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Square Foot Gardening?

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  • Mon, Feb 08, 2010 - 11:12pm

    #41
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    Re: Square Foot Gardening?

 Anyone here try growing sweetpotato’s in cardboard boxes ?   I  had so much trouble digging them last year . Many broke and had to be used right away .   In our area the price went from $.39  #  to $1.09#   and my family can not get enough of them . … so much better baked instead of canned .         I have just put some in jars of water to get the plants ready .

  • Tue, Feb 09, 2010 - 04:15am

    #42
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    Re: Productive food yield from Square Foot Gardening?

Thanks for your comments!

Woodman: A total of 420sqf??  Holy cow!  No wonder the vermiculite looks expensive!   For my little project of 4×16 = 64 sqf, my expense would be about 6x less by volume, so I will just go with the “Mel’s mix” formula.  That’s one of the attractions of the SFG raised bed method to me: I don’t have to try and mess around trying to improve my existing pitiful clay soil.  

Dogs: your battles with critters convinces me more than ever of the need to follow Bartholmew’s advice to have a wire screen and cheesecloth/netting for protection.  That was one factor in my deciding to do a single 4×16 raised bed frame—hopefully less work to protect as compared to separate beds.   I plan to build fence posts on each corner (say 3-4’ above the bed) so that I have something to hook the wire screen to. Then the netting can rest on the wire screen.  I will also put screen on the bottom to protect against burrowing animals.  It sounds like “Ft. Knox” for vegetables…

Back to my original question, yes Woodman, this might be a smaller fraction of total calories than I originally thought.  And I can see that it would be hard to extrapolate my expected yield from your experiences.  

What I was trying to do make a realistic estimate of what percentage of a ~2500 calorie per day diet, a SQF of the size that I propose could provide over the course of a year.  

For instance, say vegetables were to provide 25% of my total calories and I want that 25% to be made up from a balanced mix of “vegetables, legumes and fruits” that could be grown in a SFG (i.e., not just potatoes!).  The calories per pound is in a range of about 100-to 600 calories per lb (see eg http://www.vegsource.com/talk/novick/messages/1854.html) .  So take a ball park value of 300 cal./lb.

Assuming a 2500 cal/day diet, 25% of 2500 equals 625 cal, or very roughly 2 lb of vegetables per day (This is actually ball-park in line with some dietary guidelines calling for 2.5-6.5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day; see eg http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-full-story/index.html) . 

 So… if a 64 SFG could provide an average of 2 lbs per day for an 8 month growing season (obviously there would be some lag) then that would reach my goal of 25%, for at least 2/3 of a year.  

 But is a yield of 2 lb/day from a 64 SFG unrealistic?  Again its hard to tell from your numbers or the numbers in Bartholomew’s book.

 I suppose there is only one way to find out for sure….

  • Tue, Feb 09, 2010 - 11:48am

    #43
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    Re: Productive food yield from Square Foot Gardening?

Crash_watcher,

I don’t know about lbs per day or total yeild.  I never measured my harvests that way.  I have 4 4’x8′ raised beds and plan to add two more this Spring.  In addition I have some blackberry bushes, a strawberry patch, and an old grape arbor, and an apple tree.  The grape arbor and apple tree were on the property when I bought it and I don’t really know how to care properly for them — they would probably yeild more if I did.

I planted a variety of lettuces that I continually harvested.  We had enough for salad every day plus some to give to neighbors.  My 4 varieties of tomatoes yeilded more than I could handle, I still have 12 jars of tomato sauce from them (not counting the dozen or so jars I gave as gifts).  The butternut squash I planted spread out of their bed and into the remaining yard.  I have 14 still in the cellar and my family is getting a bit tired of eating them.  I only got about 20 pounds of potatoes but I planted them as an experiment.  I also had bush beans which produced enough for a good meal about once a week.  My peas only lasted to about mid June.  I guess it got hot.  Green peppers and hot peppers, I planted several varieties, also yeilded more than my family could/would eat so I traded them for okra and garlic from my neighbor.  Eggplant did well, carrots did well (although some were a bit stubby), green onions and leeks did well.  In previous years I’ve had good luck with cucumbers and caulifower but no so much this past season.

Critters and weeds were not much of a problem.  I used some companion planting principles from Louise Riotte’s Carrots Love Tomatoes to both encourage growth and discourage pests.  I also like R.J. Ruppenthal’s Fresh Food From Small Spaces which is sort of a square inch gardening guide more than square foot.  I particularly like his tips for growing in cold weather.

The fun thing about gardening IMHO is the process.  Each year the garden and I evolve.  My goal isn’t to provide a set % of my food, its to grow some food and to enjoy doing it.  The first thing I do after work during summer is go look at the garden, noticing some new sprout or new bud or freshly ripened somethng.

Another fun thing is you will get better at your garden each year.  You’ll get to know the peculiarities of your space, what you like best to plant, etc.  And i recommend networking with neighbors.  My neighbor told me early last year that whe would have pumpkins and watermelon so not to plant them myself.  And she was right .

  • Tue, Feb 09, 2010 - 03:13pm

    #44
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    Re: Productive food yield from Square Foot Gardening?

DaytonMegan

It sounds like you have a nice setup! 

Perhaps my way of thinking about this is overly analytical-its the scientist in me.  In the end, the garden just has to be big enough to provide the veggy part of a balanced diet, although also having some fruits would be good. 

Your 4 4’x8′ raised beds equals 128 sqf which is double my project size garden.  My impression is that for you, that size was enough to provide more than all of the vegetable needs of your family.  Maybe some more variety would have helped, although you have neighbors that you can trade with. 

So maybe my 64 sfq garden is not too far off the mark.

Thanks for the feedback.

  • Tue, Feb 09, 2010 - 04:33pm

    #45
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    Re: Productive food yield from Square Foot Gardening?

[quote=crash_watcher]

Perhaps my way of thinking about this is overly analytical-its the scientist in me.  In the end, the garden just has to be big enough to provide the veggy part of a balanced diet, although also having some fruits would be good.

[/quote]

crash –

I had to laugh out loud at this one. 

Let it go – trust me.  I am a nuclear engineer and SFG has so much art in it that can’t be captured or measured like binding energy per nucleon or themal neutron leakage.

Whenever I would start to “nuke” out a solution to a problem in our SFG beds, Cat would give me “the look” (which equates to multiplying by zero and adding the desired result).

Have fun and keep us posted.

  • Tue, Feb 09, 2010 - 09:11pm

    #46
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    Re: Productive food yield from Square Foot Gardening?

Maybe some more variety would have helped, although you have neighbors that you can trade with.

Crash_watcher,

Thanks.  I enjoy my set-up.  It adds some quality to life in addition to cheap food. 

Neighbors are key.  None of us can grow everything and some people’s land is better suited to a particular crop that another’s.  Neighbors offer a diversity of things to trade (veggies and some clothes mending in exchange for help & expertise fixing a crumbling chimney this fall, for example). I once traded 4 homemade chocolate cakes over the course of 4 weeks in exchange for a mechanic’s labor installing new breaks on my car (I think I got the better end there even though I purchased the parts).   Neighbors have know-how.  Why re-invent the wheel when chances are somebody else can show/tell/explain how to do it or maybe even help?

Though I am outraged and pessimistic about what looks like world governements & corporations colluding to send us off the cliff (SHTF) and their refusal to even talk about the “3 E’s”, I am mostly optimistic.  Civilization will not die, it will just become more local.  We’ll all muddle through and still find something to enjoy in the process. 

No one can survive long in a vacuum.

  • Wed, Feb 10, 2010 - 02:22am

    #47
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    Re: Square Foot Gardening?

Can I use such thing for square gardening  instead building with wood? I like 4 round thing match with my lawn, any comments?

http://cdn2.ioffer.com/img/item/117/923/955/MPsz.jpg

  • Wed, Feb 10, 2010 - 02:32am

    #48
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    Re: Square Foot Gardening?

Of course you can use a kiddie pool for a raised bed garden!  You could put it on your balcony, roof, driveway, or in your yard.  Think of it as a big flower pot.  You’d want to at least poke holes in the bottom for drainage though.  If you’re putting it on top of grass, I’d cut most of the bottom out so roots could go deeper and earthworms could come up into it.  Think outside the box.

  • Wed, Feb 10, 2010 - 05:20am

    #49
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    Re: Square Foot Gardening?

You could also use the kiddie pools as raised wicking worm beds.  In which case you would drill drainage holes around the sides, 10cm up from the base.  Wicking beds have a 10cm pool of water in the base, which wicks up through the bed.  There’s much less watering required, and the worms keep the growing medium fresh and fertile.

http://outbackharvest.blogspot.com/2008/09/wicking-worm-beds.html

  • Wed, Feb 10, 2010 - 10:38am

    #50
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    Re: Square Foot Gardening?

Thanks for this we need more advice on gardening.  I would really appreciate some help!  Cannot seem to get my vegetable seeds to start growing?

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