Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Growing your own

This past summer I started my first garden and it was pretty big success in my opinion. We didn't get huge returns as far as food is concerned, but I did learn without a doubt that an average guy can pretty successfully grow some of his own food without much fuss.

Because we are renters I went with the square foot gardening method or SFG. We had permission to plant, but the fact is our back deck takes up about 1/3 of our yard space and the garden would take away from our kids play area which is a key reason we chose this place over others.

So what I did was build 4 of Mel's boxes and put them up on legs on our deck. At some point this year I will put up some pic's, but briefly what I did was place them half on and half off of the deck so we still have almost full use of the deck and the yard.

They are raised enough that the top of the soil is roughly 2 feet above the deck to help limit some of the bending associated with gardening and the kids can enjoy standing to pick things.

At any rate, the work was minimal and we were able to enjoy fresh lettuce, sugar snap peas radishes/greens and garlic greens through a good part of the summer. I also planted tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and broccoli with less success, but still had the same enjoyment watching them grow.

This year I will try a few things differently and see how it goes, but key among the differences is to plant peas and beans directly in front of our back windows to help keep out the hot sun and lower the need to use the air conditioner. As it is, the garden boxes themselves helped a lot last year by preventing so much of the suns heat from reflecting off of the deck into our home.

So for us, the garden provided fresh food, entertainment, shade and lower energy bills. Not a bad trade off and really very little work involved. Not only that, but our kids saw first hand that vegetables do not come from a can. Now to convince my wife to let me raise some rabbits.

Photography by Linda DuBose

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