How crap my square foot garden is


I set up my first veggie patch in early August, using a makeshift version of Mel’s Mix (1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat, 1/3 compost) with the dream of a flourishing square foot garden. It’s not been going so well and I’m not sure whether to blame it on my shoddy workmanship, mediocre ingredients, the weird winter-to-spring weather or pest invasion.

The garden bed is 16″ high – one of those rounded square ones from Bunnings. It’s pretty frickin’ tall, which was lucky for me because the growing medium has to be at least 6″ on a base the roots can grow down into. I didn’t know that when I started, and could just as easily have bought a 6″ one – this would have been an epic fail because we’re on a base of brick & shadecloth.

I really didn’t have enough of anything, so had to improvise:

Here’s a cross-section – no photos because of sweat and filth. I used rolled up cardboard to fill the ‘base space’ below the growing medium. THIS IS NOT A GOOD SOLUTION, just a temporary one while I wait for seedlings to grow and wormies to make compost. An advantage of square foot gardening is the ability to work on one small patch at a time (a square foot, if you will). I look forward to seeing how easy it will be to add compost as the cardboard disintegrates and collapses.

This is already happening in spots, but my compost is nowhere near ready. I think it’ll be another couple of weeks before things start to fall in on themselves. With any luck, I’ll have enough worm poo to do something about it.

The plants are an exciting challenge. It’s been three weeks and not a hint of basil. Pictured at the top of this post is today’s attempt at getting SOMETHING basil-y to grow, even if it’s just on kitchen paper. My parsnips may or may not have started, but it’s hard to tell amongst the dense forest of a million tomato shoots. You know, it’s hard to look at something you’d eat everyday and call it a weed, but it must be done. I WANT parsnips.

The radishes, however, are doing really well. They sprouted within a few days and grew strong. The stem has turned red. Frilly leaves have emerged. ERMAGERD!

It’s been a year since this hobby planted itself in my life. I don’t hate it any more. I’m not as grossed out by dirt (though I still avoid touching it bare-handed). And amazingly, my hayfever isn’t as bad as it used to be. I still get itchy and sniffly sometimes, but it’s not as yucky as it was before. Spending time outdoors near plants seems to be helpful. My depression has… I want to say it’s gotten better, but this could easily be a placebo effect from learning about the bacteria in soil that makes you happy.

What I do find is being outdoors in the garden definitely feels good, especially when the weather is nice. Go science!

I hope you’re all having a lovely day. :)