Square foot gardening

Discussion in 'Gardening and Agriculture' started by mdprepper, Feb 21, 2010.

  1. mdprepper

    mdprepper I sold my soul to The_Blob. He had candy...

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    I am planning my garden and would like some suggestions.

    I have a very small yard and 1/2 of it is a steep hill. That leaves me with very few options. My husband and I finally made it out to the yard to measure for garden space. I will have 4 sectrions to grow in. They are oddly shaped (we live in a townhouse) :

    8'X2'
    5'X2'
    12'X2'
    8'X3'

    for a total of 62 square feet. I know, it is small.

    The 8X3 is in the front of the house so I plan to use that for herbs for cooking and medicinal uses (I'll start a different thread on that for suggestions).

    How do you suggest I use the left over 38 sq ft to get the most out of such a small space.

    We would like to grow (the number after the food is the number of plants of each you can grow in 1 sq ft of space-according to the book):

    tomatoes-1
    lettuce-4
    spinach-9
    carrots-16
    peppers (bell type)-1
    greenbeans (bush)-9
    peas-8
    summer squash-1
    eggplant-1
    cabbage-1
    cucumber (for pickling)-1

    We do NOT expect to feed our family on the space we have, but would like to have some things we can eat in season and maybe enough to dehyrdrate some things for later use.

    I need to get my seeds started this week on somethings, so any suggestions would be helpful.
     
  2. sailaway

    sailaway Well-Known Member

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    mdprepper, how do your garden plots face? Are they on the south side of your property? If they are on the north side of your property and obstructed by your home they may not get enough sun. As a kid I once put a garden in on the north side of the house and had nothing the end of summer.
     

  3. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

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    If the steep area is facing south, don't write it off as unusable. Last year I helped a friend turn part of a steep bank into a productive garden area. It has a SW exposure. We cut tiers into the bank about 2' wide and shored it up with old RR ties that he got off craigslist for $5 each. One thing we did wrong. My tiller is 26" wide and the final width of the garden area was 22" :rolleyes:
    When the entire bank is finished, there will be 3 rows that are about 200' long. That's a lot of space for planting.
    But to help answer your question, trellis some of your plants. Beans, peas, and cukes do very well growing up instead of out. Put a few wooden poles in the ground with some heavy twine strung between them. Run your first string about 8"-10" off the ground and then every 12"-15" to the top. Makes it a lot easier to harvest as well.
    Here's a pic of mine from '08 before it was finished. It's about 20' long and 3' wide. It's more of an arbor but you get the idea.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. mdprepper

    mdprepper I sold my soul to The_Blob. He had candy...

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    My yards face east/west. Back yard gets morning sun. Front yard gets the afternoon sun.

    The way the beds will sit, they back onto the split rail fence that has chicken wire along it (to keep the dog in). I figured we could put the tall /viney things along the back to grow on the fence.

    Assuming anything will grow, I have managed to kill most green things I come in contact with :(, what veggies are good producers? Which types of veggies should I devote the most space to?
     
  5. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

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    Hmmm ... thinking ....:scratch

    Do you ave a place where you could put a few hanging baskets? Cherry tomatoes do very well in them...

    You could put out a few more cool weather crops that would be ready to harvest by the time you need to plant your warm weather crops.
     
  6. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

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    Boston pickling cucumbers are prolific producers. The more you pick, the more they produce. The same goes for most types of pole beans.
     
  7. Woody

    Woody Woodchuck

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    What you should devote the most space to depends on what you and your family like to eat. Just remember to get heirloom seeds, which will seed true to type, not hybrids. Although my hybrid green summer squash, forget the original name, has done well for 5 years now.

    Example: if you like green beans, make them a good portion of your garden. If you like eggplant but not the favorite vegetable (or fruit?), only have 3 or 4 plants. If you love them put in maybe 8 or 10 plants. I like cherry tomatoes and find one plant will fulfill my summer needs, so I start out with 2 plants.

    When I plant I use the rule of planning on harvesting only half of what I actually planted. So I plant twice what I think I will actually need. This takes into account, seeds that do not germinate, a sudden hail storm, pests, a brutally hot streak, the puppy sneaking in and enjoying the smorgasbord … If I can harvest more than half I’m a happy guy and will have some to share. Also remember to plant enough for a portion to go to seed for next years crop!

    You will be able to double crop sections, carrots early them tomatoes after the carrots are harvested. As well as carrots around the tomatoes late summer for a fall harvest, things like that.

    I will also second the pole varieties over bush types. I find they are not only more productive over a longer window but easier to harvest as I’m not crawling around on my knees. If kept picked, my pole beans produce until the mid-summer heat kills them. Actually some years it even stops tomatoes from growing!

    I use a variation of square foot gardening. I do have rows for beans but plant a double row with seeds 6” apart either side of the trellis in a staggered pattern. For spinach, radishes, carrots, lettuces, I make a ‘row’ 12” to 16” wide and 15’ long. For the radishes, I’ll plant seeds every 2” in an offset checkerboard (so every seed is 2” from the other) pattern for say 1’ of the row. Two weeks later I’ll plant another foot, then another foot… This gives me an extended harvest and usually no overabundance at any one time. Lettuce and spinach are thinned as they grow so I have fresh while giving the stronger plants more room to grow. So you might try planting beans on the North side of one bed and something in front of them, not a whole planter of beans

    One word of warning if this is your first garden. It can be discouraging if something goes wrong and you have a ton of vegetables ruined. It sounds good you have 62 sp ft to start, not ¼ acre. If there is anyone else gardening in your complex, talk to them, they will be your biggest help on what grows well and how you might need to amend the soil.
     
  8. sailaway

    sailaway Well-Known Member

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    Could you plant an apple or pear tree. Some trees have several types of fruit grafted to them and will grow as a vine type plant. What ever you decide to grow, do grow what you enjoy eating.
     
  9. mdprepper

    mdprepper I sold my soul to The_Blob. He had candy...

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    Well, this is what we came up with...

    tomato-- 5 sqs--3 early, 2 late, 2 hanging baskets of cherry tomato
    lettuce-- 4 sqs--4 leaf per sq-planted in stages
    carrot--- 3sqs--16 per sq
    eggplant--- 2sqs--1 per sq
    greenbeans---3sqs--pole 9 per sq (if I do it right, I can plant 8 bush per sq when the poles are done)
    peas--- 3sqs--8 per sq
    spinach---2sqs--9 per sq-2 rotations
    cabbage---4sqs--1 per sq-2 rotations
    peppers---3sqs--1 per sq
    cucumbers---3sqs--2 per sq-2 rotations
    onions---3sqs--16 per sq-start from sets
    squash(summer)---2sqs--1 per sq

    I have laid everything out on paper, with the tall or climbers in the back to grow on the fence. The only ones that will not go on the fence are the eggplant and summer squash, I planned those for the corners so they can trail out of the boxes.

    That leaves one sq empty, in case something catches my eye. Maybe beets? But I am the only one that eats them here at home.

    We talked about putting in 2 apple trees, but have not made a decision yet. I am thinking of blackberry bushes for the bottom of the yard. just letting them take over the whole bottom fence.

    I thought I would put strawberries on the hill, but decided to do them in containers. I've had 2 back surgeries and just do not want to have to get that low to the ground! So I still have to find something for that spot.

    So what do you think? If I do not kill everything, will those amounts give a pretty decent yield?

    Thank you all for your help!!:flower:
     
  10. bunkerbob

    bunkerbob Supporting Member

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    heirloom vs hybrids

    I had a discussion not too long ago with someone concerning seed storage for :shtf:, he said he has many heirloom seeds in long term storage for just an event. Then the discussion then went to his regular garden which is very impressive, well tendered and full of every kind of vegetable. What I noticed was that he uses hybrid plants and seeds to accomplish this. He relies on these vegetables as a nutritious way to feed his family, whom I believe are possibly vegetarians.
    My question to him was why not grow heirloom plants now rather than storing them just for that event, how will you know which ones are viable and will work in your area, and then wouldn't it be prudent to find out ahead of time which are best, then save those seeds for future gardens.
    I seemed to hit a dead end, he argued that the hybrids produce so much more and are much more disease resistant than the heirloom variety.
    As a note, he is very well prepared in other areas with food storage and other 'equipment'!!!

    What are your thoughts on this.
     
  11. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

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    Looks good Mdpepper:congrat::congrat::woohoo: (You know have to keep us up to date on how it's going ... right...;)

    heirloom vs hybrids - heirloom, hands down. :D I will take my heirloom over hybrids anyday.
     
  12. Woody

    Woody Woodchuck

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    For me the big issue is whether the plants will seed true to type. Hybrid or heirloom I would hate to be relying on seed stock that might be sterile or lose its hybrid qualities in a few generations. Can you imagine planting green peppers from home saved hybrid seeds one year and having no fruit, or flowers that fall off before they set fruit? That would really suck.

    I hear corn is the big one. Hybrids cross easily and seed from a hybrid is nothing like the hybrid parent. They lose their qualities and you could end up with dent corn when you expect sweet corn. I’m happy knowing that next years crop will be exactly like this years… in plant quality I mean.

    If you believe troubled times are shortly to arrive, I’d stick with proven heirloom varieties. If you think we all have time, try hybrids and see if they maintain their qualities for generation after generation of seed saving. Heck, even try crossing your own to come up with something new and different!
     
  13. mdprepper

    mdprepper I sold my soul to The_Blob. He had candy...

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    I can honestly say, I had never realised that there was a difference in seeds before I came to this site. Sorry! I was "city" raised, by a "city" Mom that only grew roses. Dad is from WV and very "country" wise, but as a kid, I did not pay attention.

    Now, after all I have read, I will be looking to get heirloom seeds for my garden.

    Is there a big difference in price of heirloom vs hybrid seeds?
     
  14. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

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    You will be a master in the garden before you know it. :D

    No price difference in my area and the seed packet should have on it heirloom or hybrid.
     
  15. mdprepper

    mdprepper I sold my soul to The_Blob. He had candy...

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    Saturday was "Meyer Seed Day" here at my house:flower:! It is a seed company that has been in business in Baltimore for 100yrs. They have a terrible website and a little tiny store front, but they had an excellent selection of seeds.

    I ended up with:

    tomato 3 types
    lettuce 2 types
    greenbeans 2 types
    broccoli
    cabbage
    cucumbers
    peas
    summer squash
    carrots
    eggplant
    greenpepper
    spinach
    yellow and red onion sets

    I will go out tonight and get some soil for starting the cold weather veggie seeds tonight (in the house in a sunny window--it is much to wet to start them outside, plus we have to get the boxes ready). I am so excited:D.

    My loving husband even bought me a straw hat to wear while 'farming':kiss:.
     
  16. sailaway

    sailaway Well-Known Member

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    Don't forget a red farmers bandana!:D You will probably need a scarecrow by mid summer!:D
     
  17. bunkerbob

    bunkerbob Supporting Member

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    Well on my way for a spring garden. :flower:
    And yes that is Sally with a bucket on her head, she learned this on her own, what can I say.
    If you look closely, you can see I grow artichokes, very popular here.
     

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  18. Woody

    Woody Woodchuck

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    Very nice plot Bob! Quite a bit larger than mine but I do see we both like nice wide rows. Mine are 4’ to 8’, depending on the crop. I don’t have a tractor to get between them, just me and the tiller. I direct seed here and have yet to even do any digging this spring, it has been way too cold and wet. Tried again on Sunday but I would have ruined the tilth had I done anything. Maybe this weekend I can get out and plant some cool weather crops.
     
  19. HozayBuck

    HozayBuck Well-Known Member

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    BunkerBob
    You sir are an inspiration to us all, but of course we hate you because you make the rest of us feel bad!! :cry:.. you are one of the few people on all the sites I've looked at that does , not talk... I admire and envy your ability's and your go gettem "tude"... :beercheer:

    concerning what you said about growing with Heirloom seeds now, I agree and the main reason is it seems to me ( and I don't know squat) that if you grow with heirloom seeds and harvest you seeds and plant them year after year, wouldn't it seem that over time those seeds would adapt to your area, your gardening style ( maybe that;s not the word?) I guess I mean they would be at "HOME" in your dirt more then say my dirt...make sense? adapt? is that the word? I don't know but I'm sure you get my drift...

    I guess I mean like hunting deer in MT and then hunting them in TX... they are both deer but you have to go about it differently..

    As for the OP, watch where you plant your squash, or you will have a wonderful lot of squash...and not much else, I'm good at growing squash, toss the seeds out and forget em..:D. well they will not bother your corn that I know...

    I knew a guy in MT that wanted a garden, he had a steep hill , more like the edge of a long gully, he did the switchback thing, had the nicest garden, 2 ft wide and 1/4 mile long, really cool!...

    If I would quit reading all day and go out and work I'd be like BunkerBOB..lol...ok!! tomorrow I'm going to get a tiller and get the plot going... !!! also have to get a spliter to make fire wood out of a big Oak that had to come down...:(...was a beautiful tree...
     
  20. bunkerbob

    bunkerbob Supporting Member

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    I'm not sure about the Heirloom plants adapting to my area, its possible, but I would imagine it would take a long time to see a change.
    Planted cool weather seeds, lettuce, cabbage, radish and carrots.

    I need to get going on the 'pit' also. Just made a new elevator for it, works pretty good and I can take a lot more material up at a time. You can see the orange 25gal steel barrel that it can handle instead of the 5gal buckets.
    The plan is to go deeper about 20 ft at that point, thus the elevator, the mrs says it is easier than the ladder.
     

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