I live in a desert. Which is one reason my overflowing green garden gives me such satisfaction! I also think being a mother makes me love it: I have spent my life creating beautiful, growing living things. Come into my garden, and I’ll show you what’s growing this summer:
This year I planted half of my garden in square foot garden beds, and half under black plastic. Old carpet in the walkways ensures that no weeds grow in my garden, stealing water from the plants and making my back hurt to remove them! Drip lines go under the carpet and black plastic, but I still have a garden hose to water this and that as I choose. When it is planting time, I simply cut a hole in the plastic for big melon and squash seeds or transplants. I cut a dotted line slit in the plastic for cucumber and green bean seeds, planting them right next to each other, as they have an entire bed in which to spread their roots sideways. The black plastic can be used year after year, if you buy the thicker type. We remove it in the winter, adding the summer’s chicken coop debri and autumn leaves, digging them into just the bed areas, not the pathways. When spring comes, we put the black plastic back on a couple of weeks before planting time to warm up the soil.
Everything grows up! I have a fence down every bed in the black plastic covered side and I spend some time tucking vines through the fence so they’ll keep growing up, staying nice and tidy. I can walk through the pathways easily, plus pick green beans at waist level rather than leaning over. Besides green beans; tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, melons, and pumpkins have to obey this rule and it is fun to see the melons hanging off the fence, getting plumper by the day.
I mix flowers in with my veggies in the square foot garden side of my garden. That way, when the radishes or lettuce are finished, the summer flowers are just blooming. Besides, having them mixed in my vegetable garden means I remember everyday to pick a fresh bouquet or two, right along with picking the vegetables. Morning glory goes up the fence between the garden and the chicken coop, creating a spot of beauty.
Growing new varieties intrigues me! This year I grew a French pumpkin that is excellent for making pies and other baked goods. It surprised me how quickly it got big! There are so many varieties of eggplant, that I love to see what new colors of fruit will pop right out of those pretty purple blossoms. Eggplants love the heat so much that the difference between planting them in black plastic (see it on the ground in the picture) and planting them in open soil is enormous. I have eggplant planted in my square foot garden, where it is struggling along, and I have it planted in black plastic where it is a monstrous plant, high and bushy, and has at least 5 x the fruit! I live where the summer days are 90 degrees every day, so it is certainly hot enough already, but the black plastic definitely makes them more productive! Eggplant just loves the high soil temperatures, as do tomatoes, squash, peppers and melons.
Horses hang around on the other side of the fence while I’m in the garden on the chance that they might get a tasty weed tossed their way. Do you see the “poles” at the corners of my square foot beds? They are really shelf corner brackets or something like that, leftover. Stuck in the corners of my bed, they make it simple to throw a blanket on top, in case of frost, without bending over the plants too much. I cut the neck off regular water bottles and stuck them on these poles, upside down, to prevent injuring anyone. The water bottles need to be glue-gunned on, though, as our high winds have gradually taken them.
Last year’s asters reseeded themselves and I didn’t plant any this year, but my garden is full of purple, pink and white asters—such a beautiful and delicate flower. One of the benefits of square foot gardening is that the tiny herb and flower seeds drop down into the square foot bed and re-seed. Since square foot gardening does not require tilling or cultivating, those seeds will grow and give you surprise blossoms next summer!
Today I planted lettuce, as the cooling temperatures of fall will soon make it ideal for this leafy veggie that detests summer heat.
The benefits of growing a garden:
- sunshine on your skin
- peace and quiet
- being outdoors
- helping things grow
- attracting birds and butterflies
- fresh, organically grown vegetables to boost your health and make your meals gourmet
- abundance to give away to others
- a reminder that “whatever we sow, we will reap”—both in the garden and in life
Isn’t it fun!?
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You might enjoy:
Square Foot Gardening
Art of Gardening
Encyclopedia of Country Living