Last year, I built a square-foot garden and had a great time watching it grow.  The weather last year was bonkers.  I think I built the garden in April, and planted it shortly after that.  This year we still had snow into May, which changed things a little.

My 2012 garden was so much fun, but I learned that some plants didn’t do very well in our back yard.  We have a bunch of squirrels and birds, and I didn’t get one ripe tomato out of my garden.  I’d watch the tomatoes develop and slowly turn from green to red.  As soon as it would be ready to pick, I’d go out to find the tomato full of beak-shaped holes, or on the ground and half-eaten.  Similarly, the peppers didn’t fare well.  The onions were fun, but they produced really tiny onions.  What really worked were snap peas, carrots, potatoes, and spinach.

Before it frosted, I planted two squares of garlic to over-winter.  We thought we might be moving as soon as January 2013, so it was a little bit of a gamble.  Even though the onions were small, I thought that over-wintered garlic might be good.

Then I planted eight more squares on Memorial Day weekend: four squares of peas, two squares of carrots, two squares of kale.  Then I mostly left it alone.  We’ve had a really rainy spring/early summer, and the plants have done well, despite my neglect.

My plan, on Memorial Day, was to plant the third row with potatoes, and the front right two squares with lettuces, and to let the garlic grow all summer.

I went to weed the garden on Saturday morning, while Alan worked on finishing up the siding.  The garlic shoots had turned brown and dry, so I decided to see if they were ready to harvest. [I never got the garlic scape–I wonder if I missed something…]

The heads are on the small side, but I’m going to try to make this recipe with fresh garlic.  Yum!

I tried to buy seed potatoes from Home Depot this year, but they were really squishy and gross, so I didn’t.  I meant to get to a garden store to buy them, but I never got around to it.

In order to fill out the garden (both because I love vegetables, and to look good when we show the house), I planted the rest of the squares with seeds I had knocking around.  I planted two more squares of kale, and two more squares of carrots.  They’re growing well, and it’ll be a nice second harvest.  I planted four squares of spinach in the entire front row.  It should be mature in 48 days, which means we may or may not get it before we move.

I highly recommend the square foot gardening method.  Vegetable gardens have always intimidated me, but this one works so well.  There’s a bit of technique to it: building the raised bed, installing the dividers (they sit above the garden; they’re not dug into the dirt), preparing the correct blend of planting mixture, knowing how many of each type of vegetable can be planted in a square (one, two, four, nine, or sixteen).  It all seems worth it.  The dirt blend is designed to be good at draining, and also fairly loose, which makes weeding really easy.

Like I said, I planted potatoes and carrots last year, which need a bit of depth, and it worked fine.  The typical square foot garden only requires six inches of dirt, I believe.  This garden is ten inches deep, which gives that extra depth for root vegetables.

I plan on setting up at least one square foot garden in our new house in Hartford.  Ideally, I’d like a whole garden dedicated to asparagus (it’s perennial, but it takes a couple of years to get started), a whole garden for cabbages and broccoli, since you can only plant one per square, a whole garden for root vegetables, and then at least one garden for the rest: climbing fruits and vegetables and other leafy greens (and peppers!  if I can get them to grow).  One of my life list goals is to grow all the vegetables we eat one summer (and if I can get really good at canning, for one whole year!).

Happy gardening, all!


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