Garden

I started "Squarefoot Gardening" in my backyard a few years ago because my neighbor gave me a book about the "method" and since she had a beautiful veggie garden going, it inspired me to try my own. 
Growing up my grandmother was always growing vegetables of all kinds in our garden. But she did it the "traditional" way which is the "rows" requiring a lot of digging, space and maintenance. 

Having lived in Texas for nearly 6 years I've got a little experience when it comes to the hard and dry Texas soil (we live in an area with LOTS of limestone, so unless you have a tanker bar, you will NOT be able to dig a hole to plant a young tree or even a potted plant in under 30 minutes). And I've had my fair share of sweaty times with Texas weeds. If you don't have a green thumb, don't worry, one thing you can ALWAYS grow in Texas is weeds and cactus! Can't kill neither. Promise.

So back to the veggies.

The GREAT things I can tell you about Squarefoot gardening are that you 
  • don't need a lot of space
  • won't have problems with weeds
  • need less watering
  • grow more crops in less space
  • once "built" can be reused every year with little cost
  • is "mobile", can be relocated
  • loose soil that doesn't require "digging" so perfect for people who don't like or can't do much physical work
The only "negative" I can think of is that the initial cost of building the boxes and getting the components for the soil is a bit higher than traditional gardening, but it will be cost effective as you can reuse it every year.

What you'll need for your soil:

1. Vermiculite
available in nurseries in bags. A very light (at first water 'repellent' but then water 'retaining' component that looks like small rocks but is almost as light as styrofoam. It is sometimes used in packages when shipping fragile items. This is your FIRST component.







2. Peat Moss

You can find this at the nursery, but also at Walmart or Home Improvement stores. Sold in "bales". Again this is another water retaining component that will at first be water repelling. More on this "feature" later. This is your SECOND component.




 3. Compost

The best THIRD component would be to find as many different types of compost you can find. For this you have to shop around, various nurseries, big box stores and home improvement stores will have different types. By types I mean for example, Manure compost, Cotton bark, mushroom compost etc.
But since I have 2 horses and now 6 chickens that provide me with their fertilizer, I only use my manure comopost (compost - NOT fresh manure! It will burn your veggies!). This is the THIRD component.





Now what you'll need is either a large tarp (available at Walmart, Tractor supply stores, Home improvement stores) or a kiddie pool. Add 1/3 of each component so 
  • 1/3 Vermiculite
  • 1/3 Peat Moss
  • 1/3 Compost (either one kind or a combination of various types)
Using a water hose, add water and as you're adding water, mix up the components thoroughly until they're well combined. You will have to frequently spray water on it - and don't do this while it's too windy because the lightness of Vermiculite and the peat moss will cause these to blow all over). Best method is to have one person spray and a second person mixing it. Once it's mixed it'll be a moist dark soil with light specks in it (vermiculite).




What you'll need for your raised boxes:
  • 2x6 boards (untreated)
  • 4x4 posts for corners (or scrap pieces of 2x4 or 2x6)
  • screws
  • electric screwdriver
  • circular saw
Measure and mark your boards. Think "square foot" so build the boxes either 2x2 feet, 3x3 feet or 4x4 feet. 
A 2x2 foot box will give you 4 square feet which for example is big enough for 4 tomato plants (1 per square foot) or 16 lettuce plants (4 per square foot). 
Cut the boards at your marking and screw them in at the corner. I only added short pieces of 4x4 in two opposite corners to give it more sturdiness.



In order to prevent weeds from growing through, add thick foil (we're in Texas, weed control fabric gets laughed at by Texas weeds... so thick foil it is!), add your boxes, fill with soil.



If you'd like, add a grid so you can easily see your squares. You can make this out of trim (inexpensive at home improvement stores) or string. Then you can go ahead and add your veggies.



And if you put enough foil down you can add some gravel and stepping stones and decorative plants


My blackberry bush got a 4x4 box all by itself


Once you've harvested a square - add a handful of compost before adding new plants or seeds.

As far as when to plant what this of course varies from area to area and being in Texas a lot of it is trial and error for me. I now know the best time to grow lettuce is in spring. Summers are too hot and if you get one cold day in fall they will be ruined.
I usually start putting stuff out mid March, but if we get another very cold day (below 40F) I hang cotton curtains over the plants to prevent them from freezing (if fabric touches the plant it won't freeze it - plastic will).
I wait with peppers and basil until I'm sure it won't freeze again as they will die instantly.

Keep checking back because I plan on trying something new for my potatos this year! 
I will update this when I do. 

This post is to get you started and with this basic knowledge you can have your garden up and running 
but you can find more extensive info on www.squarefootgardening.com


Did you know you can easily grow pineapple plants yourself? 
Just cut the top off a store bought pineapple, stick in soil, add some compost and water to the leaves (pineapples take in the water and nutrients through the leaves) and watch it grow! They grow just about anywhere in any soil, I had one growing all summer in a pot on my very hot and sunny patio. Unfortunately when I didn't bring it in during the first bad frost in fall it died on me. But I already have a new one growing in my garden right now. :)


Have fun with your garden! 
And when you're done setting up yours - 
visit my facebook page and post pictures!

When you get salad for dinner from the garden - pull the leaves off and leave the root in - it'll grow again!
Also you can pretty much "replant" anything you buy at the store, such as lettuce, cabbage, green onions, garlic! Even if it doesn't have a root, just stick the base in the ground and watch it grow!







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