Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary... does your garden grow?

This is  a question I get asked a lot.

I base my garden on the Square Foot method which is based on the French Intensive method. It reduces water requirements between 50-70% - fantastic if you have water issues, and reduces weeding by around 80% - wonderful if you have health issues, as I do, so I understand. It means more time being able to be spent on the "gardening" part of the garden.
My whole system is set up to allow for short bursts of medium intensity work, longer stretches of low intensity pottering, and enable the garden to get by with stretches of no maintenance if my health does a wobbly, without the garden getting out of hand. Where the Square Foot method has quite narrow paths, I made my paths between 2-3 ft wide as it suited me much better. I keep the paths mulched with lawn clippings that I get free from a lawnmower guy, who is very happy to have someplace to get rid of all the clippings. The heavy mulching stops most weed growth, keeps the soil warmer in the cold weather (great for early seed germination and plant growth), cooler in the hot weather (protecting the roots in summer), stops water loss, yet allows the water to be absorbed into the soil when it rains, and provides a lot of nutrients from the composting layer which leech into and feed the garden plots. Next year I hope to install a low-tech drip watering system which will reduce both the work load and water requirements even further.
My garden is also totally organic - no sprays or chemical fertilisers.

For those who are interested in looking into the Square Foot method of gardening, I recommend the book Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.

So here are the latest photos of my garden. I will do them in the same order that I did the ones in my last garden post Picture a Garden

This is the left side. The tomatoes long ago outgrew their stakes, and are sprawling onto the paths now - very happy tomato plants.

Poking out from under the tomatoes on the side as you walk down the path is this wonderful little plant, called Mexican Mint. I sowed seeds for it last year, and this is one of those seeds that apparently decided to take a year off before germinating.

 The Livingston Daisies planted just down from the Meadowfoam (featured in the last post) have made a lovely show.

This is down the centre. The corn is really starting to move, and the beans are up and keeping pace. The Salugia beans did very well, with 27 of the 30 germinating. Sadly, the Anasazi beans barely made a showing with only 2 of the 30 germinating. So the beans I get from those two plants will be precious seeds stored for next year's planting, and hopefully I will get better results next year.

This is the back tyre garden...

 the middle tyre garden...

and the front tyre garden.

The pumpkin plants in the back are a little wilted in the midday sun, but this is my first pumpkin of the year. I'm so excited about it that I have name it - Gertrude. She is about half grown, and should end up a brilliant red colour by the time she is fully mature. She is a Rouge Vif D'Etampes.

And here are the lovely pansies growing in one of the pockets between two of the tyres, with a self-sown... ummm... cucumber I think... pushing out from amongst them.
So, another month on, and the year is almost gone. Before you know it the new year will be leaping out at us yelling "Boo!", catching us by surprise and leaving us exclaiming "where did that come from? I'm sure it wasn't there before!"
I have been frantically collecting up the supplies in preparation for the Fabric Book Challenge and the CQJP2014 Challenge (silly me signed up for both because I thought the CQJP2014 was the Fabric Book Challenge so signed up, then I found out it was something different), in the hope that I won't be totally unprepared when the new year arrives.


  1. It all looks fantastic and very productive. All this info is going to stay with me and will come in very handy when I eventually get a much bigger plot of land and can do what I want. I love how your tomatoes looks, I half stake mine, so they love to ramble a little (was never very good at staking anything). Looks like my timing was perfect, I will have an abundance of corn and tomatoes for Christmas. Funny I came in looking for your

    1. My staking does tend to be rather half-hearted - I would not make a very good vampire hunter! I have just finished blocking/pressing the laces, and will be photographing them today. Hopefully I will have the post done tomorrow or Tuesday - who knew blogging was so much work! lol.