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Second Year: Square Foot Gardening

Buttercrunch lettuce

Last year, we tried something new with our family garden. We happened upon the method called The New Square Foot Gardening.   The Square Foot Gardening method has been around for years, but has now been completely revised and made 100% easier by creator Mel Bartholomew.  He makes gardening sounds so easy, so weed-free, so no-digging-needed, that we had to give it a try!  And it was very easy and rewarding!  For the first time, we were able to harvest produce that could never successfully grow—like good lettuce right into the summer, herbs, carrots, eggplants, and more.  If you would like to read about how we did it, here’s some of my previous posts about it:

A New Way to Garden

Carrots, Really?

Cilantro, the herb that makes salsa so delicious, thrives in the cool weather of spring

I thought you might like to see what’s happening this year, our second year of Square Foot Gardening. I got excited and had my husband build me 3 more boxes, so this year I have room to make one for flowers only, which is a fun luxury.  I planted pink cosmos, petunias, pink and purple bachelor’s buttons, snapdragons, zinnias, and purple morning glories to climb up the fence.  I can’t wait to see how stunning of a color spot it will be in the garden!

Our warm growing weather is just starting—in fact we had a freeze just a few days ago, but already I have enough in my garden beds for a big salad each day:  lettuce, cilantro, parsley, radishes, collards, kale and collards are all happy to grow, even in cool weather.  All is neatly growing in its designated square foot space and it looks quite tidy!

We followed the Square Foot Gardener’s recommendation to put our beds to sleep last winter by removing the plants that don’t overwinter, and covering the 4′ x 4′ beds with a blanket (we stocked up for cheap at yard sales). So, when we uncovered our garden boxes this spring, they had escaped the torrent of weed seeds blown in from winter storms, and there is hardly a weed in to be found.  We also stirred the surface of the soil, adding a little compost, so that probably helped with weeds not getting a footing.

Red Sails lettuce is so pretty in the salad bowl

One of the things that appeals to me about this new method of gardening is that I don’t have to dig or even use hand tools anymore!  The soil is so loose and lovely, I just use my hands to scoop a little hole to plant seedlings in, or to pull out radishes and carrots.  There is really no need for a shovel! Nor backbreaking digging work!

I am thrilled to have lots and lots of lettuce, as we use about a head a day at my house. And with parsely, cilantro, dill, collards, green onions and kale, my salad is super nutritious!

Radishes are not anyone’s favorite food, but it is hard not to like them when they pop right up just a few days after you plant them, and are ready to eat in a few weeks.  They are the perfect plant for little ones to start out with—they are so non-fussy about soil conditions or weather and so fast to grow!  And they are pretty and bright sliced into a salad. Instead of dedicating an entire square foot square to radishes, I just tuck them in every little nook and cranny—after all, they are not going to be permanent residents.  So there are radishes growing around my pepper plants and around my eggplants and other slower-growing large plants that occupy an entire square foot of room when full grown.

Easy-breezy radishes!

This is a fun hobby, a lovely and productive way to be outdoors, and a great way to have access to healthy, homegrown, fresh veggies.

If you want to try this method yourself, take a look at this fun-to-read, enthusiastic book that tells you just how to do it, right down to the details:  The New Square Foot GardeningHope you have a great garden this summer!

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