Monday, March 24, 2008

The Best Laid Plans.

I love graph paper. Even without anything to plot, I can happily fill all those organized squares with doodles. R says that I'm anal retentive. Maybe. With that being said, I've been working on my garden plan. It's been a long winter, as I've noted, so I've had plenty of time to do planning. While I do plan to plant some flowers (you know to help the bees out) and some general landscaping, my primary focus is on the edibles. It's just not a summer without meals consisting entirely of garden fresh tomatoes and sweet corn. You will note that the sweet corn is noticeably absent from my plan. I leave that to the experts. High quality, low cost sweet corn is readily available in the last half of the summer, so I'll just pick some up out of the back of a truck at the Farmer's Market.

Last year, not believing that we would have any success, we filled some existing raised beds with tomatoes and peppers and kind of let them go. They went crazy reaching some 8 feet tall and sprawling everywhere by the time the season was over (the tomatoes that is). Not bad for our first attempt at gardening.

This year we're planning on building raised beds due to a drainage issue in the main part of our yard. I'm hoping to use the Square Foot Gardening method. I bought the book. I was initially drawn to the idea of growing efficiently and my Type-A personality loved all those boxes. However, the tone of the book's author, Mel, really peeved me. I'm not sure what, but I found the tone and the author irritating. The book (and the underdeveloped website) seem to read like a really bad Ron Popeil infomercial - "Grow More in Less Space!". But I'm willing to put those irritations aside because I do like the concept.

Here's where we've ended up after numerous drafts.
SFG Plan 2008

As you can see, we're planning on building 4 raised beds and using the square foot gardening spacing to an extent. My limited gardening experience suggests that some of his spacing suggestions are unrealistic, so I've made adjustments. The raised beds are filled with a mix of vermiculite (still looking for a cost efficient source), compost, and peat. The rows will be some type of weed barrier (probably newspaper) covered with some type of mulch. The whole thing needs a dog deterrent fence. I was picturing a cute little potager with a white picket fence, but that seems like way too much for year 1.

In addition, we are attempting to start everything from seed. This is also new to us - last year we bought transplants. I'm still easing into gardening and trying not to set myself up for failure. For that reason, I'm growing hybrids for the most part and am starting way more seeds than I will eventually need planning for attrition.
2008 Grow Op
We've set up this little grow operation in our basement. R has some concerns that the police may question our entirely legal set-up which raises lots of Fourth Amendment questions to me as I remember a few cases from law school. This space in the basement is odd and was otherwise unused (save the unpacked boxes that were dumped). I wanted a shelf anyway and one of the shop lights was hanging in our garage completely unused.

So far we have success. The broccoli (which goes in the ground early) has germinated and is growing and the peppers, notoriously slow to germinate, came up in a week.
The peppers.
Pepper Seedlings 032808
The broccoli.
Broccoli Seedlings 032808
The whole tray.
Seedlings

Now, I need to just keep them watered and well lit to prevent legginess. We are cautiously pessimistic about this portion of our plan, but we are not above resulting to commercially grown transplants come May. One variety of bell peppers is slow coming, but it does appear to be coming. With any luck we will have extra plants to give away to family, friends, and whoever is interested. This weekend we'll be starting the tomatoes (it may still be pushing too early, but I can't resist) and herbs. I am concerned about space, and may have to invest in a couple extra lights to start another row of seedlings. This is way addictive. This weekend we are also hoping to tackle the actual beds, though the filling may wait another week or two.

So, preparations for spring/ summer gardening have kept me semi-obsessed. I've been haunting You Grow Girl forums, Myfolia (a Ravelry-esque gardening site that isn't quite as well organized, but interesting), and the Square Foot Gardening forums.

3 comment(s). Tell me what you think!:

Knittripps said...

Very cool. I can't wait to see how it all turns out!

Debbie said...

Looks like you're off to a great start!

It was undoubtedly before your time, but Mel B used to have a SFG show on PBS -- he was pretty irritating on air, too. The idea is great though, I'm sure your garden will be wonderful.

AndreaLea said...

Yea gardening! We've just designed our garden layout and will buy seeds sometime this week. I'm so excited to see yours coming along already. :)

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