By Features Editor Pam Robinson
Both my husband Jim and I thought our parents set the standard for vegetable gardening. My mom and dad and Jim’s mom and dad believed in planting plenty. Their prosperous half-acre gardens are legendary among family and friends in Hart County, Kentucky, and Posey County, Indiana. They harvested bumper crops of everything between asparagus and zucchini.
Several summers ago, Jim and I hoped to carry on the legend in town and tilled up about a fourth of our backyard in the Lawrence subdivision. Our backyard won’t measure more than one-fifth of an acre, but we thought we were really doing something, especially given our space restrictions. We figured we’d gain notoriety throughout town, if for no other reason, for the novelty of the thing. When our two rows of sweet corn started to tassel, we heard our name bandied about all right. The neighbors started to complain that we were sure to attract deer from Harmonie State Park.
That failed experiment squelched any gardening aspirations Jim and I had nurtured. We became resigned to reminiscing about “the good ole days” back on our parents’ farms and begging for summer produce from our niece and her husband in Point Township.
This summer, though, we’ve seen a reversal of fortune. Our friend Cindy Owens has introduced us to square foot gardening—filling a 4×4 foot wooden container with six inches of dirt and marking it out in 16 one-foot squares. The gardener’s imagination puts up the only limits to what vegetables will grow under these conditions
Given the absence of gardening tools, namely a trowel, Jim and I have started with a rather uninspired selection of vegetables in our garden. Forced to dig with our fingers in the loose mixture of Point Township dirt and Miracle Grow potting soil, we set out one tomato plant each in 10 squares and filled up the rest with red and white onion slips.
For good measure, we have placed weed guard fabric on both the bottom and the top of the soil. We’ve watered our plants early morning and mid evening daily for a little over a week. Nothing has died so far, and the neighbors think the little chicken wire frame around the garden looks very neat. Since the chicken wire stands up to our three rambunctious dogs, we have become confident it will keep out any stray deer as well.
In fact, our confidence is growing as fast as the plants. Next year, Jim and I want to stack 4×4 boxes, maybe even build a pyramid, and plant an assortment of vegetables. We’re now busy figuring how tall into the sky the boxes must reach to count as the equivalent of a half acre traditional garden. We wouldn’t be normal kids, after all, if we didn’t want to do at least as well as our parents.