It has been a while since I wrote about our garden, and Lynnae’s recent square foot garden update motivated me to snap a few pictures to share both our gardening successes and our failures. I’ve learned a few lessons from the whole square foot gardening experience, and not all of them are positive. I discovered that I am not, by nature, a gardener. I did manage to produce a few crops, but hardly the quantity I desired. One of the things that has scuttled my attempt at gardening has been the weather–it has been extremely hot and dry for months. In fact, it looks like the southeast will be going through yet another long drought much like the one we experienced last summer.
Biggest Success: Tomatoes
By far the biggest success from our garden has been our tomato plants. They quickly outgrew our square foot gardening table so we transplanted them in the ground in our backyard, adding a couple rows of squash and cucumbers to fill in around them. The Burpee tomato (“Early and Often” variety) has really done well in our little garden, and produced some of the tastiest tomatoes for summer salads. The dry conditions have kept them a little smaller than we would have liked, but they have thrived in terms of flavor despite the tough conditions.
Cucumbers and Squash Were a Flop
Our cucumber crop has been anemic, producing only a few cucumbers of any size. The ones that did sprout were delicious, but there were not nearly enough of them to satisfy my cravings for cucumber sandwiches, and cucumbers and red wine vinegar as an “eat-along” with salads. The squash plants were equally unsatisfying, but I planted them a little late, so that’s probably my fault.
Will We Have a Square Foot Garden Next Year?
Absolutely! But this time we’ll do things a little different. Next year I plan to actually till an area of our yard and add the proper combination of additives to make our soil more conducive to growth. I also plan to make a number of square foot garden boxes and dedicate a box for each type of plant that we are interested in growing. We may also use containers for planting and growing our tomato plants because they tend to take over an area if not staked or caged. If next summer is as hot and dry as this one has been, I will have to invest in some type of improved irrigation system, such as a drip hose on a timer.
All things considered, square foot gardening has been a positive experience. It has introduced my kids to the idea of growing our own food, and has piqued their interest in fruits and vegetables, even if we still have to buy them from a farmers market. They have helped me water the garden, double dig the soil in preparation for transplanting, and of course they were always eager to help me harvest produce. Next season I will require even more help–I hope they are up to the challenge!
I’m interested to hear from fellow gardeners. Have your crops produced this year? What type of irrigation system do you have in place? Recommendations?