growing green beans and cucumbers vertically.....SFG...

kawaiineko_gardener(5a)June 18, 2009

I plan to do one 4' x 4' box for square foot gardening. Each box is divided up into 16 squares, and each of these squares is 1' x 1'.

I know that in both books that advocate square foot gardening, the author who wrote them recommends growing

crops that sprawl and/or vine with their growth patterns

vertically. They recommend this to save space, which is the whole concept and philosophy behind square foot gardening.....grow more in less space.

I plan to grow compact varieties of green beans and cucumbers.

The cucumber I have is called space master. Since I plan to grow bush varieties of cucumbers and green beans would

it still be necessary to have them grow vertically?

How many bush green bean plants could I plant in one 1' x 1' square? By this I mean how many could I plant in each 1'x1' square without overcrowding them? I realize that

if you overcrowd plants it stresses the plant out, and makes them more vulnerable disease; on top of that they're more liable to die as well.

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Mel says 9 but I planted 3 in a square, and had several squares next to each other in a row, and they are pretty close! I have planted one square with 9 in them, and they are soooooo crowded. I dont know how much stress it puts on the plants, but I am going to stick with the 3 bush beans in one square. Now pole beans are another story. I did 9 pole bean plants that ran up a trellis and they are doing nicely

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 4:54PM
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The term "bush" cucumber is a misnomer. I have pictures of my "bush" variety on the link below. You'll have to scroll down to find the pictures. Find the post "How's it Growin'."

They've outgrown their box and grown about 4 feet to the front of their box. However, they showed no inclination to climb. I gave them the opportunity and they prefered to sprawl.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Corner Yard.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 6:36PM
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I plant bush cucumbers in pots and tie them to tall stakes (this year I'm tying to wire fence) as they grow. That way they don't overrun the area. Spacemaster gets quite large and will sprawl all over if you don't tie it up.

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 10:05PM
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angela12345(7b NC Mixed-Humid)

The SFG recommendation is 4 pole or 9-16 bush beans per square. My seed packet for bush snap green beans says sow 3" apart then thin to 6" apart. That would come out to 4 per square, right ?

Here is another question ... if the seed packet says harvest in 50 days, does that mean 50 days from the day you seeded ? Or does that mean 7-14 days to germinate and then harvest an additional 50 days after that ?

And one more question ... Are bush beans a harvest once and done crop ? Or do they continue to produce if you keep them harvested ? For 2 people, how many plants should we plant each time if we do succession planting every 2-weeks ?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 2:21AM
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I could be dead wrong on this, but here goes anyway....

Based upon what people have said the general consensus is this. The book on square foot gardening recommends that you plant 9 bush green plants per every 1' x 1' square.

People from past experience have said that you plant that many plants in one 1' x 1' square it's going to overcrowd the plants; for various reasons overcrowding any kind of plant isn't good for it and it's going to be more liable
to die as a result. People have recommended that you plant
4 bush green beans per 1' x 1' square.

Also I do have other questions regarding Mel's recommendations with how many of each type of vegetable
you can plant per square.

For small plants (which is what I plan to grow mostly) you can grow this many of each type of vegetable per square according to the recommendations outlined in his book:

This is the quote regarding how many of each type of plant you can plant per 1' x 1' square:

"Here are some charts to help you plan a garden for one,
two, or four people. You can mix and match crops as you
choose. Each 1' x 1' square will hold any of the following

Small plants:

16 radishes
16 carrots
16 onions
9 spinach
9 beets
4 swiss chard
4 lettuce
4 parsley
4 marigolds

Large Plants:

1 cabbage
1 broccoli
1 cauliflower
1 pepper
1 eggplant

Vertical plants:

1 tomato
2 cucumbers
8 pole beans

Now based upon his recommendations are these reasonable recommendations, or do you think these recommendations
are overkill and/or not feasible.

If it's not feasible to plant that much stuff with any of the vegetables recommended for a 1' x 1' square, then can
somebody please give more realistic recommendations for how much of each type of the above veggies to plant in a 1' x 1' square.

My biggest concern is I'll follow the guidelines, the plants will become overcrowded, and then they'll die. I'm on a limited budget and although it's
feasible for me to do one square foot box, I really can't afford to have failed experiments. It would be a waste of my money, which I have a very limited amount of, and on top of this, as stated previously I'm on a very tight budget.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 3:52PM
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OK This is my opinion.

Small plants:

16 radishes-Yeah but they will probably make small ones
16 carrots-I havent done this yet but I have a piece of newspaper that has many more than 16 on it for a square foot. They are half carrots so I didnt worry too much about it and they are skinny.
16 onions-This is for bunch onions or if you want onion greens. If you are growing the big onions, then you will have to cull these down. Just imagine how many big onions you can get in a square.
9 spinach-Feasible but I havent done it.
9 beets-I dont eat it
4 swiss chard-I dont eat it
4 lettuce-This would make sense since they do get pretty big
4 parsley-dont eat
4 marigolds-very possible seeing the marigolds that you buy in the store but i havent done this

Large Plants:

1 cabbage-pushing it. It will come over the box. if you do this, plant something small beside it like radishes so if it does come over, no big deal.
1 broccoli-same as cabbage
1 cauliflower-same as broccoli/cabbage
1 pepper-These will easily fit in a square foot as long as all peppers look like the bell, jalapeno and cyanne peppers I have. I think I could even fit two in a foot.
1 eggplant-Dont eat it

Vertical plants:

1 tomato-pushes a square foot because it gets pretty bushy.
2 cucumbers-yeah it just climbs
8 pole beans -I did 9 and they work beautifully. I even put some other stuff in the other end of the square.

I hope that helps!


Here is a link that might be useful: Jen's Victory Garden Blog

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 4:02PM
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My opinion, which is purely my opinion, is that all of his recommendations will work. They may not be optimum for every plant and location but they will work. If you are overly concerned, take the more conservative approach and plant less than Mel's recommended amount. You may have a better yield but then again, you will never know. If you have the space, plant one square with the correct spacing from the seed packet and one with Mel's spacing and compare. Even if a plant dies, you didn't waste much money. In the grand scheme of things a pack of seeds isn't very expensive and you are not going to save a lot of money by gardening. For instance, last night my wife and I ate corn on the cob, green beans, and cucumbers and onions from the garden. She said, "Wow, all this came from the garden! We saved a lot of money." In reality that would have only cost about $3 for the amount of veggies we ate. Yes, we can do that a few times over from our small 4x8 plot but even still, it won't come out to any substantial savings and I have probably spent more money on the materials than I will get out of the garden. What I do get is great tasting vegetables that have been grown in good soil without pesticides in my own backyard, or in my case the community garden plot along with a healthy dose of relaxing therapy. If you are overly concerned about plants dying or not thriving, gardening might be a little stressful for you. This is the first year I have had a successful garden. The first two years were o.k. but I hardly "ate" from my garden. It was fun learning what to grow, how they grew, and what to do better next time. I asked the same questions as you did because I was in the same boat. Although I am only three years into the gardening world, I realize gardening is a wonderful learning experience and rewarding past time. Even if a plant or two dies, because they will, you can always replant and learn from your mistakes. I say plant the seeds and see for yourself. Some plants will thrive and some will die and you will know next year what to plant and where. Good luck and good gardening.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 4:30PM
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I grew 9 Blue Lake Bush Beans in 1 square, and, IME, it was perfect. 9 plants don't produce too many beans.

If you really want to maximize your space with green beans, grow POLE beans and provide a trellis or stakes for them to climb up.

Cucumbers also seem to grow great at the recommended 2 per square foot (planted along the center line.) Grow them along the outer squares of your SFG on the North side so that they don't shade the other squares.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 6:18PM
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Well I bought two seed packets yesterday. One is a bush variety of green beans, the other is a variety of carrot called "sweet mini little finger"; according to the packet the mature carrot is 3" long by 1" wide.

Essentially what I'd like to know is how many inches are in one 1' x 1' square foot, which would be 1 of the sixteen
boxes in a 4' x 4' box? I'm really not good at math, and I'm not that familiar with the square foot measurement.

Now each square is 1' x 1'. Somebody said that it's feasible
to grow 9 bush green bean plants per 1' x 1' square. What I don't get is how? According to the seed packet I have, you thin each plant to 8"-12". How is it feasible to plant 9 bush green bean plants in a 1' x 1' square when you have to
thin each plant to 8"-12"? That's three-fourths or all
of the space taken up with one 1' x 1' square, if you use
the 12" spacing per plant.

It seems like it would be more feasible with the carrots; you only space them 1"-2" apart. Still it's a 1' x 1' square so if there are total of 12" in that one 1' x 1' square wouldn't it be 6 carrots per each 1' x 1' square?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 2:58PM
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This year I grew bush snow peas for the first time and although they are a shorter variety I wish I would have used a trellis. They are a floppy, tangled mess. I planted them 9 per square. I've never grown bush beans, but if they are anything like peas, they'll do better with some support. For the fall I am going to put the trellis down the middle of the row and plant 8 per square (4 on each side of the trellis.) That's how I grow pole beans and they do great.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 10:24PM
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Bush beans won't require support.

You can plant 9/sf and they won't die from overcrowding. Mine seem to produce fine but I've never done a comparison planting so I can't say if it's more or less production than giving more space. Before I even had heard of Square Foot Gardening, I planted using wide rows. For plants like bush beans, carrots, radishes etc, you can follow the spacing recommended on the packaging, just use it for both directions (use the plant spacing for the row spacing as well).

Here is a link that might be useful: Tales of a Transplanted Gardener

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 3:20AM
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angela12345(7b NC Mixed-Humid)

Each square is 12" wide, but it is also 12" top to bottom. So, 12 x 12 = 144 square inches in one square foot.

For example, if a seed packet says thin to 6", then it needs to be 6" side to side and top to bottom. That means each seedling takes 6 x 6 = 36 square inches. If you divide 144 / 36 = 4, you come up with 4 per square foot. There is a picture here ... that shows how to plant 4 per square (or 9 per square or 16 per square, etc, etc).

If the carrots, say space 2" apart, then that is 2 x 2 = 4. So 144 / 4 = 36 per square technically. You would be more than safe planting 16 per square of those little carrots. Another way to look at it is if the packet says space 2" apart and that means a row 12" long / 2 = 6 (which is how you came up with 6 above), BUT you would plant 6 rows of 6 in one square foot.

Or, if you are planting 6" apart, then 4 per square is 2 rows of 2. Or 9 per square is 3 rows of 3.

The seed packets will also say how far between each row. Ignore that row spacing all together.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 7:30AM
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I never grow green beans vertically. I plant them 9 to a square foot and they turn out fine, with a very high yield. I think you would only grow pole beans vertically.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 9:33PM
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