Choosing a Gardening Method

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15 Responses

  1. Jim says:

    I would never have said anything about a disadvantage of a square foot garden being reduced harvest. The fact is that a traditional row garden will never be able to keep up with the yield of a single row no matter how hard you try. And you do it in 20% of the space with 90% less work. No weeding, no thinning, no heavy digging, and you save 98% of the seeds. You can’t beat a SFG no matter what you do. There might be other methods out there but they all end up either being too much work or too expensive and complicated because you’ll have to know about chemicals, fertilizers, soil composition, etc. None of that plays a factor in a SFG. In fact, the people who have the most success with a SFG are brand new gardeners who know very little about garden because they’re able to keep things simple and not get bogged down from all the “expert advice” that’s out there.

  2. Emily says:

    I am not an expert on container gardening. I can tell you that peppers need at least 12″ in the garden, so I think a 12-15″ pot would do. They need minimum 8 hours of sun per day, preferably 12. Cucumbers can usually be spaced 3″ apart, but I think I would use a 12-15″ pot and grow 2 in it. They also require a lot of sun, 8-12 hours. Onions will need regular watering–check the soil daily. They would do better if they had a little shade. In general they are a cool-loving plant.

  3. Ann McReynolds says:

    I would like to grow bell pepper (green and red) in pots on my patio. What size container should I use and how much sun will it require? I also would like to try cucumbers in pots. Same question. I have onions in a long planter. They are barely sheltered. Will get a lot of sun but very little rain. Do they require much water? Thank you so much.

  4. Emily says:

    I think you could possibly put a patio box (with a bottom) on concrete, but I would be very concerned about blacktop–I think it will just get too hot for the plants. Instead, pick the sunniest spot in your yard and put a square foot garden there. If that’s not a possibility, maybe do a raised bed (like one on legs).

  5. Lindsay says:

    I am just learning about this, and am wondering if I can plant a SFG on blacktop. Our driveway gets the most sun, and we have so many trees in our yard it is difficult to plant because it is very shady, and tough to dig in the soil with all the roots

  6. Emily says:

    The method does say that a trowel of compost added to each square is enough. I just find my beds “sink” quite a bit throughout the season, and because the soil is at least 1/3 compost, it decomposes and has to be replenished. I add at least 2-3 cubic feet of new compost each spring. The comment about the fertilizer is also from my experience–I found that my harvest improved immensely when I started fertilizing.

  7. Lynn says:

    Hey Emily! I love your blog and your gardens are absolutely beautiful, however, I am an avid Square Foot Gardner and would like to make a few notes on your “disadvantages” of the SFG method First, the soil is not replaced every year, the same soil is used year after year. After harvest time when a crop is finished, you mix in one trowel of new compost and it is ready for the next crop to be planted. Also, the method uses NO fertilizer. If you are using a good blended compost (Mel suggests a minimum of 5 varieties of compost to make the 1/3), it will provide all of the nutrients the plants need. The key is to have a good variety of composts, the Mels Mix you can buy in a bag uses more than 10! Good luck this spring and happy gardening!

  8. Amy Hart Schultz says:

    Ellen – Plant dill among the squash. I didn’t have any squash bugs or pests of any kind until the dill died (not sure why, guessing it needed more water than I gave it). Once the dill died, the army of squash bugs took over. It was ugly. I tried organic powder, it killed the plants. I tried soapy dishwater, it helped, but not much. The only thing I did that worked was to manually remove the leaves with little brown eggs on the bottom and squish every bug I could find. I am, however, going to try the organic remedies posted in response to your question if it happens this summer.

  9. Emily says:

    Darcy–Square foot gardening definitely gives you more in less space. So you can grow TONS more in 16 square feet with a SFG compared to 16 square feet of a traditional garden. However, if you have the space, with a traditional garden it’s easier to get a large harvest for less money. For example, I generally plant 4 squares of green beans. However, this does not produce enough to preserve any (frozen or canned). I would guess I need to plant at least 16 squares, maybe more. Well, that’s an entire garden bed! The cost of building the garden and mixing the soil is high–compared to one row in a traditional garden. Does that make sense?

    If you’re short on space, go with square foot gardening. If you want to preserve enough to eat all year, you will likely have to have a very large traditional garden to get that kind of yield.

  10. Darcy says:

    Hi from Wisconsin! I’m looking at starting a raised bed, square foot gardening style. I also have a traditional “rows” garden. You mentioned a disadvantage of the square foot method is reduced production vs. the traditional garden. I thought one of the advantages to square foot gardening is supposed to be a greater yield using less space. I’m wondering, if I dedicated the same amount of space that I use for rows now to square foot raised beds, would I get a better or worse yield?

    Thanks for the good info here, and for your help.

  11. Ellen Peavey says:

    My squash has been taken over by the squash bore, also there is a brown bug with a very hard skin eaten on it to. Is there any thing I can spray on them that would be organic? Or maybe something I can mix up that is organic?

  12. jackie says:

    Thanks this was very helpful truly enjoyed what you had to say

  13. Emily says:

    Lynn–YES, but instead of plastic I suggest landscaping fabric, ie: “weed mat.”

  14. lynn wade says: