Friday, June 15, 2007

The Potager Garden

I had been interested in reading All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew when I saw it recommended (not sure where, or by whom) some time ago. In April, I spied the book at Costco and threw it in the cart. (Somehow it doesn't feel like spending money when it magically appears among the groceries.) Russ stole it out from under my nose and had it read by that evening. He sounded at least a little interested, which was terrific. I needed him on board.

Reading through the book in the next few days, the method sounded startlingly simple. The drawing of my amazing new vegetable garden--not so simple. That might have been when Russ started to go cross-eyed. Nevertheless, he has been a great sport, and I have simplified my expectations for the garden (for this year, anyway. Grin.)

The All New Square Foot Gardening method involvs a special soil mixture, 4'x4' raised beds made out of untreated 2"x6"x8' boards. No tilling, no soil treatments, very little weeding, minimal watering. Sounds good to me.

The book has many helpful references including charts of vegetables--when to plant, weeks to harvest, how long to keep seeds, etc... I would definitely recommend taking a look to see if this is something you might be interested in. The raised beds can be made on patios or porches, so there is no excuse not to have a few fresh vegetables to harvest! It would be a wonderful project to share with kids.

I was additionally inspired by seeing pictures of a wonderful and, in my humble opinion, successful attempt at 'square foot gardening' over at Homeschooling the Doctorate? Check out her progress!

Our project has begun in earnest:

Levi helps dad form the box frames.

Russ attatched weed barrier to the bottom of each box.
He made a fancy hinged wire cage for one of the boxes.
We're not sure if we'll have deer checking out the garden,
but we know we have a rabbit friend in the vicinity.

Our soil mixture.
(Amazon reviews of All New Square Foot Gardening
complain that vermiculite is very hard to find.
We must be lucky. It is available at two local garden supply stores.)

It looks awful, but mint compost is the greatest stuff.
It's readily available here in the Willamette Valley, Oregon.
I've been known to put it on my birthday wish list.
(And I've been gifted a load or two by those who know me best.)

We started a compost pile, but won't be able to make use of it
for quite some time.

Box ready for planting.

Bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, French style beans,
and carrots (red, purple, orange, yellow, and white!).

One box for herbs: rosemary, lavender, parsley, basil, thyme, thyme-oregano, and chives!

(Other two boxes were planted with four tomato plants and zucchini. More will be added soon.)

I'll keep you posted as the garden progresses!


Kevin Stilley said...

When I lived in Arkansas I used the original Square Foot Gardening as my bible and found it to be a tremendous help.

Best wishes for good weather and the absence of nasty insects.

Mumsy said...

I am SO jealous!!!!! Seriously, seriously, seriously jealous!!

What a great thing to involve your kids in. I can't wait to do that one day when we have a yard. I'm going to be taking notes on this project for future reference.

carole said...

Wow! I'm jealous, too. We live in a city house that is 97% shaded by maples and *ugh* black walnut scrap trees. BUT I look forward to the day when we'll be able to begin growing our own produce - and now I know who to ask for advice!

Sarah said...

Ahhh- I will live vicariously through you this year! Perhaps next year I'll have a go...I have the Square Foot Gardening website under my favorites & daydream often. Keep posting pics- it's already lovely!

Heidi said...

Kevin, glad to hear that it worked well for you. We have great weather here in Oregon. I'm hoping for the best!

Lindsey, it *is* a fun project for the boys to be involved with. Hopefully they will start eating veggies. :) (PS-Miss your blog!)

Carole, it will be a long time (if ever) before I am the person to ask for advice! (PS-Went to our farmer's market today and thought of you. :))

Sarah, thank you! You should give it a go next year. It's been fun so far. I can't wait to add more.

Jen Rouse said...

I'm planning to do this next year and I can't wait!

heather said...

I love this-your pictures, and all that! I am currently reading Lasagna Gardening With Herbs and feel so inspired! With finishing up the inside of our house, the outside things are on hold, so it is giving me lots of time to gather ideas. I look forward to peeking at the book you menion. I can't wait to see how your garden progresses.

Great job!

Anonymous said...


I live in your area and have been SEARCHING for mint compost for a while now. Not as many mint farmers as there used to be! (my Dad used to be one!) Where are you able to find it?!
Enjoy your garden!

Heidi said...


Sorry it took me a while to comment in return. I needed to make sure my info was correct. We had a large load of mint mulch delivered by Underwood Farm. I believe he is in the (Albany) phone book under Dean Underwood. My sister just calls his home phone #. It is also available at Tom's Garden Center in Albany. I'm not sure where you are located, but I hope that helps!

Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Heidi!

I'll give those two leads a try.

(A favorite girl's day out for my daughter and I always includes "Poets"!)

Fred Finster said...

I am leaving a comment 2 years later about availability of Mint Compost from Olsen Ag (farm managed by Dean Underwood) Managed by Dean Underwood.

Freds Firewood delivers 5, 10, 15, & 20 yard loads of Mint Compost (4 years composted from Olsen Ag) to Independence, Monmouth, Dallas, Salem, Woodburn.

Call Fred Finster 503 400-9106, Martin Hoekstre 503 851-1825 or email

We also advertised Mint Compost on Salems Craigslist

Google 'Mint Compost Oregon' and you will find our advertisement.
I, Fred Finster, will be happy to deliver Mint Compost for your gardening needs.