There are a few changes that I would make to the Square Foot Garden if I wanted to make a low maintenance version. Right now I don’t have a plot anywhere, but in the future I want to expand my garden, and that means I’ll probably have to find space in a community garden. I’m also thinking of places like summer cabins where the garden would be planted in the spring and only visited once a month until summer vacation starts, and then you want as much food as possible.
Irrigation: First would be how to deal with watering. Mel recommends you inspect the plants while you water. This isn’t possible for a low maintenance garden, so I have several ideas.
- Buried terra cotta pots: Apparently an ancient form of irrigation, the pots would be buried in the garden, filled with water, and covered with a lid. The water will pass through the breathable clay into the dirt. Note that the bottoms would have to be plugged, and the SFG would need to be made slightly larger to accomodate the pots. They could possibly be buried on the outside edges of the squares, in the walkway, which should still keep the soil in the sqaure moist. A modern variation is using 4L milk jugs, with holes punched in the direction you want the water to go. This might be a good way to use up space in the paths between squares.
- Drip irrigation: I’d like to get some IV drip bags from a hospital
- Wicks: I haven’t seen many people doing this, so maybe it’s not feasible, but I think a good way would be to use some kind of canvas that is in a water container in one end, and buried in the garden in the other. Maybe it would be wrapped in plastic until it gets below the soil so there isn’t too much lost to evaporation.
The other things that Mel recommends are great ideas, for example rain collection.
Pests: The second problem is pests. Slugs are a very common problem around here because of the relatively cool weather. The slug problem would be dealt with two ways: a barrier around the planter, and a barrier on the planter itself. The barrier around the planter would be two things: egg shells and pistachio shells. Apparently the slugs don’t like to crawl over the sharp edges.
If they do make it past, the next barrier would be copper tape. It could easily be mounted on the 2×6’s.
Other methods of slug control aren’t low maintenance enough, for example stale beer, which would either get filled up with slugs or diluted with rainwater.