Here’s our old square foot garden. Our first garden actually. I bought the book Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew and was pumped to start. So was my husband. We had a good few years with this one. When we ended up designing our backyard I realized I wanted the Pergola over here and wanted to lengthen the flower beds along the fence. The garden was in the way had to be moved. We ripped out the garden that fall and sadly the project was put off for about a year. I wanted to start sooner but you know how that goes sometimes. Finally our other projects are wrapped up & we’re ready to get it going again. I’m so excited!
I had great luck with tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, herbs, and a few other things. Getting to re-do our garden was great because we could now tweak things that that didn’t work for us. I will explain what those were a little farther along.
We’re lucky to have this great side yard. You could almost put a swimming pool over here. My kitchen window overlooks this area and I thought it would be kinda dreamy to be cooking in the kitchen while gazing at my herbs and vegetables. The old garden location wasn’t very visible and I would sometimes forget about it. I’m constantly looking out this window so checking my garden will be on my mind a lot.
I’m really into creating spaces or outdoor rooms, and I’m writing a story on that very soon! A perfect way to separate and define this garden’s space was by adding a picket fence and arbor.
I planted honeysuckle vine to grow on the arbor. I find vines so charming, especially honeysuckle.
Naturally plenty of junk had accumulated here, so we spent some time cleaning up the area, leveling uneven dirt areas, re-staining the fence, and working out a spot for the grill and trash cans. Now we we’re ready to build boxes!
We decided the old size and shape of the garden boxes were not working for us. It was our choice to make the old boxes 4×8 foot rectangles, and I always found reaching certain areas to weed and harvest awkward. I also have low back issues pop up from time to time so we made the boxes taller for less strain. We decided 3×3 foot squares would be best for us in terms of maintenance and fitting in our side yard. Brian chose cedar wood. We still need a pathway through our garden.
These are going to be some fancy garden boxes that last a long time! The boxes that will have herbs and smaller vegetables we made 3 boards high. The boxes with tomatoes, or any future taller vegetables like zucchini we made 2 boards high. Tomatoes get tall! I’m going to enjoy not straining my back while I plant, weed, and harvest, but I don’t want to get out a ladder to pick tomatoes on top.
Now we’ve completed building all of the boxes and we have a general idea of where we want them, but we can tweak them and move them around until we’re certain. Now I’m ready to stain the boxes. What? I’m staining the boxes? Don’t I know that chemicals from the wood stain can leach into the soil and contaminate our food? Yes I do!
After some research I found Timbersoy all natural stain. Now we can have beautiful weather proof boxes and it won’t slowly poison us! Yay!
So a few days after building the boxes I came home super gross from spinning class. Instead of jumping into the shower like a reasonable person I decided it was a great time to stain the boxes. At least the bugs would steer clear of me. I added the cedar color tint to the wood stain base and mixed well.
It’s a light stain but I like the look and the wood is protected.
The hubs ended up getting 3 pickup loads full of dirt. He found a dirt store and this is an organic vegetable garden mixture. A pick up load full is $27. It’s funny it hardly rains in Texas but anytime he has dirt in the back of his truck it rains. He’s shoveling it out like a crazy person or covering it with a tarp.
So I get to planting. I have basil and mint growing in separate containers over by the picket fence. I have 2 tomato boxes, a cherry and a roma. I have a box dedicated to bell peppers, green, red, and yellow. I have a box just with herbs and another with jalapeños, serrano chilis, and radishes. This year I took the easy way out and bought most of my plants. Next year I’ll try to go the seed route again like the previous year.
I make garden markers from wooden spoons off Amazon HERE. I’m not thrilled with how tomato cages look, so I’m tying my tomatoes up with stakes this year. I hope it works out and I’ll let you know. With all our high winds lately I decide to stake up the peppers too.
Some helpful info. You can build square foot garden boxes to any size. In Mel’s book he discourages you from making really large boxes, especially for newbies. We made our boxes 3×3 feet, and we used 2×8 cedar boards. Each garden planting space is a 12″ square. You can tie these squares off with string or mark them with wood. We have previously done this, but this time I’m going to try to eyeball the squares. It should be easy with the smaller boxes, but I will let you know later if that’s a mistake. We chose cedar wood, but you can use another kind of wood as long as it’s not pressure treated wood! Chemicals will leach into your food. We also mulched our garden to suppress weeds and help keep the soil moist.
Next, to finish the area we picked up a pallet of stones. I love the look of stones with grass growing in between. The area still had some low spots so we used a little fill dirt to level it.
Finally, we finish laying the stones and we throw some grass seed out. Now we wait and wait for grass to grow.
When designing your square foot garden make sure you have a watering plan. I wouldn’t rely on hand watering, instead have timers set up or watering tubes to your boxes. Lucky for us our automatic sprinklers drench this area good, this is why the stones are such a good idea if the area gets muddy.
You will need to check specs on every garden vegetable or herb for spacing. For example tomatoes take a full 12 inch square, 16 radishes can be planted in one 12 in square, and 9 spinach can be planted per square! Plan according to what you want to plant. I recommend Mel Bartholomew’s books Square Foot Gardening or All New Square Foot Gardening, available on Amazon. He has written a ton of helpful information.
We already have some jalapenos and cherry tomatoes growing. I can’t wait to eat you!
We left a small area in front of the window open for pots of flowers and maybe some chairs, and my little bottle tree found a happy home in the garden. Soon, we’re building trash can screens, and as soon as our grass sprouts I’ll update with a photo!
Mint can be invasive so always plant it in a separate container! I gave my basil a separate container as well. Basil is not invasive like mint, but my basil gets big and crazy so I thought I would give it lots of room.
All finished, except for beautiful green grass and trash can screens. I’ll probably add more pots and maybe a bench.
Thanks for reading. Do you have a garden? If so what do you love to grow? Interested in reading other outdoor blog posts similar to this? Check out our OUTDOOR category at House on the Corner. Until next time.