03 May 2009

Gardening By The Book

vintage usda gardening posterI started a small vegetable garden and am considering starting a container garden on the porch. Because I can't just do something without reading all about it first, I've been making good use of the library's gardening collection.

Last fall, I built a small (3x9) bed. I had planned on using the method described in Patricia Lanza's Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding! (Rodale Books, 1998), but it wasn't going to work for me as I had no moist compost or yard waste to contribute yet. Instead, I put about an inch of moistened newspaper down to smother the grass/weeds, then peat moss and manure into the bed. I let the bed sit over the winter and, a few weeks ago, worked in some compost, dirt, and Miracle-Gro Garden Soil. It's a beautiful looking bed.

Another useful book has been Mel Bartholomew's All New Square Foot Gardening (Cool Springs Press, 2006) which has quite destroyed my fear of overcrowding. Following Bartholomew's instructions I should be able to get an astonishing amount of vegetables from that one bed. The lettuce seedlings are certainly thriving while taking up much less space than usual! What else can I pack into that bed?

Bush beans, bush cucumbers, and many varieties of tomato! There are many other things I would love to try growing, but I am sticking with the advice of many gardening writers who say I should start with easy things I know we'll eat.

The library has lots of books on container gardening and I've browsed enough of them now that I want to try a few containers, too. One of these weekends, I'll get a couple rectangular planters to edge the porch and fill them with peppers and herbs -- Lanza's Lasagna Gardening for Small Spaces (Rodale Books, 2002) and Georgeanne Brennan's Little Herb Gardens (Chronicle Books, 2004) should come in handy, here.