We encourage & assist folks to grow food for self and neighbor

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bringing Garden Dreams to Fruition

A friend wrote me to ask, "Are you getting any business amidst all the 'awareness-raising' that you're doing?"

I am, I'm happy to report. Below is one garden project I worked on this past week: a food garden in Carol's backyard.


Carol wanted two raised beds with a small fence around them to keep her pups from digging up her winter greens. The day before I started digging, she called with a question: "Are you familiar with the Square Food Gardening (SFG) method?" "Yes," I responded,"more or less." Many people have called my attention to Mel Bartholomew's gardening approach over the years, and I'd just perused his website at length the week before. Additionally, without even knowing it, I'd been incorporating many of his ideas into my own practices in my home garden.

Carol offered me Bartholomew's book, which she'd purchased thirty years previously. "I wonder," Carol submitted, "if I could loan it to you over night, you could take a look, and then apply the principles in my garden when you install it tomorrow...?" I accepted the book and dug through it.

In addition to Bartholomew's fondness of a few extra soil amendments like vermiculite and peat moss, the major difference between SFG and other natural small-plot gardening methods (like biointensive) is the grid. SFG calls for a 1x1ft visual grid over the top of the soil to aid gardeners-- newbies and experienced, alike-- in intensive planting. The grid, Bartholomew argues, allows gardeners to easily manage a multitude of crops in a small space. Plus, the grid breaks the tendency to plant in rows, which, he says, is an inefficient spacing of plants.

Below is a close up of one of Carol's SFG beds complete with a grid made with twine. If I'm not mistaken, in this single raised-bed there are kale, chard, broccoli, red cabbage, rosemary, sage, dill, and thyme plants; snap-pea, radish and carrot seeds; plus a handful of shallots. Oh, plus beets and a couple squares planted with oats as a cover crop to fill vacant squres. And some flowers.


I received an email from Carol last night in which she wrote, "If I haven't told you how much I love my garden, let me tell you now. I LOVE MY GARDEN!"

So, to answer my friend on the topic of business: things are good.

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