Square Foot Gardening – End Of Season Update

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Check out those peppers!

It is past the end of the growing season here in Maine and the Square Foot Garden I planted on May 7 is done for the year.  Unlike Calamity Jane I didn’t plant a fall garden this year, but I will say I was happy with the SFG this summer.

As a brief recap SFG is a raised bed garden system of 4’ x 4’ garden beds and laid out in a grid pattern with the vegetables growing in each square foot of garden.  The initial investment in this garden was about $100 for two of them which included the lumber, the materials that made up the soil of the garden itself, and the seeds and starter plants.

 

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I love green beans

How did my two gardens make out?  Short answer:  not bad at all.

I planted green beans, scallions, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, squash, broccoli, lettuce, swiss chard, and cucumbers.

Green beans were the star of the show this summer and I got a big pile of them out of the two square foot gardens I planted.  The squash, chard, and scallions didn’t produce anything, but a nice surprise were the green peppers.  I don’t think I’ve ever had one picked fresh and I was amazed at how crunchy and delicious these were.  I had them in omelets and salads and wish I’d put in about ten or fifteen more plants.  The next big producer were the cherry tomato plants.  I’m not a big fan of tomatoes, but these were delicious and I ate them right off the plant.  The lettuce also produced a fair amount and I enjoyed a lot of

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salads due to them.  The cukes did pretty good, but I left them on the vine too long and they went bad.  (I thought they were going to get bigger.  Live and learn!)

Cost

It probably cost about $100 to put in the two gardens using Mel’s method and that was starting from scratch.   I bought fencing, soil, and the boards to make the raised gardens themselves.  The biggest expense was the soil mix that he has you buy.  The boards I used were just pine and I hope to get a few years out of them before they start to rot.  Mel suggests that you don’t use pressure treated materials as the chemicals may leach into the soil.

I don’t think I got my moneys worth out of the garden this year, but next year I hope to add a couple more gardens and would like to do it a little cheaper than what he has you do in the book.

Summary

In addition to learning something about gardening I also got some delicious vegetables and experience on how to garden.  I may add a couple of (small) gardens right on the deck next year and see how they do.

Next year I’ll plant more lettuce, tomatoes, green beans and cukes.  I’d also like to try onions and see how they do in the raised beds.  I’ll add a couple of more gardens for next year, which means I’ll have to add some more fence.

How did your garden do this year?

-Jarhead Survivor

9 comments… add one
  • gat31 December 5, 2011, 8:07 am

    Thanks for the update! Here’s some cheaper shortcuts for the next years garden. Sounds a bit crazy, but look at yard sales and thrift stores for old dressers especially ones in the garbage piles. The drawers will act like perfect mini frames. These are not as deep, but they are perfect for lettuce, radishes, turnips, beets, and scallions. The cheap ones you get from walmart or the dollar stores that just have the cardboard back are perfect as well because you just take out the drawers and again you have a frame. The downsize is they usually only last one season, the upside is you can use the wood after the garden is done for fire wood.
    The salvation army here has a half price day once a month and l pick these up for about 5 dollars or free on the side of the road. You could invest a couple dollars into cheap contact paper to line the wood with and it will help with water resistance if you want them to last longer. :)

    Reply
  • PrimalCane December 5, 2011, 9:57 am

    Garden was great this year, had 6 plum tomato plants and 2 beefsteak, the beefsteaks seemed to get cross pollinated with the plums so I ended up with a very interesting hybrid, and dozens of jars of delicious sauce, salsa, and stewed toms. Lots of cukes, green (purple) bell peppers, Jalapenos carrots, and beets. The radishes came out really deformed, herbs, berries and lettuce were all productive although it was a task to get the lettuce going, and a lot of sprouts never grabbed hold. The summer was also rough on the lettuce as I don’t think they like the blaring heat of the day so I think next year I’ll find a shadier spot.

    ~Primal

    Reply
  • Odd Questioner December 5, 2011, 10:12 am

    Question (heh, I ask those…)

    How much did you get per square foot? I ask because it would be helpful in planning for any post-SHTF gardening, to see how much work would be required to grow enough to survive off of over the next year.

    Reply
    • Jarhead Survivor December 5, 2011, 11:10 am

      Hi OQ – There was a pretty good amount of food, but I didn’t keep track of the exact amount that came out of the gardens.

      Check out this link for more info. http://www.melbartholomew.com/category/beginners-guide/

      I actually bought his book and used it as my guide.

      Reply
  • Laura December 5, 2011, 12:22 pm

    We are moving towards raised beds from the “traditional” row method. Half the reason to keep rabbits is for the excellent non-burning manure that will go a long way toward producing great gardens.

    The squash vine borers are miserable here, so we are always the ones who have 6 zuke and summer squash plants and hardly enough for fresh eating ourselves, much less leaving bags of it on neighbor’s porches while they are gone. Any surplus we could manage would gladly be snapped up the the poultry anyway.

    One interesting thing- the Amish pie pumpkins actually pulled through. We let them run out from the garden and they continued to root as they went. So even as the heart of the plant was being killed off by the borers, they were still setting fruits that did well 10+ feet out.

    Reply
  • sam December 6, 2011, 10:11 am

    i tend to agree with the logic of ‘gardening when it counts’ compared with ‘square foot gardening.’

    SFG starts you off with bought soil, which i just find strange. intensive inputs like soil and ferts are not needed. lumber raised beds (i can attest) are overrated in comparison with a good ol’ fashioned mound with a rock border. you need a bail of straw and a shovel, and not much else.

    Reply
  • SurvivalWoman December 6, 2011, 11:58 am

    I live in NW Washington State and find it interesting that you could grow peppers in Maine!

    My own experience with SFG this year was similar cost-wise and I know for sure that I did not get my money back crop-wise. Due to a cold and rainy spring, most of my seeds failed twice so I finally purchased starts. They did okay – nothing special except for the cherry type tomatoes which were awesome.

    The one success I had with seeds was leaf and mesclun lettuce. I did not have to purchase any greens at all this summer and actually got sick of eating them day after day.

    I view my work in setting up the Square Foot Garden as a learning experience. Even though I did not have a huge crop, I learned a lot and will hopefully be a lot more successful next year. I must admit that the water requirements were minimal and there were absolutely no weeds.

    For 2012, I need to focus on crops that will produce abundantly with our short growing season. That plus I need to figure out how to succeed with seeds since veggie starts will not be available in a SHTF situation.

    Gaye

    Reply
    • izzy December 7, 2011, 8:42 pm

      Gaye, I am in Western WA, and we had trouble this year too. I was kicking myself for not starting more things in the front window. But my neighbors peppers did quite well! (amazinigly the hot peppers were more tolerant of the cold wet summer than the mild peppers were). Our lettuce drowned. And this after the drought last year… I was wondering how everyone’s weather in the U.S. affected their gardens this year – either too wet, like us or drought – any tricks learned?
      (This beginner is definitely beginning to appreciate “no-work” things like zucchini, that produce a lot on one plant. We laugh at free zucchini now but -!)

      Reply
  • mj December 20, 2011, 12:28 pm

    I did a modified “square foot garden”. Okra, green beans, beets, onions, cantelope, peppers, spaghetti squash, tomatoes (beefsteak and roma). Had a great garden. Our garden was 22 x 30′ with rows closer together and walkways every 4 ft. I canned and froze over 200 quarts. Canned over 20 quarts of apples from the 35 y.o. trees in the back yard.

    This year I plan on expanding fruits and adding shell beans.

    Reply

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