This is the summer.
We’re finally going to do it right.
The garden is almost complete.
In years past we have tried several times to grow a decent vegetable garden. First, in Eagle Mountain we tried more or less marking off a small garden plot and tossing some seeds in the ground. I watered it when I remembered, and some stuff actually grew. The broccoli was almost ready to eat. We had actually tasted a few green beans that were just about ripe. It was almost ready to provide enough greens for a whole salad for dinner. Then the grasshoppers showed up, and in the space of less than 5 hours they ate the whole thing. Gone. Nothing left but grasshopper poop.
We were so mad we moved to a rental where we were not allowed to plant stuff in the yard, so we had a good excuse not to try again.
Then we bought our own house in Riverton, and demolished the old chicken coop from owners past to make a place for a garden. This time things went a little better – we tilled up the dirt, tried to add some soil conditioner, laid it all out in nice, even rows and planted everything from corn to tomatoes, green beans to carrots. We even rigged up the irrigation system for the house to make sure some water was getting into the garden, so it would get watered when I remembered to water the grass.
This time we actually did get a few tasty things out of the garden – but then one day the pumpkin plant decided it had had enough of the rest of the veggies and it overtook everything. The lettuce went on a growing spree and shot up seed stalks, and the green beans went waaaaay past their prime on the vine. Don’t even ask about the weeds. Wow.
Those of you who garden will recognize this as the behavior of a neglected garden – and it was. We started with good intentions, but then Christine became pregnant, and that was pretty much that. My thumbs are brown, so I was little help.
Fast forward to this year. My wife is determined that we will do a better job, and we have taken a totally different approach than in years past. Instead of doing the traditional row-based gardening, where you waste a ton of space between rows, water dirt you have to walk on, and spend more time weeding than sleeping all summer, we are using the Square Foot Gardening method, from Mel Bartholomew.
Finding the details on the philosophy of square foot gardening will be left as an exercise to the reader, but here are some neat pictures of some of our construction.
First, I built some boxes:
(ours have bottoms so we can move them if necessary)
Next you gotta mix a lot of compost:
And vermiculite and peat moss:
Let your kids play in the dirt:
Then make them do the mixing:
C’mon Isaac! It’s almost time for lunch! Mix Faster!
Looks like dirt, smells a lot different. 😉
Now that it’s mixed, make a tarp-dirt burrito:
Then give your kids the smallest trowels you can find and make them fill your boxes. This will keep them busy most of the afternoon:
Once the box is filled, toss your grid on top and you’re ready to plant!
These pictures are of just the first 2 boxes we put together. All said, we built 11 different boxes of various dimensions (including some little ones for the kids to use) and have just gotten some of our starts planted out in them. Stay tuned to see what springs up out of all our hard work, and see if this really does turn out to be the year we finally grow our garden right.
If we like you, we may even share some!