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Have You Started Planning Your Garden?

January 5th, 2010 · No Comments

The holidays are over and the ground is frozen here in Virginia.   It’s too cold outside to want to do more than the bare necessities and you would think that gardening would be the farthest thing from my mind.   I actually like to spend these cold winter days planning my garden.  As I have mentioned, I am going to try to incorporate some square foot gardens into my plan this year.

I haven’t told Randy yet that he will soon be building me some simple boxes for the gardens.  These boxes are easy to construct and easier yet to maintain.  I think that we are going to make them out of left over laps.  These are the rough edges that are left over when you make boards.  A friend of ours has a pile of them so we have a free supply.

The expensive part of starting a square foot garden is the soil mixture.  It needs to be made up of a mixture of compost, peat moss and soil.  The last time I bought peat moss, I paid almost $4 per cubic foot.  If you are making more than a small garden this can add up quickly.  At that time, I was also buying compost as I did not have a compost pile.

This year I have a ready supply of compost material.  I started it last year and it has worked itself into a black, rich soil like pile.  I will keep adding to it this year and should be able to keep a ready source.  Compost is a natural fertilizer and enriches the soil.

The good thing about square foot gardening is that once you have built the first one, there is little to no expense or maintenance.  Unlike a regular garden, you do not have to plow it every year and you don’t have to cultivate it during the gardening season.  Vegetables are planted close enough together that it keeps the garden weed free after the initial plants have grown up.  There simply is no room for weeds.  You don’t walk on the garden so you don’t compact the soil down.  The peat moss and high organic matter in the soil also keeps it ‘fluffy.’

Most of the problems that we had with our garden last year, will be solved with the square foot or raised bed gardens.  First we battled wire grass and then we had the bunny wars over my green beans.  Unfortunately, last year we lost both of these battles.  The worst was the green beans which simply did not survive the bunnies.  Out of 5 rows of green beans we only got about 2 quarts of beans.  The bunnies simply cropped them all off at the stem.  The wire grass simply made the garden unsightly and made it difficult to find the vegetables but the plants produced just as much and possibly more because the grass shaded the plants and kept them moist.

Over the next few weeks, I will be planning what vegetables we will plant and when we will plant them.  I am going to go ahead and start constructing the raised beds in the next month as well.  I want to plant some of the colder weather plants such as cabbage, onions, peas, etc in the raised beds.

Have you started your garden plans yet?  Do you garden in the traditional way or do you use raised beds?

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