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Order in the Garden

The first year that Fink Farm was in operation, we devoured Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening.  A 10-foot by 12-foot plot isn't much.  We pegged off one-foot measures on two adjoining sides, and rolled some pebbled pavers into position to give us places to stand amongst our soon to be thriving garden.

But then things started spinning out of alignment.

For starters, it became clear that running string across the dirt in one-foot increments was going to create one nasty arrangement for digging on any scale at all. All I could envision was a broken ankle from hopping over all that string.

We switched to planting only a few of each type of plant and avoiding plants like zucchini or pumpkins that aggressively take over the landscape.

Mel's method is a brilliant way to get around some of my most hated gardening tasks. For example, it never made sense to me to plant seeds and then have to thin and waste seedlings when they germinated. I also always hated having to narrow my planting choices down to one or two items that filled up the whole garden.

While our "squares" don't have four corners -- in fact, we're heading back into rows for some reason -- we can get a fair amount of different things into the garden: lettuces, basil, beans, butternut squash, onions, cabbages, chives, parsley and chard.  We also never had the overproduction problem that many home gardens suffer from.

Our tomatoes were the wildest of what we planted.  We had enough to have two rounds of fried/baked green tomatoes and some tomatoes for eating and canning. We had several rounds of pesto making, in which we were profligate in our use of basil and garlic.

I'm hoping this year we can begin to look at some vertical growing.  That's another of Mel's recommendations for intensive gardening.

Considering how easy it is to get behind in watering and weeding, not to mention harvesting and eating from the garden, I can't imagine how we could manage a bigger plot.

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