Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A year in my Garden # 13 - Square foot Gardening

I don't think I've written anything on the whats and hows of what McD and I are doing with the vegetable garden ... In previous entries you've seen the gorse clad hillside at the top part of our garden (as high as our two storie house ). The vision has been to remove the gorse forest and create a vegetable garden. The problem with that is the plot slants not only from north to south (in the southern hemisphere thats not ideal) but also slants from west to east ...Add to that the fact that there is perhaps an inch of soil only ..then thats on top of solid clay. Though fortunately mostly very rocky shale-like crumbly clay. Mostly.


The obvious thing for us to do was to create a set of raised beds where we could level off sections of the bank easily and so create a set of gardens all accessable from the paths and all filled with the best mixed soil we could get ...


The fun then of course was that we had to cart soil and timber from the entrance at the base of the house up a climbing pathway to the back of the house using a wheel barrow and then soil in two handled buckets climb the stepped pathway through a small wood to the vegie garden the height of a two story house ...


Fit !! Let me tell you its the best but most tiring, aching, painful fitness session possible :O) Thighs like tree trunks we now have and just as hard :O)





It still looks rough.. We still have a number of raised beds to put in place. Our terrible wet winter and now spring has slowed us down and delayed everything. Weekend after weekend rained out, too muddy and dangerous to do anything....




But now we have a number of beds in place and filled with vegetables ...And Strawberries :O) I'm trying to use only heirloom varieties of vegetables ...So far the seeds bought from individuals via "trademe" etc (NZ Ebay equivalent) has been fine with more than adequate germination ...I thought it might be far less ......


We are using the "square foot gardening' method devised some twenty years ago by Mel Bartholomew, but probably taken from the French intensive gardening in existance for far longer ... by the by really, the SFG book was an all round success and twenty years later he has revised and republished his book. It's well worth getting ... The basic principle is that you divide your bed (he recommends raised beds of only 6 inches deep!!) into 1 foot squares(hence the blue string across the beds in the pictures). Then he plants accordingly different vegetables in each square depending on size etc ...So 16 radishes or 4 lettuce heads of 1 cabbage and so on ... What you then get is a variety of vegetables (and flowers) that with succession planting can continue throughout the growing season. Without the book to hand at the moment (thanks to stepdaughter tidying up (for cash of course)) Mel reckons about 3-4x4 beds will keep a small family in vegetables and have some to spare ... We'll see ... You won't be storing additional potatoes etc for winter on that. We have a vegetable garden that when finished (and don't tell McD this - she should have read the book when I told her) will be in the range of 210 square feet almost 3 times that. So we will have a little more variety :O) and some to spare for the Son & Stepdaughter (just where can she have hidden my Book dammit) ......





Of course that doesn't include the Strawberries in a pot AND also the potatoes in Buckets and Dustbins..... (see previous entries).


As we've built the beds we've planted them immediately ..no point having them empty. So we have garlic and egyptian onions and cabbages and the like all ready growing some since june (this really has been a laborious exercise)


The Broad Beans have flowered.. A handsome flower indeed ... And the Bumble bees agree I'm glad to report ...Broad beans for Christmas day I hope ......





Courgettes or zuchinis ... Mel advocates growing them vertically up a frame ..... As with many plants.. Vine tomatoes etc ...





Tomatoes - We all know about burying them deep - up to their first leaves to promote additional rooting... You can also bury them almost horizontally up to their necks for the same reason ...This shallower planting though has the roots in the top of the soil which is much warmer - and so faster rooting ... I doubt its needed in raised beds so some are planted horizontally the rest deep planted ... we'll see ... It's surprising how quickly the head of the plant will bend itself vertically and head for the sky ..no need to try and force them and rich breaking ...






In the front - My giant Pumkin seeds !! at the back cucumber seeds ....






And then there's the rest of the garden - Spring flowers .... Spring scents and a strangely misplaced Mug of tea !!!































This is a NZ native orchid growning on the bank ... there used to be more :O\ only about the size of your little finger














Jim the "so called" gardener informs us we shouldn't plant the dahlias until November... The dahlias have other ideas .... This from the man who left a whole dahlia bed to rot for us over winter ...long story - we aint happy ....


He comes for 2 hours each fortnight to clear weeds and do odd jobs etc ... Great but he's cost us $$$$$ in lost plants .. (Stay Calm djd...., breathe deeply....I am at one with nature and the universe..breathe deeply ....I do not want to do violence to ex ozzie immigrants ....breathe breathe breathe )
























Damn those slugs & snails ...





Sunset from our balcony





The end of the day ... Now where's the sofa and a G&T !!!



vegetable garden, square foot gardening, potager garden, kitchen garden, allotment, pictures, Photography,

7 comments:

Kay said...

You both deserve to be very proud of yourselves! Wonderful results. I feel strangely proud of you both!

Kay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
keewee said...

All that hard work is gong to pay off for you both. Our weather has been unseasonably warm so far, so I have been able to get outside and get more done this year. I guess when the winter finally hits, it will be a bad one.

Garden Wise Guy said...

Sounds like you're working your ass off on those raised beds. You could save yourself a lot of sore butt muscles if you'd just more your garden to the northern hemisphere but then you run into all those immigration limitations. So, in a more practical approach, just suspend giant mirrors over your property at an altitude of approximately 50 meters and you can bounce in all the light you need. I won't charge you for this bit of consulting brilliance, but you owe me big time.

As for Bartholemew, I've always called his system the Anal Retentive Gardening Method, but if it works, YAHOO!

Later, skater.

Garden Wise Guy said...

Typo - "move" your garden to the northern hemisphere. Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!

Paul Callaghan said...

I'm still getting used to this blogging bit but it was great to see your garden. It is a lot of work isn't it.

Bri and Plum said...

Plum and I are well impressed with your healthy looking strawberries and broad beans, not a black fly in sight!! It looks like you have a lot of hard work to do but it's good for the soul, so they say!!