Start of a Square Foot Gardening Adventure
For those who know me, you if you grow it, fish it, or hunt it, then I can cook it. I have never been much of a gardener outside of my herbs. I have tried and failed at growing the traditional garden fare. I seem to do well with containers and in Tarboro where I had a good streak with peppers and lettuce. Fast forward to Newport. Our house has a backyard that is essentially a blank slate. The first step in our transformation is getting a veg garden going. One option was Square Foot Gardening.
Community Supported Agriculture
I love supporting local farmers and even joined a local organic CSA, The Local Patch, last year. The CSA was a great experience exposing us to new types of veg I wouldn’t normally purchase for the family. And The Local Patch has the most AMAZING tomatoes. If you aren’t a gardener and want the freshest veg possible, then go the CSA route. You do make a difference when you support small local farmers. For us, the CSA did not work for us as a family, but I will be visiting The Local Patch for fresh veg.
Square Foot Gardening
I like the idea of being able to walk outside my door grabbing some lettuce for a quick salad is wonderful. I loved it when I could do it in North Carolina. This time last year, we purchased a house in Newport. A huge step, but one that needed to happen. After being homeowners, being a renter again was not ideal plus the house we rented had zero back yard. We need our space. For the city of Newport, we have a normal sized lot allowing us to create an urban garden. It is a blank slate so, over the next months, a transformation will occur.
Our garden is fairly shady so we don’t have a lot of space to have a veg garden. Since I’m not a gardener, I went on the recommendation of gardener friends, to Domina’s Agway in Portsmouth, RI. Like my favorite garden center, Marrow-Pitt Ace Hardware in Tarboro, Domina’s is family-run and this isn’t only their livelihood, but their passion. The Home Depots and Lowes of the world may have a vast selection and some cheaper prices, but you cannot beat the care and knowledge of family-run businesses. At Domina’s Agway, I met Mark where he patiently advised me and suggested Square Foot Gardening. He does it and many of the staff at the nursery grows their veg using this method. On his suggestion, I purchased Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.
I chose the raised bed method because some of our neighbor’s soil tested high for lead. If you live in a historic neighborhood or reclaimed land, I’d either get your soil tested or just be safe going with a raised bed with fresh soil and a weed barrier. Best to be safe.
Since Newport can be wet and damp, I decided on a galvanized steel bed instead of building it out of wood. I’m hoping it will weather the sea climate better than a wooden bed. It was easy for my husband to put together. From there we positioned it into place putting down a weed barrier and a thick layer of rocks then a layer of Coast of Maine Raised Bed Mix. Investing in the soil is essential. Don’t skimp. And be sure to ask a gardener what is the best mix for where you live and what you are doing and growing.
Once the set-up was completed, it was time to add the plants. My plant selection was ambitious especially since I’m not a gardener. I selected 3 types of tomatoes, 3 types of peppers, 3 types of lettuce, snap peas, Japanese eggplant, spinach, chives, and cucumbers. The point of square foot gardening is to use every bit of space wisely. Vertical growing is encouraged. My husband wove a trellis so the snap peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers can climb. I’ll be adding zucchini and melon to the bed that also will be climbers as well as onions. In a burlap bag, potatoes will be planted.
So let’s keep our fingers crossed, that my thumb will be green. And a huge thank you goes out to my husband, Jeroen, for doing all the building and heavy lifting.