Wallingford Vegetable BedsTraditional Landscape, Seattle
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1. Crowd them. Crowding plants reduces their exposure to sunlight, so gardeners know plants should be given plenty of space to maximize their exposure to the sun. However, when researchers experimented with tightly spacing spearmint and lemongrass, they discovered a significant increase in essential oil production. It seems the stress of competition of close planting provides a trigger to produce defense chemicals, some of which are aromatic essential oils. To crowd those plants and intensify flavor, scientists spaced herbs about 12 inches apart.
Soil. Fill your beds with high-quality soil. All New Square Foot Gardening advocates a special mix, but any high-quality organic garden soil will work. In most cases, gardeners using the square-foot method will need to start out by purchasing soil. Once the beds are in place, additions of compost once or twice per year, along with a light sprinkle of granulated organic fertilizer at the time of each planting, should be sufficient to keep things going. Markers. Finally, add your square-foot grid markers. Wooden markers are strong and durable. Alternatively, you can use string to mark your squares. Simply add a nail every foot along the wooden frame of your raised bed to secure the string. While square-foot gardening was originally developed to have markers at every foot, you may prefer a different size. For medium-size gardens, 1-by-2-foot rectangles can be an excellent option, allowing for a simpler and potentially easier-to-manage design.
Choosing What to PlantOnce you have a sense of your goals and capacity, it’s time to choose your plants. Need help deciding? Here are eight surefire vegetables and herbs that work well for nearly any garden, even if you’re a beginner. A landscape designer who specializes in edible gardens will also be able to help you choose your plants. Deciding where your plants are going, and when they’ll be planted, is where the true artistry and challenge of gardening comes in. Keep your plan simple. Allocate a space for each of your crops, taking into consideration that some plants, like salad greens, need very little room, while others, like pumpkins, can get enormous. If you’re growing in raised beds, consider dividing each bed into tidy sections using string and nails, a method known as square-foot gardening. This technique is especially helpful with salad greens, which do best when planted in small amounts every week or two. Keep in mind that it’s best to avoid planting the same crop (or a close relative) in the same place year after year. Rotating crops helps prevent soil-borne plant diseases and nutrient deficiencies. It’s all too easy to get excited about a garden early in the year, only to abandon it weeks later when the work becomes overwhelming. By doing some advance planning, you’ll give your garden the best opportunity to thrive. More on Houzz6 Things to Know Before You Start Growing Your Own FoodFind a landscape designer to help with your outdoor projectShop for gardening tools
Carrots and lettuce thrive in this container. Richardson also has an at-grade asparagus bed surrounded by marigolds to help deter pests. All crops are watered through drip irrigation.This was an extensive project designed for this homeowner, neighborhood and Seattle’s mild climate. If you like the idea you can adapt it to suit your lifestyle, even planting directly in the ground, using other materials, scaling back the size, doing some of the work yourself, and watering with a hose.Here’s how this budget broke down:Sod removal from original parking strip: $1,800Pollinator plants: $200Foot-traffic-friendly plants: $300Lumber and hardware: $1,700Soil: $600Wood chips: $250Flagstone: $175Dish rock: $200Construction and planting labor: $2,500Irrigation (by separate company): $3,000
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Keep your plan simple. Allocate a space for each of your crops, taking into consideration that some plants, like salad greens, need very little room, while others, like pumpkins, can get enormous. If you’re growing in raised beds, consider dividing each bed into tidy sections using string and nails, a method known as square-foot gardening. This technique is especially helpful with salad greens, which do best when planted in small amounts every week or two.