Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Yesterday I talked about Jan Shepard and her ideas for gardening. One of the things that she strongly promotes is Square Foot Gardening. She says especially if you only have a little garden space, you should learn about square foot gardening, to make the most of your space. I think that this is a fascinating concept. I want to talk a little more about this today as well as some other methods of gardening.
First: Square foot gardening. This method of gardening was invented by a man named Mel Bartholomew. He wrote a book about it called simply “Square Foot Gardening”. He has also had a show on PBS and his website is www.squarefootgardening.org. This method of gardening has really caught on and many others are promoting it as well.
Square Foot Gardening is the practice of planning small but intensively planted gardens. The square-foot gardening concept is simple: It’s a system of gardening that uses 4 foot by 4 foot plots subdivided into 1-foot squares. Build a raised bed, divide the space into sections of one square-foot each, and then plant vegetables in just the amount of space they need. This method is for growing a specific number of a particular type of vegetable to maximize space and facilitate ease of maintenance. The advantages of this system include reduced workload, less watering, easy weeding (and not much of it), and easy access to your crops. This is a great way to learn to grow some of your own food.
One particular site that has really good information is found here. Another good site is this one.If you have not tried this method of gardening before you will find great information and pictures at this site. Also, Mel’s book is available for purchase online, in most bookstores and probably in your public library. If your library does not have it, they can order it through the inter-library loan program.
Second: Container Gardening. If your vegetable gardening is limited by insufficient space or an unsuitable area, consider raising fresh, nutritious, homegrown vegetables in containers. A window sill, a patio, a balcony or a doorstep will provide sufficient space for a productive mini-garden. Problems with poor soil conditions can be easily overcome by switching to a container garden. Pest and weed management is easier. Container vegetable gardening is a sure way to introduce children to the rewards of vegetable gardening.
Almost any vegetable that will grow in a typical backyard garden will also do well as a container-grown plant. Vegetables that are ideally suited for growing in containers include broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green onions, green beans, leaf lettuce, squash, radishes, spinach and parsley. Pole beans and cucumbers also do well in this type of garden, but they do require considerably more space because of their large vines. Variety selection is extremely important.
Most varieties that will do well when planted in a yard garden will also do well in containers. If this is something you are interested in doing, here is a site that will guide you through the process from planting to harvesting and all the steps in between. It is a very informative site from Utah State University.
Third: Potatoes in a barrel. My newest project this year is planting potatoes in a barrel. I’ve never done it but already have my seed and my barrel. You can even use an old large garbage can or even a burlap bag. I’m excited to try it because you can produce so much food in such a little bit of space. If you missed the post I did on this last fall, you can find it at www.preparedness365.blogspot.com/2010/07/taters-in-barrel.html
Fourth: Seeds. As I'm writing this I am thinking that this should be #1 instead of fourth on the list. An ESSENTIAL part of food storage is storing garden seed. One thing that you need to remember is that the seeds you store should be Non-Hybrid seeds so that they can reproduce themselves.
My grandma lived through the depression and was careful with every resource she had, including garden seed. Each fall, we would spread the last picking of green beans out on a blanket and let them dry. It was my job to remove the beans (seed) from the pod, and save the beans in a bottle to plant the next year. This is a vivid memory for me. If you plant hybrid seeds, you cannot save your bean seed for another year because it will not reproduce again. Therefore be very selective in the seeds you buy. Unless the seeds specifically say on the package that they are non-hybrid, they usually are not.
Emergency Essentials has a non-hybrid garden seed on now. To see their prices and information go to this site (Sorry I can't get my links to work today.) http://beprepared.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_FG%20S011_A_name_E_Heirloom%20Seed%20Combo%20Pack
You can also order from Heirloom Seeds website for high quality Non-Hybrid seeds. The website for Heirloom seeds is http://www.heirloomseeds.com/
If you are starting your plants yourself, you may already have them planted. If not, don’t give up. You can purchase starts for any greenhouse We are fortunate that there are so many resources available to help us learn and study about gardening. It’s a good time to make a plan and prepare for what could be a great success for your family. Getting your family involved in your gardening plans can help ease your work load as well as teaching other members of your family about becoming more self-sufficient.