With summer wrapping up in a month or two, it’s time to start thinking about garden boxes for the fall and winter.
Last October, I found myself in Fort Bragg, California. During our stay along the misty seashore, we visited the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens to tour the grounds and get a look at their dahlia garden which was blooming like crazy in many colors, shapes, and sizes.
The gardens span 47 acres from downtown Fort Bragg to the ocean. The paths take you through a number of different gardens along the way providing botanical surprises around every turn.
Along our hike to the Dahlia garden we stumbled upon a half-acre vegetable garden. As story has it, David Parish, an understudy of the “wizard of horticulture,” Luther Burbank, moved his family to the area to farm potatoes and peas along the ocean bluffs. The original farmhouse, apple trees and a show-garden still remain on the premises.
One of the things I really found interesting was the concept of a “block garden.” The philosophy behind the block garden is brilliant:
- Keep it simple
- Keep your interest
- Keep it well maintained
If these three simple three rules are practiced regularly, a single block garden can feed a person a fresh salad every day.
The setup, planting an maintenance is pretty simple. First, pick a spot with sunlight for your block garden. It can be constructed with any sort of materials, such as wood or blocks, or you can plant the garden directly into the ground with the normal soil conditioning you would need for leafy greens.
Next, using string or sticks, divide the garden into squares. Each square gets a single plant. Make sure to pick greens based on their harvest time so that you aren’t overwhelmed with a one type all at once. As we’re going into winter, kale, chard, and some of the more hearty lettuces will get you through until spring.
You can also add edible flowers or herbs to a square or two. This provides color as things flower while keeping edible plants growing among your greens. They say chives and parsley work particularly well. Considering the season, chives and garlic might be a good place to start.
Again, the key to this garden is its simplicity. With a total of between four and eight plants arranged in a square, weeding is easy, you are not overwhelmed with maintenance nor do you feel the pressure to eat 15lbs of greens before they go bad.
As I get ready to start our winter garden, I am thinking a block garden is the way to go.
If you are excited about growing your own produce at home, you should check out our Kickstarter Campaign where we are raising funds to bring our very first product, TogetherFarm Blocks™, to you. If you have a small space you can use these to quickly build a custom garden box without tools or carpentry experience. Check them out!
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