After reading the article "Planting Square by Square" in GRIT's November/December issue, I am motivated to plot my new 4x4 garden box so I will be ready for spring! The article did a great job of laying out the different sized plants so that I could see the ex-large plants all the way down to small plants. It truly is easy as 1,2,3,4! The typical garden plants seem to be a great start for me but I think I will pass on the beets.
Having a visual map of the garden each year is very helpful to see what works and what needs to be rethought. So far grape tomatoes and cantaloupe, Success! Blueberries, cabbage and okra are a replant for sure. With cabbage I learned that I need to plant one in a square and another one over a few squares so that the aphids and cabbage moths won't find them all at once. This knowledge would have saved me some money when I bought nine cabbage plants last spring only for all of them to be pest cuisine over the whole month of April. Lettuce and broccoli were a success in the early spring last year though I would have loved to plant them earlier and gotten the harvest longer. I'm excited about planting green beans this spring. Hopefully I will keep the chickens from eating all my seedlings. I also want to grow carrots and potatoes.
With this article came a lot of questions, first why mark the squares with wood? Wood seems a little expensive. What do you do when needing to clean it out, rake leaves, add compost? Would you ever need to take it off the garden box? I think fishing line or burlap twine would work as well and be less expensive. I found some leather-like string I had left over from a craft project that I used. I can take it off and reuse it again if I need to.
I also have to consider the shade factor as we have fences and trees that affect our backyard and side yard gardens on our suburban plot. The 6x8 garden box on the side of the house really only grows 3x6 due to the shade factor. Square by square gardening can aid in plotting the shade, showing what time of day the sun gets to that square and when the shade invades. I now will be able to plot which plants need the most sun (outside squares) to the least amount of sun (inside closer to the house). My new 4x4 back garden will have the most sun so this is where I will plant the tomatoes for sure. I might even put a trellis outback to maximize my growing space for the cantaloupes.
I'm so excited to see my garden like a blank canvas ready to be created! We had a beautiful day here and I couldn’t keep myself out of the garden so I planted some onions today. I better go read up on how to grow onions.
Next I hope to build a potato box to grow my seed potatoes I bought today. Spring feels like its just around the corner.