THANK YOU TO ALL WHO GREW FOR THEIR NEIGHBOR!
Battling harmful insects, rabbits,
deer and plant disease can overwhelm.
When to plant? What to plant?
How much to water? When to amend soil?
Having shared in your garden trials,
In The Garden
is devoted to passing along gardening information
GFYN growers found helpful
This past year was an incredible learning experience!
To view printable SFG planting guide
please click the button below:
Square Foot Gardening In A Nutshell
The Square Foot Garden Method was founded by Mel Bartholomew, a retired engineer who took up hobby gardening and experimented with ways to minimize the space and time required of row gardening.
SFG utilizes 4 main components:
raised garden bed,
SFG soil blend
4x4 Raised Cedar Garden Box
The raised bed is an easy solution for poor soil. Traditionally, gardeners may spend years amending soil, but because a raised bed isn’t dependent on native soil, gardeners can plant their first season in an optimal growing medium.
The raised bed installs quickly and can be used in small or untraditional locations, like on blacktop or sidewalks.
Gardens can be fitted with a plywood bottom and raised on legs to waist level for easy access for use on decks and patios.
The 4 x 4 size is easily maintained from the perimeter, so no garden space is wasted with walkways.
While small, the SFG maximizes space through vertical gardening by cultivating vegetables that grow upwards with the use of supports. Tomatoes, peas, cucumbers and beans are great vertical growers.
Gardeners also maximize yield through succession gardening by planting cool weather crops in spring, followed by hot summer crops, then another cool fall crop. Spring and fall crops include peas, broccoli, cabbage, beets, lettuce and carrots while summer crops are veggies like tomatoes, squash, peppers, herbs, cucumbers and corn. Three harvests, from one 4 x 4 plot!
Square Foot Garden Soil
A mix of equal parts vermiculite, compost and peat, SFG Soil is a complete nutrient blend for most vegetables. It retains water yet provides optimal drainage and provides air spaces for developing roots.
Mixed organic compost provides a comprehensive nutrient blend which slowly releases nitrogen as it breaks down, minimizing nutrient runoff.
Vermiculite, a silicate mineral, increases in size as it takes up water, slowly releasing it to plants, reducing watering needs.
Peat, with its loose, fluffy composition, keeps soil from compacting, and provides airspace for developing roots to flourish.
Over-watering isn’t an issue, as SFG Soil drains ideally.
SFG Soil requires only a few additional shovels of mixed organic compost after harvest to keep soil a balanced growing medium.
The SFG Method uses weed mat beneath gardens between the ground (or surface) and garden soil. This in combination with weed seed free SFG soil greatly reduce garden weeds.
The SFG Foundation also recommends laying a thin layer of pine much or crushed leaf mulch once you’ve planted your garden to further help with weed control and minimize moisture loss.
Square Foot Garden Grid
The SFG grid is an essential component of a square foot garden.
Mel Bartholomew found that by dividing a garden into its square foot sections
(16 squares in our 4ft x 4ft garden box) and planting different crops in sections, he was able to produce a high yielding, low maintenance garden with a variety of produce with a staggered yield.
Problems such as whole crop loss due to crop specific insects were negated and plants thrived when planted in companion with other types of plants. He also found that he could plant shade lovers behind tall climbing plants to create optimal light conditions for many varieties of plants.
Tall growers like corn can be planted in squares neighboring climbing plants like beans as natural trellises.
When you plan your garden layout, think about how much sun various parts of your garden will get, how tall your plants will grow, and what you’ll enjoy eating in the months to come.
Bartholomew recommends including vibrant flowering plants like marigolds or nasturtium which attract beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies and have other effects like deter pests and improve soil.
Creating a shallow water feature near your garden may also attract beneficial insects.
Whether planting from seed or started plants, when planning your garden layout consider plant temperature/weather needs, sun requirements and what you’ll enjoy eating and sharing with your neighbors throughout the season!
How to Install Your Square Foot Garden
1 Pick a sun-filled location close to your home.
2 Lay weed mat on ground/surface where you’ll install your garden
3 Assemble Garden Box
4 Set the garden frame over the perimeter of the weed mat
5 Fill garden box with SFG Soil
6 Set SFG Grid over the top of your Garden and attach with screws
7 Plant Garden according to SFG Guides
Grow For Your Neighbor supports natural vegetable gardening methods
THE GUIDE BELOW INDICATES THE NUMBER OF PLANTS
THAT CAN BE PLANTED IN ONE SQUARE FOOT
printable a seasonal SFG Foundation Planting Guide
(image labeled for reuse, found at:http://homes-kid.com/square-foot-vegetable-garden-layout.html)
SQUARE FOOT GARDEN
(image labeled for reuse)
GARDENS WERE DISTRIBUTED
TO AREA FAMILIES, SCHOOLS, SHELTERS
AND SALEM CHURCH LIBRARY
AMEND SOIL BY USING ORGANIC COMPOST BLENDS
Start each growing season by enriching soil with nutrient rich
organic compost blends by mixing:
mushroom compost, leaf compost, fine wood mulch,
and mixed vegetable matter compost into garden
for comprehensive plant nutrition.
The SFG Foundation recommends adding 2 cubic feet
of compost to each 4x4 garden prior to planting each new crop.
-increase this amount if soil performed poorly the previous season SFG Soil should last up to ten years with regular addition of compost.
Though many garden soils contain
a balanced blend of plant nutrition, some plants benefit
from the addition of extra nutrients
-When planting tomatoes, place in prepared hole
crushed egg shells to provide calcium
and banana peel for potassium before setting plant.
-A calcium pill supplement inserted into soil
alongside plants will also provide needed calcium.
-Watering tomatoes periodically with 1 tablespoon epsom salt
mixed in 1 gallon water will provide extra magnesium.
-Plant tomatoes deeply in soil, trenching the stem with larger plants.
Mulching gardens with crushed oyster shell
deters slugs and adds calcium as it breaks down
on planting day
GFYN home garden
Some of the beautiful produce grown by local middle school students
Gardening Resources and Links
The Square Foot Gardening Foundation
Mel Bartholomew.com SFG Founder
Mother Earth News.com
One Hundred Dollars A Month by Mavis Butterfield
Kid Friendly Recipes and Cooking Classes
Visit DoctorYum.com for great kid tested recipes and to learn about local pediatrician Dr. Nimali Fernando / AKA Doctor Yum's cooking and tasting classes for kids ages 3 to teen
TO AMEND LAST YEAR'S GARDEN SOIL, THE SFG FOUNDATION
RECOMMENDS ADDING TWO CUBIC FEET MIXED ORGANIC COMPOST PER 4X4 GARDEN BOX
in bags ($3 per cubic foot) or by the yard ($30 per yard)
While many gardens flourished,
some gardeners struggled.
Below is a list of planting and soil amendment tips
seasoned gardeners shared.