I hate the Container Store with a passion unmatched by anyone I have ever met. I do not want to spend hundreds of dollars on CONTAINERS to put our STUFF into. I don’t care if they’re color-coordinated, came with their own special markers or you saved 15% at the annual sale. And since I’ve spent many hours trying to organize our home, I also resent unused stuff. So today’s lesson: use what you have. Especially in gardening.
Because I use the Square Foot Gardening method, I drew a graph to divide my garden into square feet. Once I had my squares planned on paper, I had to mark off their boundaries in the real world. The book suggests a variety of materials to separate the squares — there is always SOMETHING you can buy, right? But I went with an old ball of twine I found in our attic, presumably left over from the family who lived in our house before us. 88 sq. feet later, that ball of twine is still a healthy size, and pieces of it are now supporting our growing tomato plants, which are rivaling me in height. (Editor’s note: Katy is 5’5″. So it’s not like her tomato plants are redwoods.)
After outlining the squares, I still needed to label them. If you want fancy plant marquees — knock yourself out. Order them. Spend the money. Or you can go my way — I took plastic utensils left over from a family picnic party, got a sharpie and marked what was planted where that way. They are still standing. Plastic, as we all know, lasts.
Perhaps my most proud “use what you have” moment came with my tomato plants. Tomato cages cost anywhere from $3.99 to $14.99, depending where you buy them. While it doesn’t sound like a lot of money if you only think of one cage, it adds up when you have multiple plants. So instead of spending some significant cash on cages, I turned to the chain link fence bordering the south end of our garden. I purposely planted tomato plants there, anticipating their rise up the fence. And I was right. Now they loop and twirl around the metal, and I think it looks a lot prettier than it did plain.
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. Everything she wrote in this post is her opinion only.