Well fair readers, when last we left, I had ripped out the “eyesore” of the wooden garden box (per the LL, not my own personal belief regarding the beautiful box) and removed it to my mom’s house. While figuring out how best to tackle the large garden area along our garage (think 2.5′ x 16′) we got our jalapenos and strawberries planted in individual plastic containers, and our herb boxes going. Yet none of this addressed how best to utilize my huge garden plot, without the wooden box that I had originally built for it. Ultimately, I decided to just do exactly what I was originally going to do, only without the beauty of my wooden boxes.
I made a quick graph on computer paper so that I could determine what plants I wanted to put where in the garden plot. Now, here’s a quick hint — according to Mel ( my new gardening best friend who I’ve never met), not everything has to be at a 1 plant to 1 square ratio. As in, there are certain plants that you can pack in more than just 1 into the square foot area that you’ve allocated to them. I know! What great news. I can maximize my beans and peas and carrots and onions, while still growing 1 red pepper plant behind them.
After consulting with Mel, I divided up the plot into two long rows of square foot sections. They actually ended up being a little more than 12″ in depth, as I had 2.5 feet, less the 4 inches allocated to my brick and fence exterior. I knew from last year’s garden plot that our cucumber plant will grow absolutely out of control, and will need support. This was the first year that we were doing beans and peas, but I’d read in my friend Tina’s blog (and others) that you really need good support for those plants as well. And, I knew from previous experience that our bell pepper plants would need some structure as well. Herbs, lettuce, carrots and onions, on the other hand, do just fine without any type of structural support. Therefore, I decided that along the back row of the plot, would be all of the plants that needed structural assistance Smaller plants would be in the front.
Patrick and I discussed what our gardening/eating goals were and we decided to plant the following: cucumbers, beans, snap peas, red pepper, green pepper, yellow pepper, onions, lettuce, mint, cilantro, oregano, basil, and carrots. Off to Lowe’s! I got to Lowe’s, realized that although their flower selection was fantastic they didn’t have much in veggies and herbs, and I headed to Home Depot. Once at HD, I was able to get starter plants of the cucumbers, peppers, and herbs. Based on the seedling start times and harvest times for the remainder of the veggies, I decided to try my hand with seeds and starting those from scratch.
With plants and seeds purchased, and a break in the rain on the Sunday that I just happened to decide to do all this, I headed outside to work. Lucky for me, I had already prepped the soil and done all that hard work, so my faithful companion for the day (Scout, my sister-in-law’s pug who was staying with us for a few days) and I set off to work. Note: our pug, Oscar, is not the biggest fan of dogging my steps in the garden and following me around. He’s learned by now that I’m not going anywhere and that I’m not doing anything to interest him, so he just kicked back for some sun on the deck while we worked.
I was still determined to use the Square Foot Gardening Method, as outlined by Mel Bartholomew in his popular gardening book. I knew I had 2.5′ in depth to work with, and 125″ in length. I got my trusty tape measure out, along with my twine and I started by blocking off my garden plot into 12″ square areas.
For the back row of plants, working left to right, I planted the squares as follows:
Square 1: 2 cucumber plants
Square 2: red bell pepper
Square 3: green bell pepper
Square 4: yellow bell pepper
Square 5: bush beans (started from seeds)
Square 6: snap peas (started from seeds)
Square 7: carrots (started from seeds)
For the front row of plants, the squares are planted as follows:
Square 1: Basil
Square 2: Mint
Square 3: Cilantro
Square 4: Greek Oregano
Square 5: Boston Bibb Lettuce (started from seeds)
Square 6: Mixed Greens Lettuce (started from seeds)
Square 7: Onions (started from seeds)
This is how it all looked the day we did the planting:
And, some up close pictures of how the individual plants look:
Obviously, the last picture is of the seedlings that I planted. I left the wrappers as indicators of what we had planted until they started to produce. Patrick helped me install the little wooden fencing that I had gotten at Lowe’s, which has helped keep Oscar out of the garden. (Confession: I had nightmares of Oscar jumping into the garden plot and doing his little pug kick and tossing my seeds every which way into the wind.) It seems that the fence, at about 14 inches high, has proven to be a deterrent for our lazy pug when it comes to jumping and catapulting his body around.
Our last project for the Sunday was to get the tomatoes into the upside down tomato planter. The tomato planter can handle 3 tomato plants, so I had purchased starter plants of beefsteak, plum and large cherry tomatoes. In my opinion, there is nothing more beautiful than a good looking and healthy tomato plant, just knowing what I’m going to be eating in about 2 months on my salads:
As always, once the plants were in the ground and in their planters there was still more work to be done, but it seemed like a good stopping point on that particular day. The garden looked GREAT! Our plants were in, our seeds were planted, the fence was up, and it was still warm and sunny outside. The next morning I pruned the tomato and pepper plants back so that they could focus all their growing energies into the main shoots.
It was time to sit back and enjoy the remainder of a lazy Sunday afternoon, looking at all of my handiwork, and the hard work and planting efforts of my neighbors in their garden plots in the yard. Yeah, I’ll throw in some more garden porn for everyone here:
The most amazing thing about the whole gardening process, and especially the seeds, is that within a week we started to have sprouts from the seeds that had been planted. Why? Well, we had some AWESOMELY hot weather here in Chicago for a few days immediately after I planted — 4 days of 95 degrees and higher. After that, the skies opened up and we had good, healthy rains for the plants to soak up nutrients. But that is for the next post! Hope you all enjoyed the pictures of what we have growing in our garden….and growing the stuff is…