We plant a vegetable garden every year. The first year we were off to a great start. We had a nice sunny location. The cucumber plants in the center of the garden grew so tall that we built a second level of trellising and watched those babies head for the stars. We thought we were going to climb those vines like Jack did. A week later a big wind storm blew through. The cucumbers came crashing down committing suicide and killing everything underneath it.
The next year we had to relocate the garden. We built it up against the fence in the backyard. It seemed like a good spot. There was a sturdy fence for the vining plants to climb. The danger of another Cucumber Massacre was eliminated. So was the majority of the sun. The plants grew. They would flower. But the flowers would die off before any vegetables would emerge.
For two more years, we planted a garden in that spot. For two more years, we barely got past the flowering stage. When a tomato would finally make it we'd check it daily until it grew plump. "One more day!" we'd squeal. We'd go to sleep dreaming of the Caprese salad we'd make with the juicy, red tomato and fresh basil picked from our very own garden. But we weren't the only ones watching that prize.
The next morning, as we walked the path from the deck to the garden, we'd find it. Our precious tomato lying on the ground a foot away. A carcass sucked dry. The squirrels (or birds) had beat us to it. Over and over we'd play out this same scene with tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and cucumbers.
This year we stared out at our overgrown, dilapidated garden box. Ready to hang up our gardening gloves. It seemed pointless. Unless we wanted to become rosemary farmers. Rosemary had become our only friend in the vegetable garden.
But I just couldn't do it. I couldn't quit. I love watching the garden grow. I love making my salad with my own homegrown cucumbers. There had to be a better way.
And there is!
I read a comment on my friend, Fawn's blog, about Square Foot Gardening. I checked the book out of the library and decided to give it a try. We found a new sunny location, built a new box, hunted down the ingredients to make "Mel's Mix" special soil, and planted our first seeds and plants on April 11th. And the results have been amazing compared to past years.
The zucchini plant was only 2 tiny leaves when I added it to the garden one month ago. Here it is today. It's already a monster!
The green beans planted from seeds are already finding their way up the poles.
The super cancer-busting Swiss Chard also planted from seeds look practically ready to eat.
We've already picked three strawberries!
And everything else seems to be thriving with the exception of the lettuce. Not sure what I did wrong there.Some of the squares appear empty because they were only just planted with seeds this week. I decided to add in some flowers for cutting. We'll see how they fare.
We seem to have solved two out of our three problems. We haven't done anything to keep the squirrels and the birds away, but we've taken away the fence the squirrels used for easy access. If need be, I'll read up on Mel's section about enclosures. This is going to be the year we break our losing streak.
I can't wait for the vines to grow up and shake hands with their new friend!
How about you? Is anybody else growing vegetables this year? Any tips you'd like to pass along would be greatly appreciated!