Tag Archives: sustainable living

Square Foot Gardening

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Square Foot Gardening

Traditionally gardening is done in rows, and is what my parents always did. So last year that is what I followed. I had started reading a bit about square foot gardening, so decided this year that I would give it a try. Now, I’m not claiming to be an expert, but here is what I have learned, and done so far. 

The basic idea behind square foot gardening, is to try to plant more efficiently in a smaller space. Depending on what you are growing, it is anywhere from one plant, to sixteen per square foot. As well, by planting in a more compact space there should be less weeds among the area planted. 

To lay out your square foot garden you will plan 4 foot by 4 foot plots (16 square feet), then three feet between plots. You can also do these as raised garden beds or as I have done right in my garden, and just marked off with wood stakes and twine. 


If doing raised beds, make sure to fill beds with enough good quality soil and compost for nutrients. Between you can have grass, or other mulch. You can even have permanent paths using cement blocks, bricks or stone. 

Before measuring out my plots the garden was tilled, by my husband. There was a layer of straw mulch from last year that was worked into the ground. 

I then measured out 4 foot by 4 foot plots with 3 feet between, and allowing a boarder around the garden itself. I then put a wooden stake in each corner of each plot and used twine to outline each plot. 


Next my husband shoveled on well rotted chicken manure from our laying hens onto each plot. It is supposed to do wonders for your garden. And it was racked into the soil. 

Next I took a wood stake to ruffly draw out the 16 square feet. Now depending on what you are planting, depends how much you plant in each square. Here is what guide I used:

Potatoes – 1

Tomatoes – 1

Beans – 5

Peas – 8

Carrots – 16

Peppers – 1

Beets – 9

Zucchini – 2

Pumpkins – 1

Melons – 1

Cucumbers – 1

Broccoli – 1

Lettuce – 16

Herbs – 16

I drew out my garden space with the plots and walk paths between. I ended up with 24 plots. I figured what I was planting, and decided what I would plant in each plot. Here is my plan (good or bad, time will tell).


Now we had so much rain that my garden was delayed (again) this year getting planted. I am all done except for transplanting the seedlings I started inside. Those will be planted in garden in the next week or so. 

Once all planted, we will be using straw as mulch between the rows again. It worked well last year. 

Once everything is up and established, I will post an update. 

* In first picture, books I got from local library. Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholornew. Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Foot, DK Publishing. 

ADVENTURES IN RAISING HENS

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Hens 5

 

Okay, so I admit that I am not all country, but not all city.  You see I was mainly raised in “town” or in the “city” until I was 13 … then my parents decided they wanted to get back to their country roots and move to the country.  I and my three older siblings thought our parents had finally lost it!  So begrudgingly the house was packed up, and my parents moved onto a little hobby farm in the country.

They were in love, living out their childhood days, having both grown up on a farm.  Us kids, not so much in love with it!  My parents got a few chickens, ducks, pigs, and a Jersey cow they named Buffy.  Shortly after getting her she had her baby, and we got our first taste of fresh cow milk, cream, and butter.  Okay this “country” thing was maybe not so bad.

One of my jobs was to help look after the chickens.  I gathered the eggs, but Mom and Dad really did the hard part.  I remember the “wowzer” smell of opening the chicken coop and getting a whiff of that oh so wonderful ammonia smell of chicken poo!  I vowed I would never have chickens, and would never live in the country.

Well fast forward 25 plus years … and here I am!  Having bought an acreage this summer in rural Prince Edward Island, I am now living (or trying to live) the country life.  If I could speak to the 13 year old version of myself, I am sure we would have quite the colorful conversation!  Ironically, my two kids have always lived in the city, and so at 13 and 9 this is their first taste of country life.

 

Hens 6

 

Wanting to live a more self-sustaining life style, we thought we would start with some hens.  Fall arrived, and the first bit of snow hit us in November … still no chickens.  So we figured we would just leave it until spring.  Then my parents came to the Island for Christmas, they were super determined to get us some chickens before they left, and the night before they left, we picked up 10 cute little hens!

 

Hens 1

 

Okay, really not knowing what we were doing my parents went with me to the feed store and we got some Laying Ration and some Grit/Oyster Shell.  We made some make-shift feeder and water container out of 4L milk jugs (which work surprisingly well).  We decided to go with wood shavings instead of the straw for the bottom of the coop and to fill the nests.

Our Chicken Coop though clean and functional, is less than what I have “dreamed” about … but alas this is what we have, so we are working with it.  We added a light (as hens need 16 hours of daylight in order to lay), and a heat light to keep them cozy.

 

** This summer we plan on either renovating this chicken coop or building a new one, will give updates on this as it progresses!

 

Chicken Coop in the Fall

Chicken Coop in the Fall

 

Chicken Coop in the Winter

 

Day one, the hens are settling in, they have bedding, food, water … okay now what?  Well I think the first 3-4 days I was out there every couple of hours checking on my “girls” to make sure they were okay.  Maybe a little overkill?!  I felt like I had had a bunch of babies, and they were 100% dependent on me, it was a good and scary feeling.  As the days went on I was a little less protective.

My parents had said we might not get our first egg for up to three weeks, as though they were already laying (they are 2 years old), when they get disrupted, they will usually stop.  We actually got our first egg 24 hours after they arrived!  We were so proud!

 

One dozen beautiful eggs, in a bowl that I carved!

One dozen beautiful eggs, in a bowl that I carved!

 

It took about 3 days to get enough eggs for each of us to have our first “farm egg”, it was the best tasting egg I had ever had!  I felt a sense of accomplishment that I was actually starting to live the life I had decided I wanted!

Two and a half weeks later we are averaging 5-6 eggs a day, and we are enjoying the experience of raising our little flock of hens!

 

Hens 3

 

As time goes on, and I learn more, I will post updates on my hens and more of our adventures!

 

Eggs 2