June 3, 2011

Gardening 101

Last year my husband was kind enough to build me some raised square gardening beds to make my gardening dreams come true.  We are following the square foot gardening method and it works great last year and yields a large amount of produce from a medium sized space. Here is a picture of last years garden:

We built the raised gardening beds as it is easier on the your back for gardening, as well as it cuts down on the weeds and allows you to add more nutrient rich soil to your gardens.  As we live in Calgary, the soil that was naturally found in our backyard had a lot of clay and was very hard soil.  We ordered a big bag of Black Garden Soil which was composed of Peat Moss, Manure and Compost.

As for the method we used, the best way to explain the square foot gardening method is that you divide your garden into 1' x 1' sections and plant one type of crop per each square foot. Instead of planting them in a row, you plant them in a square.  And for example, per each square you plant 16 spots for carrots in a 4 x4 pattern in the square. It is meant to have great yields of crops in smaller spaces, but the start up cost is a bit more than your traditional garden.  Some links to get you started:

My Square Foot Garden- details about building a square foot garden, soils, companion planting, how many seeds per square foot, starting seeds indoors, etc.

Square Foot Gardening Foundation- check out the FAQ and Forum section for valuable information on how to grow numerous crops and the basics of square foot gardening.  Also sells kits to start square foot gardening if you prefer to building your own.

Now this year it is time to get the garden started again and I am so excited to see the potential for fresh produce in a few weeks time!  I decided to try something new this year and I stated seedlings indoors.  Over six weeks ago I had started some seeds inside in a special sectioned container I had bought from the garden centre.  This was my first time starting seeds indoors.  I must give the experience mixed reviews, but some of this may be due to my inexperience as well.  My main purpose was to get my tomatoes, jalepenos and herbs started indoors and I also decided to try a few other things to give them a head start.  I started a garden journal upon reading a few gardening blogs, this way I can keep track of what works from year to year and it also allows me to make a plan next year about which crops to rotate into different planting areas.

This past weekend I transplanted everything outside, but again I have mixed reviews with this method.  My peas, zucchini and cucumbers transplanted quite nicely and all I had to do was take the pods, remove the netting around them and plant them in the ground.  As for my tomatoes and jalepenos which had grow a little bit indoors, they did not make it when I transferred them outside.  I heard that it can be very hard to make the transition for tomatoes, so I think I will just go buy a tomato plant and move forward from there.  Plus I saw some fun varieties of tomato plants at the store so I am excited to try a few different kinds.

As for the rest of the garden, I planted everything from assorted herbs-cilantro, basil, oregano and mint, bush beans, red and golden beets, orange and purple carrots, potatoes, broccoli, onions, kohlrabi, mixed and romaine lettuce. I did a combinations of the square foot gardens and then containers for things like herbs, tomatoes and peppers. More to come as I sort my way through my second year of gardening.

Also, recently my daughters participated in their first year end dance recital, their number entitled Gardening 101 was adorable, these are my amazing flowers:

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