couple of days, we started seeing sprouts!  (I do have pics, but they're really hard to see.)

We bought some strawberry plants already started and transplanted them, along with some petunias (I had gotten the petunias to use one of them in a science lesson, and I figured we'd just plant the rest in the garden).

After about a week and a half, we had some pretty good sprouts--we were all excited. *grin*
Brennan's zinnias are definitely the front-runners, size-wise



Connor and I will be working on thinning seedlings, planting cucumbers, and adding to his garden journal tomorrow, so we'll get some more pictures then.  We also have a tomato plant (in a container).  I had planned to plant our own or transplant a small one, but when I saw one already well along (with flowers and even a few tiny tomatoes already growing) that was less expensive than what it would cost to get the stuff to do it myself, I figured we'd go that route.  

So far we're having fun, the boys are getting some hands-on learning about plants, and hopefully we'll get at least some home-grown produce out of it!

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