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Friday, April 17, 2009

Gardening - Saves you Money!?

One super fantastic way to save money is to grow your own garden! My father was (and still is) quite the gardener. For a long time the word "gardening" brought on shudders and memories of picking up rocks (painstaking work for a 10 year old!), pulling weeds (and running into spiders), and husking corn (hate those ear wigs!). I took for granted that fresh taste of a home grown tomato. My parents would ooo and ahh about the yummy stuff they would harvest from their garden, and in my head I would just think, "easy for you to say cuz WE did all the work!". Of course I was sooo wrong about the work. They amaze me by how much they did with us six kids!

So here I am, with my own little brood of six (yes, I LOVE it). And although my parents are still always quick to share their produce, it's time for me to be self sufficient! In our 15 years of marriage, we've tried planting a garden here and there. One year we planted and grew some BEAUTIFUL CORN STALKS. No ears of corn ever graced us with their presence.

(my three oldest, 6 years ago, by that soon-to-be non-producing crop)

Ha ha! Last year, in our new yard, we tried to plant corn again. It didn't grow. It didn't get enough sun! We were getting discouraged and feeling like we'd have to completely overhaul our yard to find a sunny spot (we live on 1/2 acre with a lot of mature trees). That would take too much time and money. Neither of which we had.

THEN, last month, my friend blogged about this method of gardening called SQUARE FOOT GARDENING.
All New Square Foot Gardening

The concept of this is amazingly easy and pain free! No more shuddering! Basically you just build a 4x4 box (or 2x4, or 4x8...) that you could put right no top of your grass or any other area (you can put newspaper, cardboard, or weed barrier on top of the grass). Some people even build the boxes UP on a table so they can stand and do their gardening!

Gardening from a 4'x4' box means you can easily maintain the space. Weeding is less overwhelming, because it's so easy to reach in and pull them out before they get out of hand. My nightmares of walking through massive tomato plants and running into a garden spider are a thing of the past! I will no longer have to walk through my garden to weed or harvest!

So check out the website for all the details (for more detail, you can buy the book, or put it on hold at the library - yes, there is a wait list!). The cool thing about this is that it's been around for over 20 years! It is a tried and true method that ABSOLUTELY WORKS!

As I mentioned, we have a lot of tree's in our back yard. We did end up cutting one long needle pine tree down, then my husband went to work building the boxes (we want to do 3 4x4's and one 4x8).

The beauty of this is, you don't HAVE to go out and purchase brand new lumber! First my husband searched through his scrap wood pile. He found a few pieces that would work, but not enough for as many boxes as we wanted to do.

Then he found out about a place nearby called, ReStore and for a mere $11.00 he purchased all the wood that we needed! Who cares if it was used, right!? Nice!

(This is one of our boxes - BEFORE soil was added)

Then you fill the boxes with a soil mix. No more picking rocks up, no more tilling, no more digging through hard dirt. You make up this proven soil mix (1 part compost, 1 part peat moss, 1 part vermiculite), fill your box, and you'll be able to use that same soil year after year after year.

Add a grid to your box to section it out in 16 different squares, and viola - you are ready to start planting!

What is even more fun about this system, is that you can EASILY give children a 1'x1' square to plant and care for. Give the older ones a few more squares to be in charge of!

This is a terrific way to save money on fresh produce. Plus, NOTHING can compare to the taste of the stuff grown in your very own garden! YUMMY! It's also a great way to teach children about responsibility, caring for living things, where food comes from, and the satisfaction that comes from starting and then finishing something!

Square foot gardening is an easy, non-intimidating, less frustrating way to garden.

Not sure what to plant? Here is a schedule put out by my local paper of when and what to plant.

Do you garden? Have you ever tried this Square Foot Gardening? Are you going to try it this year?



Denise said...

This sounds really cool!!! We already have one wood box in our yard that used to be a sandbox, I think I'm going to make that soil mix & see how we do with this method. I'm going to look for the book too.

I've been planning to do some container gardening on my deck anyway, so this will be a nice addition to that since our deck space is limited.

This will be our first attempt at gardening since we left California 4 yrs ago.

Letia said...

I am so excited to try this. Also, Zamzows or D&B will mix your 3 ingredients for you if you have a trailer or truck bed for them to dump all of it in.

The Smiths said...

This is my 3rd year doing the square foot gardens. It's so awesome! I believe the vermiculite is cheaper at Steve Reagans in Nampa/Caldwell kind of by Flying J off the freeway. You can't beat not having to pull weeds!

Paula said...

I love it! I've started my first square foot garden this year and we're already seeing those tiny, sweet little spinach leaves sprouting! (They're so cute! I feel very protective and motherly toward them). My kids have had a lot of fun being involved with it, too. It's a bit of investment the first year, but I know we'll make it up over the years since we don't have to re-purchase the soil or boxes! When I've shown my experienced gardening friends they tell me how "cute" my garden is... we'll see how "cute" it is when it outproduces their row gardens! =0)

Cathy said...

Paula - I love the motherly feel you've got towards your little sprouts! I agree, it is an investment the first year, but in the end you reap a bigger harvest than the row gardens do, so that is pretty awesome!

Smiths - thanks for the tip on vermiculite. The cheapest I've found was at Victory Greens (Victory/Meridian). I'll be sure to check out Reagans.

Leita - That's cool that Zamzows and D&B will mix for you! I didn't know that!

Denise - good luck on your first attempt! I'm hoping to do updates as our garden grows, so be sure to let us know how it goes for you!

Sara said...

I love square foot gardening. I have my cold weather plants in, and this week we are putting our warm weather plants in. No weeding. YAY!