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advice for newbie

Posted by aling Indiana 5 (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 6, 08 at 20:06

Hello all! I am new to gardening this year and planted my first vegetable garden this past spring. I made an 8x4 raised bed and not following the directions that came on the seed packets or with the seedlings I made up my own rules and crammed A LOT into this small space. I did not know about square foot gardening but I am now finding that I 'kinda' followed the SFG guidelines (still crammed too much in). I am now working on my fall garden and want to clarify a few spacing rules before I ruin my yields again....

I have some Broc, Caul,(6 each) that according to the guidelines I am to plant 1/sf correct??

I have bush bean seeds that I need to get in the ground ASAP but am VERY reluctant to plant 9/sf as I read. Is this really correct? That seems like WAY too many. In my spring garden I did one seed every 4 inches (four ft long row) and HAD to pull up every other one because it was too crowded.

I have romaine and bibb leaf lettuce seeds... 1/sf?

I have 6 brussel sprout seedlings... couldn't find the spacing on SFG guidelines... help!

I also have seeds for the following if I have room.
melting sugar peas
sugar snap peas
bush cucumber

please advise me as to how to plan and space so that my yields won't suffer as they did this summer!

my bed is again 8x4.

I REALLY wish I would have found this forum earlier, I have been listing all of my questions and comments on the home page gardening forum.... better late than never!

thanks in advance for all your help!


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: advice for newbie

I can tell you that my pole beans do fine at 9/ft. I have them trellised, is that what you're doing? I had my romaine in at 4/ft and they got to be 22" tall with no problems. My peas are 9/ft and they produced through mid June. My cucumbers are 1/ft and producing fine. The only things I will dedicate more space than the book recommends are cabbage (I'm not certain I will grow these again. Too much space for too little yield) and tomatoes. I will double up on the tomatoes next year and probably put cabbages in their own beds. Oh, and I might let zucchini sprawl, which is tons of space. I haven't grown any of the other things you listed. Does that help at all?

Carolyn P

RE: advice for newbie

Bush cucumber are two per square, these work out well, but I prefer the vining type on a trellis. Brussell sprouts are 1 per square. Peas are the same as beans, 8-9 per square, believe it or not it works fantastic. Lettuce is 4 per square, and broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are one per square foot. Do not be afraid, you will plant it all out and it will grow great. Those that do not you will learn not to do next time, I think all about the sizes and stuff depends on variety and conditions.

RE: advice for newbie

Great answers for you there above. I just want to add that bush variety plants generally take up more ground space than the same vegetable in pole variety or vining (because they grow up a trellis). I do not know how much more space you need for them as I grow the vining and pole varieties rather than bush.

As for the lettuce. I saw a post here (that I linked to below), where the person planted a Bunch in a small area and as they grew, he would cut them and let them grow back, so they didn't get to full grown. This sounds like a great idea, so that is what I just did, too. I will have baby greens for a long time this way. I just need to know how much I can cut off and them still grow back, but I am willing to experiment to find out. LOL


RE: advice for newbie

  • Posted by aling Indiana zone 5a (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 7, 08 at 19:09

Thanks for the advice and reassurance. I am going to go finish planting now! I still can't believe that 9 bush bean plants (does it matter which variety?) will grow in a 1 square foot block... but I am going to try anyway! I did bush and pole beans in my spring garden, but found the taste and texture of the bush beans to be much better. I also had regular vining cucumbers but could not find any seedlings or seeds this time of year here, only the bush variety... has anyone tried these? the packet said to plant in late july in my zone, hope 1 week past won't matter so much! Oh, the squash seeds I have are 'Cocozelle'... Anyone ever grow this? I may pass on this to save room for the other veggies.
I do have another question though... since I just happened to discover the art of square foot gardening, I did not use 'mel's mix'. Is this really as crucial a step as it sounds? I know I am new at gardening period, but I would think as long as you use some type of good fertile soil then everything would be just fine... why does it matter if you are doing it per square foot or per row? any thoughts or comments?

Thanks again! I am sure I will have many more questions for all of you green thumbing experts!


RE: advice for newbie

I'm certainly no expert here (at least not yet), but I've had terrific results using Mel's Mix so far. It was a pain to go to several different stores to get all the ingredients, but it is paying off.

I do have to warn you on this question, though, that you'll get some pretty mixed reviews and sometimes some heated replies on this topic. Hopefully this won't happen to this thread...

I would never say that Mel's Mix is the only thing that will work well because that just isn't so. I do believe it is one of the easiest and healthiest mixes. I am very new to gardening and don't want to have to measure for this and that to make my soil perfect, so doing it this way is working out for me. If you have already started with something else, then I wouldn't pull it all up and throw it away, but if I could, I would mix it with the ingredients in Mel's Mix for all the great qualities you'll get.


RE: advice for newbie

I lent my copy of SFG to my brother. I don't think I would plant 9 BUSH beans in a square -- the nine/per is, if I remember correctly, for POLE beans.

On the seed packet, it should tell you how far apart you would want them if they were in rows....usually it goes something like "plant every 2", then thin to one every 4 inches." You turn that into SFG by planting the seeds at the "thin to" measurement, just extrapolating to a square instead of a line/row.

Using totally made up numbers:
bean packet says plant every 3", then thin to one every 6"
In SFG, you'd plant one every 6" or so that each plant is 6" from the other plants.
In my rough example, you'd have 4 BUSH bean plants per square.

Someone else may be able to provide a better translation/explanation for you. I mostly wanted to comment because of the difference between pole beans and bush beans.

RE: advice for newbie

I've had no problems with planting bush beans 9/sf. That is if all would germinate and not get eaten.

And for pole beans it's 8/sf, or a row of 4 on either side of the trellis.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sinfonian's garden adventure!

RE: advice for newbie

  • Posted by aling Indiana 5 (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 8, 08 at 17:32

See that is what I thought too, that the spacing had to be for pole beans, not bush. That is why I asked, but I found a SFG spacing table on garden web... here is the link:
i hope that it is listed correctly, and from what i am reading on this and other threads it seams to be working for others... I am just wondering if even though they are growing and producing at 9/sf, if they would be more plentiful and produce more if spaced out more? Oh well, too late... I planted last night. I did however only plant 6 in two of the 6 squares, just to compare the difference.

Awesome site! I am not a believer that you are just starting out in gardening though! your beds look absolutely great! I will be checking in on you every day now for your progress!

I do have a few more questions though...

-I need to know if I need to trellis BOTH sides of the square foot blocks that I am growing the peas in... I have them in a row on the end of the bed where there is a fence (chicken wire)... do I need to put something on the other side of the row or will they find chicken wire on the other side?

-My cucumbers are not looking so hot... some of you may have read this question on another forum, but I did not get much of a response... The main vines (out from the ground) are not green... they are a brownish-green color (looks like a dried out stick) and the leaves are drying out and dying from the bottom of the plant and moving up towards the top. The tops of the plants look great (as of now)... green, healthy and still flowering and producing. I am just worried that something is SLOWLY (this has been going on for a while) killing them. Please note that I previously had zukes and yellow squash in this same bed and they QUICKLY died right after flowering. The symptoms were completely different though. Everyone tells me it was probably the SVB that took those, however I am still not 100% sure. Also please remember that I WAY over crowded this bed. I have checked the leaves, no insect damage or eggs.... Any ideas?


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