Sunday, May 2, 2010

Planning the Square Foot Garden

Growing season comes a little later here in Utah than it does in many places in America, so although it may surprise you, I'm just barely getting started on my garden this year. Late snows and strange weather has delayed things this year more than most, so I guess I have an excuse this year. It's got to happen this week, though, or we're going to lose much of the growing season this year.

I'm hoping that this weekend was the last cold snap and snow for the year. It turned out not to be too much of a snow, thankfully. It snowed overnight and melted by mid-morning. Weather around here is just too weird.

We didn't plant a garden last year. We were talking about moving and there just seemed to be a lot of other things in the way. It's easy to put things like gardens aside when you hate general yard work.

This year, we're trying our hand at Square Foot Gardening. It's a way of packing quite a bit of growing into a small space. From what I can tell it's an ideal system for home gardens. It seems to be somewhere between large area traditional gardening and container gardening so, it's easily adapted to city living and apartments.

We basically live in the country; there area few large farms nearby. Even with that, we're adapting the square foot gardening ideas to our own growing space. I don't think Mel Bartholomew, the guy behind square foot gardening, would mind. I have to agree with him when he says, and I'm paraphrasing here, “Rows are for tractors, not home gardens.”

This year we're going to try our hand at growing sugar snap peas, and I've got to get them in quickly. They actually do well with a cold start. Here in Utah, the best time to plant peas is “as soon as you can work the ground.”

As for other vegetables, we wanted to focus on those that we most enjoy, but are either normally expensive or hard to find in the local grocery stores. We also wanted to put a large emphasis on vegetables that could be easily stored, either through freezing or canning. Another criteria was to avoid vegetables that require starting from seeds in a green house or indoors and then transplanting. We're too lazy for that sort of thing. Tomatoes are the only exception. We love tomatoes and they are easily purchased as seedlings.

With that in mind, I consulted a guide from Utah State University on vegetable recommendations and planting times for this state. They have the best agricultural program in the state, so I knew I could trust them. Besides snap peas and four different varieties of tomatoes (Roma, cherry, pear tomatoes and whatever large salad tomato variety we can get our grubby hands on), our garden this year is going to include:

  • green bush beans
  • spaghetti squash
  • butternut squash
  • acorn squash
  • cantaloupes
  • honeydew melons
  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • lemon cucumbers
  • zucchini
  • radishes
  • green onions
  • yellow Spanish onions
  • Walla Walla onions (if we can get them)
  • bibb (Boston) lettuce

If you're planning a garden, leave a comment and let me know what you're growing. I'll write more, later. Right now, I've got to see a man about tiller.

Photo by Lena Povrzenic

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