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Gardening by the Square Foot

When you have three people working the same garden, you're bound to have a clash of styles.

I like having a plan.  I have a yet-to-be-realized fantasy that I will one day have a visually pleasing garden with plants arranged to allow variations in scale and color. A delight with every step and change of perspective.

Kate was more of a "I want to plant this, here now" type of gardener. A bunch of green onions at Ralphs could send her to Sego's for a flat of onion bulbs to plant. Turn your back on the garden for a weekend, and you'd come back to a salsa garden Kate planted in an organic patch of garden that I had imagined having a different destiny.

One year I dusted off my copy of Square Foot Gardening. Kate was enthusiastic about the concept, but suggested that we could "just eyeball it" instead of laying out lines for each foot mark. And eyeball it, she did. None of the rest of us saw it quite the way she did -- and perhaps she didn't see it quite the same way from day to day.

I always felt like Jonathan Swift's Gulliver, destroying all I put my foot, on that year.

This year, we really are trying the square-foot approach. Karen has done the back-breaking work of setting up the strings marking off the plot into square-foot sections.  We even have paths made of border bricks turned sideways, so there will no crushing of seedlings.

Done correctly, the square-foot markings allow you to plant things with the right amount of space between plants. They grow better, and you tend not to overplant more than you harvest and eat.

At the moment, it looks too spacious. It's hard to fight the temptation to go get some more plants. A flash back to three imperial tomato plants from years past dowses that urge.

The soaker hoses are coiling through the squares like a black snake.  Now all we have to worry about is whether the water pressure is good enough to get to the end of the line.

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