Square Foot Gardening

Ok, I don't know how the formatting of this post is going to work but I wanted to post the beginnings of my Square Food Garden for this Real Food Wednesday. This year I started about 90% of my plants from seed, which I now realize is a big part of the work of gardening.

I started at the end of February and through much trial and error, managed to cultivate some successful starts! I have much to improve upon for next year, but now I have some confidence under my belt. Another big project was working the soil to amend that hard clay. That involved lots of tilling, applying lots of compost (including mature goat manure), and adding a nice, loamy soil amendment. I think next year I'll know of some even better options for amending the clay soil, but I must say that it seems as though the soil is very healthy and the plants are growing well so far. But there is always room for improvment.

Below you'll see my beets, radishes, broccoli, strawberries, mint, and sweet peas. Not pictured are the bush beans, pumpkins, zucchini squash, tomatoes, corn, chard, spinach, lettuce, stevia, peppermint, parsley, rosemary, sage, marjoram, rose geranium and one turnip (only one came up, blessed turnip!) I'll keep updating!


Radman said...

So what veggies did you have to fence in? I noticed that some of the produce is not fenced. Do the critters only like certain types of greens?

Sarah Faith said...

I love square foot gardening! We're moving from our apartment to a house this month and I can't wait to get started again!

Christina said...

we do square foot gardening (this is our second year). we moved our raised bed to the front yard because it has more sun. so it joins our other raised bed in the front:)
i would love to do my own starts. i will have to look into getting the lights, etc. for next year. we compost so our newest raised bed is made up of a good chunk of our beautiful compost soil!

Iconography Girl said...

Looks great!!! We have a small bed in our front yard. I have to admit I am more of a flower gardener than veggie as I don't have the heart for the disappointment of snail/earwig/ant/caterpillar eaten leaves that were supposed to be our supper!

I'd LOVE to hear your natural pest-defeating tips! We use "beer traps" for slugs and "vegetable oil traps" for earwigs (which also attract/kill ants!). However, our neighbor with the uber-green thumb pointed out that the marigolds I have scattered throughout out to keep away animals are a big magnet for slugs! (Although there is some added benefit in what the marigolds feed into the soil...)

Anyway, if you have any green/organic pest-advice, please post!

Leesie said...

The basil plant looks lovely! We started a raised bed garden this year using seed and tomato seedlings we ordered via mail. We have quite a mix-from strawberries and asparagus, to arugula and herbs. I'm so looking forward to the bounty. Wishing you good luck with your veges, etc.!

Kim said...

I'm not trying to be argumentative; I just wanted to observe that the 2 keys to Square Foot Gardening, as explained by the inventor (not that it's copyrighted), is the sectioning into square feet, and the raised-bed soil mix. I'm confused because clay isn't a part of the soil mix, so maybe this is not Square Foot Gardening exactly.
We just started 3 "Square-foot"gardens this year, so I've read up a lot. Ours were seed-planted a week ago, and I'm amazed what's already coming up! I think the soil mix was crucial, so I'm mentioning it.
Also, Leesie, FYI, I remember in the book that asparagus is one of the few crops that thrives best when planted in about a 4" by 4" as a solo crop (can't remember exactly why).
Love this wonderful blogspot!

Kim said...

Oh, and for that excellent question from Iconography Girl,

We are daily spraying around our garden with a water/peppermint essential oil mix. It is helping with ants as far as we can tell, but I'm still a newbie, so I can't say for sure....

Our local Ace Hardware sells Ladybugs. We are planning to buy them and toss them in our gardens when more plants come up.

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...


I've found that the critters (little green caterpillars) really like the brassicas (in my case, broccoli). The slugs really like lettuce and beans, it seems. The fencing is rather arbitrary; it's just what we had in the garden (part of it blew over a few years back in a windstorm!)

The main critters I deal with are aphids, slugs, and the aforementioned caterpillars. I'm sure there are other, but they haven't posed a big problem!

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...


That's awesome! I never knew I would be so obsessed with soil! If I had a raised bed it would be so much easier to control the weeds, I'm sure!

For doing my starts, I bought a shop light at Fred's for $9.99 and used an old shelf I had outside. I dragged it into our master bath and converted that room to our green house (we didn't really use it much anyway). I think next year I'll add another shop light to go beside it and provide increased intensity (at my genius-gardener Father-In-Law's suggestion).

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...


For pest control, I do aim to keep it all natural.

My Father-in-law gave me a great slug tip:

Buy a costco-sized container of plain black pepper. Add to it a regular spice jar's worth of cayenne. Shake together until mixed. Spread it in a ring around the plants and the slugs won't attempt to cross that barrier. Totally safe and won't hurt the earthworms!

For the brassica caterpillar, hand removal seemed to really help control the population,but I did end up buying "BT" which is a strain of bacteria (harmless to everyone but that specific pest) that irritates the stomach of the green caterpillar. That seems to have efficiently taken care of the problem!

As for aphids, a spray of garlic and clove oils seems to be working. Also, I planted nasturtiums all over the garden which are supposed to be helpful as well. I don't think we have an aphid problem, though.

yeah, but I learned about marigolds the hard way, but the good news is that they attract the slugs, but then when the slugs eat them, they die (or at least don't want to eat them ever again).

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...


No problem. Actually, I realized that I am not really doing "orthodox" SFG, but I must mention that Mel Bartholemew's original book did not involve raised beds. It's the "New Square Foot Gardening" method that incorporates the raised beds.

And yes of course clay wouldn't be a part of the soil mix that you would create for a raised bed! Clay soil is what I have in the ground here in my neck of the woods, so I have to amend it.

And yes, my little plots are about 18 inch squares, not square feet. I had some perrenials growing that I had to sort of "work around" IFYWIM!!!

Thanks for the clarifications, though, I highly reccommend the New SFG method for those whose soils are poor, or just for the benefit of hand-creating a very fertile soil!

Good for you for doing a garden! I would love to try growing asparagus in the future!!

Alyss said...

Great looking garden! I am also using a modified SFG method for my gardens. My "big" garden has about 8 inches of layered mulch, newspaper, native soil and peat moss topped by 4-6 inches of Mel's Mix. Mel's Mix is the peat moss/compost/vermiculite mixture recommended in The New Square Foot Gardening book. My "little" garden is compost, peat moss and native soil (dry, dead clay that has been under black plastic for years) ammended with mel's mix right where the plants are planted. Both gardens seem to be doing well.
For more info on what I'm planting and how everybody is doing check out my flickr page here:

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...


That sounds amazing and I can't wait to see the pix!!! Thank you so much!

Kim said...

I did not know that about the original book! Myself, I would have been overwhelmed by any other kind of gardening than raised bed or pots. Glad I ran into the 2nd edition of that book.
I'm going to find the bug control tips very handy. The slugs are already circling...

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...


It sounds like you're doing sort of a "lasagna gardening" type of thing in your big garden? I'd love to know more about that!