Tuesday, June 11, 2013

First Time Square Foot Gardener - Small Spaces

Over the winter I had started to plan for a raised bed garden.  Because I am a first time gardener I made sure to do my research on square foot gardening and compatible planting.  My goal was to use the space we had most effectively but also plant in a way each plant would help the one next to it grow or deter common bugs to the plant.  To do this I searched the internet and also purchased the 3 part PDF book by Emily Peery from my square foot gardening.
This is what the area looked like in the winter before the garden not real exciting
In early April we ordered a U-Shape raised bed garden from Naturalyards (7' by 8' with 2' wide beds).  Then I made up a garden template using Excel to try to determine what plants we needed and how many of them.
Each box is one square foot and the middle is my steppers and steppable flowers.

I knew some veggies we wanted for sure so, I started using Emily Peery book and the internet to find what worked best next to what and this is what I came up with (after doing it over and over again).

We had some minor changes after realizing the planting area isn't as big as I had thought as you lose about 6 inches because of the wood and trim

Before our beds came in my husband tilled up the area under the beds and removed the very rocky sandy soil we had down about 5 inches then he added some fresh top soil and we covered it with weed block.

When our beds came in early May we where ready to get to it.  We wasted no time in putting the bed together as they slide right together with pins.  It did take us some time to figure out what pieces go were and we where pretty confused on why we had supports for 3ft wide bed when ours was only 2ft wide.  But in the end once we got each piece in the right area it went right together.  

The next day Jerry put on the trim kit.  Really that was key to squaring out the bed and making it look finished.  

Now came the fun part (I say sarcastically).  Adding the dirt!!!  Now you can't just go and buy top soil because you need the right mix.  So I did as the Gardening Basic book said and we did 1 part Peat moss, 1 part vermiculite, 2 parts compost.  This meant we had to go to 3 different places to get the best price on each of these.  Jerry had to get a whole truck bed full of compost.  You can see our cu ft measurements on the above diagram.  We ended up with lots left over because the soil was so fluffy but as I said our yard can use the extra good soil so none of it will go to waste.  

To fill the bed Jerry shoveled the compost into a plastic bin 2 big scoops at a time and I put in the peat and vermiculite then we mixed lifted and dumped it in the bed.  Then Jerry would spread it out.  We did this for about 2 hours and boy our backs hurt.  But it was done.  

The following day I used twine and steaks to mark off the squares.  I discovered I couldn't get exactly all the squares I had thought I could so I needed to make some changes in my planting.  This just meant some of the herbs would get moved around.

Now it came to plant.  We have previously purchased our plants and kept some in large patio containers and others in the containers they came in until we could get the bed ready to go.  But now we got to plant everything.  The beans, carrots, garlic, and green onions went in as seeds or bulbs.  Mostly these were planted for fun or because they helped with pest control.
The little signs I had purchased from an Etsy seller the Common Sign they really make the garden!
Next our Lemon, Lime, Clementine and Pomegranate trees came in the mail.  We purchased them at Fast Growing Tree and the came in beautiful condition.  We purchased matching pots for the lemon, lime and clementine trees as they will need to come in during the coldest months.  After planting them it was time to add the stepping stones and steppable plants to the walking areas and mulch and grass seed as needed.  Jerry planted the pomegranate tree in our backyard as it can stand our NC winters.

In just two weeks time this is what our garden looks like today...

As you can see we still have some compost to work with and mulch we need to lay around the large bushes but I love our garden and we made the best use of space we could.  The bird feeder was my Mother's Day gift and I love watching all the different birds especially the cardinals come to the feeder. It's also great to have the birds around to eat those nasty bugs we don't want.

The view of our deck from the garden.  This pergola was put on last summer and it really made a world of difference.

Can you see my little humming bird friend that comes and goes all day.

A panoramic of our little garden area.

We are even using our old patio boxes for lettuce and the other one I am going to plant flowers.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of our little compact garden and I hope it continues to grow and gives us lots of flowers, veggies and herbs.  We have already enjoyed seeing the many visitors it has brought us.

Humming bird


Bees working hard

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