The Mess Hall

Rants and ramblings on all things edible, wearable, doable, or usable with a focus on Home and Health. Home is fun, easy on the wallet, and “gool” for the greatest game of tag ever (Life). Welcome to my home, the Mess Hall. Get in the Mess!

02 Sep

The “Other E” in F…FEVER: Expensive to Buy

Posted in Growin' F...FEVER, Urban Farming / Gardening on 02.09.10 by Octopi

I’ve grown herbs for years now out on the porch. They satisfy the “Other E” in Growin’ F…FEVER too: because they can be Expensive to buy. The ability to just pop out to the porch to grab a bunch of thyme or mint is great! It doesn’t hurt to also think “ha HA! I just saved $4!”

What’s our inventory this summer?

  • Thyme
  • Lavendar
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Dill


When the days grow short and snow starts to fly, I think we’re going to find some window sill real estate in our home for some of our herbs and maybe even try to grow spinach indoors for some year-round tasty goodness! We’ll update you on how that goes.

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17 Aug

The “E” in F..FEVER: Efficiency = Square Foot Gardening

Posted in Growin' F...FEVER, Urban Farming / Gardening on 17.08.10 by Octopi

So you’ve got the Growin’ F…FEVER?!  Let’s focus on the “E” in F…FEVER, or one of them.  E fficient Use of Space.  Some of you may have a big yard to accommodate an equally large garden (my family did when I was growing up, which my bro and I had the, um, honor?, of weeding all summer). City livin’ can present some challenges though. We don’t have a yard. We’ve got a string of concrete on either side of our building and parking in the back. So what’s a girl to do?

Square Foot Gardening (SFG) is one approach to gardening that seeks to maximize the efficiency of your gardening space.   It’s been around for a while but it’s new to us so we thought we’d give it a whirl.  SFG was popularized by a guy named Mel Bartholomew back in the early 1980s.  Mel generally promotes SFG as an alternative to “row” gardening, reducing the amount of space required so you only use 20% of the space you’d need for a regular garden. 

SFG overview:

  • Uses a strategically sized area (4′ X 4′ squares at the largest), which is broken down into 1 foot squares.  In our case, we were working with a narrow area along the building, so we built two 2′ X 4′ above-ground gardens.
  • Each veggie has its own efficiency ratio, if you will.  That is, the number of plants that can most efficiently go in one square.  Tomato plant is one per square, spinach is nine per square, etc.
  • There is a specific combination of mix to use for planting.  The rich mixture (vermiculite, compost, and peat moss) reduces the amount of depth you need for your garden.  In our case, we were able to create an above-ground garden that sits on top of our concrete sidewalk, but only 6 inches deep of mix is needed to have healthy, growing plants.  I was pleasantly surprised by this.  I though there was no way a big ol’ tomato plant was going to grow in 6″ (OK, maybe 5″ for us) of mix.  But it did.  It’s also lighter than straight soil, which helps if you are creating above-ground gardens.  Dirt is heavy, man. We got a work-out just with the mix.
  • Oh yeah, and there’s very little weeding.  Except for a couple trees that started trying to make a home in the garden, we haven’t had to weed.

I’m sure Mel B wouldn’t want us to give up all the secrets to his method, so you can consult his book and website for details.  Go ahead and assess your space situation now, which will help prep for next year’s garden!  If you are ambitious or bored, you could even create your space this fall.  Then all you need to do is drop in your mix and plants in the spring.

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