Square Foot Gardening – Carrot Success!

Check out my bountiful harvest!  This is the only crop that was successful in my square foot garden.  In my one row of my 4’x4′ square garden and 8 inches deep, I grew 3.75 lbs of beautiful carrots.  (That’s 1.2 m square garden, 20 cm deep and 1.7 kg of carrots.)  This is the best carrot crop I have ever grown.  The carrots are nice, big, and firm.  Just like I like them.  I planted the nantes coreless variety of carrots because they grow to 6.5″ with blunt tips.  I will definitely be growing carrots next year.  I think I’ll plant 2 of the 4 rows of my SFG with these carrots and maybe stagger them by a couple of weeks.  (Sorry the picture is a little blurry.)

carrots nantes

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Biggest Underachiever – My Vegetable Garden

In early May I was completely gung-ho on my newly built square garden.  I planted all my seeds and watered regularly.  By early June I noticed that whenever something started to come up, it was quickly gone.  Rabbits!  So I put up a fence and re-planted.  Then we had cold weather and lots of rain, so I took to ignoring my little garden.  Today, mid-September, it looks like this.  Sad, isn’t it?

SFG fail

Half My Crop

Half My Crop

Of the 18 peas I re-planted, on two grew.  1/36 beans seeds grew, producing about 4 beans. My two pepper plants produced two golf ball sized peppers. The spinach grew straight up, and never had enough leaves to eat.  And I never did plant any kale, lettuce or basil.

I did get several zucchini plants to grow, and I spread them out into the empty squares.  I already picked one fruit, but it was really hard, so I thought I’d let it ripen.  It ended up rotting.

The only good thing is I seem to have a nice row of carrots.  I’ve been inspecting them, and the tops are a fairly decent size.  I’m still optimistic that this won’t have been a complete waste.

Am I discouraged?  Sure.  Will I try again?  You bet.  The nice thing about the garden is it really didn’t get many weeds.  And I like having my veggies contained to one small area.  Next year I’ll be sure to put up the rabbit fence right away, and if the carrots go well, I might double the area the carrots get.

Square Foot Gardening – Planting

Now that my square foot garden is built, I need to figure out what to plant.  I’ve made a list of plants I would consider growing, and the numbers of plants per square foot, according to my research.GardenPlan

  • basil – 1
  • beans – 9
  • beets – 9
  • carrots – 16
  • kale – 4
  • lettuce – 4
  • peppers – 1
  • spinach – 9
  • sugar peas – 9 – needs trellis
  • swiss chard –
  • tomato – 1 – need cage
  • zucchini – 1 (needs staking)

Check out the above drawing to see what I actually planted.  My choices were basically based on seeds I had left over from last year, plus I bought two pepper plants and will buy a basil plant as soon as I find one.

First, I soaked the seeds for a few hours before I started planting.  Apparently they like this.

Then I moistened the soil, so it wasn’t so dusty to work with and I figured it doesn’t actually matter if you water immediately before or after you plant the seeds.

If you’ve never planted seeds before, don’t over think it, and just push it into the soil until it’s covered, not very deep.  I didn’t actually take the time to deposit each carrots seed individually, but I probably should have.  They are so small, I just made sure they had good contact with the soil.

Now that planting is done, all I need to do is to water regularly.  Whatever that means.

So far I love my new veggie garden.  My self-diagnosed OCD loves the little squares.  The soil is light and easy to work with.  Planting was a breeze, especially six inches above ground.  And my feet stayed clean, since I don’t have to walk through the garden. Yay!

Square Foot Gardening – The Set Up

Thanks again to my favorite resource, Pinterest, I have discovered square foot (meter) gardening.  After all my research, here’s what I have come up with for my needs.  The frame cost me $15 and the soil $41 for a total of $56.

SFG – How to make a frame

To make the frame, here’s what I would suggest.  BTW – This is one of the easiest wood projects I have ever made.  I used all new materials, and the whole thing cost me about $15.  I opted for 2 inch boards instead of 1 inch because I wanted a sturdy box.

Materials

  • 2 pieces of 2x6x92-5/8″ = $8.50
  • 8 screws 2 1/2″
  • 3 cedar nailing strips 8′ $6
  • 9+ nails

Total Cost = $14.50

Equipment

  • saw
  • drill
  • hammer
  • measuring tape

Instructions

  1. Cut the 2×6 boards in half (46 1/4″)
  2. Drill two holes at one end of each board.  Drill the holes 1″ from the end and about 1 1/2″ from the edge.  You only need to drill holes into one end of the board because it’s going to butt up against the un-drilled side.SFG - Frame
  3. Lay the frame on the ground.  Butt up the un-drilled sides to the drilled sides.  (Does that make sense?)
  4. Use your 2 1/2″ screws and screw the frame together.
  5. Lay your frame in a sunny location, somewhere that gets more than six hours of sun.  Set cardboard underneath the frame to prevent grass or other plants from growing up.  I’d use cardboard over landscaping fabric because it’s (I’m) cheap.  Update: Use cardboard.  Grass grew through the fabric.
  6. Fill the frame with your soil.  The recipe for Mel’s Mix is below.
  7. Cut the nailing strips to length and nail them into the frame.  You need 6 pieces to make a 4×4 frame.   Some people just use string to divide out the frame.
  8. PLANT!

SFG $15 Frame – craftambitions.wordpress.com

Ok, you probably noticed that my frame doesn’t exactly look like what I described. First, it’s because I only bought 2 pieces of nailing strip, so I didn’t have enough.  Second, I really want a lot of carrots.  SFG grows veggies in just 6 inches of soil, but for carrots they suggest making little “high rises” to increase the depth to 8 inches.  I decided I wanted to grow A LOT of CARROTS, so I used an 8 inch board on one edge and I added a little divider that adds two inches to the height.  So I end up with an entire row that’s 8 inches deep.

SFG – The soil

Mel’s Mix is 1/3 peat moss + 1/3 blended compost + 1/3 vermiculite.  I’m not going to be too fussy with this mix.  Here’s what I bought, and it filled the frame perfectly.

  • Peat Moss 2.2 cu $7
  • Composted cow manure 15 kg $4
  • Composted sheep manure 15 kg $4
  • Coarse Vermiculite. Two 20L bags $30. (In Edmonton you can find these big bags at Apache Seeds)

Total = $41Mel's Mix - craftambitions.wordpress.com

Here are my resources:

Square Foot Gardening

Alberta Home Gardening