Thursday, 24 April 2008

But First, a Little Carpentry

I’ve been playing around with the idea of Square Foot Gardening. I looked into this because a couple of my tightwad references mentioned it and because Bill said the gardens were going to be my job now that he was working a 9-5 M-F job. I thought this was fair enough, except that I don’t know much at all about gardening. My experience with taming the great outdoors is mostly about cutting grass. I did once have great success with growing beautiful, giant tomatoes when I lived in Salt Lake City, but the climate here will not support tomatoes without a greenhouse. My very slight foray into this area in Oklahoma City was curtailed when I encountered several species of creepy-crawlies in one afternoon. The worst I’ve seen here are snails and slugs and I can cope with those; just give me some gloves and a box of salt.

Back around 2000-2001, Bill and I had an
allotment garden for a year or two; but we couldn’t keep up with it properly. That was at the height of our marathon fever and training for a spring marathon like London or Barcelona is a major conflict with maintaining an allotment at the weekends and working full time. Bill was the mastermind behind the allotment maintenance and we had fabulous crops of runner beans and spinach, but we’ve also had those from our back garden, a plot of about 20 x 7’. We’ve put our name on the 2-year waiting list for another allotment, but in the meantime I figure I need to find out (a) how to do this thing and (b) if I even like it well enough to take on in a big way. I do find it frustrating to pay the asking price for strawberries and raspberries, though, knowing that they aren’t that difficult to grow and it is very satisfying to plan a meal that includes fresh courgettes (AKA zucchini) or leeks straight out of the garden.

The attractions of the SFG method for me are that it (a) breaks down a big job into small parts, ie 1 SF at a time; (b) removes the need for long handled tools, with which I’m unbearably clumsy; (c) eliminates this business of sowing and then thinning, which I’ve always thought wasteful; (d) seems to make gardening more like a handicraft, ie everything is in reach. I see me down on my hands and knees, tending to plants at eye level. This may not sound great to everyone, but I think I’ll be more comfortable with it.

We have to make some compromises with the original method, but I’ve enjoyed sketching plans to incorporate the concept of every thing being within reach, ie within 2 feet. Bill moved the location of the path and showed me how to use his jigsaw (!!!).


Rick Stone said...

Do we now refer to you as Farmer Shelly or Building Contractor Shelly?

Shelley said...

Just call me slug-n-snail-slayer Shelley -- if you can snay it!!!