This post is l-o-n-g overdue! In late April we got lots of gardening done! I'm determined to reduce our food bill so vegetable gardening has definitely been beckoning. Even though I've wanted to do this years ago when we first moved here, I guess my having a bit more time after homeschooling made it happen. I hearkened back to my earlier gardening years by using one of my favorite resources, Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.
I first heard about him when my kids were toddlers. Back then we were living in North Texas and gardening with interesting plots of land. We lived on base housing where the back yard was a shared square of a courtyard, with only an interestingly small triangle being our responsibility. I made the most of it by planting a few vegetables and they did produce! I put flower gardens out front where we won Yard of the Month and Yard of the Quarter. Eventually we got a slightly larger house where we had a much larger yard. This is when my parents told me about the book when I saw their interesting non-conventional garden. I followed suit in my next few houses with good results. I even had enough produce for freezing and canning! Then I got busy with homeschooling...
To make room for all my homeschool books over the years I had gotten rid of my first copy of Square Foot Gardening. It is loaded with a lot of useful information like regional freeze charts for spring and summer. I have Texas dates memorized but Northern Virginia is a whole new world. I found this copy at a used bookstore that I got for free with trade-in.
Part of the slow-down too, was that my husband could not settle on a wood type that we could afford. He asked me to do some research and I found kits at Lowes. I asked him to buy one, but instead he bought two. His thinking was to make it twice as high to keep out the bunnies, especially since they were trying to make a home in this very spot.
He was concerned about animals digging from underneath, so I suggested putting in some fencing in the bottom.
The last freeze date for Northern Virgina is April 15, and here it was! Time to go shopping. I remember that it was a cold and blustery day...not my idea of fun gardening. Sadly, Lowes was nearly out of all of their seedlings, so I was quite limited in what I could choose. Major disappointment! How I miss my favorite San Antonio nursery, Rainbow Gardens. I highly recommend them! They have a huge selection with lots of information in written form with each plant. Also the staff know everything. Unlike here. =( Therefore this garden is a huge experiment.
Guess who was watching? Baby bunny! Hmm....
Doesn't look like much yet. The idea is that we waste a lot of time and money gardening the old-fashioned way. Planting 4 seeds per spot only to return a few weeks later to pull out 3, is a waste. Then planting entire rows of tomatoes, entire rows of squashes, entire rows of lettuces, etc, etc, etc, is a waste. Only plant what you need! Each plant only requires so much space, so much can be packed into a square foot garden. Here I have lots of onions in all the extra spaces because I should be able to harvest them before the roots of the larger plants need the space.
Here is a chart of what I have planted. I still need to find zucchini. A few weeks later when we were at Mount Vernon, I found a Roma tomato plant (the only type my husband eats), so that has since been planted.
After weeding all the flower gardens out front, I got busy once again, so I haven't done much more with the garden. However my husband keeps checking on it and watering it, though we've had some lovely rains that help. On Memorial Day my husband announced that we had a Roma tomato on the vine!
He's also added supports for the plants, and I need to review the chapter in the Square Foot Gardening book on pruning to maximize the yield for the space.
I'm going to do my lettuces and spinach separately in containers under the deck with more wiring over the top to keep the deer out. I'm hoping the deer stay out of the square foot gardening. Tomorrow might be a good gardening day. I'm hoping because there is a lot of work to do!