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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Box Garden Bounty

Earlier this Summer we decided to try our hand at growing some of our own produce. Since we only moved in earlier this year, we wanted to find a temporary option (we plan to build a permanent box garden next year) and not too labour intensive. Our goal was to grow food organically, without the use of any pesticides or funky chemicals- au natural! This was a trial to break in our green thumbs, so I jumped on trusty old Pinterest and found this idea:

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It uses a concept known as square foot gardening, which is pretty self explanatory. You simply divide your planting space into square foot sections and place your plants based on growth specs (ie highest in centre or at back, depending on box garden location); some items may require 2 or more sections based on growing needs, just plan accordingly. My Uncle had told me about square foot gardening about a year ago and has had a lot of success with it- according to him, you can reap a larger crop with this method than with the traditional style of planting in rows.

We were lucky that my father in law had the materials already, so we only had to pay for the soil & seeds. Ours ended up being 4'* 5', and we skipped building the vertical frame, opting to use poles where needed. We picked veggies based on what we liked and what would grow in the weather we have, since we didn't want to cover it or give it any special treatment; low maintenance was the goal! :) We bought organic seeds, which did cost a little more, but overall didn't make this project much more expensive.

What we planted:

peas, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, green peppers, jalapenos, beets, carrots, & onion (we also transplanted a basil plant a weeks after the initial seeding with success). 

We planted the peas, beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes along the back since they would need room to grow up and out, and the rest of the veggies along the front. (We didn't use perfect square foot areas because we wanted to try a variety of things to see how they'd do- trial & error). Since we planted late in the season, we knew we'd have varying success. Everything did well except for the green peppers and jalapenos- those definitely need the protection & humidity of being covered. We also discovered the beans we bought were not the traditional climbers, but bush beans (lol oops!), but they grew well despite this mistake. The only additional materials we needed were poles & netting for the peas and beans (before we realized our mistake) ;) and a cage for the tomatoes. 

In terms of maintenance, we watered it almost every day and pulled any little weeds that were trying to make themselves at home. We did find that something was snacking on the zucchini and peas in the beginning, but decided to leave them alone after we put some little traps out (I don't like doing that, but it was that or lose our veggies! Luckily we never found anything in the traps).

What's great about mini box gardens is you don't need a lot of room for one. If you live in a townhouse or condo with very little outdoor space, you can tuck a little one of these along the border or on your deck. As long as it gets some sun, you should be able to grow a few items. If you're really limited for space, a herb garden would be a great itty- bitty alternative. 

We're starting to get some yummy goodies for all our hard work :) Now that we're heading into the Fall, we're picking veggies almost everyday, and you definitely can't beat home grown!

The box garden at the end of August...

... and some of the yummy goodies!