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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Gardening Virgin Tackles SFG

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gwennifer
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Velvet Elvis
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Post  Velvet Elvis 6/13/2011, 4:47 pm

Uff da and hello from the land of 10 Thousand Taxes also known as Minneswota. I'm a complete newb to gardening and am trying SFG as a maiden voyage. I'm concerned about food shortages, so I really would prefer more yield than what it appears I can get from SFG. But gotta start somewhere. Hopefully this will be a good introduction to gardening. I especially like the low amount of labor that Mel claims is required. Will be reading this forum more and more and hope to learn a lot from the long time gardeners.
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Velvet Elvis

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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 6/13/2011, 6:16 pm

Well, welcome aboard! This is a great place to accent the book Mel wrote. And, a great place to get your feet wet gardening. All the labor is in the beginning. It's a lot of labor, but once mixed and planted, your SFG is pretty low maintanence from there.

I see you've posted pics. And, I see you've asked questions. Hopefully, you get some answers from our math wizards soon. Stop by the regional forum and say hi....I bet you get some other Minnesotans to say hello, too.
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Post  martha 6/13/2011, 6:48 pm

I am so happy you started with SFG. I have done flower gardening, ranging from a very little to a lot, before I knew about SFG. But my attempts at vegetable gardening were more frustrating prior to SFG. It also took about the same effort to grow 4 tomato plants traditionally than 6 boxes (after planting, of course!)

Congratulations and welcome!
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Post  Velvet Elvis 6/13/2011, 10:50 pm

Thanks. I can see this place is going to be very informative.
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Post  shannon1 6/14/2011, 2:49 am

Welcome V E,
You can get a bigger harvest in a SFG compaired to a row garden in the same space. I too am raising food to eat not just gardening as a hobby (not that there is anything wrong with that). Wink
Here are some tips on how to get the most out of each square foot. Carefully choose the varieties of plants you grow. For example I am growing eggplant for the first time this year. I planted one Ichiban II, and one Black Beauty. Same garden, same batch of MM and so on. I have harvested over a dozon of the aisan eggplants and the BB just set the first fruit. Sure they are smaller but the over all harvest is still going to be bigger. Next year I will only be growing the asian eggplants.
One gets a bigger harvest from leaf crops that one can harvest the outer leaves from vs the entire plant. Grow collards and leaf lettuce not head lettuce and cabbage. Go vertical to save space when growing squashes and mellons. Pole beans not bush beans.

I hope this helps. I am sure the good people here will have other ideas for you as well. Oh and grow Nutrient-dense foods like kale and tomato, as well as calorie dense foods too like beets, carrots and spuds.

I amazed at how productive SFG is in such a small space.
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Post  Velvet Elvis 6/14/2011, 8:08 am

Its sounds like you can grow as much as a traditional garden, but in smaller harvest batches of many different crops rather than one big harvest of a single crop. From a canning / storing perspective, which is my main motivation, I'm not sure if SFG is the best approach to take. But as I said, I'm starting from square 1 (no pun intended) in my gardening experience, and SFG seems like a good first step to learn.
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Post  Kelejan 6/14/2011, 10:52 am

I don't see anything amiss in planting your bed with a single crop if what you need is enough stuff for canning etc.

I think you would get more for less work doing it that way compared with row gardening.

If you go that way Velvet Elvis, let us know what happens.
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Post  Velvet Elvis 6/14/2011, 11:06 am

But isn't a key component of the method is crop rotation for maintaining the soil quality - different plants in different adjoining squares
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Post  milaneyjane 6/14/2011, 11:10 am

Waving hello from MN!! There are several other MN gardeners on here! Welcome!
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Post  gwennifer 6/14/2011, 11:44 am

You can still achieve crop rotation even if you plant one box in a single crop. Simply plant a different crop in that box when that harvest is done! You can have a different crop in there for spring, summer, and fall.

Also, if you have more than one box, you can rotate which spring crop is planted in which box, etc.

A garden coach at a community class I took recommended planting at least four beds, and rotating them between greens, roots, squash/tomatoes, and legumes. I asked about that on here, and only got a few replies, but sounds like most people don't worry about it too much.
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Post  Velvet Elvis 6/14/2011, 3:49 pm

Yeah, I thought that you could do it that way too. Except it seems I would need to build 15-20 boxes to get enough variety.
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Post  Kelejan 6/14/2011, 6:05 pm

There you are, Velvet Elvis. You have it worked out.

A nice big project for you.

Very Happy
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Post  trukrebew 6/14/2011, 10:46 pm

lol!

Welcome, Velvet Elvis. Good job on your math. No SFG would be complete without some good 'ol number crunching!
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Post  busygirl 6/14/2011, 11:31 pm

Velvet Elvis wrote:Its sounds like you can grow as much as a traditional garden, but in smaller harvest batches of many different crops rather than one big harvest of a single crop. From a canning / storing perspective, which is my main motivation, I'm not sure if SFG is the best approach to take. But as I said, I'm starting from square 1 (no pun intended) in my gardening experience, and SFG seems like a good first step to learn.

I have one full box of tomatoes, 4 each of 4 different varieties. Another box half full of tomatoes, 4 each of 2 varieties (a row of eggplant and a row of herbs to complete that box), and two full boxes of peppers (sweet and hot), so about half my sfgs are devoted to canning ambitions. The other 5 boxes are mixed crops (a 2x2 deep of carrots and onions, one in the shade for spinach, lettuce, peas, and more onions, one with cabbage (that has never developed heads), asparagus, chard, lettuce, spinach, and a few spare carrots just to see how they would grow in a 6 in deep box, one with zucchini in the middle and herbs on the borders, and one with beans, cucs, and more zuccs.

It is your garden, so plant what you will use. No one in my house will eat cauliflower, so I don't grow it. No broccoli or brussel sprouts for me, either because I am the only one who likes them. I am the only one who will eat cabbage so I only tried three squares of that and am not stressed that it doesn't seem to be doing what it is supposed to. I only tried it this year because I had never attempted to grow it before.

If you want to concentrate on stuff to can, go ahead and do that. Maybe next year you will add a box for stuff to eat along the way or to use for experimenting with new crops. Maybe not. I probably won't do any lettuce or peas for my fall rotation, but may put some spinach in to see if I can get it to over winter. I probably won't try cabbage again but might go with brussel sprouts since I like them. I will do beets and turnips and parsnips instead of carrots for fall. I will plant garlic in the fall, and already know that next year I am going to need WAY more room for onions because I can't stop pulling them long enough for them to make bulbs. Laughing

The cool thing about gardening is that the seasons continue to change, and you don't have to do it the same way or plant the same stuff next season or year as you are doing this time. But by all means, always start with what is right for YOU and YOUR FAMILY.
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Post  Denese 6/15/2011, 4:14 pm

I also can my produce, specifically tomatoes. I grow Romas, one per sq. ft. and have always had enough. One year I planted 48 plants, canned 70 qts. of tomatoes, gave away bunches and still ended up with green ones at the end of the season, which are really good pickled. This year I've planted only 21, so hopefully I won't be so overwhelmed with tomatoes! Laughing I've also had more than enough pole beans to freeze and share. Believe me SFG can easily be used for canning and freezing. And definitely alot less work! Yay! bounce
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Post  Denese 6/15/2011, 4:20 pm

P.S. My boxes are 2 x 9 instead of 4 x 4, so my Romas still get plenty of air. Smile
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Post  dizzygardener 6/17/2011, 9:02 am

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So very glad to have ya!

Looks like you are settling right in. I hope you decide to sit a spell with us!
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