My Square Foot Gardening Adventure
How we built a Successful Square Foot Raised Bed Container Garden
Square Foot Gardening is a method of gardening where you grow vegetables or flowers in a raised bed container garden.You plant in the square foot area instead of rows like a traditional garden. I always wanted to garden, but traditional gardening never worked for me. Two years ago, I decided to research how to build a square foot garden and grow my own vegetables. I was so excited to start. Since I am a homeschooling mom, I thought building a square foot garden and growing our own vegetables would be a perfect school project. This has been an interesting adventure. After a few false starts, we got our garden box built. My son learned how to drill, my kids got to measure and figure out cubic measurements, and hopefully, we will all get to harvest fresh, homegrown veggies this summer. Here is our progress in pictures! (All of the pictures on this lens are our actual garden and my wonderful blessings, er, my kids!)
Are you a gardener?
Do you grow your own vegetables or flowers?
First you need to build your raised flower or vegetable garden box
A field trip to Lowe's anyone?
I got the plans to build my raised bed from a website called "The Pioneer Woman." She had pictures and directions and it looked so easy to build a raised flower/vegetable bed. The kids (at the time there were six of them aged 12 to 9 months) and I could do this! I wrote down all the "ingredients" for the raised box, and loaded the kids in the van for a field trip to Lowe's Hardware. Since we were a bit tool challenged, I figured that we could have Lowe's pre-cut our wood for us to make it easier. Our adventure began. See the link further below for the Pioneer Woman's excellent plans!
Time to build our raised bed - We got our supplies, now we need to head home and put the square foot garden box together
We got everything we needed. The biggest challenge was fitting it into the van!
All About Square Foot Gardening - Direct from Mel Bartholomew
Mel Bartholomew invented the Square Foot Gardening System.
Here you will find everything you need to know to get started!
Mel Bartholomew invented the square foot garden concept. He has updated his original book with all kinds of great ideas for your garden.
The Pioneer Woman's Awesome Plans!
These are the directions we followed to build our square foot garden. You will find pictures, measurements, a supply list, and step-by-step instructions to build your own raised flower/vegetable bed. Just click the link (but them come back and read the rest of my story). The Pioneer Woman.
Measure and Mark your boards - Get the kids involved!
My boys wanted to use the tools. This was a great project to teach them about construction! This whole project is also an excellent homeschooling project!
Drill the holes in the boards - This makes assembly easier!
Hmm, who wouldn't like to earn a little extra?
We built a 2-layer box - The first layer is done, the second one is coming together
Okay, did I mention we were tool challenged? After drilling holes and screwing the first layer together (with a manual screwdriver), we decided to just nail the top layer box together. It worked. See, you can do this too!
Get the kids involved! They'll love it!
The finished square foot garden box - I'm growing children instead of plants!
We were so thrilled to get our garden box built. Unfortunately, the box was as far as we got that year. We got a late start, and by the time the box was built, we were into vacation and camping season, and never did get any dirt delivered or veggies planted. At that point, I may not have been growing plants, but I was growing children! But the story didn't end there....
Are you with me so far? - Does it seem worth the effort?
Okay, it was a bit of work to build our garden box with six children 12 and under (one of them a nursing baby). But we had a great time doing it. So maybe we didn't get to the harvest that year, but we made memories and there's always next year!
Does it seem like a lot of work to build the box?
Two years later, the garden adventure continues - Here's what our garden looked like after waiting 2 years
Why did it take 2 years to get dirt and get going on our square foot garden? Well, I think I told you I was growing children instead of vegetables. I was in no shape to garden last year, I was just too pregnant. (Baby #7 was born last July.) So here we go again. Our garden didn't look too good after being ignored for 2 years, but hey, the box was already built. All I need to do this year is add dirt and veggies! Here's what our garden looked like when I started. I removed the top layer of the box so that I could dig out the weeds and grass.
I want to garden so I can eat healthier. And gardening is great exercise! Here I am working hard to dig out 2 years of weeds...
Ready for the Dirt - Gardening is great exercise!
I dug out the sod and weeds and grass in about 2 hours. Then we reassembled the box and staked the corners to hold it together. Now all we need is some dirt and some vegetables! Looking good...
I lined my box with Weedblock
Before I filled the boxes, I lined the bottom and up the sides with weed block fabric.
Fill 'Er Up - A whole lot of wheelbarrow trips!
My precious daughter (Annamadagan on squidoo) helped my fill the boxes. I ordered a load of mushroom dirt to fill my box.
Measure each 12 inches to make your grid - This is what makes your garden a "Square Foot" garden
Hammer in nails to tie twine to mark the grid - Or you could use another method, but I thought twine would be easiest!
Get the little ones involved! - Okay, she didn't really hammer in any nails, but she sure looked cute trying!
This is my sweet 2 year old--she was the baby in the original picture!
Ready to plant - Now I need another trip to Lowe's for Plants!
Well, we accomplished a lot in a weekend, now we are ready to plant our veggies! Time for another field trip to Lowe's to get some plants and seeds!
It always helps to have some moral support! - Here's our little fellow cheering us on!
Water your garden - You don't need much water for this garden
Mel Bartholomew states you only need about a cupful of water on each square. This garden will be quick and easy to water.
Planted and growing! - Waiting for our harvest!
I had a successful trip to Lowe's to get some plants and seeds. To plant in the square foot garden, you have to determine how big the plant will be and then you know how many plants you can put into each 12 inch x 12 inch square. My garden is 8 feet by 4 feet, so I have 32 squares to plant. After getting the seeds and plants into the ground, I realized that I have a few squares left, so I will make one more trip for a few more veggies. I can't wait for the harvest!
It's Growing! - See how much has changed in just 2 weeks since planting!
A month of growth! We have baby veggies!
Save time, work, water, and money with a Square Foot Garden!
Our first harvest!
The kids were so excited to pick these veggies. I actually ended up moving the zucchini and squash out of the raised bed and into the ground beside it because they grew so big. I'll know better what to do next year!
Use your harvest to make great recipes! Fresh Veggies are so good for you!
I'm a Happy Gardener!
Update and an unexpected twist
Now I'm growing baby bunnies!
When I went out to pick some veggies today, I noticed that there is a nest of baby bunnies in my square foot garden. No wonder my beans weren't producing! Because my kids are animal lovers, now they can watch the baby bunnies grow along with the veggies! This will present a bit of a challenge in watering my garden, but I figure there is always next year! So we will continue to harvest what we can and share our garden with the bunnies.