One of my favorite things about the time we lived in Georgia was the bountiful supply of garden-fresh fruits and vegetables given to us by our church family. My freezer stayed fully stocked, and I rarely had to purchase any produce at the store. Each spring I would toss around the idea of starting my own garden, but there really wasn’t a good spot for one in our yard. Last summer after we moved back to Florida I longed for those Georgia veggies! With the amount of food our family consumes it makes sense for us to grow our own food.
This year I decided to plant a garden, but not your traditional one. We don’t have the acreage or horsepower to have a huge plot, so I decided to try raised beds instead. I purchased All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. Your local library may have a copy. This book is the very best one-stop reference for planting a square foot garden (SFG). It’s easy to read with simple step-by-step instructions and lots of color photos that show you exactly what to do. You don’t have to have a big yard either. Square Foot Gardening works great with a small patio or deck area. Even a small SFG will yield more than you would imagine. You can use a box as small as 2′ x 2′. There is no end to the options you have with this method.
A SFG is very easy to plan. I picked out an area in our back yard that gets plenty of sun and has a water source. You don’t need very many materials. My hubby came up with enough scrap wood to construct two 4′ x 4′ SFG boxes and assembled them for me. One of them was made using 1″ x 6″ boards and the with 2″ x 8″ boards. One box has a plywood bottom and the other has a weed-proof liner. We’ll never have to worry about weeds! I didn’t get any pictures of the construction process, but you can still get the idea from the finished product.Instead of using backyard soil like you would for a traditional single row garden I used the magic mixture recommended by Mel. It requires three ingredients: blended compost, peat moss, and vermiculite. I went to a few different garden supply stores to find a variety of compost materials. The vermiculite was hard to find and close to $20 for a large bag. You may have to call around to find it.Mel recommends using a variety of compost materials, so I mixed those together first. I just dumped the bags of compost out on a tarp and rolled the pile around until it was thoroughly mixed. Next, I added the peat moss and vermiculite to the compost and then filled the boxes. After the boxes were filled we nailed the boards for the grid on top. Now each box has 16 squares neatly marked off, and in my next post we’ll get to the fun part–planting!