After a fun and busy Easter week we are back to normal and I can finally settle down and focus on what I love, spending time with the kids, gardening and reading. Typically I would be immersed in the latest Patterson or Koontz book but thanks to my Father in law I am instead reading through All New Square Foot Gardening.
My father in law is my gardening enabler, he isn't much of a gardener himself but he always seems to show up with new garden tools, seeds and ideas every spring. Last spring I had 3 4x8 raised beds and rows and rows of garden that needed to be tilled, the catch, I don't own, nor have the budget for a tiller, so my beds were planted, but my rows... all weeds. I had a 2 year old and a 4 month old at the time and decided I just couldn't do it all and was skipping out on the rest of the garden, shame. He walked in and said, "But you did the beds, why not the rest?" and I responded, "The beds are easy", so he said "Why not put everything in beds?"
Wait. Why didn't I think of that. Why not put everything in beds? We have piles of horse fencing we saved from a construction site and a few posts we snagged out of a vineyard that was closing, so the materials where right there, two weekends, load of beautiful composted topsoil and I had a garden, a garden I could simply maintain with a hand trowel.
This is where the confusion set in, the directions on my seed packets say to sow seeds in rows 3' apart, but my beds are only 4' wide, how does that work? So I winged it. I ended up just planting where I felt they belonged, it worked but I found lots of wasted space in my beds by my July. That's where this book came in, my FIL saw this book siting on the shelf and saw what my garden should be. I drew little lines in my dirt with my fingers at 1' intervals, and followed the seed planting diagrams and all of a sudden I knew how to make my garden work. The author, Mel Bartholomew, talks about succession planting, harvest spacing, extending seasons, vertical gardening... everything. Most of the books is common sense, but as gardeners we are so ingrained to do rows we don't see how simple it could be. I am sure with some experimenting and experience I would have ended up where this book has lead me, but it would have taken a few harvests. I have a similar background as the author, Civil engineering, problem solving, garden hobbyist, so I have always wondered why and questioned the system and tried to find a better way, but I didn't think it could be so simple.
This book makes gardening so simple, everyone should be able to do this in their yard, starting with a 4'x4' box and going from there. I already started working on mapping out where the rest of my plants are going and decided the other bed I was going to ask my hubby to build is out, I am making those pumpkins and winter squash go vertical this year.