Book Review: "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew

This year I’m planning to try a vegetable garden. On advice from Diane Gaskins, I checked Square Foot Gardening out from the library to learn how to do a vegetable garden in a small space.

Last fall Josh and my dad constructed me a “lasagna garden” in a very small box (about 4′ by 4′). Basically it’s a raised bed with layers of dirt, peat moss, leaves and whatnot so that I’ll have good soil, rather than the baked pottery consistency of our backyard soil as is. I figured Square Foot Gardening would help me, since the bed is, as my grandmother would say, “tee-nine-cy” and so space maximization is paramount.

I think the book would be helpful to experienced gardeners as well, but it was certainly enlightening for me! I took copious notes, and learned a lot. The premise of the system is to block off your garden into square foot plots, and plant a different crop in each square, spaced accordingly, rather than sowing rows of way too many seeds and then having the time consuming task of pruning later. There are also many helpful tips for what types of things have to be planted from seed versus transplants, when to plant what, how to save time weeding, watering, keeping pests out, and harvesting.

Today I went to Lowes and got some big metal stakes and wire stuff to make a frame for my vertical crops to grow on, and I also got some seeds and some vermiculite to use when planting the seeds. I got the opportunity to explain to the elderly gentleman who was working in the outdoor garden section exactly what vermiculite is and how it’s used. I told him I would come back later in the season to tell him how it works for me. The good thing about him not knowing what vermiculite is, was that I didn’t have to be concerned about pronouncing it correctly. 🙂

Since it’s supposed to snow again next week (sheesh) I will probably wait until May to plant, but I’m thinking of doing pole beans, sugar snap peas, a green pepper, swiss chard, tomatoes, spinach, and a zucchini. I might skip the zucchini. I haven’t decided about that yet. My grandfather suggested I try some arugula, so I might do that as well. I really want to grow a cantalope, but that might have to wait for another year…I’m sure as the summer wears on, I’ll have updates on my gardening adventures!

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