Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Notes from My Square Foot Gardening Class

Why Garden in Boxes and Pots?

1. Control the quality of the soil

2. Control water usage

3. Less Weeds

4. Less use of bulking and expensive tools

5. Boxes and Pots can help in sheltering crops

6. More plants in smaller spaces


1/3 peat moss-holds moisture

1/3 Vermiculite- holds water better than a sponge, never decomposes, adds air space

1/3 Compost- Add nutrients

Fertilizers-make your own basic- Nitrogen-25.4 Phosphorus- 48.6 Potasium-23.7

1 part blood meal

2 parts bone meal

3 parts wood ash

4 parts composted leaf mold

Each year as you harvest or before you plant, add 1 trowel full of compost to each square foot. Sprinkle with fertilizer then mix in soil.

Watering- Culinary water is the best to use. “Watering trees with canal water will shorten their lives. The salt in the lake water is too high and slowly weakens and kills the trees.” ~Bart Anderson. I would suppose the same for your plants.

1. Hand watering- When you plant your seed, make a dish type indentation. This is where you will pour your water. The ideal condition is to fill your bucket the day before for two reasons. 1-to sun warm the water, plants like it. Cold water causes the plants to go into a slight shock. 2- Allows the chlorine and other chemicals to evaporate or settle out if the water is allowed to sit for 24 hours. This method wastes the least amount of water.

1- Straight out of the hose- If you do this use a shower head close to the roots.

2- Drip system- A very convenient way to water. You can set when the timer comes on and when it goes off. It is expensive though.

3- Overhead sprinkler- convenient but wastes water and wets the foliage, leading to disease and can attract undesirable insects.


To control weeds from growing up underneath, place several layers of newspaper, cardboard or use weed barrier cloth.

Most of the weeds you will get will land on top.

The only tools you need for weeding are your thumb and index finger to pluck them out.


You won’t need hoes, tillers or other big equipment.

Only tools you really need are a towel to add nutrients and to turn the soil.

Boxes and Pots

If you want to build boxes use wood that has not been treated. See if you can find scrap wood to use that is free. You can also use bricks, tires, or pots. You need at least 6” of soil. You determine how deep.

If you have deep pot you can fill the bottom with filler dirt, sand, or pebbles.

Your boxes can be any length but preferably no more than 4 feet wide. Ideally you need to be able to reach 2 feet in all the way around.

Never walk on your soil. It will compact it.

To save space you can grow tomatoes, squashes, cucumbers, melons, small pumpkins, peas and beans vertically.

Don’t use plastic or wood for vertical structures. They are not stable enough.

You can use electrical conduit or metal fencing.

You can also dig out the ground and replace with good dirt for your box.

To shelter plants from harsh weather you can construct out of PVC pipe and plastic a cover.


1 seed per square foot       2 seeds per square foot         4 seeds per square foot 

Broccoli                              Cucumber                           Swiss chard                         
Cabbage                                                                        Corn                                 
Cauliflower                                                                     Lettuce
Eggplant                                                                         Parsley
Muskmelon                                                                    Peas

9 seeds per square foot           16 seeds per square foot

Beans                                         Beets
Spinach                                      Carrots

1 seed per 3’x3’                                4 seeds per 4’x4’

 Squashes                                             Tomatoes

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