Getting To The Square Root of Things!
In 2017 l tried my hand at Square Foot Gardening [SFG] and both it and l didn’t have a happy relationship, well we did and we didn’t. For those NOT in the know to the principals behind SFG have a look at the link underneath and you’ll see what l am referring to. The basic formula of SFG is sound, but it’s not if you are 1] a novice – 2] too enthusiastic and 3] are someone that struggles with moderation! In 2017, l was all three of those things! Perhaps l am being a little unfair on myself – some gardening styles and gardeners simply don’t get along, and SFG and l were one of those kinds of friendships.
I bought myself two beds sized 10 long x 4 wide x18″ high and 8 long x 4 wide x 18″ high and instead of allowing myself a comfortable walkway around them, l placed the beds at almost impossible positions to freely gain access to all the veg at the same time.
Strangely enough it’s called SFG for a reason, that being that you plant within the square foot spaces, as you can see here, l didn’t have 12×12″ spaces because at 4 feet wide, there should have only been 4 spaces across not 6. The other problem l encountered was that my raised beds were not exactly the measurements they said they were, but smaller. I am not a carpenter by any standards and so instead ot trying to make something like a grid, l used what l had …. oh hindsight – marvelous thing isn’t it? Ah, but l was young and foolish two years ago .. what a difference a disaster can make to a person!”
I was determined to be the greatest gardener who ever lived! Okay, no, l was not that geared, but l wanted to really make the gardening work and l figured that having bought these two superb beds that SFG was the way to go – it wasn’t, but it was a great learning curve for all sorts of things. You see, l don’t do things by half l am either in it to win it, or not in it at all!
I had done vegetable gardening when younger, and was very enthusiastic to start again, l had been mentored in various skills over the years, l am a pretty good natural forager, l have a firm knowledge on lots of different things and can retain information in my head for years and years, l think it’s safe to say that l have probably learned , absorbed and discarded more topics in the space of a given year than many others may learn in ten or twenty years. But that doesn’t mean squat if you get a few things wrong due to an over zealousness!
I was if anything, prepared! 5 tonnes of mixed soils – screened, organic and mushroom combined with my rich compost and our beds were the ‘bizzness!’ I had been saving up for weeks with my plastic bottles, doing my bit for recycling and having my own propagators. My plants – hundreds of them – were in the house occupying all sorts of space and had been growing inside since January 1st 2017 when they were planted! I had bought loads of seeds, so many in fact that despite giving loads away in these two years, and using loads we still have some for this season – although l have bought a few more.
I was determined to make this SFG thing work really well, and l was going to have loads of herbs, vegetables and flowers growing in my beds, and in my pots – l was going to be King at this!
I said to Suze “Fail to prepare means prepare to fail darling! I have got this my love, l have got this under control!”
However, do you see where one side of these huge beds are? That’s right – next to the fence, well that was a huge colossal error and one that Suze did point out to me … l have NEVER said l am perfect!
It didn’t take very long for me to realise that my not 12″ squares were not going to work! Too bloody small, they were not 12″ but 8″ and 8″ Gardening squares don’t work! Take note from experience here. I decided to opt out of a huge calamity and then proceeded to run with line growing! Much easier!
So, okay l failed with square foot gardening, and l learned that row line gardening in raised beds was my way. Did l learn anything else? Oh yes l learned a lot in a very short space of time, remember how l said l don’t do things by half? Well in three months l had read and absorbed 24 books on all sorts of gardening and some of these books were huge volumes and tomes not slim pickings in terms of paperbacks, but monster books. I learned a lot of ways to do lots of different things, which helped me further into the season. one thing l seriously learned however was how bloody costly watering this lot was when our water butts ran dry and you are on a water metre in comparison to someone who is not!!! There were lots of positives to pull from the negatives, so that was a definite win!
Something l did learn which was a huge positive bonus and which is now the rule of thumb for 2019’s season, is that pots were more effective for gardening instead of raised beds and were also remarkably superb, for the very basis of this particular post, which l shall present at the end.
The beds were a good investment and more so if in the right location, we had very high yields throughout the 2017 season, but l found out that we enjoyed a much higher yield from our potted vegetables and plants. So the raised beds were sold in 2018 in the spring and last years gardening was cultivated only in pots, and two 4 x 4 x 18″ high beds.
But what l did learn from 2017 for very much the positive was in facts the merits and qualities of both companion plantings and beneficial plants that attracted the right insects who in addition to repellant plants kept out all sorts of nasties from the 2017 crops, however those l will discuss in part 2 tomorrow.
In the meantime, thanks for reading.