The Miracle of Life

I am so very, very bad at growing things. My houseplants all die, my lawn is weedy and brown, and our two trees are completely on their own. But Gal Smiley really wanted to have a garden this year. She REALLY wanted one. And we figured it was good for her and good for us and maybe a little bit good for the Earth as well, so…I’m a sucker.

This year we have put in a very small vegetable garden using the idea of Square Foot Gardening. The concept is that you build a box and then mark off squares that are one foot on each side. The box should be 6 inches high, and then you fill it with super good dirt.

In each square foot patch, you can plant a different kind of plant, and the number of seeds you put down depends on the kind of vegetable. For small things, like carrots or radishes, you plant 16 seeds (you can put two or three seeds in each hole if you’re really nervous about it) in a 4×4 grid. for bigger plants, like peas or beans, you plant 9 in each square. Cucumbers are two per square, while tomatoes are one per square. The result is that your garden takes up a very small area, but you can still grow a wide variety. You’ll have just enough for your own family and won’t end up with bushels of vegetables to give away.

Here’s our box. Sir Monkeypants built it in one day. That’s sexy.

Square Foot Garden

You may notice that for a square foot garden, it’s not very square. That’s because my friend Lee Ann, who has degrees and degrees in horticulture, has drawn up a design for gardens for our entire (currently completely barren) lot. I KNOW. Advice to all: befriend Lee Ann. The designs are AWESOME, and we love them, and we can’t wait to put it all in. Anyway, Lee Ann knew we wanted a kids’ area on our lot so she drew out an area at the side of our house for the vegetable garden, along with other fun things like a sunflower bed, sun dial area, and a bean teepee. This triangular design fits her drawing.

The taller box stuck on the end, by the way, is for carrots. Carrots (and leeks and potatoes) need a 12-inch high box to grow to proper size and depth.

So we planted all our seeds, along with a pre-sprouted tomato and pepper plant we scammed from our (much more organized) neighbours. Then we watered, watered, watered.

And lo, the miracle of life:

Cucumber sprouts

I took this picture just five days after we planted our garden, and already the cucumbers are shooting up. How cool is that? Right now it’s nine days since planting, and there are several baby bean and pea plants poking their heads out. AMAZING.

I did some calculations last week and it seems that everything we planted will be ready to harvest within five days of each other, oops. So it could be one intensive vegetable week only, but hey, that’s more than I expected.

I’d even say, it’s kind of a miracle.

11 thoughts on “The Miracle of Life

  1. The Man is tending garden this year, again. In our house, he grows things. Like flowers and pretty things, and it makes me happy that he does that.

    This year we are trying pumpkins, carrots, tomatoes and broccoli… interesting to see how it turns out.

    1. You plant climbing bean plants (the vine kind) around the base of a teepee shaped set of bamboo sticks. The beans climb the sticks and then you have a little tent-like thing the kids can play in, and pick off a bean to eat whenever they feel like it. COOL.

  2. That’s awesome! As someone who is also not very good at growing things, I can truly appreciate how exciting it must be to see those little shoots sprouting out of the ground.

  3. i should post the very sexy box that the hubby built for the jb’s little garden. we have lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and cuccembers. i didn’t know about the suare foot thing. good to know. maybe i’ll try that next year and we can get a whole lot more varierty. i sort of went by the seat of my pants on this one. good luck!

  4. MrsCarlSagan

    That’s beautiful! We put in our very first garden last weekend. It’s 12 x 4 and surrounded by chicken wire because we seem to have a lot of critters that roam the night around here. I did the planting last monday and by friday the beans were sprouting. Amazing! Every morning I rush out in my pyjamas, coffee in hand to make sure the garden hasn’t been terrorized in the night. So far so good.

    We planted red and green peppers, tomatoes, green beans, carrots, zucchini, potatoes and I have a small area for herbs – chives, parsley and basil. If we actually produce any real, edible vegetables I think my excitement just might cause a coronary.

    Maybe we’ll have to do a vegetable swap at harvest time 🙂

    1. We should definitely do a swap! I have my doubts about our carrots so we’re looking for those. We can offer cherry tomatoes, peas, radishes, lettuce (if the bunnies stay away from it) and cucumbers!

  5. That’s awesome! I am going to plant my first garden this summer but so far all I’ve got is a 4×4 area of lawn I dug the grass off the top of. Should be interesting 😉

    1. 4×4 is more than enough for a good square foot garden. Check out the book (from the library if you like) and it’s all just so easy. It really makes you feel like you can do it, with little space and not a lot of work. Good luck!

      Here’s a link to the book on Chapters:

  6. Well, I must say you guys never do anything half-assed…calculations, landscape designers, measurements, counting seeds. Sheesh. Get yourself some freezer bags and freeze everything the instant you pick it if you can’t use it all at once. That’s a problem with our short growing season.

  7. Amazing! As you’ve read, I’m trying to get into the gardening thing too… but not to the extent you have. It looks like you’re going to have some serious success! Congrats.

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