Squarefoot Gardening Complements Back to Eden:
Squarefoot gardening is typically seen in raised beds, using a special mix of soil as the growing material. However, if you look at the “why” of squarefoot gardening, we thought it made a great companion for Back to Eden.
The purpose of the raised beds is to keep the soil soft – so that it is not compacted by walking. The purpose of the special mix is to provide nutrients while also retaining moisture. The wood chips in Back to Eden accomplish both of these goals.
They retain the moisture and absorb compaction – while also getting worms to do their business, loosening soil even further.
What is even more important to us is that, well, it just makes sense. We have invested a good bit of time and effort into Back to Eden gardening – having waited the 6 months needed for the soil to begin to repair itself and in producing our own wood chips.
So here we are working to put back nature where nature had been stripped away by a bulldozer – and how are we going to plant our garden… in rows? Well, yes, we will try that as well. However, I am not familiar with plants growing in rows in nature. Instead you find them in groups.
A “mother plant”, if you will, seeds the ground and more grow, right next to mom. That makes us think of squarefoot gardening – as many plants as possible in small areas. So, we will try this method as well.
First Impressions of each Planting Method:
Planting 8 pea seedlings in 3 inches of wood chips in an area only 1 square foot in size is not much fun. Planting 1 potato seed root in the same is not nearly as annoying. However, the simple lesson to learn may only be to rake the chips away, plant, wait for germination and then replace the wood chips.
That would certainly be easier, but with no wood chips surrounding the newly planted area, there may be a moisture retention concern. We will try this with the rest of the area we plant using the squarefoot plan.
Planting in traditional rows was much, much easier. With nothing but a garden hoe we could hill up the chips, score a neat planting row, drop some seed (or plant some seedlings) and cover them back up – in minutes.
And, since the chips are piled in hills right next to the plantings, they will help retain ground moisture now and be much easier to replace once the plants show themselves.
What was Planted:
Jennifer had started some seeds indoors several weeks ago. We had never started seeds prior to planting before, and did not have the money to spend on something we did not know if we would do again, so she used what she had – some worm rich soil and old baking pans. It might not sound like much, but they germinated, and that is what mattered.
She sprouted: Sweet Corn, Lettuce, Broccoli, Onion, Cayenne Pepper, Peas, Artichoke, Sunflower, Cucumber, Tomato, Parsley and Lavender. The Parsley, Lavender and Rosemary did not get planted, as they are still very small sprouts. The Onion has gone AWOL.
I also bought some organic seeds to “give it a go”. These were planted immediately: Onion, Tomato and Peas. Up and coming will be Squash, Basil and Thyme. The only reason they have to wait is because we need to lay down more manure mulch and wood chips before we can plant them. They were selected to wait over the others because we can plant them later in the year.
As we keep working towards our Back to Eden Garden we will be mulching up more manure, chipping up more trees, and layering them in the garden, ready for planting. We can easily fit another 4 square foot gardens (4 x 4) and perhaps another 7-8 rows. And, once that is set, we will not stop working – we have more land and want more garden, so might as well get started on preparing the land for that as well!
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