The picture from the left is a shot of the arugula sprouts from my garden project. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m starting off with spinach, arugula, cilantro, garlic, and bunching onions. So far, the spinach and the arugula are sprouting nicely. Especially the arugula, which seems to grow a few millimeters every hour.
I’m basically going to follow Mel Bartholomew’s square foot gardening method, which you can read about here. The idea is to plot your garden by the square foot for an efficient layout. This makes crop spacing easier, since you don’t have to do the math. Also, instead of using existing soil, you’ll be using a soil-less mix out of perlite, peat moss, and compost.
I’m not going to follow it to the letter, especially since I’m having a hard time finding the materials to make my own soil mix. They say that in tropical countries, you can replace the peat moss with coir or coconut dust. I wasn’t able to buy perlite, which is weird because the Philippines is one of the top importers of this mineral. Maybe I just don’t know where to look for it. Still, I’m definitely using soil-less potting mix bought from the store until I can make my own.
I’m going to start out with a 3ft by 2ft container, which I still have to build. But, as the picture above indicates, I’ve already started my seeds. In the 3×2 container, the square foot gardening method allows me to have 51 plants. 51! I say that’s not bad.
Read below the cut to get the nitty-gritty details.
What I’m going to plant:
- Spinach – 18 plants
- Arugula – 4 plants
- Garlic – 9 plants
- Cilantro – 4 plants
- Bunching onion – 16 plants
- Total: 51 plants in a 3ft x 2ft area
Here’s what I’ve spent so far:
- P 254 for seeds.
- P 90 for 10kg of organic potting mix
- Total: P344.00
Here’s the time I’ve spent on the garden so far:
- 2 hours for filtering and sifting compost
- 1 hour total for preparing my seedling pots
- 2 hours total for planting
- Total: 5 hours of work
- The cheapest seed packets I got were P35/packet from a stall in Megamall. Only one of my seed packets isn’t from a local company. I highly recommend buying local, because not only is it cheaper, but the seeds are suited to our climate.
- I still have so many leftover seeds for future use. I have to store them properly to make the most out of the money I spent. See the list of resources below for instructions on saving seeds.
- I’m starting the garlic from bulbs bought at the market. See below for instructions on how to do this.
- I got the compost for free. I built a compost bin in our backyard and gathered kitchen and garden waste for several months. Some worms dropped by to help But the compost bin is now broken because I used untreated wood.
- I made my own seedling pots out of newspaper and craft paper (from my fine arts days), which I will discuss in a succeeding post. It’s free and I’m recycling stuff
- Rebuild compost bin to a 2-bin system. One bin to use at present, and another bin with materials that are in a further stage of decomposition. This time, I’ll use hardwood and treat it with linseed oil, which isn’t as toxic as varnish.
- Because of my very fertile soil (thanks to the compost and the potting mix), almost all of the seeds are sprouting. This means I can lessen the seeds to 2 to 3 per seedling pot.
If you want to learn more about the concepts I raised above, feel free to visit the following websites: