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HOME GROWN: Make full use of garden

Suzanne Griffith

HOME GROWN: Make full use of garden

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Ensuring that every square foot of your kitchen garden is as productive as possible is critical. There are times, however, when allowing for experimentation or growing something that you wouldn’t normally consider can lead to an interesting result.   
Aside from my aquaponics system, I also maintain a container garden. For the longest time I was averse to utilizing the so-called “blue drum”.
I thought carefully about how the drums would fit into the aesthetic of my garden – not very well, I was sure. But the drums were inexpensive and were just sitting there by the side of the house, so I thought, why not give them a try?
The three half-drums, cut lengthwise, have over the last three months been home to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Chinese cabbage – which has since been harvested and replaced by Swiss chard.
It is my preference to use potting mix when planting in any container – it’s just easier to work with. Whenever I change crops, I take the opportunity to change the potting mix. For example, when I switched from the Chinese cabbage to the Swiss chard, I not only added a good dose of composted sheep manure but I also put back the removed stem and root system of the Chinese cabbage, forking it and the manure thoroughly through the mix. The same “direct” composting can also be done with any outer leaves or foliage that is browned or damaged that you might otherwise discard.
I’m a big fan of square foot gardening. This popular method of planting, described quite simply, discardsthe traditional “row method” in favour of dividing the garden bed, container, etcetera into square foot units, which are then very densely planted.
Broccoli and cauliflower work well planted densely. I’ve noticed that the denser the planting – I have two or three plants per square foot – the less water I use in the course of irrigation and, in addition, pesky pests have yet to make an appearance.
Cabbage can also be planted densely but at minimum it requires one square foot per plant. Chinese cabbage can also be planted similarly to broccoli and cauliflower – maybe even denser at four plants per square foot.