Sometime last summer, while I was helplessly searching for the edible plants I had planted among the waist-high weeds, I decided that next year (this year), I would go to an all-container garden. Three years in a row, the weeds (burdock, amaranth, clover, nine kinds of thistle, pigweed, shotweed, plantain, dandelion, tansy, mustard, milkweed, etc, etc...) had totally and completely kicked my ass. I decided that digging straight into the ground was a fool's game, and began to collect containers.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I collected many diverse types of containers, from half-barrels to abandoned nursery pots to old clawfoot bathtubs. But I just didn't have enough space. As many containers as I could collect, it just didn't approach the sheer square footage available by tilling straight into the weed-seed-saturated earth.
Then I had a brainwave. In the back of the old falling-down shed we ironically call the "Parthenon" there was a five-foot-high tangle of old milk-crates. Who knows where they came from - it was apparently inexaughstable. I had already dipped into the pile to create egg-laying nests for the chickens. They worked great - chickens love milk crates. Just fill them with clean straw and chickens go to town.
I had recently been reading a book called the "square foot gardener" which is all about planning a garden based on the number of square feet you have available. Apparently you can plant a certain number of each type of garden plant per square foot - like six pole beans per square foot, or two tomatoes, or one pumpkin. This is supposedly a very intensive method of raising maximum food in minimum space.
It occurred to me that one milk crate full of fertile compost and dirt would be a little over a single square foot. It would be very easy to follow the book's plan and plant a garden if I could use the milk crates. But milk crates are full of holes. Dirt won't stay in them. What to do?
Well, look around. What else is lying around in abundance? Why, cardboard boxes that used to each hold a half-rack of beer. Also stacked to the rafters. Through my beer-addled brain it occurred to me that each cardboard box was roughly the right size to fit inside of a milk crate. Just pop the seams and fluff the sides a little - plop each sprung box into a milk crate and fill halfway with compost and the rest of the way with topsoil, and wallah!
Today I filled three. I didn't plant them yet - I have to consult the book when I'm a bit less tipsy. I know I have no shortage of cardboard but I may need a few more milkcrates.