As you know I’m part of a growing community called Garden Connect. The idea behind it being that if growers from all over the world grew the same types of vegetables, in the same way, at the same time of year it would be rather interesting to see how each person’s crops progressed and the harvest each country produced (or states and counties within each country). The layout of the garden has been designed by Matt (the creator of Garden Connect).
It seems like the square foot gardening project is now at an end, with autumn just around the corner, but before I start pulling the last of the crops up I thought it was a good idea to publish one final review about how the project went for me and what I’ve learnt from it.
The idea behind square foot gardening is very simple. In a very small space, and without much effort you can grow a variety of veg, herbs, flowers and fruit, to sustain you over a period of time.
The formal description goes something like this:
Square foot gardening is the practice of planning and creating small but intensively planted gardens. The practice combines concepts from other organic gardening methods, including a strong focus on compost, densely planted raised beds and bio-intensive attention to a small, clearly defined area. – Source Wikipedia
And to it is. If you haven’t got all that much space then it’s idea and more than anything allows the cultivator to get growing without it becoming onerous or complicated.
However while the principle is easy to understand the act of developing this type of cultivation is slightly more detailed than I first thought.
My square foot was slightly larger. It being made up of a 3sq m (9sq ft) space being divided up into 10 30cmx75 cm squares (less square and more rectangle). Although the practice is still the same.
Although Matt’s plans had 12 different varieties of veg, flowers and herbs, I decided to only put 10 in the bed and use other space within the garden for the final two (peppers and flowers).
Along the way I appeared to encounter a few problems which included:
- Not being able to get any parsnips to germinate
- Some crops over crowding other areas in the bed
- Crops not being able to compete with over crowding from other crops and thus not growing at all
- A few pests and diseases that came over night which resulted in loosing crops.
These problems could have be rectified in future in two simple ways:
- Placing the larger plants at the back of the bed, the smaller towards the front
- Not putting as many plants per square
I’d also be much more careful in the types of plants I decided to use in a square foot planting principle because while you can cut down on the plants you add to each square you’re essential cutting down on food availability unless you can prune and feed intensively to ensure maximum production on each plant, something which may put some people off if they haven’t got loads of time to spend.
You do also have to consider which plants are sown/planted at what times. Four weeks between one plant being sown and another being planted can really effect what space each plant is going to get without it being swamped.
There were some interesting and positive results from this trial though:
- Got to grow new varieties of veggies
- Learnt new ways of growing intensively
- Harvesting of onions, spinach, kale, beans and carrots was impressive in the size of the plot. Harvests of kale lasted six weeks, and beans for weeks. The spinach is still ongoing after 12 weeks!
- Conversed with fellow Garden Connectors all over the world.
- Once the bed is up and running it too hardly any time other than watering and checking on hot/dry/wet/humid days.
Would I do this again?
In a word I would because there is still a lot I can learn from this type of cultivating. I have quite a bit to learn from this years growing experience which I can now build on for next year. This would include the planning stage and the planting stage but overall it was a positive experience.
If you want to know more about Square Foot Gardening check out the founder page – Mel Bartholomew who first coined the practice.