January 13, 2011

  • Square Foot Gardening

    Last spring, one of the ladies in our playgroup built and cultivated a Square Foot Garden. In her 4′x4′ garden, she was able to successfully grow tomatoes, peppers, basil, a sunflower, peas, eggplant, nasturtium and some other stuff. I was impressed! I asked her about it and then got the book for my birthday. I loved the book, which describes how many of each crop you can put into each 1-foot square (you can grow a different type of crop in each square, which means you could have up to 16 different types of fruits, veggies or flowers in that small space), and it gets around the issue of poor soil quality (which is a problem in most residential areas).

    My in-laws are staying with us until next weekend, so Johnny asked his dad to help him with the construction of the garden. The two of them went to Home Depot and Lowe’s, and my father-in-law generously insisted on paying for everything, even though that was definitely not our intent, and then they built it in just a couple of hours, with Jack’s “help.” They even built me a sturdy steel trellis at the north end of the garden. The nylon netting for it arrived yesterday; my father-in-law’s going to hang it up on the trellis frame when he fills in the remainder of the Mel’s Mix (a special organic mix of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost and 1/3 vermiculite. I guess SFG is doing so well that now they sell the mix pre-made, so you don’t have to purchase all the different stuff and mix it yourself). Jack was delighted to be out with the men. I hate to perpetuate gender stereotypes, but I have zero interest in tools and construction stuff, and Johnny does like it. Jack has to pick it up from somewhere! I’m not raising a man who isn’t handy … but I sure as heck won’t be the one teaching him those skills. My handiness begins and ends at changing a light bulb. There’s got to be something I’m not good at, right? Just kidding.

    He learned how to use a tape measure, a drill and a hacksaw! Johnny told me that Jack actually cut the steel for the trellis frame.

    January 006

    Ta-da!!!! The garden and frame.

    January 007

    I’m SO grateful that the garden is built. (Thank you, Dad!) Since our climate is so mild, the last spring frost is actually in mid-February, which means that some of the earliest spring crops need to start going in now. To that end, I purchased broccoli seedlings yesterday. I also got some sugar snap pea seeds and spinach seeds. Those will go in over the weekend. In addition to those, over the course of the spring/summer, I plan to grow baby carrots, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, okra, cucumber and basil. I feel like there was something else, but it’s slipping my mind at the moment. Anyway, there are 16 squares to fill, but I’ll leave some blank (or plant some wildflowers in them) — don’t want to bite off more than I can chew! I also still have my hanging tomato planter, which I’ll use to grow cherry tomatoes this year (big ones will be in the SFG), and my strawberries are doing well in their planter, too. I’m excited and will be posting regular updates here and on Facebook. Gardening is something I’ve been slow to warm up to, but now that Derek’s getting a little older, I need something to “baby,” and I suppose it might as well be home-grown vegetables! We do eat a lot of veggies, and it’ll be fun for the kids to participate in growing them.

    Not much else to report. Jack and Derek are having great fun with Nana and Papa. Jack was introduced to football by my in-laws (Johnny’s not much of a sports watcher, and neither am I). Jack’s now requesting “football, please” on a regular basis. I don’t think he likes watching it as much as he likes being with all the guys on the couch, though:

    My father-in-law and Johnny with the boys

    January 004

    Also, all the adults in the family are on a weight-loss campaign. I really let myself go from Thanksgiving on, and gained what I feel like is an unacceptable amount of weight. Now that I’m 30, I really feel like the weight is slower in coming off. It used to be that I could just eat whatever and not pay the price! Since I’m Asian, and given the small frames in my family, it’s never going to get too bad, but still, there’s a personal standard I have for myself, and over the holidays, I went way past it! Anyway, my whole point is that calorie counting and staying on track is much easier when everyone’s doing it! We’re all holding each other accountable and come up with strategies to enjoy meals (and not binge on weekends) while still staying within our calorie budgets. So far, Johnny has lost five pounds, and I’ve lost 4.5. We only started at the beginning of last week, so yay, go us. I’ll be happy to lose 10 pounds total. I think 15 is impossible, but we’ll see. Thanks to my in-laws being here, I’ve also been able to go to two or three Bar Method classes each week, instead of just on the weekend. In addition, I’ve still been running three times a week with the boys, so that’s five days of exercise each week. We’ll see how I do on the exercise front after they leave. Running is easy with the double jogger, but I really love the Bar Method classes for toning, and for the fast results (but you have to keep it up). I will happily do aerobic exercise, but strength training and toning is something I’m really bad at when I’m by myself.

    OK, off to start prepping dinner! Hope everyone’s having a great 2011 so far.

Comments (6)

  • i love your SFG box!  I’ve been wanting Seb to help me build one! but since it’s just him, I’d feel obligated to help him.  And like you, I have zero interest in these kinda things.  blah. So they sell Mel’s mix at home depot?

  • I really really wish we had weather like yours!!  I can’t start planting my veggies till AFTER mother’s day.  That’s the freakin’ middle of May!! booo.  Anyway, i am so excited for your garden.  I LOVE gardening.  Have you considered doing a compost?  They have this really cool container you put on your counter and it has a double filter so it does not smell.  You just throw in your foliage that you would normally throw away like cucumber peels, banana peels, etc.. and then when it fills up, throw it in your compost.  It will give you very nutrient rich dirt and takes minimal effort….plus, it saves money and is great for the environment.  They don’t smell either, contrary to what most people think.  So if you want more info (we got our compost bin from Sam’s and the container for the counter online), let me know.  I’d love to help!

    As for tomatoes, i am a master grower…hehe.  My mom had this HUGE side yard she grows about 24 plants in each year and they are taller than her!  She has passed on all of her genius growing advice onto me, so if you have any tomato questions, let me know.  Also, i would recommend “Better Boy” tomato plants.  They usually have so many kinds to choose from and my mom says those are the best.  You probably have to watch out for that fungus that grows on the leaves.  If you notice the underside of the leaves get splotchy and dark, grab some fungicide, mix with water and put in a spray bottle.  You just spray it on the leaves and you’re good to go.  If any gets on the actual tomatoes, it won’t hurt them and washes right off.  Not sure if you’re wanting to do completely organic, but sometimes the fungicide is necessary to save your plants….especially if there’s humidity in your area.  Okay, i’m talking way too much about this!  Good luck!!

  • @My_Enigma_Heart - Wa, the premade Mel’s Mix is at Lowe’s, and at Lowe’s they also sell PREMADE SFGs with trellises!!!! If my FIL weren’t here, I would have just told Johnny to buy the premade, even though he would have scoffed at that. Since FIL is here, it was a fun father-son project, so I didn’t butt in with my opinion too much. LOL. But if it were just us, I would have bought the premade one, all the way. You might want to give your Lowe’s a call and see if thy have it, but ours did have both. Shoot, you can probably even order a premade SFG online.

    @ShamrockLover - OOOOOOH! You’re not talking too much about this stuff, Kelly! I remember that you are a fantastic gardener. Yes, I would love to compost, and I really would like a compost bin suggestion. The ones I’ve seen look so big! Let me know which one you’d recommend, please. I already keep a small trash bin next to my sink, on the counter, for all my fruit and veggie peels, so it would be no big deal to put those in the compost. I’ve wanted to do it for the longest time! In fact, the SFG book recommends adding a trowel of compost to each square after harvesting the crops, so the soil is nice and rich for the next crop. We have so many items that are compostable … it would really reduce the volume of our trash. Thanks also for the tomato suggestion. I’ll look out for Better Boy tomatoes. Are they available at Home Depot or Lowe’s, or only at special nurseries?

  • @ShamrockLover - On second thought, could you also send me the link for the countertop container? I like our small countertop trash bin, but I have to be careful about lining it with all sorts of plastic bags so it doesn’t leak. Thanks!!

  • Hi Beverly!! I’m so jealous of your cute square foot garden..you’re so lucky you can grow so many veggies and herbs!! I would give anything for a garden and bk yard at this point. Will you take more pictures as your garden grows?? I just usually have a measley herb garden in the summer which I keep in the kitchen and it ends up dying every year ha. Thats so nice of your father in law to help Johnny out and pay for everything. You have such nice inlaws! If I ever get married, hopefully I will like/love my inlaws too, ha.

    I think you look great!! I wish I was as healthy as you. I know the stereo typical “asian” is usually very petite and thin and I’m NOT the norm. I’ve been chubby since the 5th grade and growing up w/ a mom and 2 older petite sister was not easy!! I really want to try and start eating better and exercise more. Thats awesome you can still jog w/ the kids and go to to your Bar Method class. Hope you have a great weekend.

    p.s Cute picture of the kids, they’re growing up so fast!

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