Seeding a SFG - how many?

grassman84(MA)August 12, 2008

I'm just constructing my first garden for planting next spring and have been researching different methods and all that so that I get the most out of the experience. I came across the SFG idea and it seems to make a lot of sense in terms of maximizing yield per space used. I'll be reading up some more about it, so maybe I'll find the answer to my question; but after reading the FAQ here I was wondering: are the plant spacings referring to number of seeds planted? For instance, zucchini is 1/sqft. If I want 4 plants do I really only plant 4 seeds? Or do you plant more than that and thin it down depending on plant health? Am I making sense?

Also, if there are any English majors out there I would be curious to see if my sentence above containing a comma, semi-colon and colon is grammatically correct? (I'll be reading up some more about it, so maybe I'll find the answer to my question; but after reading the FAQ here I was wondering: are the plant spacings referring to number of seeds planted?)

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socalgirl-10

I only double the seeds so if you want 4 zucchini plants, I would plant 8 seeds, two per hole and then thin down to one. Does that make sense? As far as your english skills, looked good to me.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 12:15PM
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carolynp(z7)

In the SFG book, one of the things that Bartholomew says made him look at alternatives to row gardening was that seed packets will tell you to plant several seeds and then thin them back. Since seeds typically have a greater than 85% germination rate, doesn't it seem irrational to plant alot of seeds and then pull the ones that are crowded? So, Bartholomew recommends you plant one or two seeds within the sfg spacing. That is to say, if the packet says plant one per 12", then you plant two (or maybe three seeds, if you are worried) in the center of a single square foot and clip the extra growth with scissors. So, plant spacing deals with distance between plants while number of seeds planted refers to the number of seeds you plant to get a seedling. In your case scenario of squash, you would plant two seeds in a single square foot, and cut back one for every plant you want. Thus, if you have a 4x4 bed, you would take four square feet and pant a single plant per square foot.
Zucchini is NOT one per square foot.
I have noticed that we have abandoned grammar on the web, and I think that's a good thing. We have brought folks to the table who's ideas would otherwise have been ignored and we have all benefitted for it. You have incorrectly used your semicolon. You do use a semicolon to connect complete sentences, but not if you use a conjunction. It can also be used in a list to separate individual items. Sorry, that's all I can remember from the torture I called advanced English in college. Sorry for the book report. Hope this helped.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 12:23PM
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grassman84(MA)

Ok, that helps. I should probably save my questions until I read more about sfg, because I'm sure it has all been covered. But the next thing that comes to mind is what to do with the left over seeds? I've haven't yet bought any veggie seeds but I imagine the packet will contain many more then I'll need for planting. Can you freeze them and keep them for future years?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 1:42PM
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angelady777 (was angelady on GW) - Zone 6(6)

Great answer, Carolyn. I agree on the punctuation being off, but who cares? You did pretty good in my opinion.

As for how many to plant, I was having a real issue with this. Maybe it's the mother hen in me, but I just couldn't see killing those innocent plants just because I planted too many.

At first, I transplanted a whole mess of plants because way too many came up. It really surprised me how big the root system was on many of them when they barely had come up out of the ground. I could see this wasn't going to be a long term solution. What I'm doing now is using the baggie method to germinate. This way I know exactly how many viable plants I have, and I only plant those.

I'm not sure if this was at all what you were looking for in a reply, but it's the only way for me now that I've tried planting two per hole. I just can't kill my little baby plants just because they're too close.

~Angela

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 1:46PM
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anniesgranny(6b)

LOL, I have been considering stirring my small seeds into a partial (very small) batch of Jello, letting it get semi-set and putting a spoonful into each hole! Not into the HOT Jello, of course. I don't know why it wouldn't work, the Jello would melt and be absorbed into the ground as soon as it got warm.

I bought very few seeds this year. I had a whole bunch left from my last garden, which was planted in 2003! They had been left in their packets, placed in a plastic bag and tacked to the bulletin board in the laundry room for nearly five years, and they all germinated as though they were fresh. In fact, the bush beans showed better germination than the one packet of Burpee seeds I bought fresh this year!

Granny

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

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 3:57PM
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grassman84(MA)

Angela - is the baggie method similar to germinating the seed in a damp paper towel? That makes a lot of sense. Just germinate what you need, and if it doesnt sprout just start a new one.

Granny - that's good to know. While fairly inexpensive, I don't care to buy new packets of every veggie each year just to throw out 90% of the seed. So if they can be stored my initial purchase should last a few years.

And of course, I've been reading more and have seen this addressed on Mel's website. See, always research before asking questions.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 4:41PM
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medontdo(8)

also you can go to the exchange side (http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/exseed/ )and trade your seeds for some of someone else's of say flowers or something. but if you do, look them up in the rate and review (http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/raterev/) and make sure they are good!! i aquired tons of seeds last year for practically nothing, sometimes just stamps!! so that was awesome!! ~Medo

p.s. if you freeze them make sure they're in a zip lock baggie, sorry, its the mommie in me!! LOL **big smile** LOL

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 6:28PM
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carolynp(z7)

I have to chime in and say that this is my first real sfg, but I use old seeds. Most of my seeds were from my folks old stuff and I found some at garage sales (yep, true story) and I have a nearly 95% germination rate. Might be beginner's luck, but I can live with that. I didn't have much left in the garden budget after the wood and soil purchases, lol.
A word about the jello? Someone on the tomato forum suggested planting seeds with a tsp of sugar to have sweeter tomatoes. My dad is an old farm boy, so I asked him what he thought and he laughed for a bit and asked me how I felt about ants taking off with my seeds. I abandoned that idea. Maybe sugarless jello would work? Or the plain stuff? It sounds like a brilliant idea to me in that you could be pretty certain about how many seeds. I found that difficult with the lettuce seeds (dang, they're like salt crystals!).

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 7:50PM
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anniesgranny(6b)

carolynp, we could try it with plain geletin. Let it congeal until syrupy, stir in some seeds and let it soft set. I have heard of people using wallpaper paste, but that sounds rather messy. I've also wondered about thinned down Elmer's school glue (or maybe a water soluble glue stick) on a strip of easily disolvable paper...maybe cheap toilet tissue? There has to be a way to get away from all the thinning!

I plant some of the small seeds, like carrots, by putting them in a salt shaker and shaking them over the square. Then, when they just get their first feathery foliage, I take a small (child's toy) rake, rake over the area once and it thins the square just right for a first thinning. It's still a waste of seed.

Granny

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

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 10:12PM
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angelady777 (was angelady on GW) - Zone 6(6)

Grassman - Yes, the baggie method is using either paper towels or coffee filters usually. Some people just use a soilless mix in the bag. I cover a moist coffee filter with seeds sprinkled in it with another moist coffee filter. I fold it slightly to fit in the baggie, then I spray it with a hydrogen peroxide and water mixture: 1 part HP to 20 parts water. Next, I tape it to the inside of one of my windows and spray it every 3 days until it germinates.

I'm also enjoying all the other helpful responses. Thanks everyone. This is a great thread!

~Angela

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 11:53PM
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grassman84(MA)

I don't think I follow the Jello use. What is that supposed to do?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 8:59AM
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grassman84(MA)

and I was checking out the seed exchange the other day - confusing. You really seem to need to know what you're looking for, and I dont!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 9:46AM
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anniesgranny(6b)

grassman84, the Jello thing was just a silly response to the problem of planting tiny seeds without wasting so many of them. It has been done with wallpaper paste and purchased seed strips, but I was trying to figure out a cheaper and less messy way to do it, so I thought maybe stirring the seeds up in a small amount of gelatin, and letting it set until it was just syrupy in texture, one could then spoon out a dab into each planting hole and save a whole lot of seeds while cutting back on all the thinning.

Now I'm thinking I'll try pouring the entire mess into an empty salad dressing bottle...one of those with the squirt-hole in the top....and just squirt it into the row. Now, the problem with this is that it's too late for me to try it this year, and with my memory, I'll completely forget about it by next year!

This might also work with a bit of cornstarch thickened water....hmmm, the wheels just keep turning! LOL

Granny

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

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 11:01AM
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fishymamas(z9, So. CA)

For tiny seeds, I use tweezers and place them 1 at a time.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 2:52PM
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grassman84(MA)

Well, this question will give you an idea of how new I truly am to gardening, but how small are these pesky seeds? The only thing I've planted from seed are sunflowers, and those seeds were plenty big to easily pick out one at a time. Oh, and grass seed, but even that is not too small. But now were talking tweezer small? Much to learn.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 4:25PM
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anniesgranny(6b)

grassman84, This might give you some perspective of the sizes we are talking about. The seed at the top (to the right of the tea bag)is a lettuce seed, and the bottom one is a carrot seed.

Granny

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

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 5:14PM
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