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April 2009

My Little Victory Garden
By The Growing Gardener

The Growing Gardener archive

This year, I'm doing what First Lady Michelle Obama is doing—growing her first vegetable garden in the ground. In the past, I have successfully grown lettuce, tomatoes, and beets in pots. This year, I'm hoping for more bounty, in the ground, with the guidance and techniques described in a great little book, Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew.

It's the grid system that makes sense to me. Instead of gardening in lines, or rows, you garden in squares—for example, in one 4-foot-by-4-foot bed, you have 16 squares. This technique keeps the garden tidy and organized and accessible. According to Bartholomew, just imagining the squares doesn't cut it. Garden twine or boards define the spaces, as shown in the following photo.

square foot garden
A square foot garden
photo by Gina Lozier

My garden bed is actually larger than 4 x 4, so I have a little more room for planting flowers and herbs. One challenge with a larger square foot garden is it's harder to reach the middle of the bed. Something to keep in mind. My bed has a small raised corner for tender herbs to grow unfettered from what I imagine will be billowy, lush, leafy foliage in a few months. A simple frame is located on the north side of the bed with zig-zag twine for climbing sugar snap peas, sweet peas, and vining nasturtium.

In the next couple of weeks, I'm going to buy starts for kale, lettuce, carrots, and beets. Beets did not make the list for the presidential garden—President Obama does not like them.

The only thing I have planned to grow from seed is sugar snap peas—Ed Hume Super Sugar Snap Peas. A seasoned vegetable gardener at the local nursery said to wet a paper towel and then place the peas on the paper towel in a plastic bag. Wait about a day and a half until a little root begins to sprout—don't wait too long—and then plant outside. Here they are ready to be planted.

snap pea sprouts
Sprouted sugar snap peas
photo by Gina Lozier

A few weeks after the last frost—around mid-May—I will plant starts for summer squash, bush beans, eggplant, and tomatoes.

Marigolds will be strategically mixed in with the veggies to help prevent bugs from devouring the tasty delights. The White House gardeners are using ladybugs and praying mantises for controlling harmful bugs.

That's the plan for my little victory garden.


Square Foot Gardening

White House Garden


The Growing Gardener is Gina Renee Lozier, an enthusiastic student of horticulture and overall nature lover.


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