Planting your square foot garden

Now that you’ve built a Square Foot Garden, you get to the fun part–planting! These same strategies can be done with raised bed or traditional in-ground row gardens!

First, know your planting zone.

Here in North Carolina, I am in zone 7b. Most seed companies like this one will let you type in your zip code and will show you what things can be planted right now.

I LOVE this guide for the Piedmont area of NC. It has a chart that tells you which varieties are best, when to plant, and even how far apart to put the plants if you choose to do traditional row gardening. I keep one printed out on my fridge for easy reference!

If you are Square Foot Gardening, know how many plants you can put per square foot.

This is where having a grid on your box is really handy! You can really visualize your planting! The Square Foot Gardening book by Mel Bartholomew has so much great information for you and tells you exactly how many plants you can put per square foot. For example, a pepper or tomato plant needs the entire square foot for itself, but you can put 9 bush green bean seeds per square foot! A Google search will also help you figure out how many to put in each square foot.

Make sure your plants are compatible! Some plants may attract pests that can hurt a neighbor plant, so make sure they can be beside one another. There are lots of companion planting charts out there like this one to help you out!

Now you can sketch out your plan! I start dreaming of my garden in midwinter when I have time to focus and make a list of what I want to grow. I sketch it and erase, depending on what is a good companion to other plants. Here’s a fun one you can print out for planning! Or here is a free electronic version that is fun to play around with while you plan!

I’ve said it before, but I really recommend getting the Square Foot Gardening book. It gives such good tips on making trellises for plants that climb, dealing with pests, etc.

Wonder what I plant? Here is a typical spring/summer for me:

Late Winter/Early Spring: In mid February to early March, I plant crops that love cool weather. I plant sugar snap peas, kale, lettuce, radishes, onions, and carrots, all straight from seeds that I place in the ground. Many of these plants don’t do well once it warms up. They start to flower and the vegetables won’t grow more and can get bitter.

Spring: In mid April to early May (I use my Wyatt-Quarles planting guide above), I plant the bulk of my garden. The only things I grow straight from seed are green beans and corn. They have a quick growing season and do well as seeds. For everything else, I buy young plants or start my own seeds and transplant them into the garden when the soil is warm enough. These include: cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, strawberries, squash, and zucchini.

Want something easy for your first year? Green beans (buy a bush type such as Blue Lake), squash, zucchini, radishes, and peppers are really easy and don’t require any kind of staking up or trellising. They grow relatively quickly and you can get your feet wet in gardening first!

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