Square Foot Gardening?
That chicken moat is a great idea, but I’m a ways off from getting chickens. I think it was Cat mentioning SFG in the agriculture thread a month or so ago that that got me started on this. Thanks! A friend gave us some strawberry plants and we have some berries forming. I may become a gardener after all!
On a side note, a neighbor is letting a farmer use part of his field to grow organic vegetables. He needed to use my other neighbor’s tractor to plow, but a hydraulic line blew out. I came in and fixed it, so I think I’m in line to reap some vegetative benefits. Kinda neat to have some community action spring up just after coming back from Lowesville! My neighbor is going " hate to have you work on this" and I’m going "no, no this is what it’s all about". I got a fried chicken dinner out of it too!
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?
The simple answer is "Yes". Square Foot, Biointensive, Raised Bed, and Permaculture all have the same basic tenets… grow as much as can in the least amount of space, with as much natural biodiversity as possible, interplanting compatible species as much as possible in a layering effect as you would find in nature. All the different techniques are completely secondary… and, from my own experience, entirely dependent on your climate, needs and resources. For instance, the raised beds I work are themselves smaller versions of permaculture layers (short in front, tall in back; sun-lovers in the front facing south, shade lovers in the understory), incorporating various SFG and Biointensive techniques depending on what’s planted… each bed has several densely planted clusters companion and succession planted with other compatible plants. Annuals get rotated, while perrenials and bushes/trees stay put. In the end, it’s all about management – knowing what grows well together in your area, what shouldn’t be planted together, and what things need to be planted and rotated (and on which schedule) in order to maximize production and reduce disease/pests.
Great replies! This is truly enjoyable and heartening to hear all your stories on SFG! I went out and got the book and will start tomorrow!
Since potatoes are the most caloric dense food we can grow – I wanted to add them (I’m Irish too so its in my genes. lol) – Do I need seeds or can I just plant some supermarket potatoes?
Peace & Blessings!
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I’ve never grown potatoes so I hope you get better answers, but I think you sprout them and cut out a section around each ‘eye’ and plant those. You will need a deeper box (standard SFG garden box is 6"). There are some good ideas on the Definitive Agriculture thread about this too. I do know fresh potatoes are really good.
Potatos can be grown in two ways. From actual potato seeds produced by the plant flowers and by planting "seed potatoes" which are just chunks of potatoes that have eyes on them. By far, seed potatos are the most successful and easiest to grow. They also are genetic clones, so you pretty much know exactly what you’re getting. Potatos seeds are not usually as successful or easy to grow plants from and the first year usually have horrible yields. Also, potatoes do not breed true from seed… so even if you have perfect potatos one year, you can’t guarantee that you’ll get the same result the next year, even if you do manage to collect and preserve the seed pods (which is a PITA!).
Best advice for ease is to plant a chunk (seed potato) of known-good potato that has 3-5 eyes on it. You will need a deep bed since the potatos grow underground on the roots which are usually the same depth/length as the aboveground plant. Many people have been successful growing potatoes in crates, barrels or stacks of used tires filled with soil or straw. Potatos are pretty easy to grow in almost all climates if you get the right varieties for your region (check with your local cooperative extension), but they can be really prone to disease (scab, blight, mildew) and pests (root maggots, wireworms, beetles) so need to be properly rotated and interplanted, etc.
A little on white potatos vs sweet potatos since many people are under the impression that sweet potatos are automatically healthier for you::
7-ounce white potato with skin: 220 calories, 5g protein, 51g carbs, 20mg calcium, 115mg phosphorus, 2.8mg iron, 16mg sodium, 844mg potassium, 4g fiber, .22mg thiamin, .07mg riboflavin, 3.3mg niacin, 16mg vitamin C
7-ounce sweet potato with skin: 208 calories, 3.5g protein, 49g carbs, 56mg calcium, 110mg phosphorus, 1mg iron, 20mg sodium, 693mg potassium, 5g fiber, 4350 RE vitamin A, .14mg thiamin, .13mg riboflavin, 1.2mg niacin, 49mg vitamin C.
So, white potatos have 12 more calories, 2g more carbs, more protein, more potassium, more niacin and more iron.. but no vitamin a at all. While sweet potatoes have vitamin a, more calcium and more vitamin C. Otherwise they are pretty much equal… except sweet potatos are MUCh harder to grow and require warmer soils. If you need the vitamin A… eat some carrots, they grow just about everywhere a potato will grow
I started the SFG this year as well and have had great success thus far. I will say that if you’re trying to use the SFG Corp. units you may be disappointed in the customer service and the actual product that they will send. I’ve heard horror stories. They’ve gotten too busy too fast to keep up and the actual boxes are not good. Build your own and you’ll be happy. Myself, I have 3 12’x12’x12" boxes that have 20 individual boxes in each. Half on one box is dedicated to Corn and it’s going nuts. Broccoli, Califlower, Tomatoes, Cu cs, Cantaloupe, Watermelon, Chives/Green Onion, Beets, Carrots, Zucs, Yellow Squash, Brussel Sprouts, Basil, Dill, Cilantro, Oregano, Cabbage (red and green), I can’t remember the rest. EVERYTHING is growing outstanding. If you do this make sure you use trellis for both peas, beans, cucs and anything else that vines and isn’t too heavy. You gain a huge amount of space by doing this. It’s really a great idea and enjoyable to watch the work go to good use. Can’t wait to start harvest and canning.
Yep, started SFG this year. Finally got all our Summer plants in the ground last weekend. We have 6 4×4 beds. They are lined up like 2 long beds of 4×12. We surrounded it all with a nice fence of deer netting held up by some scavenged bamboo poles. Weed cloth is under the whole thing. We still need to put in some cheap mulch to walk on between the beds.
We have a bunch of things like squash, pumpkin, strawberries, zuch, all over the yard in traditional beds – old flower beds actually. In the SFG we are growing lots of types of beans, tomatoes, peppers, cukes, squash, helper plants, herbs, eggplants, mustard greens, chard, etc. Some are still looking kind of puny right now but we’re crossing our fingers.
We’re renting right now but we’re going to ask our landlady if we can put in a couple of rain-barrels to help out the garden. I’m already starting to plan the fall crop. Need to get busy looking for canning supplies also!
Good luck to everyone on their gardening projects!
Given the nature of square foot gardening, growing different plants in very close proximity to each other I thought this article was helpful.
Michigan State University Extension
Through the years gardeners have observed that some plants
grow well together, while others do not. This list presents
traditional companions (plants that have compatible growth
habits and share space well), allies (plants that enhance growth
and ward off insects), and enemies (plants that deter good
growth). As you plan the garden, try some of the beneficial
pairings and see if they bring you good results.
Thanks for the link, Cat. I have several lists of companion plants, but there were a few on this list that I didn’t know and will have to try! Sometimes I forget that companion pairings aren’t just about disease control, pest control, or soil enrichment… sometimes they can be about improved flavor and yields, too!