Square Foot Gardening: The Winter Months

This year we plan to try our luck with a square foot garden. Because this is our first garden, this method seems easiest: both for growing vegetables and for success with organic gardening methods. We’ve read Mel Bartholomew’s book, Square Foot Gardening, and have begun making preparations for the spring. My husband built three 5’x8′ raised bed frames. He used non-treated, tongue and groove wood reclaimed from an old building in our area. We’re fortunate that our yard is just under an acre and a half so we have plenty of room. BUT the beds take up a total of 210 square feet (which includes some room to walk between and around the beds), so this could easily work with a smaller yard. For those with very little space or no yard at all, Jason, at Frugal Dad explains how to make a table-top version of a raised bed.

As for the soil, our tumbler-style composter is turning our yard and kitchen waste into organic matter for the raised beds. Our side yard is also full of several years worth of ground up leaves that are slowly creating compost of their own. Just last weekend we covered the beds with a layer of manure and we’re hoping that by spring we’ll have lots of rich, nutrient soil for growing vegetables. You can see our set-up in the photo below. We placed our beds in front of our detached garage at the end of our driveway. Our lot is heavily treed; this is one spot that gets a decent amount of sun each day.

We decided to try our own garden for a few reasons. We think it will not only be fun for our three year old daughters, but also a good experience for them to learn where food comes from. We’re also hoping to create our own, less expensive, organic produce, produce that doesn’t have to travel miles and miles from California or Florida or Mexico, before it gets to our table.

I don’t know if we’ll actually save any money with this project. I do know that even if we manage to harvest only a few vegetables, we will have reduced our impact a little and will reap the benefits of food that tastes better than anything we could buy in the store.

I plan to provide updates on our square foot gardening project throughout the spring and summer. I’d love to hear your ideas about and experiences with square foot gardening.