Sunday, May 24, 2009

Time to get Dirty...the square foot gardening way

When it came time to filling my newly constructed raised beds, I wanted to stay true to the square foot gardening recipe for "Mels Mix": 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 coarse vermiculite. Sounded easy enough, but did require a bit of leg work in finding local sources for the materials.

Mel recommends using multiple different types of compost combined together to provide all the nutrients the plants will require. I was lucky to find several different types of compost that are made by Cardwell Compost, located in Penobsquis, New Brunswick. http://www.cardwellcompost.com/ . I like the fact that their products are 'local' to the east coast and also Maritime Certified Organic. I was able to pick up enough cow, sheep and marine compost to fill all three boxes from Home Depot and Kent. I was also able to cart a ton of leaf compost from my father-in-law's backyard compost pile to add to the mix. Hopefully that will do it.

Vermiculite, on the other hand, was a little tougher to find. After making a lot of phone calls (and speaking to many people who sounded like they thought i was crazy) I was only able to find small bags of the fine grade at Canadian Tire...I actually did go out to all their stores around the city to pick up as many of the bags as I could. That was a lot of little bags! Silly me! I didn't realize that i was missing the one obvious source for vermiculite in halifax--- Halifax Seed....Canada's oldest, continuously operating seed company established in 1866, where I was able to purchase all the coarse vermiculite i needed ( http://www.halifaxseed.com/ ). Good thing Canadian Tire has a great return policy!

Mixing the ingredients together was labour-intensive, but a good work-out. The next stage in preparing the beds for planting was to make the square foot grids. I chose to simply use twine and tacks. Cheap and easy. Not sure how long it will last, but will work I hope. I did have to use my metric ruler to measure the grids as for some reason I could not find a ruler in my house with inches....maybe i should name this my 30.48 cm square garden!


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