As I mark the borders for the garden I will be planting in the spring I take a few things into consideration. At the moment, my garden is directly in the ground with top soil and years of compost added over the years. A lack of ambition last year created a thick layer of weeds I will have to clean out as I clean out the compost piles as well. There will be a week or two of work before I can plant anything, the payoff afterwards will hopefully be a low maintenance garden that I can maintain.
On the side of my house I have three raised boxes for square foot gardening. The end goal for those boxes is to do herb gardening only a few feet outside of the kitchen. 8×4 ft per box gives me a lot of room for herbs I use and can store over the winter once they are dried out.
The back yard has two large plots that are being converted into square foot gardening beds. In previous years, I used intensive gardening technics, this involves turning the soil once, never stepping on the soil and adding compost at the beginning and end of each planting year. The upside is that the plots being converted are already fertile with dark soil that drains well while retaining water. With the square foot gardening, I will be able to use more of the available space for higher crop yield and preventing weeds throughout the season. The down side is that for any vines I grow I need a trellis to have them grow up. In square foot gardening plants grow up, not out. This can be a major benefit but it adds to the cost of the project.
Planning the garden is fairly basic. The higher plants per box need to be planted in the northern rows to prevent shading the smaller plants. If you plant corn they are in the northern squares. Plants like radishes, carrots, or beets would be in the southern squares. In the middle squares, you can plant medium sized plants like peppers and tomatoes. All of these plants can share the sun and soil if you let them. In the past I learned that using organic gardening technics can have far better results than those that use artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Every year I have a group of praying mantis that return to my yard and eat everything I don’t want to have there. Pest have never been a problem with my personal army of alien looking killers.
I don’t know what the spring will bring, or how hot the summer will become. What I do know is that with the rain barrel and compost system my crops in the past have never been effected by drought or intense heat. Some crops like heat including tomatoes and peppers. Beans and broccoli on the other hand you can forget it. grow those in the spring and enjoy them while you can. I tried to grow these in autumn and it never works out. By the time the temperature drops for them to thrive it is almost winter and I never get to harvest before the first frost.
My tomato seedlings are an inch tall now. Peppers haven’t sprouted yet and I don’t know if they will. The house is at a steady 62 degrees and I’m guessing they need more heat than that. I hope they start to show themselves, we will have to wait and see.