Any Square Foot Gardener's?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by miclew, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. miclew

    miclew Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    249
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Rural Georgia
    I am a big believer in Square Foot Gardening (SFG). We garden organically and this method really works well with organic gardening. I was wondering if anyone else out there is doing this.

    michele
     
  2. katydidagain

    katydidagain Adventuress--Definition 2 Supporter

    Messages:
    4,174
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Location:
    NE FL until the winds blow
    Yes but I've varied it by planting even closer in some situations. My tiny garden looks like a jungle all summer long...

    katy
     

  3. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    I'm curious about the connection between organic and square foot.

    I kinda view sfg as an unnecessary complication. Do you really mark off each square foot? Do you use strings? Do you garden in boxes?

    I have tried similar approaches and eventually developed a list of plants that work well together in the same box and cram them in. I have boxes and rotate the contents each season.
     
  4. katydidagain

    katydidagain Adventuress--Definition 2 Supporter

    Messages:
    4,174
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Location:
    NE FL until the winds blow
    LOL, gobug. Yep, that describes my approach, too. I started out compulsively "stringing my beds" but stopped marking off the "blocks" a few years ago; I can sense a square foot. When you think small and only amend limited areas, going organic is a natural. Am I? Nope but I don't spray or fertlize because I'm really very lazy; the hard work was getting 18" depth of great soil in my boxes over 23 years of gardening the same plot. Now it's gravy...

    katy
     
  5. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,576
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    When I lived in town, there was no room for gardening, so the next door neighbor allowed a small plot where it only made sense to set up a square foot gardening. The harvest by doing this was better. Eventually, the neighbor who saw me doing this was convinced to do the next season with square foot raised beds.
    Moving out to the rural area with large garden plot, I didn't section and divide the foot length individual beds, but the 'concept' of sqaure foot plantings still could be done with row planting I modified. The troy built tiller with the furrow atachment made raised beds, and a foot across for all crops. If corn was planted, then I double rowed them on the raised bed, with same number as you might plant in as square foot. It also made weeding easier and saved space overall. What I learned from Mel Bartholomew's method is mostly the number of plants which can fit into a square foot and applied that to whatever method and size of garden then planted whether tilled, or as I want like to start to do more with the lasagne mulch method next season.

    Rich
     
  6. miclew

    miclew Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    249
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Rural Georgia
    There are a couple of reasons SFG works well for organic gardening...

    1) The plants are planted more compactly and you have very little trouble with weeds once the plants get up. (You pull weeds by hand until the plants get established. The weeds come right up because the soil in raised beds is very loose)

    2) You can built cages over each square very easily to keep large preditors out. You can even built a simple frame and throw bird netting over it if you are dealing with birds.

    3) Looking at one square at a time is easier and less time consuming when you are checking for bugs. You can either hand pick them off (in the case of larger ones) or spray with a natural repellant.

    For example, you can plant 64 corn plants in 1 4x4 square. You won't lose any to the birds. Certain varieties will give you 2 ears per plant so that is 128 ears from one 4x4 square which ai't too shabby.

    Since you are getting a much higher yield than you will from row planting it makes sense to go the extra mile to protect the squares (your cages and frames are build very inexpensively and they will last)

    One of the most important aspects of SFG is that you are constantly replanting all season long which also gives you higher yields and fresh produce for a longer period of time. As soon as you harvest a square you replant it all through the growing season.

    You can extend the growing season by building cold frames over the squares. (You can also start earlier in the year by doing the same thing). You can't build cold frames over rows. If you are row gardening and want to have some fresh produce longer, you will have to build seperate cold frames.

    I just use twine to make off my squares. I like the look of neat squares. I also have some plots that deviate from the 4x4 size but they are still divided up into 1 foot squares.

    Michele
     
  7. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    Michele,
    Did you take any pictures?
    How many square foots do you garden?
    All of your positives for square foot gardening apply to box gardening as well.

    In your corn example, I would have the corn, with beans, lettuce, and garlic all mixed in. The lettuce and garlic would have been there first. The beans would go in with the corn.

    I have 6 boxes with 80 square feet each. Listing the first planting alone used to be pages long. I had a garden drawing with codes on the boxes because I couldn't fit in the seed names. I needed an accounting system to keep the seeds. It was just too tedious. :rolleyes:

    Since I was planting small quantities of each seed, I had packets that were 10 years old. Now, I try to use up seed packets as quickly as possible. If it is two years old, it all goes into the soil. When I reach the end of the box, and still have seed left, I just scatter it.

    I like inter-planting. Garlic, onions, shallots, beets, and carrots go just about everywhere. So do greens and herbs. I like to go out and plant all the garlic at once. I plant enough that it would be a pain to figure out which foots were getting garlic right now.

    Spinach and other early greens fill all the boxes in the spring. When its time to plant other things, like tomatoes and such, in their space, I just pull out a few to make room. What greens don't get picked, go to seed wherever they are. It makes the garden look a little unkept, but the birds love it. And I love the volunteers.

    Like Katy, my organicness is propelled by a lazy nature. Although I am an exterminator, I usually don't spray any chemicals in my garden. I did spray some dormant oil on my apples this spring. I add a little compost on top in the fall when I clean up.

    I used to dig 18 inches, but this year I just loosened the soil with a pitch fork, as some here recommended. I was surprised last weekend, when I cleaned up, how easy it was to pull out stuff. The soil didn't harden as I thought, even though I didn't turn any soil in the spring.

    Weeding is just plain easy in boxes, whether you square foot garden or not. I have learned to recognize which plants are weeds and can usually spot them in the seedling stage. If I miss them on the first pass, I usually find them later. I have a bigger problem with mint. I planted some in a path years ago, and it wants to travel into the adjacent boxes. I punish it yearly.

    I have always had difficulty getting enough parsley going because I used to dig each box each year. Last spring the parsley was left in the box from the previous year, and it went to seed. It is now in all the paths, and all the boxes. I love it.

    I am interested in your inexpensive frames and cages designs. I think these are useful for any type garden. I use a lot of cattle panel and have adapted them to an arbor, trellises, and cold frame. Uniform boxes make it easy to put them where they are needed each season.

    What are you square footing this time of year?
     
  8. WVGal

    WVGal Member

    Messages:
    20
    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2004
    Not yet, but I'm getting ready to start building my beds this weekend!
     
  9. miclew

    miclew Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    249
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Rural Georgia
    I am lucky that dh's cousin is a contractor and I was able to get scrap wood for FREE to build the boxes :) I am also known to go down to the local feed store and bargain with the owner for scrap wire to build the cages. The bird netting I bought but we use it over and over and over.

    I am taking my boxes down one by one and dissasembling them in anticipation of moving before the next growing season.

    Right now I still have melons, taters, squash, herbs.

    michele
     
  10. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    Ahhh, it must be great to live in a fertile area with a long growing season!

    Good luck on the move. Are you staying in the same zone?
     
  11. miclew

    miclew Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    249
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Rural Georgia
    We are moving to the mountains in TN 2 zones up from where we are now (2 zones colder)

    michele
     
  12. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

    Messages:
    28,248
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    SE Missouri
    I don't exactily sf, but I use raised beds and organic with lots of mulch and get really good results. I think the sf method is good for new gardeners because they don't get so overwhelmed. It is also good if you don't have much space. I usually end up using every inch of space I can find anyway. Most of the time my plants end up bigger than they were 'supposed' to be. I have had one tomato take over a four x four bed and bear heartily for months in MS while in CO I was lucky to get half a dozen ripe ones per plant before having to pick a ton of green ones, unless I used a mini greenhouse. It just wasn't warm enough to ripen the fruit otherwise.
     
  13. dla

    dla Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    356
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2004
    Location:
    Damascus, Maryland
    I am just starting reading SFG, and I am wondering about options for paths.
    I am not very sure on my feet, and I don't want the risk of boards going tippy on me. I can't really do raised beds right now.

    I was wondering if anyone uses landscape fabric for paths, or even old feed bags! (I am a cheap skate, but I don't want to put down something which will be slippery!)
     
  14. miclew

    miclew Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    249
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Rural Georgia
    I don't have anything between the boxes. Mel likes to have finished walkways (boards, mulch, straw, grass whatever) only for beauty reasons (well, I guess it also cuts down on the weed seeds near your boxes). I just plopped the boxes down and left the surrounding ground as is.

    michele
     
  15. Thoughthound

    Thoughthound Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    280
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2004
    Location:
    Iowa

    Although not beautiful, old carpeting can be had readily from neighbors when they update, or go to the landfill and wait around.

    I don't use it between paths, but I found it very handy for covering those heavily traveled spots in the spring where large dogs turn sod to mud. Having the weave down and the backing up seems to offer the least slippery surface, but the carpet is a very short loom. Shag might be better up.
     
  16. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

    Messages:
    19,448
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2003
    I tried it years ago and liked it.Thinking of doing it again this next season.

    Thinking of using plain Oak Lumber for the Boxes.

    Needing to know if I go to the City,I should be able to find a Book on it no problem? Right !!!

    big rockpile
     
  17. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,983
    Joined:
    May 4, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Michigan
    My husband works at a rather large RV park and people sell their lots and it is one of his jobs to clean them off so they are totally empty for the next people. We have slowly accumulated those paving stones and that is what I have around my square foot beds. They are just wide enough to set a milk crate on for me to sit on while I weed my beds or pick.

    This is actually the first year I have faithfully done sfg and I think my whole garden with be using that system from here on. It was so wonderful to care for and easy to feed and water. This spring when we had a late frost it was very easy to cover as well. Prior to this year I have only used the sfg system for lettuce and a few root crops.
     
  18. CoonXpress

    CoonXpress Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    842
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Location:
    Kingston, Ok
    Trying to see if I can get my ugly garden in here.
    Ugly Garden


    Tried posting the pic of the garden and ain't quite doing it
     
  19. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,983
    Joined:
    May 4, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Michigan
    I clicked on the link but it said the image was not available.
     
  20. CoonXpress

    CoonXpress Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    842
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Location:
    Kingston, Ok
    Diane, sorry about that, I was working on the pic seeing if I could post the image to the forum.(the link is now working)

    My Garden
    The first 19 is of the old garden and the okra/corn patch.
    The beds were 16 6'x3', a strawberry bed 7'x4'(waterbed frame) and a compost/potato bed 7'x4'. New beds(20-25) are 30'x4'. Old beds was a total of 344' square, in a 880'sq space. New beds are 360'sq in a 680'sq area.