I started a garden because I like to cook. My favorite cookbook, Alice Waters‘ “The Art of Simple Food,” is all about eating fresh local fruits and vegetables. As I followed this mantra more closely, I noticed an increase in our grocery bill. While the increase was not devastating, I don’t like to spend money where I don’t have to — and thus the idea of a garden was born.
In my head I saw myself carrying a wicker basket, collecting prize-winning squash, full, ripe red tomatoes, and bushels of green beans, a la Martha Stewart. If she has Turkey Hill, I would build my vegetable manor and call it Henry’s Garden, after our cat. I would create an Italian garden in our yard, a small slice of Tuscany with eggplants and fennel. I would cultivate enough herbs to never pay $2 for fresh bunches at Central Market again. I would conquer corporate farming with a zeal shared by all audiences who saw “Food,Inc.”
So where do you start when you want a garden? I have no background with plants. My parents did not spend hours in the yard, and my sister and I were not enrolled in 4-H. However, my husband is a fan of the website Get Rich Slowly. Its author, J.D. Roth, suggests the Square Foot Gardening method as efficient and economical — so that’s what we went with.
Last September, we built our first square foot garden. In January we expanded it and now have 88 sq. ft of garden. Our gardens are above ground, built with cheap wood planks we found on sale at Lowe’s. I am not a carpenter, but even I could put this stuff together.
The most expensive part was the soil mix. The SFG suggests a specific mix of dirt. compost, and vermiculite. On the suggestion of my friend Kent, we took a trip to Marshall Grain on Lancaster in Fort Worth. After some quick math, we loaded up the car and I spent the next three hours mixing dirt on a blanket in the yard. Then I filled the beds.
Then I rested.
And I drank a beer. Or two.
Katy Camp has been gardening for less than a year and uses the Square Foot Garden method with raised beds. Katy mostly sticks with fruits and vegetables, only growing flowers to attract bees and butterflies. It is one of her more satisfying hobbies. When she’s not gardening, Katy is a news producer at CBS 11.