Category: Gardens (page 2 of 2)

Square Foot Garden – 2 months later

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This method of dividing 1.2 metres by 1.2 metres into 16 squares is really neat for the average household, as long as enough light can get to the plants.  It’s relatively fool-proof if the conditions are right.  One is left with a variety of veges in a small space.  It’s written that 2 of these patches can considerably supplement a family’s grocery supply, while three of them might just provide enough to give away to the neighbours.

Our method was to double dig the appropriately sized area – say 1.3 metres by 1.3 metres.  Double digging turns the grass deep enough into the soil so that it does not grow again, and in fact the grass decomposes and adds nitrogen to the soil – just be sure to get all big grass roots out of the soil mix.  We added cardboard on top of the area after the double dig, placed the salvaged cement slabs in place as the walls (wood is usually used), and added a nice mix of manure, soil, and compost.

The original soil recipe – if one listens to the guy who put the trademark on square foot gardening, Mr Bartholomew, and indeed one might wish to – calls for vermiculite.  We did use it in the pictured square foot garden and were very impressed by the results, but it is not a sustainable resource.  Later, we found out that chopped straw acts similarly as a moisture retainer and soil aerator.  Using excellent compost by itself also yields good results, so it is not necessary to use Mr Bartholomew’s mix, though a beginner may benefit from doing so.

The pictured ‘sfg’ has tomatoes, mustard leaf, rocket, beetroot, cabbage, and a pepper plant thriving in it.  A Squash plant has been trained to grow around the outside of the sfg.  What is planted and what will grow depends on the season and climate, generally.

Square foot gardening – giving it a go

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The idea is simple – use a grid of 16 squares, each a square foot, to intercrop various veges in order to maximise use of space and get the best of companion planting too.  Take a look for some square foot gardening stuff on google – there’s plenty, and we’re giving it a go. A second one being dug is pictured, and there’ll be more…

Hugel beds

Here’s the start of a raised bed technique called hugelkultur, which has been practiced on the farm long before our arrival due to the frequent flooding of the land and the accompanying need to elevate anything that one wishes to grow here. Logs are cut with a chainsaw and laid on top of some mulched materials (in this case port jackson tree leaves, and shredded branches) in a Mandala spiral layout. More shredded materials are then added on top of the logs, and everything is covered in a layer of topsoil. When good compost has been made, it will get added for seedlings to go into. Over time the logs will decompose, adding carbon to the nutrient mix, and other compost materials will be added as the sections of veg are harvested and the growing areas rotated. Many initial inputs are needed, but once established these beds will be the crucial, relatively low maintenance platform for many food crops.

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