Sunday, March 22, 2020

Square Foot Gardening

It's all the rage now, but my wife was on Square Foot Gardening almost forty years ago when it was new and hot.  We were very much into trying to be back-to-the-land then, putting in a vegetable garden in what turned out to be the trash bin of the first owners, complete with old bottles of patent medicines.  We had had wonderful years of our own sweet corn, cutting our own firewood and Christmas trees from our tiny forest, and a variety of vegetables for canning.

Yeah, that's a lot of work when you are both working full time, taking in foster children, have reading addictions, and are volunteering at the church, y'know?  Especially as neither of us were emotionally gratified by physical labor, as some folks are.  That granola phase gradually went away, but Tracy hung on with that Square Foot idea for a long time.  We gave up on the corn and eventually the strawberries, but the tomatoes and sugar snap peas lasted into the 2000's.  Then one day, long before Marie Kondo got rich off the idea, my wife decided that vegetables didn't bring her joy anywhere near as much as flowers did, and it's been decorative plants here ever since. Green beans are cheap, after all.  Why pay yourself $.23/hr to grow them, unless you like the various parts of ordering, planting, watering, weeding, harvesting, and canning for their own sakes?

We can give it the recommendation that the basic idea works even if you are in a triple decker apartment.


james said...

A garden is useful in teaching kids the link between hard work and eating. And for things like chives and some spices, the effort/reward is pretty low--fresh rosemary whenever you want it...

Relatively low maintenance plants like peas and cherry tomatoes (and raspberries, though they require some whacking) provide tasty snacks for kids who don't want to bother coming back inside.

Unfortunately, it seems as though the decorative stuff requires maintenance too. Although it does reduce the amount of lawn I have to mow.

One reason the veggie share of gardening has been diminishing lately is the crimp it puts in vacation schedules.

Zachriel said...

Assistant Village Idiot: Green beans are cheap, after all.

Freshly-picked homegrown tomatoes have a much richer flavor, and cannot normally be purchased in the typical grocery. A farmers' market may provide a source without having to grow your own.

Even more important are fresh herbs. Fresh herbs turn the most basic of meals into culinary wonders. Most herbs are very easy to grow and can be planted with other plants to help resist pests. Oregano, mint, and thyme grow as perennials, so require very little maintenance. Rosemary is a perennial in zone 6 or warmer.

A single tomato planted with herbs and ornamental flowers can often make for a nice garden display.

Zachriel said...

Z: Rosemary is a perennial in zone 6 or warmer.

Well, it will be iffy in zone 6. But will do well in warmer climates.

james said...

Don't forget that being in close proximity to a "warm" house changes the effective climate zone. Some things grow 3 feet from the house that don't at all like being 10 feet away.

Zachriel said...

james: Don't forget that being in close proximity to a "warm" house changes the effective climate zone.

Or even high mass walls with a southerly exposure.

Donna B. said...

I moved from zone 8b to 7a. That has resulted in my killing more plants than usual. I'm learning! Also learning that nursery sales people lie... sure it grow well there... not.

Rosemary does fine here.

Tom Bridgeland said...

If I may toot my own horn:

An article I wrote on a low work low maintenance garden.

Zachriel said...

Tom Bridgeland: An article I wrote on a low work low maintenance garden.

Very nice.