Video footage above of Chris talking about square foot gardening. More videos and photos at the end of the post.
We got our deep beds planted this weekend – yay! (Well, three out of four of them anyways).
As part of our project, we’re experimenting with how and what we’re planting in each deep bed in an effort to figure out what works best for our soil and climate. As such, we’ve prepared the soil of each deep bed slightly differently. The soil on our land is very wet and contains A LOT of clay, so we have to do a lot of work to improve to improve it to make it an ideal growing environment. Each deep bed has a base of our original soil and topsoil, but we’ve added different kinds of compostable materials to them individually. In one we used steer manure, in another newspaper, another has food compost scraps, and the last had the chicken tractor (with chickens) over it for awhile (taking advantage of chicken poop and chicken scratching/ weed eating). Chris has also been adding home-made, organic fertilizer to the beds.
When it came to the planting, we decided to experiment as well. As much as possible, we want to pursue a form of planting that results in high yields with low maintenance needs. We’ve been reading about companion planting (planting certain veggies together because of the way their characteristics compliment each other and the soil) and are trying out some methods that have worked well for others.
The deep bed that took the most planning and planting work was our square foot garden deep bed. Square foot gardening is a method that has proven very successful with higher yields and by design, naturally sets up plants in a companion-friendly structure. We mapped out an entire deep bed in square foot sections with string, after first laying down a layer of weed protector (natural paper that will break down organically in the bed while hopefully keeping weeds away). We’re thinking that we should have laid some soil over the weed paper first, but you live you learn… you’ll see what our attempts at planting through the paper look like in the photos below. Our friend Cary directed us to this planting planner website that we used to determine what seeds (and where) we were going to plant in our square foot deep bed. Then we set to work cutting out holes and lines in the weed paper to seed our veggies. Veggies in this bed include beets, lettuce, carrots, leeks, kale, onions and nasturtiums.
In our second deep bed, we used more traditional methods of planting a variety of seeds in rows and we filled our third with 80% potatoes and 20% cucumbers. The fourth bed, which we have yet to plant, will have what are known as the ‘three sisters’: corn, pole beans and squash. These three items are apparently very complimentary and grow well together. The beans grow up the corn stalks and the squash acts as a nourishing ground cover.
I took some video footage of our efforts on the square foot bed. Apologies for the low sound quality. Check them out to find out more about the hows, the whys, the hopes, the doubts and the mycorrhizal whatchamacallit. Photos from the day below.