Josephine Neuse – University of Illinois Extension
I have a wonderful square foot garden that my husband and I created several years ago to enable me to enjoy gardening even as I get “more mature” and less able to get down and up again from my hands and knees and do heavy lifting.
We built SIX 4′ x4′ wooden ‘tables’ up on top of iron supports. We surrounded the six tables with fencing, then added chicken wire around the bottom to keep small critters out. We threaded neon tape through the fencing to make it VISABLE to the deer who come through from time to time. We added a screen door so there is a definite ‘inside-the-garden’ and ‘outside.
The tables are about my chest height and filled with “Mel’s Mix,” a soil substitute mixture of peat moss, vermiculite, and at least three different kinds of compost. We filled the boxes with the mix, after making the mixture in a used cement mixer. That’s the heaviest part of the gardening I do now. :0)
We marked the ‘squares’ of the square foot garden using wire criss-crossed over the tops of the boxes. We mounted a sprinkler head in the center of each box, tied together with hose, for daily irrigation.
We used to have a greenhouse that we built from a kit on the other side of our property, but since we couldn’t afford air conditioning and heating for it, it was truly a dream and wasn’t really useful to our efforts. We finally took it down when it was heavily damaged by a storm a few years ago. Now I buy plants from town.
I can just walk into my garden area, taking my spreadsheet diagram of where I want to plant things, move a bit of soft Mel’s Mix, and plant. My plan enables me to rotate my plants, avoiding disease and increasing yield. I also have not followed what I COULD do with my square foot garden, and spread my plants out a bunch for easier care.
Right now I have the boxes weeded and covered with weed cloth held in place by bricks. We’ve had several big storms and so far, the cloths are staying in place. That will hopefully enable me to plant without a lot of weeding first in the spring. :0)
I’m going to concentrate on lettuces, since I plan for us to eat a lot of salad, growing several kinds. My husband likes me to plant head lettuce, so I do, if we can find the plants. Otherwise, I try to plant three or four different kinds. I also want to plant a lot of spinach so I can use it in our salads, plus freeze some. I’ll grown radishes, sweet onions, and of course, I’ll use the two brick planters on the other side of the house for tomatoes. I’m at the dreaming stage now, so I’ll peruse lots of veggie magazines to see what else I might plant.
I WISH I were a good cook. I love the idea of growing herbs and spices, but I don’t tend to USE the fresh stuff much. I buy a bunch or two at the store, use a bit and end up tossing the rest when I haven’t used it fast enough. Maybe I’ll try a couple of the ones I use most often, trying to grow them in the kitchen, rather than in the garden….
It’s FUN to dream – especially while we’re expecting snow any minute here.
The Indian Express