Square Foot Garden: The Plan

In winter, I plot and plan. In spring I move. -Henry Rollins

It all started with this- the seed catalogue made it's appearance in January and I found myself carelessly flipping through pages.
Then I was folding down corners, marking pages to come back to, making mental notes of things I wanted to plant.
Then, for the first time, I really read the descriptions of how and when to plant certain seeds. I noticed recommendation for soil temperature and for care. I found a few things that could go in the ground early- forty and forty five degree soil for germination. Suddenly, spring felt close again.
So, I started to plan. I made lists of veggies we wanted to try for the first time (potatoes!), veggies we wanted to be sure an grow again (peas! beans! tomatoes!), and the veggies I wanted to take a break from (broccoli, cherry tomatoes).
And then I really got into it. I started regrouping things by plant times and soil temperatures so I could think about planting order and what I could start.

I roughed out this plan:

You can see, on the side, things are sorted by temp. I also made a code for the order I would plant thing and started to think about what I could plant in a square when my early crops are done. It's all a grand experiment.

I'm doing square foot gardening for the second year. My plot is about 6ft by 8ft, which is huge. Last year I spent a lot of time researching how many of each seed I could put per square foot. There's lots out there to guide anyone who is interested.
This year, I'm trusting my math skills a little more. If something says it need to be three inches apart to grow, I know that means I can do about nine seeds and still leave enough room to not crowd too close to the edge of the square.

I learned a lot last year. Like, trellising tomatoes is amazing- but I can be even more aggressive in pruning and tying them. And I should expect much to grow in the squares right in front of these tomatoes.

Anyway, after my rough draft, I started this one:
This one is a little easier to read and I tried to leave room in the squares for extra notes- things like variety, date planted, etc.

So far I have in the peas, sweet pea flowers, the onion, and the garlic. Potatoes go in this week. Then I'll just be in a waiting game until those first sprouts come up. That's always the best feeling.

This plan will change- and it will change a lot- before the summer is over. I know that. But a plan gets me started and gives me something to hang my hat on.

Below are some of the onion sets being set in place for growing. I put them close together and I'll thin the when they start going.


Square Foot Garden: Prepping the bed

"We are stardust. We are golden. And we got to get ourselves back to the garden"- Joni Mitchell

Somehow, here in the middle of February, spring found Portland. Signs of spring, as my daughter would say, are everywhere. For instance, this slug we've already found creeping in our new plants:
"It feels all sticky" she says with no qualms
So, my gardening adventure begins again. The bedraggled vines of finished veggies, the forgotten last tomatoes of last October-- mere memories as I flip through the seed catalogue, plotting the great comeback that is SPRING.
And while I hope, with grad school coming to a close this May, that soon I'll have sewing projects to share and crafting successes to celebrate- I thought sharing this gardening adventure post worthy as well. Not to mention, a record for when it starts again next spring.

This is year three in my fabulous garden plot. With no sun in our own yard, I use a community spot at the neighborhood middle school. Year 1- I threw some things in and had a cherry tomato that took over everything. Some good harvest, but lots of missed opportunity. Year 2- I discovered square foot gardening. My math heart could not resist. Squares, math, order, LOVELY. But still, lots to learn. So now, Year 3, I'm ready to make even more of my space.

The bed had a few remnants of my attempts at winter crops. Not wanting to say goodbye to my garden last year, I planted some carrots. I think they would be something great if I gave them another month, but I'm not willing to do so at the expense of waiting to get other plants in, so out they came.
We dug up the soil turned it all, then got ready to add another layer of new compost. The school will do this as a service, but not until community service day at the end of April. Since I just discovered that peas can go in NOW, I couldn't wait.
So, here's where we started:
New dirt waiting to join the old
We brought in three bags of good garden bed compost and spread it out and worked it in with the dirt from last year. I don't plan on fertilizing much beyond that. 

Then we started putting in the grid. The idea here is to plant things by the square foot, not by the row. We just stuck thumb tacs in every 12 inches into the frame and wrapped string around each one. M continued to spread dirt for us. 

laying out the grid

Now, that's a beautiful garden. Ready for anything. We put in a few peas today. Yeah! Soil temp for peas only needs to be 40 degrees and the Oregon State extension services says to plant them in February. Who knew we could get this rolling so soon! Soon to come- radishes and potatoes- also cool weather starts.

 And so it begins! Spring! Garden! A life outside grad school! But for now, I need to hit the books again.