TBraswell
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Companion Planting in a Square Foot Garden?

Square foot gardening has been a term I've come across a lot since becoming interested in ways to garden efficiently and for good reason. It is a little less strenuous and quite a bit more productive than standard row gardening. There is a way to grow two separate vegetables together, in the same area, using one another for support, though: ie. corn and pole beans growing up the stalk kind of thing.

I was wondering if these types of "plant partnering" relationships are possible in an SFG environment and if so, what some of those relationships might be. I would like to primarily focus on easy to grow veggies since it will be my first attempt, and forewarned is forearmed. Knowledge IS half the battle, after all.
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!potatoes!
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Re: Maximum Yield, Minimum Space (SFG)

this doesn't really answer your companion-planting question, but i'd consider it questionable that square foot gardening is 'less strenuous'. at certain times during the season? i'll buy that. but having plants packed in so that they nearly touch requires a lot of soil preparation and frequently, amendments. without a lot of amendments (and the labor of getting them into the ground) many soils can't support such density.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Maximum Yield, Minimum Space (SFG)

Yeah, the secret to square foot gardening is that they use very enriched soil, like a foot deep of loose, fluffy "Mel's mix" which is essentially a potting mix, like you would use in containers. So getting that is a lot of work to start with.

Companion planting and square foot gardening sort of work in different directions. The idea of the square foot garden is you plant each square very densely. I do a lot of companion planting, which means I plant my crops a little bit looser, with space to put other things around them. You can do both, but it is complicated. The way it would work is instead of a row of carrots, with a row of tomatoes behind them, [the title of one companion planting book is Carrots Love Tomatoes], you have a square of carrots, with a square of tomatoes (i.e. a tomato plant) next to it. Your companion planting will be done by jumbling squares up, not by jumbling things within squares. The reason I say it is more complicated, is you have to figure out what will shade out what. I know the carrots aren't going to shade out the tomatoes behind them, but if you are alternating lots of squares of different stuff, you would have to think that through carefully. Here's a couple samples of square foot, companion planting charts:

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But honestly, if you are a new gardener starting out, without a lot of experience, I think you could quickly find yourself in over your head, trying to figure all this out. I would recommend starting with one or the other. If your space is really limited, start with a traditional SFG and don't worry about companion planting. If you have plenty of room, start with a companion planted garden and don't worry about the squares. After you have a couple years of garden experience under your belt, you can work on putting it all together. First just get real confident with growing things and knowing what everything looks like growing.
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applestar
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Re: Maximum Yield, Minimum Space (SFG)

I think they do this within the square foot gardening concept too, but another "way to grow two separate vegetables together, in the same area" is to succession plant.

Some crop can be planted in one area, grown to maturity and harvested, then the same area can be used to plant same or another crop. You can also stagger the planting area so that one crop could be grown and harvested before a longer maturing larger crop needs to take over the same space.

The key to doing this well is knowing the best times to grow and how long it takes them to grow to harvest. It's also a given that the soil must contain sufficient nutrients to support the heavy draw.

Also, many vining crop can be trellised - grown vertically - to save space. Another concept that I'm just emphasizing.

But all of this mix and match is difficult to do as a beginner -- among the very basic skill needed is identifying the plants as they grow. When I grow something new, I now plant it in a segregated and well defined spot. (Yep I've been there -- "Arrgh is this my such and such or is it a weed?" :lol: )
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Meatburner
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Re: Maximum Yield, Minimum Space (SFG)

Mel Bartholomew has a book, "The all new square foot garden", I think is the name, that is very specific about doing SFG (square foot gardening), you may want to look into. They also have a forum dedicated specifically to that type of gardening. The key is preparing the Mel's Mix soil properly. Good luck.

TBraswell
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Re: Companion Planting in a Square Foot Garden?

Thank you, all of you, for your input. I suppose I am being a little overzealous, but the idea of being able to grow my own food and not worry about what chemicals were put into it by a third party is very exciting to me. What prompted my question was seeing the "Three Sisters" method and wondering where, if at all, it could fit into SFG.

For now, I will take the advice given and just start a few plants to see what looks like what at various stages through to maturity and fruition. BTW, Rainbow, I'm a recent transplant from Florida. Moved up in July of last year. I picked a great *sarcasm* winter to move up, eh?
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Companion Planting in a Square Foot Garden?

Indeed! I'm sure LOTS of people have told you it isn't usually like that here.

I understand. I moved to Ohio from Southern California, many years ago. I have now been here longer than I lived in Calif, but I still miss warmth and sunshine and still am a wimp about cold.
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TBraswell
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Re: Companion Planting in a Square Foot Garden?

What would you say are two easy plants that I could use as confidence boosters?
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Susan W
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Re: Companion Planting in a Square Foot Garden?

What kind of space do you have? This could be a space in the yard, 4 x 8 raised bed, larger, or containers on the deck. If you cook or drink tea a few herbs are a good start, and many can be in containers.

It's fun to think about gardens, read a bunch of stuff, plot out on graph paper. Then the real test is dirt-under-the-nails.
Have fun!
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TBraswell
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Re: Companion Planting in a Square Foot Garden?

I am limited to a container only garden for the time being. I enjoy tea very much, but how difficult would it be to grow enough herbs to constitute a tea mix?

I was hoping to grow a few vegetables and get my hands dirty on that front as well.
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Re: Companion Planting in a Square Foot Garden?

What kind of vegetables do you like?

I grow tomatoes, peppers, kale, cucumber, eggplant, ginger, mint, basil, thyme , sage, rosemary, marjoram, strawberries, green onions, beans, peas, and citrus trees all in pots.

Many of the herbs like basil, coriander (anything in the parsley family)lavender, borage attract beneficial insects

basil and tomato go well together in the garden and on the table but dill and tomato and beans and onions do not.

If you want tea plants, lemon verbena, lemon balm, chammomile, lemon grass and any of the mints make great teas.

Containers need more watering and you need to pay attention to nutrients.

The larger containers are best since they dry out slower and have much more root space.

I use 18 gallon containers for indeterminate tomatoes, beans peas, cucumbers, citrus trees ginger, bay leaf, and cardomom.

Peppers would rather be in the ground but do ok in 1-2 gallon pots

Mints are in 6-14 inch pots, hanging baskets or bowls. They need to be controlled

Lemon grass needs to be potted up frequently

I have grown green onions, stevia, cilantro, basil, sage,thyme, parsley, strawberries in in window boxes. Styrofoam boxes from the fish dealers or restaurants make good deep containers. Choose a deep window box or construct one for yourself. Rain gutters actually made good hanging gardens on walls and fences but they are shallow and need frequent watering.

If you want to companion plant in a pot it can be done

I put herbs that like the same conditions and don't take over in the same pot

Thyme, marjoram, lavender, sage can stay together for a while. Eventually the bigger plants will either need to be pruned or transplanted out. Lavender tall, thyme creeps, marjoram is bushy and can be pruned to stay short. Broadleaf sage is shorter than garden sage.

Plants that need to be alone mints very invasive they take over and have to be divided frequently

Strawberries better in their own space.

Together Basil and tomato in 18 gallon pot with trellis

Cucumber on a trellis with cilantro or parsley 18 gallon pot. Need a lot of water, and the larger pot will dry out slower

Peppers in 1-2 gallon pots. Need to be spaced out more as they grow.

Ginger 5 gallon pot, needs the space for the roots to grow

green onions, cilantro, stevia, basil in a styrofoam fish box ( a deep window box.)

Rosemary, bay leaf, lemon grass, citrus trees each in their own pots. They need to be potted up as they grow.

Lettuce different kinds in a rain gutter or deep window box.

Add some flowers to attract beneficials and a lot of flowers are edible too.

Dwarf French Marigold the gem series attract beneficials and deter nematodes. Flowers are edible but are bitter.

Nasturtiums, pansies,violas, borage, pineapple sage, calendula, scented geraniums, pineapple sage, borage, roselle, daylily, violet, anise hyssop, squash blossoms, Cooking banana hearts, chives flowers,
pea shoots, sweet potato leaves, begonia, and sunflower seeds (mammoth has the largest seeds)

Eat the weeds Dandelion and purslane.

https://www.gardenguides.com/80861-plant ... ainer.html
https://www.slideshare.net/Fawn85w/herb- ... s-15550890
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Companion Planting in a Square Foot Garden?

Re confidence boosting easy plants: for me swiss chard is that. It is similar to spinach and can be used raw or cooked any way that spinach can. But spinach is a cold weather crop that bolts and is done as soon as the weather gets warm. Chard just grows and grows all season from early spring to late fall. It is not prone to diseases, insects rarely bother it and it is super easy.

Tomatoes are a common first garden plant. Start with well started plants from the nursery. Plant it in your garden deeper than it was in the pot and let it go. They are not quite as easy because there are a lot of tomato diseases. But many of those are soil borne. If you mulch your soil well and water only the soil, not the plant (water on the leaves is conducive to fungi and you don't want any soil splashing back on your plant), you should be fine. And they are super productive over a long period of time, from early summer to first frost.

As mentioned, herbs are generally easy and herbs like parsley and basil are good companion crops to tomatoes.
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applestar
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Re: Companion Planting in a Square Foot Garden?

Beans are easy too. Especially if you are not trying to produce a whole bag of them in a small space.

If limited in space but can build a support trellis of some sort, then pole and runner beans will take longer to mature but last longer, often all the way to frost.

Bush beans are more productive with a large surface area and lots of plants that are sown every couple of weeks because they produce only one or two flushes that are harvested all at once.

If you are only getting a little harvest at a time -- put in your salad or soup, as garnish. For making full side dish even in a tiny space -- the trick is to remove stem and strings if any and freeze until you have enough harvested to cook with.

Nasturtiums are fun. They are flowers but you can put the the leaves and flower petals in salads and sandwiches. Peppery in flavor. I admit they are easy to grow sometimes and not so easy sometimes.
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