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Posts Tagged ‘square foot gardening’

Our trellis rig for the peas (snow peas here).

Our trellis rig for the peas (snow peas here).

One benefit to square foot gardening is everything is on a grid. That’s also part of its problem (for us anyway). When planting the peas earlier this year, I plopped the seeds — eight per square — in the soil and let nature take its course. It wasn’t until a week or so later that I realized my planting method was flawed.

I didn’t pay attention to where I put the seeds and thus created the “great trellis challenge” of 2015. A couple of weeks ago, the peas were growing happily, with tendrils looking for something to climb. We had to figure it out. I’ll credit my brilliant husband, Matt, for coming up with this.

We did our best to untangle the plants from each other and put two stakes in between the “rows” of peas. Then we took this bendable wire fencing we’ve had for years, folded it and slid the rig over the stakes. It’s got big enough squares to weave the peas in and out where needed, but not so big that the peas need to climb huge gaps. Also, peas are easy to train but require a bit of care because they’re rather fragile.

The wire & stake trellis for the peas (snow peas here).

The wire & stake trellis for the peas (snow peas here).

And when we needed to add another row because the peas grew even taller? We just added one more piece to the top. Admittedly, it’s quite a haphazard set up, but it was cheap and it works!

When the peas are done and the beans have started to grow, we’ll just move it where we need it. Though this time I’ll be more aware of where I’m planting the seeds.

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In the past couple years, I’ve heard a lot about square foot gardening. It keeps coming up in Google searches and the 500 Gardens program we’re part of recommends it to all of the new gardeners in Madisonville.

Our garden grid made out of old blinds.

Our garden grid made out of old blinds.

So what is square foot gardening? It’s a method that lets you grow more in a smaller space and is great for small gardens. We’ve half-tried this in the past and decided this year to go for it (almost) all the way.

The essence is breaking your garden bed into grids — one square foot at a time — and planting one to 16 plants per square foot. How do you decide? It’s all based on the plant spacing recommended on the seed packet or transplant tag: 3 inch spacing is 16 per square; 4 inch spacing is 9 per square, and so on. This has a good explanation of spacing as well as which plants typically work in which spacing plan.

This is what happened to our grid after a storm. It was easy to fix and put back together.

This is what happened to our grid after a storm. It was easy to fix.

It also helps to have a grid to better visualize where you’re planting everything and the Mel Bartholomew book says you need a grid to be “a true square foot garden.” Even though I think a grid drawn in the dirt would suffice, we decided to make a real grid this year.

Our gridlines are actually slats from old blinds that the cats have previously destroyed and they worked out really well. They are “secured” with a nail through the holes already in the slats.

An errant onion in a totally different bed. Squirrels probably dug it up

An errant onion in a  different bed. Squirrels probably dug it up

I will say the grids helped already.

When I was checking on our plants, I noticed a couple of onions weren’t poking through (we had nine per square). I was able to find a few where they were supposed to be but a couple of bulbs were missing. One I found in the next bed over, lying by the garlic. I suspect squirrels are responsible.

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