Friday, May 20, 2011

Square Foot Gardening Template

In the past, I've used various methods for growing different vegetables. I still do. For my lettuce and other tender greens, I prefer to grow them in raised boxed beds. I find that the quail and rabbits make less of a meal from them and they're just easier to manage. And I've used the square-foot method within the boxes as well.



The problem is the lathe boards that criss cross the box to section off various square feet for planting... the boards get in the way.  I find that I'm fighting them and by the end of the summer, I'm ready to rip them off the box (which I did). Last year, I didn't even bother putting them on at all.


Then I was reading another blog, Chiot's Run, and Susy introduced her square foot gardening template that she made. I immediately loved the idea and had my husband make me a set - one for 9 plants per square foot... 



and another with 16 per square foot...


  
Both of these match up with the spacing for lettuce and other items such as radishes using the Square-Foot-Gardening method which is what I use my raised beds for. To plant, I drop a couple of seeds into each square and then cover them with a teaspoon of sand. 




Then I move the template, overlapping so as to keep the spacing correct...



{Sigh...} I love the orderliness of it all.


Because I have plenty of rabbits, quail, cats, and other critters that would like to have breakfast in my garden, I cover it even before it sprouts with bird netting...


This isn't a guarantee that they won't nibble on the new little sprouts, but it seems to be a big deterrent. Last year when I used it I had success and when I didn't use it, I had to replant two or three times. 


I do not use the intensive square foot method on all my vegetables in the garden; the larger plants get plenty of space directly in the ground. Intensive gardening can certainly be done with most vegetables, but I just have a hard time growing larger items like squash, tomatoes, and potatoes in such tight quarters (and I'm growing a lot this year). And now that I'm reading Steve Solomon's book Gardening When It Counts, I'm finding that he's the polar opposite in terms of growing vegetables intensively. Do not despair if your space is limited. The jury is still out and I can guarantee that a tomato grown intensively from your own back yard will be far superior to the one in the grocery store isle!



24 comments:

  1. Nice idea... My raised bed of lettuce has been tasted by birds it seems, but at least they left me some too! :)

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  2. Wow that is a great idea. I just planted a very small veggie garden with some of my favorites. I am hoping that all of my cats and dogs with deter the bunnies. I have never seen any on my property but, I know they are around. All of the veggies I planted seem to be doing ok but, nothing I planted from seed seems to be doing anything. Maybe I should used the sand next year. Thanks for sharing, Kori

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  3. I love it! I think it's a gardener's dream to have a tidy and neat garden and Mother nature laughs at us. What a great way to make it happen!

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  4. I was wondering if you had finished Steve's book and what you thought of it! :) I'd say he's very anti- S.F. gardening.
    Your last satement though is so true, no matter how much space you have to grow it, it will always be better than what you could buy!!

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  5. Hey that is a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. This is our first year to try SFG. Like you, I felt like the lathe was getting in the way, so DH used his masonry line to mark off the area for me. Then we removed it after planting. So far we only have 1 bed that is 3 x 5 with cherry tomatoes, broccoli, leeks, parsley and 3 cabbage, but hubby told me last night to go buy what I need to put in a couple more. I already have more herbs and veggies waiting to be planted and want to put in some raspberries and domestic blackberries and an asparagus bed.

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  7. And your templates - what an amazing idea! I think I'll put this on DH's honey-do list.

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  8. Kori, there could be several reasons why the seeds have not sprouted yet - temperature must be in the right range, you must keep the soil moist, your seed could be old, etc. Try the sand though and see if it helps if you reseed.

    Heather, I read REALLY slow - and usually two or three books at once, so I have a long way to go to finish Gardening When It Counts! But it's very informative!

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  9. Great idea for the templates!
    Haven't given square foot gardening a try yet.
    Right now we just have some lettuce 'scattered' in planters inside and some little seedlings. It's still COLD here!

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  10. mmmmm wild quails! Lucky you! Can you trap them?

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  11. I've been square foot gardening for more than 12 years and love it. I agree about the lath getting in the way though. Your templates are awesome! What a blessing to have a wood-working husband.

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  12. That is excellent..thanks for sharing. I too dislike the use of the brackets, but the templates look much easier...also love the netting for pest detering!

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  13. Very tricky! I was thinking of using a chalk plumb line to make a temporary grid for planting.

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  14. I turn to that book often. I like how he lists vegetables in order of their easiness to grow. If water is a problem, his spacing is probably the way to go, but you are right, he is the polar opposite of intensive gardening. He wouldn't be very proud of me this year. :)

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  15. Amy, this is great stuff. Have you ever considered putting them in in some kind of book?

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  16. Amy, what type of lumber did you use for the raised beds in these pictures? Are they 2x12's? Treated or not? I've been debating on using treated lumber, I don't know if any chemicals might leech into the soil and into the plants...

    Thanks! :-)

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  17. We ditched the lathe and use string. It is replaced each spring when we really want to work the soil. I love the templates! I usually just wing it and my beds are not even close to tidy. We have 10-12 tomato plants and some of them are dying. I'm thinking that they need more room.... I agree, though, the ones we have already harvested are 10 times better than anything from the store!

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  18. Brandy, we used redwood for our 2 x 12 boxes. You can read more at the link below, bu I do not recommend treated wood.

    http://homesteadrevival.blogspot.com/2011/03/benefits-and-construction-of-raised.html

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  19. Super idea thanks forr sharing.

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  20. I've gotten so many good ideas from your blog and here's yet another one! Thanks Amy!

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  21. We all need someone like you to fill us with ideas ~ Debi

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  22. I have read that a very light sprinkle of cayenne pepper will keep many predators away.

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