This is the last of my progress reports on the square foot garden, which has been causing something of a stir around here. That is not to say we’re not still planting. Squares that are being vacated now will be replanted with garlic for next year. I’ve decided on four cloves per square. You could probably get away with more but I like plump heads of garlic. My thinking is definitely the more space, the bigger the cloves.
Overall the experiment has been a great success. Our best crops have been the carrots and beetroot, we’ve had a steady supply of fine specimens throughout the summer. The last squares of these are still in the ground and will likely be dug up this coming weekend. Still going strong are leeks, chard, kale and turnips. Lots of warming winter fare to look forward to yet!
With the exception of kale and turnips the biggest disappointments were cauliflower and the broccoli raab. We managed something but not a lot! I will try them elsewhere next year.
Disease and pest resistance was excellent in the bed. Partly, of course, because the soil was fresh and there has been no opportunity for the build up of pests and diseases. I think to some degree the mixed planting helped also. I found cabbage fly grubs under just one kale plant, but at least they could not work their way along a row. Or not unless they developed a fondness for fennel and coriander. Similarly, carrots showed no sign of attack and possibly this was because they were neighboured by members of the onion family.
One element of success I hadn’t considered when created the square foot garden was the effect it would have on other people. Everything we do here is fairly visible. During the summer months, at least, hundreds of dog walkers, ramblers and boaters pass by every day. Lots of people stop to chat about the garden and remark upon our progress. Nothing unusual about that, people are always very friendly and talkative (and possibly a little nosey!) around here. What was slightly more unusual was that they returned bringing friends with them specifically to look at the garden!
I was so pleased that the garden was having a positive impact. People told me they were a little nervous about starting veg plots but felt inspired to have a go at square foot gardening. And I think this is because it seems so manageable.
If you are limited by the amount of time you can commit to a plot, this is a great way to do things. Similarly for those who have little space to spare this is something that could be squeezed into lots of unpromising spaces. One lady told me she was going to help her elderly mother-in-law, who had been wanting to continue gardening, make something similar. If you have limited mobility but want to garden, it seems an ideal way go about things. (Just one word of caution though, we found the middle squares tricky to reach so one or two smaller beds wouuld be better in this situation.)
For the average sized family in the UK, this is a great starting point. There is plenty to harvest on a regular basis but no gluts to deal with. Crops are sowed in quick succession, but they are also eaten quickly. It’s a fairly child friendly approach also as it requires only small spurts of concentrated input at a time. They can also have fun drawing up plans and making planting choices.
Before making any autumn plantings I will be replenishing the squares with compost. I’ve got to say I’m really looking forward to planting this little patch up next year.
To see where this all began go to our original post on square foot gardening.