Square Foot Gardening: The only way to go

As spring arrives across the U.S. gardeners are spending money and time at all the nurseries and big box stores. There’s a beehive of activity and it’s a great time of year. For many, it’s going be business as usually. Add some amending material to the soil, lay out your rows, and start planting. For most, the results of their garden will be what its always been: lots of work, weeding, and watering, and below expectations for the harvest.

Well, how about a gardening system that involves no heavy work or digging, no weeding, and no thinning? How about minimizing your gardening area to 20% of what you currently have? What about saving 90% of your water utilization? How about making gardening fun again?

Thats been my experience with the square foot garden. It’s so easy that anyone can do it, regardless of any previous garden experience. You don’t have to be an expert to have a great and productive garden. Along the way you’ll learn a few tricks to make gardening even more enjoyable. Tricks like this picture shows: where beginning seeds have no resistance to break through the soil. I learned this while interning with Mel Bartholomew 16 or 17 years ago. I sure miss my old friend.

I’ll have classes coming up in the next several weeks if you’re interested in learning the basics of the square foot gardening system. I’ll also be teaching an upcoming microgreens class, which is such a fun hobby, especially in the winter months when gardeners have nothing to do but watch everything turn brown and snow.

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Baby arugula coming up

Now is the time in zone 6! There’s no thinning in the square foot gardening system, and this is an example of that. Nine baby arugula plants up and going planted 10 days ago! I like to package these up to customers separately so they can choose whether to use them in a salad green mix, or if they want to use it by itself. This variety is milder than many others, especially when picked small, and especially when grown in cooler weather.

And now for my new ebook. You’ve seen it on my blog. Releasing a book about growing lettuce in warm weather during January didnt make much sense. But it was finished and I wanted to get it out. Don’t wait too long to buy it if you’re interested! If you do, by the time summer gets here you’ll find yourself hunting around for certain varieties of lettuce seeds that will have been sold out

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Over-wintered carrots

For those here locally, if you had the chance to come out to one of my fall classes last year you’d be harvesting these right now! I’ve got about 150 of them back there ready to pull, and I was able to use many during the winter months.

The name of this variety is Negovia. They are delicious! I’ve normally grown Mokum and Napoli for winter storage but came across this variety with a special that Johnny’s was running last year. This may be my new go-to winter carrot. Chop off the tops and shoulders, cut off the bottom roots and dip in salad dressing! I gave some of these to a neighbor and who wanted to know what variety it was. She apparently put some in her daughters lunch the next day and when the daughter came home from school, she said: “mom, where did you get those carrots? They tasted better than any others carrot you’ve ever given me.”

While your here, check out a few classes I have coming up in the area. One on composting and one on growing your own microgreens at home. And also, check out my newest ebook! It might seem like a long way off, but you’ll want to be buying your lettuce seeds right now for the summer season before all the right varieties are gone for the year. Don’t let the summer pass you buy-learn how to grow the best tasting lettuces right though the warmest months of the year

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Early spring planted crops

Many folks are always asking the question: when do I start planting and what? That will depend on your zone. I’m  6B in northern Utah where winters can be harsh; complete with lots of snow, fierce winds, and low temperatures. Its not as bad as some locations to grow but it surely has its challenges.

After doing this for over 30 years you get a feel for things. Some of my first plantings have already been direct seeded into the garden. Others have been started indoors and will go into the “sun box” in another 2-3 weeks.  See previous posts that discuss the sun box. This picture is tatsoi-a great and frost hardy Asian green that’s delicious as a salad mix-in. The other is black seeded simpson elite. There’s some reason why elite is supposed to be better than regular black seeded simpson, I just haven’t been able to figure out what the difference is.

For those who need a little extra guidance, try this garden planner by Burpee. You can even download an app on your device to give you reminders of when to do things. I’ve found it pretty handy, especially when I just get too busy and forget to plant something.

For you northern Utah folks interested in learning how to make compost, see my class coming up, as well as one on growing microgreens at home. Today is the last day for you to order 1 pack of seeds from Burpee and get another one free. I ordered a pack of San Marzano tomatoes and a pack of Fortex pole beans. Spring is here for me.

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How does your cold frame grow?

 

Here’s something fun to see. First picture(top)is October 15, 2016, second is 1/1/17, last one is 2/21/17. A simple sun box, not a cold frame, can do this for you as well. Nothing wrong with the cold frame, its just more work, more expensive, and fairly permanent. I’ve taken off the top sun box level for the last picture so you can see whats happened over the winter. Now I’ll begin to harvest whats in it. Good eating tonight!

I encourage everyone to grow their own food, even those in harsher climates that experience snow, below zero temperatures, wind chill, etc. It’s a rewarding feeling to come out after a hard winter, pull back the top and see whats underneath. I just began watering this box last week-thats 3 full months of no work! those wanting to see how easy a sun box is to assemble(and take apart), see my earlier post. So easy, and all made with wood material thats laying around the house.
Crops in this box are spinach, chard,and the lettuces of sweet repeat, allstar, and black seeded simpson.

One of the keys to growing is the soil. As I’ve said before, if the soil isn’t right, nothing else will really matter. If you live in the area and are interested in learning how to have really rich, fertile soil, I’ll be teaching class this upcoming Saturday. Composting is the answer. Once you learn the proper way to do it, you’ll ask yourself why you haven’t been doing it all along

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