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City-fied Self-Sufficiency

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Planting our Square Foot Garden! YAY!

With the garden filled and the grid done, it was time to plant!  We had 100 spaces to plant, most of them a square foot each, but some less.  Over the last several days, we shopped for plants and seed, and planted.

We found that Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, and Home Depot all sold almost nothing but Bonnie plants.  I’m sure they’re good, I saw a short video on them once, but good grief!  I have bought Bonnie plants before, but they wanted over $3 per plant — even for just-sprouted seedlings!

I am not that desperate to have already growing plants.  I needed to find some place that Bonnie hadn’t taken over.  So I went to one of the local nurseries.

Unfortunately, they had only tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers ready for transplant.  Everything else was seeds.  Oh, well.  So we bought the plants, and then we bought lots of seeds.

And we planted.  And planted, and planted, and planted.  We have now planted 68 squares (I’m still calling the smaller spaces squares, just for ease) of 100 available.  The rest will be planted later, to stagger harvesting.  Here’s what we have, top is North:

There is nylon trellis netting across the middle. We will be adding the netting to the north end where the pole beans are, and to the south end where the melons are. Having trellised plants in the middle and at the south will shade the garden for a while, but eventually the sun will be directly overhead. We'll take advantage of the shade for a little while to grow some end-of-season lettuce.

Yes, we like tomatoes.  And no, that is not too many of them.  :D

This is our first time gardening like this, so placement and such is really just guessing at this point… especially since we don’t have enough northern squares to plant all of our trellis plants.

Shay and my uncle are already talking about building another one.  That will solve that problem, since it will be oriented 90* relative to this one.  :)  Don’t worry, we don’t have the money to build another one yet!

Square Foot Gardening incorporates a number of ideas:

  • Nearly perfect soil from the beginning, rather than trying to improve your soil
  • Raised beds that are narrow enough to comfortably reach halfway across
  • Never walking on the soil, so you never need to till it
  • Eliminating extra space from the garden — such as the aisles between the rows
  • Reducing the amount of each crop being grown, rather than planting a full row
  • Planting the same crop at different times, to stagger the harvest
  • Replanting the same square with different crops — crop rotation & pest control

Most seeds come with directions to plant so many, then “thin to” one every so many inches.  This “thin to” distance is used to calculate how many seeds can be planted in one square foot.  Radishes don’t have to be thinned to one every three inches, in rows three feet apart.  They can be in mini-rows that are three inches apart.  So you can plant 16 radish seeds in one square foot.

In my case, I am using the spaces that are smaller than a square foot to plant these crops that can be planted 9 or 16 to a square (“thin to” 4 or 3 inches, respectively).

Not everything is so easy to calculate.  Some things, like pole beans and melons, have you building a mound, planting so many seeds in a circle on it, and thinning to so many seeds per mound.  The mounds are ___ far apart, and in rows that are ___ far apart.  So how do you know how many you can put in a square foot?  Well, I had to turn to the charts in the book for that.  Watermelons, cantaloupe, and vining squash need 2 square feet per plant.  Pole beans can be planted 8 per square foot!

So in my garden:

1 per square foot:

  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Okra

2 per square foot:

  • Cucumber — but I planted one, because it’s in a short square

4 per square foot:

  • Lettuce
  • Corn

8 per square foot:

  • Pole beans, except Dwarf Peas, which could be closer together

9 per square foot:

  • Bush beans
  • Beets
  • Turnips (small)
  • Spinach

16 per square foot:

  • Carrots — I planted 12 each, in short squares
  • Radishes — can take 12 in a short square, I planted 6, and will plant the other 6 later
  • Onions — I planted 2 short squares of 12 each

1 per 2 square feet:

  • Squash
  • Melons — I cheated a little on the watermelons, planting 2 in not quite 4 square feet

It is an intensive method of gardening designed to maximize the potential of the space, in a way that is easy for beginners.  There is an even more intensive method called “square inch gardening”, which plants things even closer together!


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17 Responses to “Planting our Square Foot Garden! YAY!”

  1. ladysown says:

    It should work out well for you.

    The biggest thing I learned about raised beds is that they tend to drain quickly and dry out. So keeping them well watered is a good thing.

    Mind…mine are about 12 deep so that doesn’t help. But I plant close. Gather most all the weeds for the bunnies, and trim to the bunnies (not tomatoes and peppers of course).

    Enjoy it. I find that close planting helps reduce weeds.

    • Miss M says:

      Thank you, Ladysown, I really appreciate the encouragement! :)

      That is the one thing I’m worried about, it drying out. We are trying to monitor it pretty closely to see how this mix does as it gets warmer. I am looking forward to using garden clippings to supplement their feed. Eggplants, too, are off limits. Cabbage, broccoli, and colliflower, and related plants, have to be fed with great care.

  2. David says:

    @ladysown: yes, you’re right, we need to water them everyday so as not to keep them dry. I also experience that with some of my plants. So i do give time for my garden so that the plants will grow properly and healthy.


  3. Tom says:

    My father loves gardening. It takes time to let them grow and need a lot of care. since my father’s been doing that each day, he ask me to help. Since then I love gardening. Hoping you’ll have some picture of your garden here. So as to inspire us more!

  4. Jet says:

    We have a small piece of land and we wanted to start planting some crops. We absolutely don’t have any history in gardening, can you give us any advice on what to do?

  5. Martin A. says:

    This is very informative! Thank you for sharing this idea to the internet public! I’ve learn on how to look after my small farm by just reading this article! More power to you!


  6. Debbie Smith says:

    You are so lucky as you have big space to plant. I love plants so much but I only a have a very small garden. I enjoyed landscaping too. By the way your choices of plants are nice. I recommend planting more flowery plants as they are more relaxing to see when flowers bloom especially during summer.

    • Miss M says:

      We have plenty of flowers around the patio, where we can see them from inside, and sit on the patio and enjoy them there, too. :)

  7. Kent says:

    Excellent grid plan! I have always wanted to build a raised-bed garden but have not had the time or money. This is a great idea and I think next spring I might try to tackle it with your grid layout. Thank you.

  8. Sarah says:

    Nice grid plan! Surely you will have a healthy food with these vegetables around.

  9. ladysown says:

    Cabbage, broccoli, and colliflower, and related plants, have to be fed with great care.

    i find that once my bunnies are used to greens, most of them can handle these plants with ill effect. I do cut the leaves into small pieces though when I have does on litters so the kits don’t over indulge.

  10. ladysown says:

    WITHOUT ill effect… next time… proof read! :)

  11. Judith says:

    Wow you’re on it dude, nice thing going in there! I wish I would have done the same thing and just get on with the old lawn but I just couldn’t give up on them daisies.

  12. Jane says:

    I enjoy gardening, too. Thank you for posting all these links and resources. Don’t forget to post the pictures of your garden soon!!