The weather this week has been off the hook. But do you think I’ve been able to enjoy any of it? Absolutely not. I’ve been chained to my desk at work due to some “emerging situations” – so much so that when I walked out into the sunshine for the first time since 8:15 a.m., my eyes burned from the brightness of the sun.

Garden planning
Mapping out the veggie beds

But that hasn’t stopped me from keeping my hands busy in the evenings while I chill in front of the boob tube. I’ve been mapping out my raised veggie beds, to scale. I want to try more earnestly this year to follow Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening method. I love this style of planting vegetables because it shows you how many plants you can fit in a specific space. For me, a relative newcomer to growing gardens outside of containers, this is incredibly useful. Because I’m used to containers (or conversely, acres of farmland, where growing up we had an enormous veggie garden), I find myself constantly overcrowding things in a larger, in-the-ground garden. Last year my tomato patch was a mess (a productive mess, mind you). This year I vow to do things differently!

Starting the seeds
Getting the seeds started

With Mel’s method, you can plant 16 beets in a square foot. Or 16 carrots. Or 4 swiss chard or kale. I’ve taken a bit of liberty with the tomatoes in my sketch – which I’ve planted one per square foot, when the recommended spacing is between 1 per every square foot for vine tomatoes to 1 per every 4 square feet for other types. I know that while mine were crowded last year, the bigger problem was the fact that I was not prepared for how tall they would get, and I planted them at the front of the garden instead of at the back, which would have allowed me to use the house as a trellis. Plus, I learned that most heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate – meaning they have longer vines and continue growing and producing fruit over a long period (determinate varieties have shorter vines and the fruits all ripen at the same time).

I still have to map out the second 4 x 6 foot raised garden bed. Chris and I have been debating about the size of the beds – whether they should both be 4 x 6 feet, or whether one of them should be 4 x 8 feet, which would be more in symmetry with where the stairs come down from our porch. I prefer both beds being the same size (I like things that match) but then again, how can I argue with more garden space? I’m also pricing out getting a load of topsoil delivered. Who knew that ordering topsoil in the city could be so hard (or expensive)? So far I’ve only been able to find one company that will do it – for $125/cubic yard. Ouch. We’d need three minimum for two 4 x 6 foot beds.

On the weekend I planted my seeds for my chiles, tomatoes and okra. I also bought more seeds this weekend (I know, I know – how could I possibly grow anything else?) for cucumbers and another variety of carrots. Chris has been saying “grooooooow!!!” to them daily. I’m not sure if that helps, but it is funny.

I don’t know if anyone out there has an interest in some heirloom tomato seeds that I have left over, but I have plenty, and would be willing to share a few if anyone is interested. If you think you’d like some, please comment on this post (I can grab your email address from the comment and we can figure out mailing, etc.). Refer to the varieties I have listed here.


  1. Jane says:

    What a terrific diagram you have for your garden planning. Is that a home-grown convention? I would love to find one.

    Also… what are your plans for staking/supporting your tomato plants? I’ve tried everything and finally settled on what I think is the easiest and most cost effective way —


  2. admin says:

    Heheh thanks re: the garden plan. Yes, homegrown, but the method for planting is not mine, as mentioned in the post. I use cages to get things going but last year the tomatoes quickly grew out of those. I found the bamboo stakes worked well but those stakes look pretty nifty. They give me an idea for something similar, homegrown. My parents have always used t-posts for fencing the horses, and they have holes drilled in them at varying heights, so I might just snag a few of those from the farm.

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