…Aaand it’s cold again. It was amazing outside at the beginning of the week, a couple of those unusually warm winter days that trick you into thinking spring is here. I don’t know how it is in your town, but around here it means putting your top down, wearing a hoodie and flip flops, (yeah I’m talking about you, carpool attendant lady), and starting some much needed yard maintenance. Rosie and I took full advantage of the nice weather by cruising around the neighborhood on our training wheels, cleaning up the raised garden beds, and planting some of those “4-6 weeks before last frost” vegetables.
I checked a few websites to find out when our “last average frost” is here in Kentucky, and the consensus seemed to be somewhere between April 10th and the 20th. I bought some seeds last year from a local company’s Etsy site, Nimble NiteCap, and with each package of seeds came a nifty, little instruction card with details on when to plant and harvest, and how far apart to space your seeds. I got out my big binder of craft and gardening notes and inspiration, and flipped through the description cards to see what should be planted now. I also keep a map in there of our raised beds and where I planted each seed, so I know where to “rotate” my plants the next year.
Ok, so I want to go back to Nimble Nite Cap and brag about how great their shop is. It was so nice to be able to click through the pictures of fruits and vegetables, add the seeds to my “cart” and have them delivered to my door in a few days. Not to mention their seeds are “heirloom, organic, and non-gmo,” and I’m buying from and supporting a local business. Plus, we’ve had a garden every summer for the last 5 or 6 years and this past year was by far the most successful. The arugula was to die for and a single plant produced 30-something yellow squash! I truly believe their seeds combined with the “Square Foot Gardening” method that we also tried for the 1st time, were the biggest contributors to our success. Ok, I swear to you that neither of these companies have paid me to say this. I’m really just THAT HAPPY.
So, about the “Square Foot” method. Last winter, we built a ginormous garage and driveway right through where our garden used to sit and the area of the yard that got the most sun. Naturally I was bummed because I thought our gardening days were over, but then Jeff heard a story on NPR about a book called “Square Foot Gardening,” and how you could grow tons of stuff in these raised beds custom fitted for small spaces. Basically, the book says you only need a square foot to grow most plants (or more plants within the square foot depending on row spacing), so you can build the boxes 1′ x 10′ or 4′ x 2′, whatever will fit in your space. Other benefits are that you really only have to buy the recommended soil mixture once, since it’s “contained” in the box, and you’re saving yourself from some of the back breaking labor of tilling and row planting. We planted one 1′ x 10′ box right along the driveway, a 2′ x 3′ in the backyard and a 2′ x 4′ box in the front yard. I was a little worried about how the one in the front yard would look, but it actually blends right in with the surrounding flower bed. We get some major sun there too, so I’m thinking of expanding it this year.
Okay, time to brag about another awesome company, Fresh Start Grower’s Supply. “Square Foot’s” author recommends a soil mixture of equal parts garden compost, peat moss, and vermiculite. I had never heard of vermiculite and apparently neither had any of those guys that wear the orange aprons (don’t act surprised), so I got on the Square Foot forum and several people recommended I check out a locally owned supply store. I actually had a Groupon for Fresh Start, so I hit them up, and I’m so glad I did. They had vermiculite, and I gave them the dimensions of all three of our boxes and they helped me get just the right amount of stuff I needed.
I covered the boxes with weed fabric last fall, so Rosie and I only had to spend a few minutes picking out leaves and twigs to prep for planting. We planted peas, broccoli, arugula, buttercrunch lettuce, spring mix, and spinach in just those three boxes. At one point I looked over and caught Rosie smooching the air over one of the boxes. I asked her what she was doing and she smiled and said, “planting a kiss.” Oh. my. cuteness.