Friday, May 14, 2010


Due to our new interest in "real food" (organic, not genetically modified), we decided to try gardening again this year. The last time we tried, we used the usual row method with limited results. This time, we're trying the square foot gardening method...and we are getting the kids involved.

Last weekend, we finally had enough nice weather to actually get our boxes made, filled, and the planting begun.

Scott made the boxes and leveled the area we wanted to put them. My choice in placement was to get a much sun as possible while still leaving enough backyard for the kids to play (if we ever get the holes hidden under patches of grass filled enough to be safe).

Here, the boxes are down and the kids are using a large, plastic, sand toy shovel and hoe to help mix the dirt that's going to fill the box. This special mix is designed for maximum nutrients, drainage, and aeration. It's ingredients are outlined in the square foot gardening book.

Madelynn, if you look closely, is hanging out way in the back out of the way.

After deciding she was probably getting too much sun, we moved her to under the shade of a beach umbrella, which she thought was for helping her stand.

Sam striking his man-pose. While Mika, Madelynn, and I went off on errand (one of which was buying organic tomato starts that we didn't find), Sam stayed home and helped fill the boxes. Josh slept through it all.

Here's the finished backyard. We even dragged out our old sandbox for Josh. As you can see, Mika and Sam still like it even if they are almost as big as it is. Our garden boxes are in the background: four 4x4 boxes and a deep 3x2 box for potatoes and carrots. It was suggested we start small, and this is much bigger than the small suggested.

The next day, we began planting. Here are three of six squares of strawberries; the other three squares are in a different box. Each square has four plants. Using this method, you don't let the strawberries send our runners, instead you pinch them off so the plant puts all of its energy into making strawberries. This box will also hold two vine tomato plants, a zucchini plant, and a bush tomato plant. Normally, you want to stick with vine-type tomatoes to conserve space but we are trying both to see how they differ. We were also out of vertical squares (they need to be on the north side to avoid shading the other squares) but wanted more tomatoes.

We also planted some green beans, cucumbers, thyme, oregano, dill, basil, cilantro, romaine lettuce, spinach, carrots, and onions. More will be planted as the weeks go by because we are using a continuous harvest method to prevent it all from being ready at the same time. One thing I'll have to do is keep notes on how much is produced so we can better decide what to plant next year.

Of course, the kids will be involved in all of the steps. I'm even including math for Sam. We'll weigh what we harvest and find out how much that would have cost to purchase. When we have a total value for our produce, we'll subtract our costs and see if we had any savings, and discuss savings for next year since the boxes won't have to be remade.

Science, math, health...all rolled into one fun activity. The kids are excited about growing their own organic food.

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