mom who works

the joys and challenges of being a working mom trying to find "balance"

A garden of one’s own, the (sort-of) “square foot” way July 7, 2010

Filed under: home & garden — Deborah @ 10:29 am
Tags: , , , ,

I live in the city, and I have a teeny, tiny yard. Great for having fun on the weekends because I don’t have to mow my lawn (it takes about 10 minutes to mow the front, there is absolutely no grass in the back), but not great if you want to grow your own vegetables.

When we first moved in we put a garden in the back, near the garage. We had great veggies those first two years. Then shrubs and trees and the reality of having to put the tomatoes in the same place every year (encourages blight) and the harvest dwindled and dwindled to the point where last year the “garden” was a big patch of weeds. I actually convinced myself it was a “native prairie garden.” Yeah right. A big patch of weeds does not look so great in a teeny tiny yard.

Square Foot Gardening

"All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew

Years ago I had heard of “square foot gardening” and I thought it was a bunch of hooey. Probably because it’s proponents were kind of nutty about it – competing to see who would get the most harvest from the smallest space. Weird zealots.

Fast forward to March and my eight year old bringing home seeds from school, asking, “Mom, can we grow some zucchini and carrots this year?”  And then me looking out at the “native prairie garden” in the backyard, and then looking at my insane schedule, and then my looking at my cute, sweet daughter and saying “of course we can sweetie.” Hmm.

First thought was BOX GARDENS. That’s the new, hip and cool way to build gardens, right? So, I need a box. Lots of instructions on the web to “build” your box, all of which require lumber, and drills and tools and a concept of geometry that escapes me. Next option, BUY the box. Again, lots of choices, most costing slightly less than the mortgage on my house. Enter Sam’s Club. Worth joining for $35 to get the deal of a lifetime on two box gardens. No tools needed. Perfect.

Then on to Gardeners.com to calculate how much dirt I would need to fill said boxes. It was a lot (1.5 cubic yards). Way more than would fit in the back of my VW Beetle. So I did the next best thing and call our handy local landscape service (a nice father/son business, reasonably priced) and found they would deliver the dirt and put it in the boxes for about $40 more than me just getting the dirt myself. Way worth the price.

So one bright sunny Saturday I cleared the weeds. Well, not really. I cleared some of the “big” weeds and the rest I just rolled some weed barrier fabric over. I installed the boxes (literally took about 30 minutes for two 4×7 foot boxes). Then lay down mulch in over the weed barrier fabric in the aisles. Next day the landscaper came and delivered the dirt and we were in business.

I planted my daughter’s zucchini and carrots. Now granted, we are in Milwaukee, and it was mid-June by the time this all got done, so it’s not very likely that we’ll have any zucchini before the snow flies. But we may have zucchini flowers (and the Italians do this great dish with zucchini flowers and ricotta cheese …). I planted some tomatoes, which may or may not grow because I don’t think we get enough sun there any more (the shrubs and trees). Some herbs, some beans, some lettuce. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get my gardening mojo back.

 

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