Any square foot gardeners out there?

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navigator9

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When I first moved to this house, I had a garden, and loved it. Once I got busy with soaping, I just had a few tomato plants in pots and that was it. But this year, since I've retired, I want to have a garden again. Years ago, when I saw square foot gardening on TV, it piqued my interest, so I've looked into it again, and it's sounding really good. If our crazy weather here in New England would cooperate, I might be able to get started, but it's supposed to get down to around 19 degrees on Monday morning, yikes! So I was wondering if any of you soapers are also square foot gardeners, and what you think of it. It seems like you get a lot of produce in a small space, and not so many pesky weeds. I know I want tons of tomatoes, and some cukes, and sugar snap peas. I wasn't even thinking about peppers this year, until I saw some Thunderbolts in the Burpee catalog. My house is pretty cool, so they took their time germinating, but there are now four teeny weeny pepper seedlings on my kitchen window sill. I gaze at them while I'm washing dishes, thinking..."Grow, grow, faster, faster!" So far, they're not listening. I'm trying to be patient.

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shunt2011

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I too would be interested. Since I started soaping and selling doing shows and markets I've only managed a handful of herbs and tomatoes.
 

TeresaT

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I did it one time a few years ago and discovered I am not a gardener. However, it was actually a fun process and quite easy to do. I planted cucumbers, squash, several different lettuces, tomatoes, radishes, spinach and a bunch of other stuff. The problem I had was my neighbor cuts my grass. And doesn't bag it. So all of the cuttings went into my pristine SFG and I was weeding anyway. WTH!? Why bother with special soil and all the other stuff if I was still pulling weeds? I will probably try it again when I retire and elevate the beds the next time. It was fun eating the salad I grew. Just not fun picking grass and other debris out of my lovely bed. I skipped the following year, but decided the year after I would do it again. The day I had gotten home with my SFG plan in my hands and the seeds, my planter was gone. My neighbor cleaned up my yard and got rid of the wood for me because, "I knew you didn't need it." "Uh, Yes, actually, I do. Where is it?" "Oh. In my fire pit. I didn't think you were going to use it. You didn't use it last year and it was just sitting there rotting." Gotta love those helpful neighbors. BTW you can grow potatoes in a bale of straw! Shove your spuds in the straw and wet it down. Keep watering it and you'll have taters! To harvest them you just bust up the bale when the roots start growing out of it. Google it for more info.

ETA: If you have a Kindle account, I can loan you my SFG ebook by Mel Bartholomew. Let me know if you're interested.
 
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navigator9

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I too would be interested. Since I started soaping and selling doing shows and markets I've only managed a handful of herbs and tomatoes.
If you'd like to take a look... http://www.melbartholomew.com/what-is-square-foot-gardening/

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2FxJimob84[/ame]

I did it one time a few years ago and discovered I am not a gardener. However, it was actually a fun process and quite easy to do. I planted cucumbers, squash, several different lettuces, tomatoes, radishes, spinach and a bunch of other stuff. The problem I had was my neighbor cuts my grass. And doesn't bag it. So all of the cuttings went into my pristine SFG and I was weeding anyway. WTH!? Why bother with special soil and all the other stuff if I was still pulling weeds? I will probably try it again when I retire and elevate the beds the next time. It was fun eating the salad I grew. Just not fun picking grass and other debris out of my lovely bed. I skipped the following year, but decided the year after I would do it again. The day I had gotten home with my SFG plan in my hands and the seeds, my planter was gone. My neighbor cleaned up my yard and got rid of the wood for me because, "I knew you didn't need it." "Uh, Yes, actually, I do. Where is it?" "Oh. In my fire pit. I didn't think you were going to use it. You didn't use it last year and it was just sitting there rotting." Gotta love those helpful neighbors. BTW you can grow potatoes in a bale of straw! Shove your spuds in the straw and wet it down. Keep watering it and you'll have taters! To harvest them you just bust up the bale when the roots start growing out of it. Google it for more info.

ETA: If you have a Kindle account, I can loan you my SFG ebook by Mel Bartholomew. Let me know if you're interested.

Oh boy Teresa, that's some neighbor! I never thought about the lawn clippings/seeds getting into the bed. I'll have to mention that to my lawn guy. Maybe I can bribe him with some soap! I'll be growing mostly tomatoes, since that's most of what I buy from the farm stand, where they're awfully expensive! I could seriously eat garden tomatoes til they come out of my ears, I love them that much. So I figure I'll be able to save a bunch on tomatoes alone. And if there are too many, which I find hard to imagine, I have lots of tomato loving friends. Thanks for the offer of the Kindle version of the book, actually I picked up a hard copy at a tag sale a while ago. So far, it's still sounds good. And if there are weeds, I'm retired, so I've got the time. I'm dreaming of crunchy sugar snap peas, and tomato salads. Now if only the weather will cooperate!
 

shunt2011

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Thank you. Very interesting. Guess I have a honey do list for my husband while I'm out doing shows this early spring to build me som plant beds.
 

DeeAnna

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When we travel with our horses, we use pine shavings in the trailer to soak up the pee and poop. I found out the shavings (used or not) are great for mulching flowers or veggies. You can get a big bale of shavings in a plastic bag for about $8 at your local farm supply store. Shavings are nice for mulching small areas like a SFG -- or any part of a larger garden with small plants that can't handle coarser or heavier mulch.
 

TeresaT

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Nav & Shunt, enjoy the benefits of your gardens. There really is something satisfying about getting your hands dirty and eating what you've grown. I'm just too tired to do it after working all day. It's one more thing I'm looking forward to when I retire. Soaping, spinning, knitting and gardening. If I play it right, I'll never have to leave my house again. All things can be delivered. :smile:
 

shunt2011

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Last year was the first year I didn't plant a garden. Just planter tomatoes and herbs. I sure missed my zucchini, yellow squash, peas and beans.
 

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Oh yes me me :)
We have 4 huge boxes with soil and also some small trees in big pots. My favourite is my 1m high fig tree. We had about 30 huge sweet figs on it this summer.
I skip the whole seedling thing, I tried but I failed so many times. There are few veg I grow from seed like beans and potatoes but that's it.
So, depending on the season we grow in summer tomatoes, cucumber, beans, spring onion, capsicum, eggpkant. In winter peas, carrots and early spring potato. To put in perspective, from 2kg seed potato we had about 15kg potatoes on maybe 2m square box.
Tomatoes, same, six plants, kilos and kilos of tomatoes. I ended up freezing some.
I love gardening! My family always grew stuff and it's stuck with me. Nothing more satisfying than growing your own food.
I use minimal chemicals, so apart from the actual seeds, everything is basically organic.
You have to get your soil right, pH and all the specific fertilizers for each veg. Also rotate stuff around.
There's heaps of stuff to learn but once you get your head around it it's easy. Whole N P K balance etc.
I also have worm farm so all the scraps and dead foliage gets used up too.
If you need any help ask away :)
 

dibbles

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My daughter has done SFG and had success with tomatoes (hybrid and heirloom), eggplant, beans, peppers and herbs.

I don't like gardening, but my husband does. Also living in a northern climate, we just can't get enough of the plucked from the vine tomatoes. When they are getting ripe faster than we can eat them/gift them, I just peel them and stew them and freeze. I once read that if you are adding less to the container of already frozen tomatoes, its fine to just keep adding as you go until the container is full. Makes the best chili during the long winter months, and super easy to do.
 

CTAnton

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Hey guys, I do this for a living and for myself.I've gardened in raised beds for 25 years. No soil compaction, warms up faster,concentrated place to water and fertilize.
It doesn't take a lot of plants to feed a person in cukes and tomatoes. last year was a good year locally for both those staples and a lady friend had 3 cuke plants of the Asian variety and she had more than she knew why to do with...great pickles by the way. Tomatoes are feast or famine. One week you get 2 pounds, then the following week you get 30. I've never been a fan of raw tomatoes barring a BBT(basil bacon and tomato)but I do like my homemade sauce so if its sauce your after best to grow some of the determinate varieties that basically ripen all at once. Of course I am a sucker for cherry tomatoes, sun gold's are basically tomatoes and sugar all in one..
Just keep in mind that gardening this way does exhaust the soil of nutrients quickly so if the slugs in your area will allow it some kind of decomposing mulch would be in order and or additional fertilizer throughout the growing season...just my 5 cents, adjusted for inflation...
 

navigator9

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Thanks everyone for your encouragement and advice. I've really missed a garden and am so looking forward to one this year. Teresa, I sure know how you feel, when I was working, I was just too tired too. Retirement is great, and all those people who asked me what I was going to do with myself, wasn't I going to be bored, are nuts! There's so much to do, all the fun stuff I was too tired for before. I can't wait for that first garden tomato to slice and put on top of my avocado toast, or just make a tomato and sweet vidalia onion salad with oil and vinegar. Mmmmm...I can almost taste it. And the smell of the tomato leaves on your hands. I'm getting tomato plants, the seeds just take too long, and I'm in a hurry. I'm doing the pepper by seed, because the ones I saw in the catalog look so much like the ones I got at the farm stand last summer that were sooo good. And the sugar snaps! They never even make it into the house. I just eat them out of hand. Can you tell I'm excited? lol And I have a window box for basil and cilantro. We have a chance of snow on Sunday and Monday, so all of this is just a dream for now.
 

Chefmom

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My mother did square foot gardening back in the day when it was on PBS. She even had pieces of wood to section off her garden into perfect square foot plots. I remember in the height of summer her garden looked like a pieced quilt with the wood framing each square.

Jump forward years to my gardening. I picked up a copy of the original hardback at a book sale and used the theory for my gardening, but on a much larger scale. Years ago I had the energy for a half acre garden that was divided into 5 foot wide growing beds and I filled the table and the freezer with what I grew. As of a few years ago that energy is gone. I have fatigue and can't do a whole lot of physical work at a time without resting...but I still pluck away at my garden. I'm not willing to give it up completely.

I don't grow as many vegetables as I used to, but last year my husband finally put together my old greenhouse for me to use again and I have started seeds for the first time in a quite a few years. I'll have loads more flowers, but tomatoes, beans and squash are on the list to grow.

I've scaled way way back to just a few plants and just a few varieties, but my tomatoes are babies under lights in my basement and will be moving to the greenhouse when night temps stabilize. I also have some flower seeds and herb seeds started.

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fuzz-juzz

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I just popped fresh tomatoes into the freezer, without boiling. :-?
They turned out fine though, perfect in soups, casseroles, etc.
I never cook our snap peas and normal shelling peas, we just go out in the backyard and eat them freshly picked.
 

navigator9

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My mother did square foot gardening back in the day when it was on PBS. She even had pieces of wood to section off her garden into perfect square foot plots. I remember in the height of summer her garden looked like a pieced quilt with the wood framing each square.

Jump forward years to my gardening. I picked up a copy of the original hardback at a book sale and used the theory for my gardening, but on a much larger scale. Years ago I had the energy for a half acre garden that was divided into 5 foot wide growing beds and I filled the table and the freezer with what I grew. As of a few years ago that energy is gone. I have fatigue and can't do a whole lot of physical work at a time without resting...but I still pluck away at my garden. I'm not willing to give it up completely.

I don't grow as many vegetables as I used to, but last year my husband finally put together my old greenhouse for me to use again and I have started seeds for the first time in a quite a few years. I'll have loads more flowers, but tomatoes, beans and squash are on the list to grow.

I've scaled way way back to just a few plants and just a few varieties, but my tomatoes are babies under lights in my basement and will be moving to the greenhouse when night temps stabilize. I also have some flower seeds and herb seeds started.
Ooooo...look at those tomatoes! What kind do you grow Chefmom? I'm trying some heirlooms this year, but my old Italian landlord used to swear by Big Boy, Jet Star and Early Girl. He really loved his tomatoes.

I know what you mean about fatigue. I get really frustrated by physical limitations too, but I work a bit, rest a bit, work some more and sooner or later, things get done. Good luck with all of those tomatoes. :D
 

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I've tried most of the gardening theories, but down here in south Florida the bugs win unless you want to constantly be spraying (less poisonous or regular chemicals...doesn't matter). Tomatoes? Ferget it. Some people I know can grow them, me, nope. Every time it's a different issue.

This hot/cold/hot/SCORCHING/cold weather cycle this winter destroyed 90% of what I planted. I do have what I thoughttttt was collards left (it's heading so it's not the collards I wanted) and a few struggling pepper plants, but everything else died or bolted. I've even ordered "special" hot area seeds...not luck. I'm trying stuff from other areas but so far, no luck. One thing that did do decent was luffa gourds, but the amount of room they wanted to run in for the amount of gourds wasn't a good space investment. DEFINETLY not for square foot gardening!

If you can get the dwarf plant varieties, they do well in the square foot method. Depends on your view of hybrids and all....

One thing with the square foot gardening, the soil will settle so fill the beds higher to allow for it (but make sure not too high or the water just washes the soil out). The theory of putting the plants close together does indeed pan out-a few experimental buckets I did that I thought were too crowded grew better than the ones that had space!
 

navigator9

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I've tried most of the gardening theories, but down here in south Florida the bugs win unless you want to constantly be spraying (less poisonous or regular chemicals...doesn't matter). Tomatoes? Ferget it. Some people I know can grow them, me, nope. Every time it's a different issue.

This hot/cold/hot/SCORCHING/cold weather cycle this winter destroyed 90% of what I planted. I do have what I thoughttttt was collards left (it's heading so it's not the collards I wanted) and a few struggling pepper plants, but everything else died or bolted. I've even ordered "special" hot area seeds...not luck. I'm trying stuff from other areas but so far, no luck. One thing that did do decent was luffa gourds, but the amount of room they wanted to run in for the amount of gourds wasn't a good space investment. DEFINETLY not for square foot gardening!

If you can get the dwarf plant varieties, they do well in the square foot method. Depends on your view of hybrids and all....

One thing with the square foot gardening, the soil will settle so fill the beds higher to allow for it (but make sure not too high or the water just washes the soil out). The theory of putting the plants close together does indeed pan out-a few experimental buckets I did that I thought were too crowded grew better than the ones that had space!
Oh nsmar, it's funny, isn't it...we all have our gardening demons to deal with. Here up north, we think you've got it made, but I guess that's cause we're not dealing with your problems. I'm hoping for good luck, especially with my favorites, the tomatoes. I had good luck when I grew them years ago, they were taller than me, and loaded with fruit. We'll see how I do with this new method. Thanks for the tip on not overfilling the beds.
 

dibbles

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Since we're on the subject of gardening and planting seeds, has anyone grown calendula and dried the petals?
 

penelopejane

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We have kangaroos, rabbits and bandicoots in the backyard so we have to fence the veggie patch. Deep into the soil - to foil the rabbits and bandicoots and high enough to foil the kangaroos.
I am determined to make a more substantial fence that has an easy access gate this year before I plant a thing.
 

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