Square Foot Gardening?
I know there are some gardening threads on here, but has anyone posted material for urban gardening? Those of us with limited resources, time, space and funds – could use info on said topic. I know there is a great selection of books on it, one ‘Square Foot Gardening’ by Bartholomew
looks great, talks about easy and simple ways to grow food. If anyone else has some info, videos, etc – fele free to share!
I’m an SFG guy. I started with a 4×4 box last summer and I’ve since added an 8×4 and now about to put in another 4×4. I’m currently growing chives, lettuce, broccoli, mint, red onions, yellow onions, peppers, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, basil, strawberries, spinach, peas, a couple of bean varieties, chard, and okra. People’s eyes always get big when I list all my plants – they must think I’ve got rows stretching across my yard when really I am using an area of only 48 sq. ft. This has been a great gardening experience for me and while I’m now branching out in other ways (fruit trees, permaculture) I have found this method to be an invaluable foundation for getting started.
You can go to Mel’s web site (www.squarefootgardening.com) and see pictures from SFGs as well as youtube videos with him.
Keep in mind that SFG is but one method in a whole family of intensive, raised-bed techniques (i.e., "lasagna" method, sheet mulching). After further reading I modified SFG for my big bed (and gave myself more work, granted) by turning over the grass where the bed would go and putting down newspaper instead of weed cloth. That way, earthworms can make their way up into my soil mix and, as the newspaper biodegrades, I can grow root crops without having to build a taller box.
So, from my experience, let me say it’s totally worth it to start with SFG, but once you really get into gardening, expand your reading and your range of practice. Well, unless you’re in an apartment or other situation with no soil to work with. In that case, maybe the only area to expand your knowledge would be into self-watering containers…
Is there a way to combine the practice of permaculture with square foot gardening? I would think this would be an easier way to design the permaculture zones in one’s yard. In our new house the lot is 5500 square feet. So we still consider it relatively small. Any thoughts?
My initial garden attempt last summer was a disaster of weeds. So then I setup a couple couple raised beds in the Fall right by my doorstep using the SFG method. Great way to keep organized and plant successively and rotate crop families. Almost no weeds at all. The planting schedules in the back of the SFG book are helpful to plan out your garden year. I combined with Eliot Coleman’s Fours Season Harvest using cold frames to extend the season here in New England.
Cat and I put in our SFG beds this year and we are having great success so far. We built 8 4′ x 4′ x 12" high beds and laid them out in the yard where they get the most sun. Invest a little in a good organic compost/dirt mix. We put weed barriers down to kill the grass underneath – I figure if anything grows up through 12" of compost it deserves to live.
You can also take advantage of limited space by planting in large pots. We have several lettuce varieties and a bunch of herbs in pots and it’s not much more than a walk out to the patio to snip some herbs or a salad or both.
We’ll try to get some pics posted soon.
Hello Gardener Friends,
My wife and I decided about a year ago that we needed to grow some of our own food, to go along with all the other preparations we’ve been making for difficult times. However, we live in a 55+ condo retirement community and not allowed to do anything except on our own patio. So, we decided to take a chance. We started contacting folks who had vacant land in our area, and found a wonderfully progressive developer who fully supports the community gardening idea. He offered to lease us 1/2 acre, at no charge, for five years until he can get the whole parcel (3.5 acres) converted into a city park that includes our garden. We started out in January with 10 of us. But lots of people wanted to join in, so we finally built 50 raised beds, each one 4′ x 16′, for 50 families in the neighborhood. So as not to disturb the soil, we used 3-4 layers of cardboard on top of the grass, followed by some good dirt, donated by a local company, followed by 4-5 inches of organic compost. We are all using sq.ft. method. Everybody is so excited and the garden just looks great. The best thing about it, (until we actually start harvesting) is the incredible sense of community that has developed among people, most of whom did not even know each other before. Has it been hard work? You bet, especially for this 73-year-old arthritic body. But the joy I’ve gotten from it and pure satisfaction of contributing something to my neighbors is beyond description. If you have a little extra time, we highly recommend that you do something similar, even if much smaller. As the old song says: "The two best things in the world are true love, and home grown tomatoes."
Oh, I forgot to say that worms like to eat the cardboard, and you know how good worms are for your garden. We also got some coffee grounds from local Starbucks, and added them. Our neighbors laugh and say we will have the only bed that is growing expresso. :>)
We are starting SFG this year and we live on 15 acres! I am not a gardener so I wanted something that would have the best chance of success. It had to be easy to deal with and didn’t take a bunch of machinery and work. Because we have deer and rabbits all over I wanted something compact so we could fence it off. SFG fit all these criteria. We have several things poking up already and no weeds so far!
Are you going to try out the "chicken moat" Becca talked about at Lowesville?
Good luck with your SFG.
Cat and I have been eating daily salads that are literally minutes old. Sometimes we feel like expecting parents – run out each morning to see what new veggie is coming up.
The blueberries and strawberries are ripening, the black currant and white currant have lots of green berries, the thornless blackberry has one fruit, several flowers and lots of unopened buds. The grape tomatoes are coming along well and the beets and carrots would be doing fine if I could keep the dog out of the beds.
Dogs and I built three more boxes for our square foot garden this past weekend. That is how well the new garden is working, so far…. Of course we have yet to see the final results.