Today we’re going to do something a little bit different on the blog.  Kevin, the tech and marketing guy for the Square Foot Gardening Foundation is going to share some methods for getting even more out of your Square Foot Garden than you already do!  As we know, SFG gives you 100% of the harvest in 20% of the space, but now we’re taking that even further so it gives you over 100% of the harvest in 20% of the space!

Enter Kevin

I’ve been working with the Square Foot Gardening Foundation for almost a year now, and have had the pleasure of learning the Square Foot Method straight from the inventor himself: Mel Bartholomew.  I’ve been gardening for two years, and even run my own hydroponic gardening blog myself.  When working with Mel, it’s obvious that he is always thinking of ways to spread the SFG message or improve the method even just one tiny bit to make it easier, better, and more fun for everyone who already loves Square Foot Gardening, which is what makes it so fun and exciting to work on Square Foot Gardening with him.

While we were working on answering reader comments, emails, and questions on our fall gardening post, we came across a woman who mentioned that many of her friends didn’t transplant their crops at all!  Instead, they just pulled out their lettuce, carrots, and other plants at a young age to have a nice crop of baby vegetables.  I suppose they probably put a few of their plants into their fall Square Foot Garden, but for the most part they snacked on the baby veggies as a fun and easy way to keep producing food in the fall time.

That got me thinking about something that I do in my own Square Foot Garden to increase the amount of food I can harvest by quite a large amount.  I shared it with Mel and he mentioned that he had come up with the same idea, and that it was actually in his original Square Foot Gardening book!  We chatted about it and brainstormed some new ways for you to squeeze more produce out of your SFG.

The Big Idea

As you know, the spacing for anything you can grow in a Square Foot Garden will always be either 1, 4, 9, or 16 plants per square foot.  When you plant the 1 or 4 per square foot plants, there is always a lot of room left in the square that you can take advantage of while the main plants are sprouting and getting to a normal size.  Before I go further, here are some plants that are spaced at either 1 or 4 per square foot:

1 Per Square Foot

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower

4 Per Square Foot

  • Basil
  • Lettuce
  • Swiss Chard

All of these plants leave quite a bit of empty space in the square foot when they are just starting from seed.  To take advantage of this, you can plant more veggies in the same square, provided they follow these requirements:

  • They must be fast growing
  • They must be small

Examples

One Per Square Foot

1x12-RadishesIn this example, we have planted a broccoli in the middle of the square.  However, broccoli takes quite a while to actually mature into a large plant, and in the meantime there is a lot of wasted space.  We can take advantage of that by planting radishes, baby lettuce, or carrots around the edges.  After a month or month and a half, you will be able to pluck 12 more plants from a single square that’s already growing a large head of broccoli!

Four Per Square Foot 

4x9-RadishesHere, we have four lettuce plants as our “main harvest.”  However, lettuce is generally harvested leaf by leaf over the course of its life, so it will never get to be a huge size.  You can take advantage by planting any of the plants mentioned above in a 3×3 matrix: one in the middle, one in each corner, and one in the middle of each side.  Then give it some time and you’ll get 9 more plants from this square as well!

Get Out There and Try It!

We would love to see any pictures you all have of this method, of if you have any creative ways to squeeze out more harvest from a single Square Foot Garden of your own.  Mel has many more tips and tricks stored away, and I’ve tried to get them out of him but he keeps saying, “Just wait…” so I think you’ll have to stay tuned to the blog to see if he’ll release some of his gems!