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“Arthritis and age have been making it harder to walk up to my upper yard and tend to my gardens,” he says. “So I’m going to bring my beds down to the patio, put a bottom on them, and put them on legs so I can continue my square-foot gardening down where I don’t have to work off of these old knees.”
Van der Fluit admits she’s not entirely a purist.
“I’ve taken from it the parts that work well and I’ve tweaked other parts, and I’ve added things, too,” she says. “Like, Mel talks about soil building with the addition of compost but he doesn’t talk about cover cropping. And so I’ve gone ahead and planted green manure cover crops.
“This is rye,” she points out. “I’ll chop it down and till it back into the soil. But I also use it as a straw to protect and keep moisture in other squares that have seeds in them so they don’t dry out.”
She often has up to 100 squares going.
“For me, square-foot gardening has made life simpler,” Van der Fluit says. “An example: When my lettuces are done doing their thing at the end of spring, I’ll take them out of their boxes, build up the soil and plant a different crop without having to rip everything out.
“That’s the really cool thing about square-foot gardening,” she says. “The crops can be planted and mature and be harvested at their own pace.”