Friday, April 4, 2008

Why I Use the Square Foot Method

Thanks for visiting my blog! I am chronicling here my experiences with Square Foot Gardening as practiced in my community garden in Oakland, CA. I've had a community garden plot for a couple of years, but haven't done as much with it as I could have given the great sunshine it gets. I also am still kind of new to gardening, so I am sure there will be many mistakes made along the way.

I chose to go with the Square Foot method this year for several reasons. First, another gardener who always had a beautiful-looking plot recommended it. I've grown some veggies with relative success in the past few years, but this year I was hoping to amend my soil and grow a lot more. The Square Foot method lets me do that because it maximizes your growing area. The method recommends raised beds that are only six inches deep. I'm still curious to see if this will be deep enough, but my wallet couldn't afford to build the beds any deeper, especially if I have to fill it with Mel's mix.

Second, I'm now the mom of an adorable but inevitably time-consuming 6 month old, and we live about ten minutes away from our garden, so I don't always have lots of time to spend a few hours weeding every week. And even if I did, I don't know if I'd want to spend that much time weeding. The Square Foot method relies upon raised beds that are protected by some sort of weed barrier, and you mix the soil yourself from a combination of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 vermiculite.

The upfront investment for me seemed kind of steep (think $40 for each raised 4'x4' bed, including soil), but when I added up the number of things I could grow in just a few seasons, it seems that it will pay for itself. I guess we'll see if that happens or if it just becomes one expensive hobby. Even if I fail, I can chart it up to a lot of exercise - I would pay a lot more than my investment in this garden for a health club membership!