How Does Your Garden Grow?

Mine has been growing quite well actually!  This is my second attempt at gardening (yes, second EVER) and things are working out pretty well.

I was pretty nervous about gardening in the sandy soil of Florida so I spent some time researching southern gardening and came up with Square Foot Gardening as the best option.  This is a raised bed garden which allows you to use your own enriched soil and keeps the weeds out.  We have had all of three or four weeds since we started the garden in March. 

After borrowing the Square Foot Gardening book from the library I felt more confident it was easy enough that even I could handle it.  The book describes several different sizes you could use.  I decided to use the 4-foot-long by 4-foot-wide (4X4) option but now I wish I had used a larger space.  So, I purchased two 8-foot-long 2X10 pieces of untreated boards from my local home improvement store.  The store gives you one free cut per board, so I had the lumberyard cut them in half for me.  I ended up with four 4-foot-long 2X10 pieces.  My husband could have cut them at home but the shorter pieces make transporting them much easier.  I considered purchasing treated lumber because of all the rain and humidity here, but I did not want those chemicals so close to food I would be giving my children to eat.  I also picked up several bags of high quality, natural soil and some cow manure – did you know that stores SELL cow manure??  I didn’t!  On my first round, I bought herb and vegetable seeds.  The second try, I used baby plants and it worked out much better for me.

I took my lumber and my manure (just weird!) home and begged my carpenter husband to help me put the box together.  It seemed pretty easy – some nails in each of the four corners and Voila! a garden box.  Add your soil and manure and stir it up.  I also grabbed some free mulch from the county but, in my case, I won’t do that again.  I didn’t realize that when they grind up the bags from brush pick-up day that they grind up the plastic bags WITH the branches and leaves.  Yuck!  It was a huge pain trying to get some of the plastic out of there!  It was May or June of 2008 when I put this altogether which is an odd time to plant, and usually too hot in Florida for little plants, so I let things sit until September when I finally planted.

The first time, I planted seeds and did not get an yield.  I had a new baby at the time so I wasn’t tending to it very much and I think the squirrels harvested much of it.  When I did it again in March, I was bound and determined to get a better crop so I used starter plants from the local garden center.  By they way, I whole-heartedly recommend going to a local garden center as opposed to a big discount store to get your garden going.  They are so much more knowledgeable and willing to help.  It is worth paying a few extra dollars to have access to all that gardening experience.

I sure wish I would have taken pictures of that first day after planting my garden with the starter plants!  They were all laying down flat and looking terribly wilted.  I was ready to give up before the first hour passed.  After some encouragement from my husband, I decided I would just keep watering it and see what happened.  Well, here are the photos I took this afternoon!  Pretty good so far!

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