First-timer in Boston

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11 Responses

  1. Skye says:

    I live in Laurel MD, it’s right between Baltimore and DC. My lavender that I planted in spring last year grew huge – way over a square foot for each plant-last year so putting 4 in that spot might be crowding, but it might also depend on the type of lavender you choose, so I would check the package.

    I ordered seeds this year from Baker Creek Seeds, Territorial Seeds, and Seed Savers Exchange. They all online and have great free catalogs you can send for. I found others but they charged a lot for shipping. I check in the back of gardening books that I like and see what the author recommends- that’s also a good place to find sources.

    I also go to local herb festivals and they often have good prices on plants and are fun to attend. However I did buy a sweet pepper plant from one seller and it was extremely productive but was a hot pepper

  2. Rachel W says:

    Do NOT plant lemon balm in your main garden bed. It is lovely but has all of the rapacious characteristics of the rest of the mint family and will take over. The roots spread widely and are extremely difficult to eradicate once established.
    On the bright side, they tolerate shade and neglect very well, so if you have a weedy strip behind the garage or the like, lemon balm is wonderful. And it makes lovely tea and garnishes (very nice in summer drinks).

  3. Emily says:


    A couple of things to ease your mind on the planting times. Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers, Beets, and Bush Beans will all do just fine planted mid-May. Honestly, it will probably be too late to plant broccoli, peas, storing onions, and possibly lettuce. Now, if it doesn’t get too hot too soon, lettuce and peas might be okay. I would say try to grow all those things in pots this season (don’t transplant), and aim to do a fall garden as well.

    *Onions–storing onions (bulbing onions) really need to be planted sooner. For now, plant green onions, or plant sets and use them as green onions. Onions should be planted as soon as the soil can be worked (is not frozen) in the spring. You might also try growing chives, garlic chives, etc.

    *Basil–for sure you can grow these in pots and planted among your other veggies–tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce. Basil repels aphids, and so it benefits everything! Instead of putting tomatoes in a pot, give them bed space and put the herbs in pots.

    *Strawberries–these will spread, so I suggest planting them in a place that is contained–their own bed. They are going to produce year after year, so if you have some space in a flower bed.

    *Tomatoes–give them two squares and a trellis–be sure to put them on the north so they don’t shade everything else. You will need to prune them!

    Best of luck!

  4. Melissa says:

    Katie, I live North of Boston and am planting my first sq foot garden this year too. Check out this link for a really great growers guide:

    According to that guide (its what I go by) tomatoes need 4 squares for 1 plant (you plant the tomato in the middle and your basil can go around it).

    Good luck! Happy planting!

  5. this is such a sweet design. With the others’ suggestions, I’m going to use this as a sort of guide for my own. Thanks!

  6. Katie says:

    Hey, guys, we’re expecting really heavy rain here today and I’m afraid it will threaten my really teeny teeny seedlings. Any tips on how to protect them?

  7. Brandicj says:

    I’ve been told that strawberries can take over a box. You might give some thought to moving them to the containers and placing the parsley and lemon balm in their place. The mint needs to stay where it is because it will put out runners and consume any space it can.

  8. peskykate says:

    Thanks, guys! This is really helpful. Moving the basil to companion plant in the tomato squares will be great and I can free up some space. I actually did a small box with peas, beans, beats, and radishes because I just couldn’t wait to get started!

  9. Michelle m says:

    Cherry tomatoes usually grown bushy and compact but not very tall. Your best bet is to cage them to keep them from encroaching on your other plants. Great book “Square Foot Gardening”.

  10. Joyce says:

    I’m a Boston gardener too. I second Ken’s advice about planting the basil with the tomatoes, which will give you plenty of room. My other suggestion is that you might start the radishes and peas now if at all possible, or just skip these this year. If you wait until mid-May, it can get too hot, and you won’t have much success. I expect my radishes will be ready to harvest by then. On the other hand, beans and lettuce will be just fine if you start them in mid-May and directly sow the seeds. There is no need to start them early and transplant them.

    I usually start tomatoes and peppers indoors, but you can find seedlings to transplant at a number of places in the Boston area. The big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s will carry these, but you can also go to garden stores like Mahoney’s, Ricky’s, and Pemberton Farms, or even check out farmer’s markets.

    Good luck! And, let’s hope for a nice summer in New England.

  11. Ken D. says:

    Basil is a companion-plant for tomatoes, and certainly don’t need thier own squares. Plant your tomatoes 1 per 2 sq/ft and put the basil along side them (they don’t need thier own square, put them next to the tomatoes). Then you’ll have plently of space. For your cucumbers/zucchini be sure to trellis the cucumber, and stake the zucchini and they’ll do fine with the space you’ve given them.

    Basil is also a companion-plant with peppers (basically any nightshade).