All New Square Foot Gardening

est book on

gardening I've ever read, wish I d found it years ago.

—Mindy from New Jersey

Pick a Spot

Now, pick the sunniest, most sheltered spot you can find for your winter garden. It doesn't have to be in the main garden; next to the house or garage is better, especially if you have white painted brick or stucco walls, since they will reflect quite a bit of heat into your miniature garden. Remember that the sun is very low in the sky during the winter, and the place that may have been in full sun during the summer could now very well be a very shady place in the winter. Don't place the box under the roof or gutter line, or you'll risk the chance that rain, sleet, or snow will fall on it. Youll be in good shape if the area is sheltered from strong winter winds and if it gets a maximum amount of winter sunlight. It doesn't have to be a permanent spot either. First, lay down a sheet of plastic or sturdy weed cloth and in the spring you can pick everything up and return the area back to its former use.

Snuggle Up

Install your winter box, fill it with Mel's Mix, and start your planting. Since the plants will grow very slowly compared to spring and summer and since you'll be harvesting every leaf almost as it is ready, you can plant your produce closer than the usual spacing, even as close as one-half the recommended distance.

Insulate

Provide some insulation around the winter box, by banking the outside with soil or placing bales of hay all around. Provide a tight-fitting cover or make a double-layer cover with plastic to keep the soil and air from losing heat at night. Throw a blanket or tarp on the box for those extra cold nights.

Putting Your Garden to Bed

When it is time to put the SFG to bed, we do this the same way we put our children to bed. You wouldn't think of sending them to their room and paying no attention to them would you? Instead, we encourage them to prepare for bedtime—to brush their teeth, get one last drink, fix the bed just the way they want it, and then spend some time reading a bedtime story. Then it's finally lights out.

Well, treat your garden the same way. Don't leave it a mess with dead plants and debris lying about. Tidy it up and make it look good. Now is an excellent time to mix a little extra compost in each box and smooth and level it out so it wilt be all ready for the spring planting. That's never happened before with single-row gardening. Now it's not only possible, but also very practical.

Building Boxes and Structures

The little extra work you do in the fall will keep your garden attractive and neat-looking all winter and make your springtime garden easier to begin. You'll simply to go out, just rake off the mulch cover (remember your rototilling neighbor?), and start planting either at the regular time or early.

Grids in Winter

You can remove, clean, fold, and hang up the grids now or leave them on the boxes all winter, which will remind you of how much fun you have now with gardening. What I'm suggesting for the end of the season is really no different than what 1 recommend you do all season long. Keep your garden neat, tidy, and attractive. If you keep it in tip-top condition (and that's not too difficult with a no-work garden), you will enjoy it so much more.

Take Notes

The only thing you might want to do is record in a notebook or journal some of the highlights of this past year—notes for improvements, special varieties of plants, and tips for next year.

Decorate for the Holidays

You'll enjoy SFG much more if you keep your garden neat and attractive at all times. Since you no longer have to hoe the weeds or dig and cultivate the soil, you'll have time and energy for the pleasant things like trimming off yellow or dead lower leaves, dead blossoms, removing plants, or dead and pest-damaged leaves or entire plants.

But what about winter? Not much work to do after putting the garden to bed, but you might think about decorating the garden so it still looks nice all winter long or at least for the holidays.

Thanksgiving

Make a nice arrangement in one or more boxes of a fall scene, like a stack of corn with pumpkins. Some of the boxes could just have a bale or two of hay or straw. Maybe even a scarecrow in a box. Those boxes could be covered with cloth (like white garden floating covers) or old colored sheets tacked or stapled down.

Christmas or Winter

Here are some ideas that will make your SFG festive during the bleak winter months.

1. Make Christmas boxes out of your garden boxes by using old colored or striped sheets, a tarp or table cloth, or floating garden covers.

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