Farm, Garden and The Land > Gardening and Agriculture

Square Foot Gardening

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For those real-estate challenged, this is a good way to grow a ton of food in a small space without much work. as well as the book.  Warning:  The guy is pretty "earthy" but really knows his stuff.  I checked the book out from our library for free.

Essentially, you create a 4' x 4' box 6" deep and divide it into 16 squares.  Plant something different in each square.  Soil is created by mixing 1/3 of each: peat moss, compost, vermiculite.  Since the soil is very rich in nutrients, fertilizer is not needed.  Every season, add some compost to each square and have at it all over again.  Since you make your dirt, there is no working the soil, weeding, etc.

In a single 4 x 4, we grew the following:

48 carrots
2 tomato plants (maybe 40 tomatoes?)
18 beets
2 stalks corn (4 ears, planted as an experiment)
1 snow pea plant (rediculous amount of peas)
2 strawberry plants
1 head cabbage
8 spinach plants (more spinach than I could eat)
8 leaf lettuce plants

If you want more food, make more boxes.  If you haven't seen this method, you won't believe how dense the vegetation is during the summer.

I picked up the square foot garden book last night.  It looks like an easy way to get into gardening.  I like the seed, sprout, growing and harvesting charts. The charts that show how to stagger the planting to create fresh produce all summer long are very helpful.  I plan on starting with three 4X4 planting beds and see how it goes.  I am very excited about producing my own food.  Next I am going to set up compost bins to get rid of all my leaves/grass from my yard.

I am going to try to apply Square Foot Gardening method to a container garden on my balcony.
I am planning on planting Strawberries (in a strawberry pot), mixed greens, Peppers, Green Beans,
and some herbs.

If possible I want to try growing some Heirloom Varieties.

-- Jeremy

Cool, it is really easy.  Here are my "lessons learned" from my first crop.

Sugar Snap Peas - grow like weeds, if you have problems with these you have issues, no problem with bugs or slugs, huge harvest in one square, needed stick or something to support

Tomatoes - Pretty easy, slugs leave them alone until the turn red then attack, needs some type of support

Lettuce - very easy, everything seems to leave it alone, easy to get two crops if you plant early then again after heat of summer.

Spinach - planted too late, several bolted (went to seed) before many leaves were harvested, no insect problems, double crop same as lettuce

Beets - planted too late, maybe 20% grew to full size, others were small - no problems with slugs or bugs

Cabbage - t-bone steaks for slugs, luckily it grows faster than they can eat, got a nice head just last week, probably plant near corn or something that allows cabbage to fudge into adjacent squares like a fat guy in the middle seat of an airplane.

Broccoli - wow, huge plant for small harvest.  Maybe not the best for SFG due to size, slugs like leaves but leave head alone

Corn - don't plant behind tomatoes or it will be in the shade and won't grow

Strawberry - pretty straight forward, great for SFG, bugs and slugs leave it alone

Carrot - very easy, 16 to a square and very tasty.  Plant early to get full size as I only got maybe 40% full sized before the heat of summer stunted growth.

I still need to buy the book but have been thinking about starting one of these type gardens next Spring.  My question is if you can make one on something like a deck, or do you need it to be made over the earthy ground?  I was under the impression you could kind of make it in a self-contained box so a deck would work, but I'm not exactly sure.  (We have a really big deck, the people who built the house went a little nuts on it, heh).

I do have a yard but we don't have it fenced in yet and we're unfortunately stuck in an HOA until we can someday move to a bigger place with more farmable land.  I don't really think having a garden is "against the rules" but we have weird/nosy neighbors and I don't really want them complaining, plus their kids are always walking through/biking through our yard. :(  So I don't want either them or the friendly neighborhood deer/rabbits/squirrels out ruining it during the day.

Anyway, I am debating between containers or a boxed in SFG but wasn't sure what's more practical.  I would prefer the SFG but am just hoping for insight on whether that is doable or not.



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