Sunday, September 4, 2011

Less is More….

      I marvel at how a seemingly tragic situation will often lead to an outcome of promise.  Take the recent economic situation our country faces, the joblessness, the skyrocketing costs of gas and groceries.  This situation forces new ideas about how to live sustainably.
    Never before have I noticed so many people using their yards to grow their food.  It is so important the novice gardener have access to the knowledge of those who have learned over time.  Meet Scott, who agreed to post on this blog for those (grasshoppers) just starting out on their vegetable garden journey…

How to Grow More in Less Space
by  Scott Reed

As I often visit neighborhood gardens, I am always surprised at the large amount of space that people take to grow their flowers and vegetables.  That's ok I guess, if you have the space.  However, more space usually means more weeds, which means more work. People often tell me that they would like to grow a garden but do not have room.  Where did we ever get the idea that you have to have wide rows or lots of room?  If you will stay with me, and read along, I will tell you how to grow enough food for a family of four with  48 sq. feet of raised beds (three 4x4 ), 12 each - 2cubic foot bags of potting soil or 10 bales of rice straw.  The point here is you do not need a lot of room or even have dirt ground-space to grow a garden.  You can grow your garden in containers, in your flowerbeds, along the patio, driveway, blacktop or concrete.  If you want a garden, start thinking outside the box.  Stop looking at those big beautiful fields as you drive down long country highways, they harvest with machines, they need those wide rows.

So where should I start.  First, my garden method is a combination, of what is called, French Intensive and Square Foot Gardening with Vertical thrown in for good measure.  What does all this mean you ask?  Well listen up grasshopper.  French Intensive is a broadcast method.  After the soil is prepared you take your garden rake and furrow the space (lightly rake it grasshopper) broadcast your seed, water and when the plants are about 2 inches tall lightly rake the plants in one direction only. Continue to do this every 2 weeks or until your plants are about 6 inches tall.  You are thinning out the plants and in the case of carrots, beets or lettuce add the thinnings to your daily salad. 

Square Foot Gardening is a raised bed method where your bed is divided into squares of one foot each. Now here is where its gets interesting.  You can grow four corn, 9 beets or bush beans, 16 small onions or 1 Tomato, Pepper, Zucchini or Summer Squash per Square foot, mixing in your herbs or flowers.  I have done it and it works! 

Vertical growing means that if it is a vining plant you can train it to grow up, not out. Example, a vining cucumber plant will occupy 4 square feet on the ground but only 1 square foot if you train it to go up.  There are lots of climbing varieties for most types of vegetables.  This summer I have 30 inch Jumbo Banana Squash growing on my back fence with four other types of squash including melons.   This year everything that can grow up is growing up. Some books that I recommend you read are; Vertical Gardening by Derek Fell, Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew or Cube foot Gardening by Christopher Bird.
If any of this is interesting to you, please respond in the comments section.  I can also cover some other topics;  gardening with bags of soil, how to grow a Straw Bale Garden, a quick discussion on container gardening, the fact that not all soil is good, how and what seeds to save, plus the all important Companion Gardening or - not all things grow well together.

Please feel free to request subsequent postings on any of these topics...

1 comment:

Jill said...

GREAT post!!! Thanks for the info.