Gardening UPDATE and Square Foot Gardening Reference


Gold and Red Beets, carrots, and zucchini

The garden is starting to give back more everyday.

The lettuce served us for quite a while and now it’s too tough–I should have replanted by now.  The lettuce that remains in the garden is a treat for the chickens.

The carrots have done surprisingly well this year.  I need to double check my seed packet and replant as these are very flavorful–oh so sweet!

I know beets aren’t as popular with some folks, but I love beets.  I grew both golden and red this year, and I’ve already made a baby beet salad.  I favor pickled beets too.  This year I convinced Mark to try the beet greens I had steamed and lightly salt and buttered.  He’s hooked.  Finally.

If you’d like to see SEVERAL photos and more notes on the garden, please click below.  I am creating this for a Square Foot Garden reference I can use next year. 

We ate a few handful of green bush beans, but since they are in my Square Foot Garden, the jury is still out on whether or not they’ll produce as abundantly as last year’s garden.


ABOVE: Bush Green Beans SFG


The squash is growing like crazy.  We’ve had several baby zucchini and yellow squash.  Looks like my acorn and butternut squash are moving right along.  The pumpkins are hanging in there too.  My eggplant has flowered. 


ABOVE: Zucchini SFG



ABOVE: Bed of Squash (Butternut, Acorn, Patty Pan, Zucchini, Summer) , pumpkin, cucumber, and possibly watermelon

The tomatoes are going wild again.  I pruned these harder than I ever have.  I’m curious as to what will come of them.  I made a huge error in the beginning by planting them too close together in the Square Foot Garden.   I have since thinned them, but I know they are still too tight.  I do have fruit…we’ll see what happens.


ABOVE: Mama Mia plum tomatoes

The artichiokes have been an education.  First of all, I didn’t know they attract black aphids, followed by ants who milk the aphids–yes, gross.  I tried sprinkling the plant with cinnamon to get rid of the ants.  It was a waste of cinnamon.  I have read up on the plant and many people talk about simply leaving them alone.  I want my food to be organic, so I’m not messing with them.  Next year they’ll be moved to their own spot–out of the raised garden.


ABOVE: Artichoke SFG

We’ve had a chilly summer mixed in with a stretches of heat wave.  It can’t be good for the peppers.  They look stunted to me, but I’m leaving them alone and watching.  This jalapeno is really trying.


ABOVE: Jalapeno SFG

The lipstick peppers refuse to turn red and also seem stunted.  I’m also watching my thai, green, and habanero chiles.  I think it’s safe to say I will not see a habanero this year.


ABOVE: Lipstick peppers SFG

Kale and Arugula are on track. 


ABOVE: Kale, Scallions, and squash



 ABOVE: Arugula (SFG)

I have so much more, but I’ll stop with a list of what I can remember:

Basil is out of control.  Brussel Sprouts are still trying. 

Several herbs of which I’m using as often as possible!  Basil, rosemary, Greek oregano, thyme–the usuals are easy to cook with.  I have tons of mint and I really need to do something with it rather than watch it grow.  I’ve heard that freezing fresh herbs in little bundles is like using fresh rather than dried, so I’m going to try that this year.

My strawberries produced a few handfuls this year, and I hope next year they’ll be overgrown. 

I’m still working on my raspberry bed–which looks like a mess right now, but I know by next year I’ll have enough to bake and hopefully can some freezer jam.

Blackberries are almost ready–yay!

Tomatillo plant is going completely jungle on me, but it’s covered with flowers and little teeny tomatillos.  My son’s plant is producing larger fruit with less jungle effect.  Who knows why?

I’m sure I’m leaving something out, but this should serve as a reference for myself and hopefully other people working with SFG.  I tend to panic about certain plants not producing fast enough.


SFG CarrotSo, it IS possible to grow carrots in the SFG! SFG Front Garden


Brussel Sprouts


Basil Starts


Back Garden


SFG Front Garden (JULY 2008)


Squash Bed JULY 2008


I was really excited this past spring about trying square foot gardening.  I suppose I can’t really call it “Square Foot Gardening” since I didn’t use the method of the soil recommended by the book.   Instead I used a mixture from Skye Nursery (which I found to be relatively similar) and loads of chicken manure.  I went ahead and planted the veggies by the book.  SO, when I say SFG,  I’m referring to planting close together, and I’m sure the author and several other SFG will say it’s not the real deal.  To them I say, “Yep, you’re right.” 🙂

I have to admit, I was a bit worried about planting vegetables so close together. 

So far, my results have been excellent, but I have had some challenges in certain areas and I’ve made a few mistakes.

The most important thing I learned in SFG is how to use a cloche!  Oh my gosh, our Pacific Northwest gardens truly need this early boost.  I used it on my in ground garden (not a SFG) where I plant loads of squash , and they really shot up fast.  I covered them until the seeds sprouted a second set of leaves, and even at that point, I covered them every night. 

This is also the first year I pruned back my tomatoes –hard.  I’ve struggled with tomatoes in the NW since I moved here twenty years ago (I had planted gardens back east that grew amazing tomatoes), I decided to experiment and risk the possibility of losing a few.  Not only did I remove the little suckers, but I pruned up from the bottom to the first set of leaves below the first set of flowers.  As I said earlier, I made a few mistakes with the SFG technique, and the biggest mistake was with my tomato starts.  I planted them in one square foot each!  I don’t know how I missed the mark on that one, but I quickly remedied it as soon as I realized I had screwed up.  I removed three tomatoes and planted them in large peat pots.  It was hard on them because they had already flowered, so after a week or so of shock (I thought they were dead), they bounced back and now have green tomatoes on two out of three.  I removed a few more and planted them in my back garden, which was originally intended for cool vegetable plants only.  It has now become the home to several misplaced hot weather plants: squash, cukes, eggplant, tomatillo, and basil.  So much for that plan 🙂

I’m allowing the tomato plants in my backyard garden to go wild (still pruning the suckers) in order to have a comparison to the front garden tomatoes.  I’d like to see if planting close together and hard pruning will have much of an effect.

After all of the transplanting I still have some concerns about the tomatoes.  Mostly, the weather seems to be working against me.   Temperature highs have been in the upper 60s which doesn’t serve the tomatoes well.  I do have green tomatoes, so we’ll see where they end up in another month.

I had a very difficult time finding websites that documented their Square Foot gardens from beggining to end, so I plan on making a slide show when the last of my garden produces.  Hopefully others can learn from my mistakes and see the positive results of SFG as well.


I was skeptical.  16 carrots planted in one square foot space and ?  Well, hell to the yes!  These are sweet and succulent.  As a matter of fact, I’m eating them raw, and next year, I plant more.


6 thoughts on “Gardening UPDATE and Square Foot Gardening Reference

  1. Oh my gosh A, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this blog. It’s late right now and I have to get to bed but I’ll be back tomorrow to read this and the pesto blog.

    I am so excited as the PB and I are really interested in gardening. See you tomorrow 🙂

  2. Have you heard of Square Foot Gardening? I love how it allows you to grow lots of veggies or flowers in a smaller area. More food–yay! Although, it does have its downside.

    The cloche is SO important for the areas we live in!

  3. As always you are a wealth of information 🙂 Your graden has done so well, Congrats!
    For your carrots did you plant them in only 6-8inches of soil or did you just use the SFG method for those in the ground? I didn’t have luck with carrots, they were very thin.

  4. You know I do containers on the back patio. I have Greek Basil this year–it is seriously fragrant and lush. It has little miniature leaves but they pack a punch. The wierd thing is I bought an odd looking hanging tomato basket at that little veggie stand on Hwy 99 (across from Millers Rentall?) And I have a bumper crop of sweet, mini cherry toms already! Each year I struggle with tomatoes and get maybe half a dozen total! I love your SFG and may mooch chickenshit from you next year–lol!

  5. After reading this I’m even more excited about next summer! I LOVE beets and beet greens too. And wow! I am so impressed with everything you’ve done over the past few years. If you don’t mind, I will probably refer back to this as we continue planning our garden.

    For this year Our herbs have grown like mad and our tomatoes are doing great so far. I really want to grow pickling cucumbers as I love dill pickles. This year I’m buying them to can.

  6. Patricia: I planted in soil 7-8″ deep. The depth is actually 8.5″. A few of my carrots bent at the root, but they still filled out. The seeds I used are Ed Hume Long Nantes Type Carrots. I highly recommend the Nantes because they’re so sweet. Oh, and kept them nice and moist. I had horrible luck last year and zero carrots 😦 Good luck!

    MLP: I just love the Greek Oregano and in some areas it’s hard to find. We’re lucky here. I can’t believe your cherry tomatoes are ready…mine are on their way, but no red yet. I have plenty of chicken shit! 🙂

    Maven: You guys could do great gardens where you’re at! I find the cool weather plants do very well here too. My cucumbers are teeny tiny right now, but last year they took off and I had loads of cukes. If they don’t produce enough, I’ll be buying to can too.

    I am really running a test on tomatoes this year. I have some in the SFG, a few going wild in back, and 3 huge planters. What kind are you growing? I have Early Girl, Mama Mias, Juliets, Sweet 100s, and some other types I can’t recall 🙂

    I’ll keep updating too.

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