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Grow a Successful Square-foot Garden

Updated on May 12, 2016
elayne001 profile image

Ruth, aka Elayne Kongaika, was raised in the orchard town of Orem, Utah. She married a Polynesian boy and has had amazing travel experiences

Pictures of my square foot garden

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Marigolds help keep the insects away - plant them on the outside of vegetablesLong beans climbing on a stickYellow peppers, tomatoes, peas and green onionsI just love peas fresh out from the garden - yummy!!
Marigolds help keep the insects away - plant them on the outside of vegetables
Marigolds help keep the insects away - plant them on the outside of vegetables
Long beans climbing on a stick
Long beans climbing on a stick
Yellow peppers, tomatoes, peas and green onions
Yellow peppers, tomatoes, peas and green onions
I just love peas fresh out from the garden - yummy!!
I just love peas fresh out from the garden - yummy!!

More money saving ideas

Success in Squares

I have only been experimenting with square foot gardening since December 2008, but my efforts and investment have already paid off. We moved to a townhouse, which has a very small back yard. Prior to that we had a very large yard with many fruit trees and a large garden. Trying to economize was a bit humbling but has been very educational.

My husband put together a square foot garden frame, which was 4 x 4 feet with a wooden frame to divide the 16 evenly spaced squares in which to grow my produce. We originally invested in some perculite to mix with the soil. Also we added some compost from a local farm, which contained scraps from vegetable peelings and such. I got the vegetable seeds from a local shop and made sure they were not expired.

I learned that I needed to read the instructions carefully to make sure they were evenly spaced and at the correct depth. Also some plants do better in direct sun and others do better in shade.

First I planted tomatoes, pak choy, lettuce, yellow peppers, long beans, peas, green onions, carrots, swish chard, corn and cabbage. I was so excited when the first small sprouts came up after about a week. I had to let them grow a bit to distinguish between the actual vegetables and the weeds. I had a watering can that I filled up each night so that it would be warm when I watered my baby plants.

Of all the vegetables I planted, the ones that amazed me most were the tomatoes, swish chard, pak choy and long beans. They seemed to do well without a lot of care other than watering and occasionally spraying for the insects. Since I love making stir fried meat with vegetables, we had some very healthy meals from our garden.

I purchased some insecticide but found that mixing a little dish washing soap (1 oz.) with 6 oz. water and spraying the plants weekly, the pests stayed away as well being much more economical. I also didn't have to worry about being poisoned by the insecticides.

I did plant some marigolds, which insects do not like, and they add a touch of color. I also splurged and bought a small seedling from a local shop of a tomato plant. It only cost about $2.50 and produced well over 10 times that worth of yummy tomatoes. The thing I learned from that is to only plant one large seedling in a box so it won't be crowded as it grows. I also learned to only water the roots since watering the leaves too much promotes diseases and insects.

From this experience I learned that corn needs a much larger place to grow - it will take over and cast too much shade on the other vegetables. We did have a few very delicious sweet ears of corn, but lost some other vegetables like the cabbage because they were shaded too much. Another thing I realized is that I need not be scared to thin out the carrots and green onions otherwise they won't grow too much.

I am really enjoying my square foot garden. I will be experimenting with flowers next and let you know how that goes.


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  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    It is still going, and I have experimented with many different plants and herbs. I continue to bring in produce to eat almost daily. Thanks Ingenira.

  • Ingenira profile image

    Ingenira 7 years ago

    I loved your little garden and read about your efforts and experience in maintaining it as I enjoy gardening myself. Keep us updated on how it goes ! Thanks.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks for your comments sofs. It is great that you can grow herbs in your apartment. Hope you have success with tomatoes.

  • sofs profile image

    sofs 7 years ago

    I enjoyed your hub, I love gardening but as i live in an apartment I have mainly indoor ornamental plants to freshen up the house. I do have some herbs, can't live without the mints and the cilantros. I am now motivated to try some tomatoes! Thank you for sharing!

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks MartyWare. Amazing what you can do in small places. That's great that you keep trying even in pots. Kudos.

  • MartyWare profile image

    MartyWare 7 years ago from New South Wales Australia

    Hi Elayne. This is really cool. I live in an apartment at the moment, so I have to grow everything in pots!

    I do get a few tomatoes and herbs etc!

    Marty Ware

    The SEO DAD & The Creator of The Hubpages Tribe!

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks talitz2550. Glad you liked my hub on square-foot gardening. I appreciate your comments.

  • talitz2550 profile image

    talitz2550 8 years ago from Thailand

    great Hub Elayne001... inspiring. :) Thanks for following too :)

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    I hadn't done square foot gardening it until last year and I love it. Hope you will feel inspired to try it soon Dense. Aloha!

  • Dense profile image

    Dense 8 years ago from somewhere in a concrete jungle, hugging a green plastic tree, and wondering what happened

    I love the thought of having my own container garden or whatever small spaces garden I can get my hands into. Unfortunately, I can never get myself to start. :)

    But I do like peeking at what people do with their garden, thanks for the inspiration. :)

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    I totally agree Kay Creates. I always seem to have enough to make a fresh salad which is great.

  • Kay Creates profile image

    Kay Creates 8 years ago from Ohio

    It's so nice to be able to step out the back door and grab fresh produce.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    I agree DREAM ON. It is amazing eating veggies that you grew in your back yard. I like eating the peas right off the plant. So fresh and yummy. Thanks for commenting.

  • DREAM ON profile image

    DREAM ON 8 years ago

    It is so nice to see successful gardens.There is something about fresh vegetables that can not be explained.mmmmmmmm good.

  • DREAM ON profile image

    DREAM ON 8 years ago

    Love your tips.I will try sqare foot gardening this year.Last year we got too much water and not enough sun.We also had so many japanese beatles everywhere.I will try your solution of dish soap.We tried Seven it works but washes off in the rain.Happy gardening and I can taste your juicy tomatoes every time I think about them.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Yes, we are lucky that way but we also have more bugs so that can be a problem plus toads. This was the first time we had yellow tomatoes and they were really good.

  • sagebrush_mama profile image

    sagebrush_mama 8 years ago from The Shadow of Death Valley...Snow Covered Mountain Views Abound!

    Love those yellow tomatoes! Jealous that you get to garden year round...our green house attempt didn't work out last year, so we've got to re-work that idea!

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks LianaK for your comments. Just picked some cute yellow tomatoes that look like little pears. They are yummy straight from the garden. Aloha!

  • LianaK profile image

    LianaK 8 years ago

    Think I gonna have to give this a try in the spring. Thanks for the great advice. I love fresh vegetables. Would be so great to just go out to the back yard and pick some vegetables.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Good looking garden.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thank you gracenotes - yes, I am still learning what works best or not in my square foot garden. I have two side by side and some things grow better in one than the other - still trying to figure it out since I treat them the same.

  • gracenotes profile image

    gracenotes 8 years ago from North Texas

    I, too, have planted my first SFG. I will have a harvest soon here in Texas.

    The hardest thing is the allocation of space, I think. Some crops like root crops produce only once. Planning is very important. But I think the whole thing is fun.

    Live and learn.

  • johnr54 profile image

    Joanie Ruppel 8 years ago from Texas

    Intensive gardens like square foot gardens are great for small yards. A lot less work to keep weeded and watered as well. Good hub.

  • 2uesday profile image

    2uesday 8 years ago

    Loved this hub -what you describe, is how I feel when I see my vegetable seeds growing, and it is lovely to cook something you grew from seed.

    You did well to get sweetcorn to grow, they are not easy.

    I have an allotment to grow my vegetables. I enjoyed reading this page thank you.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Actually, because I live in Hawaii, we can garden year round. Summer it gets a bit too hot, but it never gets too cold.

  • Debby Bruck profile image

    Debby Bruck 8 years ago

    This is great. Gardening in small spaces. I'm sure you are looking forward to next spring when you can have another go at it.


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