• Silly Farmer Billy

You can have a home garden without having any land

Hey there,

Everyone’s a little freaked out. And right fully so..

The US has experienced its first nationwide food shortage that I can remember. 

The existing supply chain seems to be keeping its head above water, barely, but a lot of people can’t stop thinking about what happens if it gets worse.

I smell a comeback for personal gardens!

So, what I’d like to do is to share some information on different models for gardening. I’ll tackle one or two methods per email, so that we can keep this concise. After we take the journey together, I’ll share with you what I’m doing for my personal gardening, which is more of a mishmash.

My first experience with gardening: Square Foot Gardening

This was where it all started for me. I found out about a book by Mel Bartholomew online, “Square Foot Gardening: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space”. 

At the time, it was exactly what I was looking for, because I lived in a little two room apartment.

Here’s the gist:

..Build a 4’x4’x1’ deep box

..Fill it with perfect new soil

..Section the box off into 16 single square foot sections

..Plant a crop in each section (beans in one square, peas in another, etc.)

..Plant Intensively, much closer together than traditional gardening/farming. Mel includes his recommendations on spacing for each crop.

The idea is that the box-garden method with new soil will reduce weeding time, because you’re starting with soil that doesn’t contain weed seeds. The intensive spacing also shades out bare spots so that less weeds can blow in and take hold.

(Most of the best gardening systems are designed to minimize weeding in one way or another, since you’re not spraying chemicals or using expensive machines to cultivate.)

Mel recommends mixing it yourself from peat, vermiculite, and compost, but I’m a professional ‘soil mix’ grower and I’m telling you it will be cheaper and better if you just buy professional soil by the bale. Pro-Mix Organic is what I use, and it’s definitely better than Sun-grow. Either one will come in a 3.8cu compressed bale, and 1-2 bales should fill your box.

Mel also tells you that you can get away with a box only 6” deep for most crops. He’s right; I did it. But since you’re planting so intensively, you won’t regret going with 12” depth. Also, if you’re only doing one garden, you need that depth for crops like carrots, etc.

One more thing.. Treated lumber is ok for your box. They stopped using arsenic in treated lumber a long time ago. The copper might leach a little, but your soil needs copper anyway. Just saying.

I’ve done four Square Foot Gardens. At the time, I lived at an apartment, so I put one at my Dad’s house, one at my in-law’s, and two at my sisters. The ones that got more care fared better, but many crops produced despite my neglect of them, especially bush beans.

This method is simple, and it works.

The best thing is that box-gardening is versatile and can be utilized even if you have only a few feet of space on a deck, or even just a sunny window.

I recommend seeing what people are doing on Youtube. Or if you like to read, the book is available on Amazon.

Next time we’ll go over the methods that were originally inspired by Square Foot Gardening, and took things to the next level.

Talk Soon

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