Saturday, May 16, 2009

Getting Started

My grandfather passed on his love of gardening to me. Unfortunately my experiences with gardening have been disheartening for the most part here in Kansas. This has mainly been due to the fact I cannot keep the weeds at bay.

While surfing the net I discovered square foot gardening. This looked like a method I use successfully so off I went in search of Mel's book. I read it twice, layed out my garden plan and proceeded to build. Although Mel and many others suggest starting small, it isn't in my nature to half do a project. I had in mind what I wanted my garden to look like and what I size I wanted. I wasn't going to be satisfied with a couple small beds.
The garden design had to meet two important criteria...1. Ease of maintenance and 2. It had to be cute.

Between the rainy weather we've had and my long hours at work, it has been a challenge to get my garden built. I am about two-thirds the way through and so far it is turning out to be my new sanctuary.

Garden space isn't an issue for me. We have 3 acres of land for me to play on so I choose to use a portion of my old garden site. My original garden was approximtely 5,000 square feet of raised beds. In a way I hated to abandon my old way of gardening because it took me many years to get this old hard clay transformed into decent garden soil.

After several trips to different stores I found all the material I need to begin.

I probably made what some would call a mistake, I purchased treated lumber. I bought the lumber before I had read that it could contain harmful chemicals. It was too late to take the lumber back since I had already cut it. In the end, I didn't think it would matter much anyway since I had planned on painting the wood. After all, I was going for one of my main objectives...cuteness. As an added precaution I stapled 6 mil plastic to the inside walls to keep the soil from making contact with the wood.

My first bed is for strawberries only. All my beds are 12 inches deep with the first six inches being 100% compost for the local land fill. My ladybug beds are 4 ft wide and 5 ft long. Every bed is set on several layers of cardboard and topped off with landscaping material.

Two other issues I needed to address was keeping the pets out of the garden and providing trellis for my beans and vining plants. This problem was solved with the addition of a fence. Keeping with the cute theme my handy man hubby designed and built the fence and entrance way complete with an arch for my vining crops. One 2x4 bed is located on each side of the arch and each are planted with cantalope, watermelon and cucumbers.

Progress is slow but steady. Cardboard and landscaping fabric is the foundation for my entire garden including the pathways. I'm trying to take an aggressive proactive stance on obtaining a virtual weed-free garden. The pathways are topped off with a layer of cypress mulch.

Last year I was very successful with container gardening of flowers around my house. I decided to plant my herbs in pots so I could over winter them inside this year. My theory being, having fresh herbs all winter and saving the expense of replanting next spring.

After lots more web searching I discovered these homemade earth boxes. I decided these would be perfect for my tomatoes and I wouldn't have to be concerned with using up the extra space in my sqf beds. It took a couple of weeks before I got all four built and planted but I really like the way they fit into my sqf garden.

So far things are doing well. I'm enjoying the results. I must say though, I'll be glad when all the construction process is finished and I can concentrate of planting and harvesting my garden.

Hopefully I'll be able to make weekly posts to share my progress. In the mean time, I'd like to thank all the folks who post to the gardenweb forms who answered my questions and gave me the extra encouagement.

Happy Gardening!