We’ve mentioned square foot gardening before on the Vegepod blog. It’s a genius idea invented by Mel Bartholomew that helps reduce tilling and ‘space-waste’ while you plan out your raised garden bed. In this blog, we’ll go over how you can plan out a square foot garden (SFG) in the Vegepod (for small, medium or large pods) and we’ll give some ‘Autumn/Winter’, ‘Spring/Summer’ examples from the expert himself, Angus Stewart.
What Is Square Foot Gardening?
Before we start, a quick refresher - square foot gardening is basically where you divide up your garden bed into squares using string/partitions. From there, you plan out your bed so it’s at its most efficient.
For this blog we’ll assume you’ve done the basics of choosing a good location and fresh soil growing mix to help maximise veggie growth.
Step 1: Brainstorm What Plants You Want
This is the best part. Get out a pen and paper and write down the different veggies you’d like to grow. Go crazy! (Thinking, of course, about what size Vegepod you have and the season.)
Step 2: Positioning
Now it’s time to think about where to position your plants on the grid. For this, there are a few considerations:
Highlight which plants on your list are tallest and which are shortest. The tallest ones will go at the back of your pod, while the smallest are at the front - to allow for maximum sunlight.
Special Growing Needs
Next, think about which plants might have special growing requirements. For example, mint is a spreader so you might want to place it in a corner section to stop it from interrupting other plants. Bigger plants such as melons and pumpkins should go in the centre to account for any unexpected sizing.
It’s also a good idea to think about which plants go well together. Circle good pairings within your list. For example, strawberries grow well with allums (chives, leeks and onions) but shouldn’t be paired with brassicas (e.g. broccoli or cauliflower).
The SCA has a comprehensive guide on companion pairing.
General Plant Spacing
After the steps above, you should have a general idea of which plants will go where in the pod. It’s now time to calculate how many plants you can grow per each square. Look up cheat sheets or the back of a seed pack to see which plants require ‘small’, ‘medium’ or ‘large’ amounts of planting space.
Here’s a rough guide for plant spacing, assuming a 30 X 30cm square:
‘Small’: 7cm apart (or less) = 16 per square (radishes, beets, etc)
‘Medium’: 10cm apart = 9 per square (carrots, onions, etc)
‘Large’: 15cm apart = 4 per square (lettuces, etc)
‘Extra Large’: 30cm apart = 1 per square (cabbage, broccoli, peppers, tomato, etc)
Guide from WellnessMama.com
Step 3: Square Off Your Raised Garden Bed
Once you’ve looked at height, spacing, and pairings, it’s time to section off your Vegepod. We recommend using nylon string tied to bamboo sticks. Bury the sticks into the Pod’s soil to create an easy grid. Alternatively, tie your string around the joinings of the Vegepod when constructing, as pictured above.
That’s it! It’s then just a matter of planting your seeds. But, before you go, here are two sample plans from Angus Stewart himself - one for Autumn/Winter and one for Spring/Summer.
Example Garden Plans With Angus Stewart:
Carrots, silver beet, english spinach, cabbage, mini cauliflower, lettuce, onions, beetroot, kale, celery, leek, garlic, spring onion, chives, asian greens, parsley, parsnip, radish, coriander, oregano
Back row: Kale, celery, mini capsicum, asian greens, chilli, parsley, coriander
Middle row: Carrots, lettuce, beetroot, spring onions, sage
Front row: Radish, lettuce, chives, oregano, coriander
Lettuce, carrots, kale, chilli, chives, mini capsicum, beetroot, celery, asian greens, spring onions, radish, parsley, basil, coriander, sage, oregano
Back row: Celery, silver beet, leek, asian greens, mini cauliflower, cabbage, kale
Middle row: Carrots, english spinach, beetroot, lettuce, onions
Front row: Radish, garlic, parsley, spring onions, chives, parsnip, oregano, coriander
Hi all, Angus here, here are some points to keep in mind with the above plans:
Planting herbs to the edges of the Pod will keep their sideways growth contained.
Cabbage, beetroot and cauliflower grow wide so leave room on either side for them.
Plant carrots to the middle of each Vegepod 'water-well' so that the roots have enough room to grow down. Or you can get seed of round shaped carrots, which will fit anywhere.
As they grow, harvest a few leaves from lettuce, spinach, silver beet, celery, asian greens, chives, spring onions, watercress, instead of harvesting the whole plant. This will also help to keep them to a size that fits with the other plantings.
Happy SFG planting!