Posts Tagged ‘Square Foot Garden’

Square Foot Garden Project In Connecticut

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Square Foot Garden May 10, 2010

Square Foot Garden May 10, 2010

Project Initiation

This project fulfilled several requirements (i.e. it is what is known as a “robust” solution). The first requirement was to create a beautiful vegetable garden that would increase the property value. The second requirement was to increase the occupants’ capability of being self-sustaining. The third requirement was to shore up the hill to stop the effects of gravity on the pool and the other landscaping up the hill.

Project Planning & Execution

Site Selection – This project required that we build a retaining wall FIRST and then build the square foot garden beds on the top of the newly flattened surface. We choose the site right off the pool to take advantage of the existing fencing AND to help stop the gradual slippage of the pool and the surrounding decking down the hill. This site also is in full sun the entire day.

Site Prep – My cousin – Bill LaBrosse and his friend (Tom Butcher) (both masons) built the retaining wall. I know why these guys stay so thin – that is a lot of manual labor building the wall and back filling it by hand with the six ton of gravel. They spent three weeks living at the house for four days at a time working on this project 15 hours a day.

Building the Beds – This took two truck loads of material – peat moss, manure and vermiculite. We are putting in several thousand worms to have direct in dirt composting and to help with soil aeration. The worms as part of their digestion process excrete waste that is high in nitrogen and phosporus. The goal is to do minimal intervention in the soil throughout the years. The raised beds eliminate soil compaction.

Planting Prep – the vegetable selection was based on the availability to harvest, shelf life of the vegetables and resale possibilities. We selected shallots as they have a 120 day growing season, capture a pretty high market value when packaged correctly, and have a shelf life of 8 months. We also planted other root vegetables that have a long shelf life – carrots, beets, sweet potatoes. We planted pumpkins and winter squashes as well that have a long shelf life.

Protection – we selected the fencing to match the pool fencing to ensure the garden maintained the beauty of the property. The height of the retaining wall will keep out the most invasive predators in the area – the deer. We are installing wire mess along the bottom foot of the fence to keep out the rabbits and other small critters.

Project Monitoring and Control

The weather was the biggest detriment to our schedule. The guys were only rained out of working a half day. Luckily the most rain was on the three days of the week they weren’t working. Our first load of manure was real “shit,” excuse the pun. It was loaded with plastic fencing and lots of hay. We used that to patch up places in the lawn. We went to packaged manure because we really do not want weeds in this garden and with the worm plan, we are going to have very good soil for years to come. We figured the expense to get the dirt the right composition from the get go will pay off in increased yields and less maintenance for years to come.

We had a weight problem with the beds (the dirt was separating the wood) so Bill and Tom used an old deck they had just pulled up on another part of the property to make a deck between the beds. They then back filled the rest with larger gravel. It gave the garden a beautifully finished look.

Project Closeout

Will report back on the garden yield at the end of the season. All in all, this project was very satisfying as it is beautiful and will prevent any more settling of the pool decking and the other landscaping.

Lettuce Be Friends

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

I have been on an unofficial blogger vacation.   Been extremely busy with the Cheetahs getting ready for the new PMP exam course roll out.  We debut’d the course in Dubai and have had our first students pass!!!!!!!!

I was on temporary assignment to the east coast for the momentus event of the PMBOK 4th edition new PMP exam rollout.   Before I came here, I had a friend set up a small square foot garden where I was going to be staying – hoping that some of the veggies would come up while I was here.   And lo and behold, we have our first crop of lettuce in – woo hoo!!!!!!

Talk about some project management – one of the banes of my traveling existence is it seems if make the effort to grow a garden, I’m rarely around to see the fruits of my labor.   I vowed this summer to set up gardens wherever I was going to be mid to late summer so when I’d be there they would be maturing.   I may not see everything come to maturity on this garden, but at least I’m here for the arrival of the lettuce crop!!!!!!!

Banner Crop of Lettuce in the CT Square Foot Garden

Banner Crop of Lettuce in the CT Square Foot Garden

The Square Foot Garden Project In Alaska

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Square Foot Garden Coming Together - Beds Made, Anti-Moose Fence Going In

Square Foot Garden Coming Together - Beds Made, Anti-Moose Fence Going In

My friends, family, and I have been working on building a garden in Alaska the past several weeks. Last year my friend Mandy told me about the square foot gardening concept so I purchased the Square Foot Gardening book. I designed my first one in Nevada last year and wanted to try my hand at gardening in Alaska (you need a very large fence that includes an electric fence to keep the moose out.) Several people wanted my plans for what I was doing so those are attached.

My Cheetah Learning team wanted me to create a special promotion for people who wanted to earn Project Management professional development credits by creating their own garden. We have a 60 hour (and 60 PDU) online course called Cheetah Action Project (CHAP). Check out all the great projects people have done with this class. You can get a $50 discount on this course by using the promotion code “silverbells.” Click here for more information.

1. Project Plan Square Foot Garden – squarefootgardenalaskaprojectplan

2. Design Plan Square Foot Garden – sqfgardenbeachcomber1

3. Planting Calendar Square Foot Garden. planting-calendar-2009. I just picked out the seed packets for the vegetables I wanted to grow. Put the date I wanted to harvest them, and then the amount of days it would take for them to get to maturity. And subtracted that to find the date I needed to plant the seeds. My main constraint is that I have to be away for June and July for business.

Lessons Learned May 14, 2009

Planting Layout based on starts available and what will easily grow in my area.  Next year, I get my vegetables started inside earlier.

Planting Layout based on starts available and what will easily grow in my area. Next year, I get my vegetables started inside earlier.

1. We didn’t know that the garden would be so hammered from north winds so we had my cousin Bill, the mason, who was visiting from Rhode Island, build a 4 foot rock wall on the north side to protect from the wind. A large stand of evergreens about 40 feet from the south side of the garden protects it from the south winds.

2. We had expanded the garden width by two feet – because we had extra 14 foot 2 x 12’s.

3. When I shared my planting calendar with my neighbor who has been gardening in Alaska for 25 years, she told me a great book to get on gardening in Southeast Alaska and said that I would need to start with plant starts if I expected any produce by August. So I purchased the starts that I could, got extra starts from some neighbors who planted more than they could use and revised my planting layout and tossed the calendar – all the plants are going in at the same time this weekend.

4. For the most part the garden has come out like I expected and I’m very happy with the outcome of this project.

Plants in, protected with 2000 worms to keep them all company.

Plants in, protected with 2000 worms to keep them all company.