This year marks my fourth year of square foot gardening at a high altitude (6,000 ft). I have had great success with my garden, and a couple of small failures in between. I was told that I couldn’t grow tomatoes or other “warm weather” plants up here but I have proved everyone wrong and grow some pretty delicious tomatoes!
My garden boxes:
- 3 – 4×4′ boxes
- 4 – 4×8′ boxes
- 6 – 1×3′ boxes
I could not be more in love with my little garden. My husband built all of my boxes out of scrap lumber so it didn’t cost us much. I use the standard “Mel’s Mix” from the Square Foot Gardening book:
- 1 part peat moss
- 1 part compost
- 1 part vermiculite
I haven’t had any issues with this mix, and I don’t add anything to it. I merely turn the soil over each spring to get it nice and fluffy for planting!
Planning my garden each year is therapeutic for me. I love sitting down with my notebook and a pen and figuring out exactly what I want, and where I want it. I truly enjoy going over which seeds I have and what I will need to order.
I was raised picking garbage bags full of peas each summer, hauling them to our cold basement, and sitting for hours shelling them into massive bowls. I will never forget the feeling of running my hands through all of those peas! My mom would then freeze them and we would live off those veggies until the next year.
Growing up with a big garden and seeing how it could feed a family, I knew that I wanted one for my own family some day. I wanted my kids to learn how to plant and care for a garden, and know what it’s like to run out and pick a handful of peas or bite into a fresh garden carrot with the dirt still on it.
I use a companion planting method for my garden to keep things organic. Companion planting is planting certain vegetables/herbs/flowers together to ward off bugs and to give the best nutrients to those plants. I use this companion planting chart to plan out where I put things.
How I plan my garden each Spring:
- draw out my garden — I show each box and it’s squares so I know what I have to work with.
- get out my seeds — see what I have, what I am running low on, and decide if I want to try anything new.
- consult the companion planting chart — refresh on which plants I definitely DON’T want beside each other.
- plot each square — in square foot gardening, you plant a certain number of veggies/flowers in each square, depending on the space they take up. For example, you can plant 9 carrots per square foot, but only 4 romaine lettuce or spinach per square foot. Each veggie takes up a different amount of room. I plot according to how much room each plant needs, taking into consideration the companion chart. I will go over this in detail in my next post on the subject.
- prep my garden — I go out and turn over the soil, remove big rocks that have made their way in there over the winter, put up my trellises, and lay out my grid. On each side of the boxes are nails sticking up marking each foot. I tie twine around those nails to form the grid. I make a grid so that I can easily see where to plant and I know what is in each square.
After that, it’s time for PLANTING! In my next gardening post I will discuss exactly how I plant my square foot garden.