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My 2008 SF Garden - looking for suggestions

16 years ago


I am new to this site and my first time with SQFT garden. I will be building (2)4x8 or (1) 4x16 whatever works best in my small back yard.

If you guys with heavy SQFT experience look at my SQFT Garden plan in the link below (copy and paste to your address bar) i will appreciated.

what i am looking is for comments as far as spacing, location of vegetable, etc. I am trying to minimize the error percentage so that i end up with the highest amount of sucess.

Also I want to use compost and compost tea as fertilizer. If someone can tell a time table for the addition of the compost and compost tea that will be great. I was thinking a little bit of aged compost around the plants twice a week, and compost tea once a week.

If you have any other suggestions as organic fertilizer i will like to hear it and the time table. I have been thinking when stores take all their garden merchandize out to look around for organic ferliziers avaliable on shelves.

Here is the link of my vegetable garden plan, of course tomatoes facing N. (well is more like North North West to be exact).

By the way, i am planning to grow cucumbers on the grass as usual so they don't block tomatoes from the sun. Earch tomato plan will grow in a 1x2 area, and planning to use the extra space for smaller stuff is possible like scallions and radishes, etc.

Here is a link that might be useful:

Comments (16)

  • sinfonian
    16 years ago

    Welcome! I too am starting my first SFG. You can find a link to my garden in progress below. This forum and the site are great resources.

    I haven't had success yet, but my research would indicate that if you are building your two beds in the configuration as your diagram, your tomatoes in the bottom bed are going to shade your top bed. Also, cucumbers go everywhere if you don't trellis them and will overrun other squares if you're not careful.

    Good luck and keep asking for help!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Sinfonian's gardening adventure

  • piantini
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    sorry about that, in reality i am thinking to building side by side keeping the same in mind not to shade the other bed. As far as the cucumber, i have had sucess before where i just let it grow on the grass (the reason why i am planting them in a edge square).

    Any input on organic fetilizer schedule?

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  • shellva
    16 years ago

    Hello piantini,

    I have several 4 x 8 boxes. I don't consider myself a square foot gardening expert because I don't follow the rules exactly.

    However, I have had experience with growing tomatoes in these boxes and my experience was they needed a total of 4 squares. I also staggered them for a total of 4 plants in one 4 X 8 box.

    Now the tomatoes I grew were indeterminant varieties and I did not prune them. Growing a certain variety and/or heavy pruning might help you use the amount of squares that you are wanting to but I think even the Mel suggest 4 squares per tomato plant. I have the old version though, maybe he's changed his mind over the years.

    Oh, and don't forget that there are "bush" type cucumbers and melons so they don't have to take over the entire area. They are still a little viney, just not take over the world so.

  • piantini
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Thank you shellva for your .02 cents.

    I have also grew indeterminant for about 3 years right now and yes they do take lots of space. For what i read thru Mel's Website and other blogs you can plant them in one square foot. Of course keeping them in a single vine and with heavy pruning specially after the flowers. I should be able to be sucesfull with 2 sqft.

    Unfortunately i cannot efford to waste 4 sqft per tomato plant, i just dont have enough space and i don't want to end up like last year where all i planted was very limited due to my tomato plants.

    The reason why i am trying the sqft garden method.

    I will give the bush type cucumbers a try. thank you and good luck this year with your garden.

  • standstall
    16 years ago

    I use 4 sqft for my tomatoes and cage them with tapered cages. Then I plant other crops around the out side of the 4 ft square.Keep the suckers cut off.


  • penguingardener
    16 years ago


    Keep in mind your varieties, anticipated size and sun direction.

    The eggplants I grow seem to reach 4' easily and can get rather sizable leaves. My marigolds also reach 4'+.

    My peppers did very well in sq ft. I did carrots 2 seasons ago but not last season, I would probably do 12/sq if I do them again. Because my spring fluctuates greatly, I stagger cilantro and spinach plantings because of bolting issues. Laugh, I'll probably stagger carrots too, I had too many harvested at once for my household (me, DH and a 3 yr old).

    What kind of climate are you in?

    As for feedings...compost at planting and then fish tea roughly 1-2 times a month. This past fall, I put in ground cover that I'll till in come spring.

  • piantini
    Original Author
    16 years ago


    I am really hungry for garden space. I lack of that and something every year gets compromised. Last year i had to settle down with only straberries, tomatoes, peppers, and one eggplant. NOT THIS YEAR!

    I was very excited to find out about square foot gardening. the solution of my problems!. My eggplants also reach 4 feet high, but they are not as full as tomatoes plants. If i cut suckers off the tomato plants and keep them in one or two stems and provide vertical support, even if they grow to an enormeous size i should be ok, at least i think.

    thanks for the Marigold input, i did not know they grow so large, maybe i should find another place for them and not plant them in the new beds.

    In regards the cilantro, i never had much sucess with them, i planted a row of 6 plants, and they only grew about 1' or so. They looked healthy, problably they lacked fertilizer. So i let them die last fall in hope of them regrowing form the seeds they drop.

    To answer your climate question, i am in between zone 6 and 7 (i think, i leave in RI)

    I tried composting this year for the first time, but its a problem here in the city, atracts all kinds of animals to my property. Specially RATS!.

    So i will have to find out where to get organic compost, of at least 3 different sources. where can i get this fish tea?.

    Thanks for answering the amount of feeding time per months, i was really looking foward somebody answering that question.

    P.S. I just planted indoors my fourth of July Tomato seeds. My goal is to mimic in the link below. Everyone here in RI plant tomatoes outside on or after memorial day to be on the save side. Last frost is supoused to be early may but we have seen snow here in May. Weather is crazy in New England. I can problably plant them early may, but i problably have to cover them or provide protection.

    Here is a link that might be useful: First tomato, July 24th!

  • newgardenelf
    16 years ago

    piantini- last year was my first year doing a square foot garden although I have been gardening for many years. Here were my experiments. I did tomatoes in two separate boxes- in one I did 1 plant per square and the other I did one plant per 2 squares because I did not want to spare four squares per plant-- even with pruning it was much too tight- they produced well but did not ripen well. I planted herbs four per square and found that I needed to stay on top of them as them- I think I'll use 2-3 instead. I also planted marigolds in the bed and toward the end of the season they spoiled the taste of the herbs near them- this year I will plant them in pots. My cilantro grew beautifully so I hope you'll have good luck.

    As far as adding compost during the season I didn't feel the need to add anything as everything grew so wonderfully- my soil consisted of peat moss, chicken manure, cow manure fish compost, home compost,and vermiculite.

    My husband laughed at how small the garden was and doubted it would produce much... he was so impressed that we are adding two more boxes this year:) Have fun!!!!

  • serenitygarden
    16 years ago

    link to my garden pics---rigged my lights up for the seed starting running a little lat

    e-but can't wait.

  • serenitygarden
    16 years ago

    hope this is a link and not the picture..

    Here is a link that might be useful: my garden

  • shellva
    16 years ago

    Hi piantini, me again. I was reading through some of the responses and you mentioned strawberries. I don't know what your gardening set up is but strawberry plants can make great edging plants for flowerbeds.

    I didn't want to waste any of my precious vegetable box space for space hog plants such as strawberries. They are a very attractive plants just about all growing season and frame flowering plants very well.

    Just a thought.


  • gardener_mary
    16 years ago

    Have you read Mel's book, the original SFG, not the new. I grow tomatoes 1 to a sq ft twisted up a string and using the trench method from the book. I get great results, I find it very easy. I like it because I have more space to grow more varieties. I'd have a hard time choosing only a few. I love cherry tomatoes and there are so many good ones - haven't found one I don't like.

    If you changed your spacing for tomatoes to 1 sq ft you could still add a couple more and have room to grow your cukes at the back of your garden and also train them up a trellis.

    Mel's book also has a plant section that lists how often to fertilize a number of different vegetables.

    good gardening, Mary

  • piantini
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Thank you all for responding!

    Hi Michelle, about the straberries, i love straberries, they are like tomato plants for me. I can never have to many of them. All my veggies are grown against my back picket wood fence. The area is about 3' wide x half the length of the backyard (about 30'). My straberries are already taking half of the area.

    I really don't see straberries as a waste of space, but i do see your point as for them taking all the space in my garden. Its amazing how they spread!.

    Your input is a great one, i never would have thought of using them as edging, its a great idea!. I am planning to do an edge of flowers between to divide my backyard from the driveway pavement, and that will be a great location for the straberries used as edging. That idea will save me lots of money.


    I unfortunately don't have Mel's book. For some reason I've been avoiding to buy it and most of my square foot garden knowlege comes from websites, and blogs.

    I have been confused about the tomato spacing. Many people say 1 sqft is not enough, but some say is possible for its crowded.

    I do believe that it is possible as long as i keep them pruned and in a single stem. (My mind is really bugging me to try 2 stems for some reason). And i know that it will be crowded. I am trying to provide vertical string support since is flexible. Tie it on a electrical conduit reinforced with rebar on the inside of the conduit post. So they should do find, just crowded. But that means more fertizing regulary and lost of conditioning.

  • gardener_mary
    16 years ago

    Have you checked your local library for the book, the library system in my area (southern Mass) has a good # of each the original and the new. I own a copy of the old but just read the new and did not find it worth buying a copy to keep. I try to try out books that I think I may want to buy, by borrowing them from the library first(whenever possible) before spending money.

    As far as tomatoes, I usually trim to a single stem but once in a while one gets missed until it gets large and I can't make myself cut it out. I just tie in another string, and twist the stem up it just like the other plants. Just need to be carefull about over crowding, tomatoes need good air flow to stay healthy.

    Hope this is helpful, enjoy your garden


  • face
    16 years ago

    Last year I took the plunge and did the SFG thingy. I feel like a dope for not doing this 10 years ago. It worked out so well for me I had to buy a small deep freezer just to store all my extra vegtables.

    I found that I didn't need to add much to the soil at all as the season went on. By not stepping all over the garden, I never packed the soil with my feet, and the root systems really took advantage of it. (I THINK this is why)

    My land is sloped so I just made beds that are 4x16 feet. I'm adding a new one this year. I would do "blocks" instead of seperate beds. A block of peppers would be 16 plants. (4x4) I had no trouble getting the fruit from the middle of the block. A bit larger then what they recomend but it worked for me. A block of 16 eggplant and you'll have a little trouble getting at the center of the blocks. In other words, the shorter the plant, the larger the block can be, or so it seems.

    Tomatos were another thing altogether. One SF was not enough. I like to let them branch, so I did. They grew to about 8' tall (it was unreal) and it turned into a jungle. I could not reach into the center of my plants and pick fruit. I had to crawl on the ground and reach up into the plants to get any. Of course, I couldn't always see that there were ripe ones in the center. Hence, I need to add another bed just so I can give the tomatos the right amount of space.

    I think you'll like this method and after this year, you'll REALLY be looking forward to tweeking your garden.

    By the way, I'm in CT and I plant my tomatos outside around May 15-23.

  • oxonhammer
    16 years ago

    Not sure if this will be of any help, but here's a link to my newly started blog on my SFG. There's a few pictures of the 'box', and a plan of what I'll be doing this year!

    Here is a link that might be useful: My Square Foot Gardening Blog

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