Green gardening for St. Pat's Day!
So how does it all fit together?
I made some pretty diagrams for you today. We're going to combine what we've learned in Square Foot Gardening and the Louise Riotte books.
Let's say, for sake of example, that you've made a true Square Foot Garden, which is 4 feet x 4 feet. You've built the boxes, and even gone so far as to fill them. Here's how you can combine the two principles, easily I might add.
Here's example one - a tomato bed. Everyone loves to grow tomatoes. They are easy to grow. Everyone eats them, and when grown in your own backyard their flavor is so superior to what you'd buy in a store. By the way, if you've never gardened before, this is a bed I would HIGHLY recommend starting with. These are all plants that are pretty easy to grow.
So here's another one. These are brassicas - the cabbage family. You'll notice that it looks pretty similar.
So here's what we do with our beds when they are potato beds for a season. Remember our beds are 4 feet x 16 feet.
So let's make you a bed that you can start with in Northern Illinois, in early spring. Just remember - be ready to cover at a moment's notice!!!!!
Did I set your head spinning with ideas? Well, the best rule to remember is to only plant and grow what you know your family will eat. Start there, then look for ways to interplant to conserve space and benefit the plants. Start seeds now for planting in your summer garden, and in a few weeks you can start your early spring garden right in the dirt. When your summer is hitting its peak, start thinking about what will enjoy the cooler weather of fall before frost. Spinach is a good choice, and so are lettuces. Both will grow quickly because of the warmer soil, but the cool nights and shorter days will keep them from bolting (going to seed).
Here's your fancy word of the day: succession planting. That's what it's called when you follow this type of crop rotation. You can now impress all your neighbors and co-workers by telling them you are developing a crop rotation schedule for your garden. And trust me, they'll be impressed!
Something else to remember - add plenty - as in lots and lots - of organic matter (i.e., compost) to the soil between plantings. You can also use organic fertilizers, applied per package directions. Here's why: your beets will "eat" the nutrition from the soil, and whatever they use up is now on your plate. The plant going in the soil behind those beets or snow peas or lettuces needs that nutrition, too. Be sure to work it in thoroughly so you get good production from those that come behind.
To make your own garden plans, use some graph paper and a PENCIL (have an eraser handy). Think about how much space each plant needs, then sketch it out. Read the books to determine which plants will play nicely with others. Add visual interest and pest protection with flowers and herbs. Put larger, taller plants in the center, then work down and out. Have fun with it - embrace it as a creative challenge, not a chore.
So instead of dreaming tonight in black and white, or in color - dream in dirt!