Square Foot Gardening

Discussion in 'Gardening and Agriculture' started by Davo45, Apr 29, 2011.

  1. Davo45

    Davo45 New here

    137
    0
    Has anyone else tried Square Foot Gardening besides me? I'd never had a garden before 2 years ago, but decided to give it a try after my sister heard about Square Foot Gardening and told me about it. I researched it on the internet then bought the book @ Lowes.

    It cost a little at 1st to built the raised beds, buy the soil mix, etc., but it has been well worth it. With only 2 tomato plants last year I had more tomatoes than I could use from early June until the 1st frost in November. I had 12 Clemson spineless okra plants that were over 7' tall planted in 1'x8' made out of 1x6"'s. My family ate fresh okra throughout the summer and frozen okra in soups and stews through out fall and winter. I've had kale, green onions and Swiss chard throughout the year.

    If you've never tried Square Foot Gardening I highly recommend you check it out.
     
  2. worldengineer

    worldengineer Well-Known Member

    300
    3
    Its actually quite popular with the members that have limited space. I have one large planter for gardening and a smaller one. Both are "experiments" to learn how to grow in limited space.

    All but those two planters is run in rows. It is easier to maintain for me, because of the larger space. This year my the biggest bed has radishes, lettuce, taters, patty pan squash,and jalapenos. The small one has green bell peppers, and more squash.

    I enjoy learning with the garden beds.
     

  3. ComputerGuy

    ComputerGuy Retired Air Force

    906
    0
    We do square foot gardening with 8 foot by 8 foot above ground gardening.
     
  4. Nadja

    Nadja Well-Known Member

    336
    3
    Besides a raised bed garden, I am starting a bucket in a bucket garden right now. If all goes well, should be much better then the raised bed garden, and use much less water. I will keep you all posted. This is also something that looks to be fantastic for people living in apts etc.
     
  5. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

    6,660
    8
    I bought a 4 X 4 raised bed yesterday ... for some of my herbs. Main reason to keep my son or hubby from mowing them down. :eek: lol

    Not sure if it would be called Square Foot Gardening or not ... :dunno:
     
  6. Cahri

    Cahri Well-Known Member

    65
    0
    I have done it, and it is mostly successful. I still use some of the principles but not for everything. You just have to test it and see if it works for you
     
  7. Kai22

    Kai22 Well-Known Member

    45
    0
    I just read about square foot gardening yesterday! My property is fairly large, but there isn't one good large spot for a garden. We've decided we will have to put in several small gardens throughout the yard. The square foot gardening looks like a great idea!

    Now, if it would just stop snowing and frosting, I might be able to plant something outside... ;) for now, seedlings are taking over my kitchen/back porch/every free surface in my house.... :D
     
  8. BuggingIn

    BuggingIn Well-Known Member

    77
    0
    I've been converting to raised beds (started last year and am probably gonna need a couple more years to get the whole garden converted), but even before building the beds, I did a form of sfg. I have been very pleased with the yield compared to conventional rows.
     
  9. Halfway

    Halfway Grunt

    101
    0
    I have achieved very good results with this methodology. I am adding another bed this year for additional cucumbers.

    I look for the highest efficiency and "Mel's mix" works very well and will last several years if you keep adding compost.

    I will add additional calcium for the tomatoes this year. Tomatoes will stretch the limits of compost and they need the extra calc to prevent blossom end rot. With the wet summers we are having, it is a "must".

    Best of success. It will pay you back a few times over!
     
  10. lilmissy0740

    lilmissy0740 Well-Known Member

    695
    1
    Halfway- whjat do you add for calcium? Epson salt? Is that calcium? dah
    I tried the method of starting seeds in vermiculite only and loved it. Except for peppers. Any ideas why?
    Has anyone tried his method of staking tomatoes or have a good way of staking them besides posts at each one?
     
  11. Cahri

    Cahri Well-Known Member

    65
    0
    Oyster shells, egg shells, dolomitic lime, that sort of stuff for calcium, all organic. Fish meal, blood meal and bone meals for peppers, they love food and acidity around 6.5 and peat moss adds to good drainage. For tomatoes I group them around single tomato cage, works well for me
     
  12. Halfway

    Halfway Grunt

    101
    0
    finely crushed egg shells in each hole and I'm gonna use Mater Magic for additional fertilizer this year. Last year went from extrememly wet to extremely hot and back again all summer long. I think they could have used the extra fertilizer, so this year I will give them a little help.
     
  13. CulexPipiens

    CulexPipiens Still waiting for the zombies.

    1,596
    8
    I was at a short garden seminar this past weekend and someone asked the speaker about tomatoes. His advice was to fertlize when you first plant, then nothing until the first flowers appear. At that time give it another small dose and then that's it. His reasoning was to give the plant a boost to get it going, then to stress it a bit to cause it to fruit. When the flowers appear it's starting the fruit process again so give it another small boost. I haven't tried this method yet but am thinking of giving it a shot this year on some of the plants to have a comparison.
     
  14. HoppeEL4

    HoppeEL4 Member

    785
    0
    Had to do garden beds before we moved, we had a small backyard, with limited sun exposure. It works really well, and is efficient. We moved from the crowded suburbs to the country in late November, and are renting right now, a house in acreage. We are so excited to have something big, and open to the sun, and actually be able to grow a lot for ourselves, hope we are not over-doing it....so far the tilled bed is 100 square foot, I wanted more, but we'll see. I know with those raised beds, they can do well and produce a nice little crop, we did potatoes in it last year, and got about 50 pounds out of a 32 square foot bed.

    Tomatoes do better in ground we found. We kept having problems with them drying out too fast, and it was hard to get the tomato cages to stand firmly without falling over, because if they do well, they are heavy plants. You can find pre-made 1x1 inch wood frame kits at garden centers for the tomatoes, and those are nice, but easily made, and much cheaper than the kits.
     
  15. worldengineer

    worldengineer Well-Known Member

    300
    3
    Be easy on the fertilizer when you first plant, otherwise you will burn the plant and kill it. That's basically how I grow maters in rows. A little when I start, then a small dose once they get going.

    10-10-10 is good to use as it is not very powerful and won't burn a plant as easily.
     
  16. goshengirl

    goshengirl Supporting Member

    3,312
    4
    I was really inspired by Mel's book. There's a lot of raised bed/intensive gardening in almost every homesteading book I've read, and I know many folks on this site practice that.

    To me 'intensive gardening' is planting in raised beds and using the same plant spacing as Mel has in his book (if a plant can grow 1 foot apart in a row, it can grow 1 foot apart in all directions). And compost, compost, compost. I could be wrong, but to me that is the gist of 'intensive gardening.'

    The things that make Mel's Square Foot Gardening unique are the things that we had to modify/go without, because the size of our garden makes it cost prohibitive. Mel has solidly construced box frames lined on the bottom with weed inhibitor fabric. He also starts with a perfect blend of topsoil, compost, peat moss and vermiculite that gets added into the bed, then yearly home-grown compost on top of that.

    We've got two rows that are 72' x 4', one row that's 64' x 4', and two rows that are 60' x 4'. (That's phase I of our garden, we've got more in the works for phase II) With that much gardening space, there's no way we could afford to build boxes lined with weed fabric. Nor could we afford to create Mel's perfect soil mix. Instead, we're working with the native soil (we're working in what used to be a pasture, so it was naturally composted with manure years ago and is quite good soil), we've trucked in a bunch of topsoil, and we'll add in leaf compost we started last fall as well as peat moss. We won't have well-constructed box frames, but I'm picking up as many free wooden pallets as I can find on c-list and breaking them down for the wood. Our youngest son is also in charge of gathering rocks from the creek to use as a bed liner.

    It's great seeing what everyone else is doing in their gardens and the results they've had.
     
  17. HoppeEL4

    HoppeEL4 Member

    785
    0
    goshengirl, sounds like you have quite an operation going on. How long have you been at it? We just got started this year, the last where we lived in town, was terrible weather, and before that we did ok, could not use tomatoes fast enough. We are still learning, and are really hoping for corn this year, the last two, our first two really, we did not get anything (meaning they grew but simply did not produce a viable, edible cob of corn).

    We tilled up and it looks like phenomenol soil. We PH tested, it says it is 6.0, and needs some nitrogen. The tiller had no problems breaking through once the sod was gone, and it is just enough that it holds together, but yet comes apart when you break it up. It once housed a field of blueberry plants, about 8 years ago, and has been sitting since, unused. I do think potatoes are going to love this soil, as well as other root vegetables.

    As well, we were lucky enough to have had a field behind us, part of the property, that was being used to house horses, and there is ample mulching material for fall, as well as what our chickens supply.
     
  18. goshengirl

    goshengirl Supporting Member

    3,312
    4
    HopeEL4, we just got started this year, too. This time last year we were living in the 'burbs on a lot that was smaller than the pasture we're now turning into a garden. :) We know it's a big bite to take all at once, but this is actually my non-prepping DH's desire, so I'm running with it! He grew up on a farm, so being able to garden makes him happy, and he loves the idea of being self-sufficient when it comes to food.

    The goal for us isn't so much to use as to store - canning/freezing/dehydrating/cellaring all of it (we already can/freeze/dehydrate a lot of non-home-grown stuff). We've also put in 11 fruit trees, and will be adding more, as well as nut trees.

    You mentioned corn - a decade and two houses ago we grew corn and did well with it, but then again we are in the corn belt. We'll be trying a number of varieties this year, to learn what grows best for us. I hope your endeavors work this year, too. Sounds like you have good soil to work with!
     
  19. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    4,350
    22
    goshen, enjoy your corn while you're still in Ohio, and preserve as much as you can! If you get to make that move to your property in Montana, there goes the corn-growing! Even with short-season corn it's tough to grow here. I drool whenever I read you people in the corn belt talking about growing it! I'm planning to go all the way to Pennsylvania at the end of the summer to help horseman09 eat some of their sweet corn! :D

    I love hearing everyone's gardening stories, and about the things they've learned, either on their own or from books or classes! :)

    We've been doing intensive gardening for the last 7 years, right in the ground in our garden soil. We rotate where things are planted and add fresh compost each year. So far we've done well with it.

    The main reason we started doing that is our climate is so cold that we have to cover things almost every night all summer. Planting things close together in blocks makes that easier to do. It isn't that we get frost every night, though we can get frost in any month. Even when it's 90 during the day, the nights drop to 40 or lower all summer, and those cold nights stunt growth and reduce harvest. Covering at night seems to make a lot of difference in yield.
     
  20. goshengirl

    goshengirl Supporting Member

    3,312
    4
    gypsy, you let me know when your driving through Ohio, and I'll meet you at Lehman's with some corn to take back to MT. :)