I live in a house with a backyard the size of most people's family rooms. I also live in a townhouse and have an HOA to deal with. The year after we moved in I tore out all of the rocks behind our house and tried to grow a garden there. The soil is hard as a rock and is also filled with rocks and building debris. Needless to say, the veggies were pretty unsuccessful there. I have since converted that area to flower beds and when the time comes, I water it every day or two by hand because I don't want to go through the trouble of changing the sprinklers.
Last year I decided that I wanted a real garden. I looked around and decided on a square foot garden. I bought Mel's book and followed all of his advice, including making the box 6 inches deep as opposed to 12 inches deep. That was all fine and dandy for some of my plants: mint (that will be in a container this year!), basil, chard, lettuce. However my tomato plants had a rough time. My beets, carrots, onions didn't grow quite as big as I felt they could have with more room. I have been fretting over it all winter. This weekend we did something about it. Here are the boxes before...
and here they are after...
I decided to add another 6 inches. Mr. Blue and I built two new 4x4 boxes and placed them on top of the old ones. The kids insisted on helping us screw them together. They actually did a really good job! Then we put several braces along each side for stability. (I kept telling Mr. Blue to "watch out for my babies!!!" when he would hammer around my spinach and other veggies that were working their way up.) I may add screws later, but probably not. Then we started to make our mix of soil. Mr. Blue and Mr. Orange mixed away while I carefully pulled out all of the sprouts and plants that were growing in the garden. I put them in our sled and anything else I could find in the backyard for safe keeping until all of the new soil had been mixed in with the old.
Mr. Blue and Mr. Orange then started to shovel the dirt into the boxes. We only have one big shovel so I got down on my hands and knees and started to mix it by hand. All of the spiders I had seen while pulling out the veggies were very kind and found a new place to hide while I mixed it. Otherwise it would be half-mixed right now and would probably stay that way the rest of the summer. After it was all mixed I put everything back in.
We are currently growing the following:
36 spinach (4 squares, 9 each)
32 garlic (2 squares, 16 each)
12 chard - red, white, yellow (3 squares, 4 each)
3 red winter kale (3 squares, 1 each)
I have my fingers crossed that they will continue to grow. Why wouldn't they? I mean I talked to each plant as I took it out of the box and as I put it back into the box. I was very nice to them and loved each one. I'm a crazy lady with a garden. I'll admit it. In the next week or two I'll plant some more seeds. It's supposed to be rainy for the next few days and I don't want the seeds to wash away.
When I went inside after I had finished all of the planting I thought about the wonderful afternoon that I had with my family. We all worked together to make something that will be so beneficial to each of us. I love the excuse that working in the garden gives me to take the kids outside and teach them about how our food grows. They love helping me plant and watching for the sprouts to appear. Mr. Orange keeps an eye out for pests and spiders and Miss Pink plants spinach in the grass. (It's really growing in the grass right now.) I also love the fact that our garden helps us to be more self-sufficient.
In the past year or so the amount of produce that we consume has increased significantly. It's nice to be able to grow the things that we eat frequently so that we can save money, but still eat really well. I'm not sure how the HOA feels about me ripping out my grass and putting down rocks and garden boxes, but they haven't said a word to me yet. So as long as they aren't saying anything to me, I'm going to keep on growing.