Planning the Garden

We finally did it. We planned out the garden plot. The weather for the last few weeks has been a little wet and crazy so being in the yard has been difficult, and we are a bit behind. Let me start from the beginning.

I mentioned last week that we started using the square foot gardening method of growing. You might even say it is a technological advancement in growing your own food. Like with so much of our lives we use technology to make even the garden better. Anyone who plants a garden should always ask themselves, what do I like to eat and how much? Most people who plant a garden, more so with first timers plant way too much, and typically of things they won’t eat. We used to make that mistake. At this point, I can’t even remember how we stumbled across square foot gardening, but I’m sure glad we did. We used to do it the old fashioned way of creating rows, putting in too many seeds, then thinning as the season went on. Square Foot is way better. From the beginning to the end it gives us so many benefits, including easier weeding, easier watering, easier harvesting, and perhaps best of all a much more predictable outcome.

We start with what we want from the garden. Usually that means a prime purpose. This year we decided we wanted that to be salsa. Not only do we love the stuff to eat with tortilla chips, but we decided we could use it come December as Christmas gifts for family and friends. With that in mind we started planning the square feet around the ingredients we need for the salsa. We have tried several recipes in the past, Rebecca found this recipe on Pinterest and decided to give it a whirl.

  • 20 pints of salsa require about 30lbs of tomatoes
  • 1 glove of garlic per pint
  • 1/2 of a jalapeño per pint
  • 1/2 onion per pint

Of course there are other things we’ll have to buy, but these are the base parts that we can grow. With that information we knew we needed a minimum of two tomato plants to generate the 30lbs. We need some just to eat, and more to share so we decided three plants and a cherry tomato to round it out. The rest of our garden looks a bit like this

garden_2016

 

For things that can be trained to grow up, we built a trellis at the south end of several of the boxes. We use these for the tomatoes, cantaloupes, and sometimes cucumbers. As we go through the growing season, I’ll show you how we guide the plants up.

One of the most amazing tools we use to help us is the Utah State Extension website. It provides virtually all the information about when to plant each of our selected crops. I then use the calendar app, which spans my computer, phone, and iPad to enter the planting date for each crop. I don’t get too tricky, just the Saturday closest to the actual distance from the average last frost date. I always set an alarm for each event. Rebecca and I have a shared calendar so it reminds both of us what needs to go in the ground when. By the way, we get frost information from Extension website too. For us, the average last frost is April 15th.

One thing you may have noticed is that we plant zinnias and marigolds around the borders of our boxes. Years ago, we were told they are a natural pesticide. I suppose I could look it up to see how accurate that may be, but even if it isn’t we like the way they look and give some color and variety to the beds.

Like I said, right now we are a little behind because of the weather. The plan is for the coming Saturday to get the compost in the beds and start to plant. We’ll pick it up there next week because the type of compost is important if you want the best yields. We have tried several varieties over the years and have settled on what we think is the best, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

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