Square Foot Gardening
My allotment is rather too large for our needs and for my free time so in 2012 I am planning some changes. The first is to grow more flowers since once sown or planted there are several varieties that take up space (keeping the weeds at bay), flower for months on end and require very little attention. The other change will be to divide one of the very large beds up into squares for better management and productivity.
Square Foot Gardening emerged about 25 years ago when an American vegetable grower Mel Bartholomew, became aware of the challenge, and regular disappointments, felt by new vegetable gardeners. He recognised that the enthusiasm expressed in early spring, when sowing and planting a large plot, was rapidly followed by feeling overwhelmed by the work. Then a glut of crops on one hand can often be followed by various failures on the other. Dividing the plot into squares makes planning and sowing and planting much more manageable and is at the same time aesthetically pleasing. Space and time is reduced since the area is cultivated intensely and the timing for repeat sowing is easier to plan for.
So my aim is to experiment on the largest bed which is currently covered with tarpaulin having had a heavy mulch of organic matter in late winter. I’ll divide it into four squares across and eight squares the length of it. On the outer edges a mixture of French marigolds, dwarf nasturtiums and chives can frame the bed. Ideally the squares should measure between 1.2m or 1.4m but less will work if the bed size dictates. Next week I’ll measure it up and draw a rough plan in my allotment journal. On the ground the divisions will be delineated simply with canes or garden string laid across and down the length of the bed.
Sprawling plants such as courgettes and squashes and very tall plants like runner beans, purple sprouting broccoli and sweetcorn can be planted in other beds on the allotment. Main crop onions and spuds can also follow the rotation beds elsewhere. In spring I’ll direct sow seeds into the squares starting with salad leaves -red in one and bright green in another. Radishes, carrots, beetroot, pak choi, rocket, spring onions and saladini seeds can also be sown directly in each square. Pot-raised seedlings of tomatoes, leeks, garlic, dwarf beans, Cavola nero, Spring cabbages and perpetual spinach can be planted mid-summer in all the remaining squares.
Now that I’ve committed to the project I’ll be blogging regular up-dates with photos throughout the year.
My other challenge is week 9 of cut flowers from the garden. It’s getting difficult but here is a small pot of one very sweet Helleborus argutifolius plus some intensely scented Viburnum (hanging over the wall from my neighbour’s garden) and more Euphorbia wulfennii.