I was at the local mega-bookseller trying to fight off the urge to buy a copy of “Square Foot Gardening” yesterday (I did) when I saw something very unusual. This particular bookstore (one of the major national chains) has devoted a good 4 feet of shelf space to titles related to growing marijuana. This is either something new or else I wasn’t paying attention before. Considering that possession or use of pot is illegal in Minnesota (medical marijuana is allowed in a few circumstances), I thought it odd that they were selling a number of books devoted to growing the finest weed you can.
In a related note, I was looking through the Q&A section of the homebrewing magazine I subscribe to, and some rocket scientist asked a question about growing hops indoors, since he had all the equipment to do so and was currently growing a related plant (i.e pot) hydroponically. The magazine wisely withheld this genius’ name and location.
I ordered some hops rhizomes a few weeks back and they arrived on Friday. I’ll be planting them soon now that the snow and freezing temperatures are hopefully gone until fall.
I attended a class on growing a vegetable garden put on by our local community ed program today. The class was taught by one of the local master gardeners and was quite informative. The subject matter she covered could have easily covered a day-long class but we blew through it in about 2.5 hours. Here are a couple of interesting things she covered:
- The class covered growing vegetable gardens in relatively small spaces, so she spent a fair bit of time covering square-foot gardens, raised beds and the like. It’s unfortunate that she rushed through the subject of how to lay out your beds, for I could have asked a lot of questions. Fortunately, another attendee is a current square-foot gardener, and she indicated that some of the spacing requirements advocated in the book are unrealistic, and that you definitely need a soil bed deeper than 6-8 inches. A foot or more is ideal. This is good information that I’ll put to use in a few weeks.
- The instructor generally eschews chemicals, but she does use roundup occasionally, since it’s apparently one of the few chemicals that totally breaks down in a few weeks’ time. I still don’t know that I’d use Roundup in a veggie garden, but that’s her take on things.
- She felt that modern treated lumber is OK for garden beds as long as it doesn’t have arsenic in it, but she advocated avoiding railroad ties, since they are usually covered in creosote.
- If you’re doing raised beds, you need only a few tools, and I’ve already got most of them. She plugged the Felco pruning shears, so I didn’t feel to bad about making that purchase. I did buy the Fiskars garden spade and will report on how it performs after I put my beds in. I think I’ll be buying a transplant spade at some point, and I’ll look for a different brand for that. We’ll see.
- A lot of university extension service handouts were given to us, which has a lot of good information. If you’re in Minnesota or a similar zone, there’s lots of good information here.
I also got a nice blue spruce seedling as a free gift on my way out of the class, so it was a good day. Now that the weather is starting to improve again, I’ll be looking to get my beds in soon. After looking over the covenants for my development (I’m in suburbia, remember), I think raised beds are the way to go, since it’ll be hard for my neighbors to complain about an untidy garden when it’s formally demarcated like that. I’ve reserved “Square Foot Gardening” from my local library and will consult that as well as the Jeavons books before deciding what to do. I still think Steve Solomon’s “Gardening When It Counts” has a lot of good information in it as well, but I’ll probably hold off on implementing his methods until the need arises to put a whole lot of space under cultivation in a short amount of time.