Square Foot Garden Plant Spacing GuidesBy Mark Roach
Now that you have your boxes built and the grids put on, it’s quite easy to visualise the plants growing in it. Maybe you’ve decided to have a trellis along the back or on the end of the box for your vine plants to grow vertically. A good idea is to have your vines at the back (or on one end), bigger and bushier plants in the middle and the smaller leaf and root plants in the front so that you don’t have to battle to reach through a big bushy plant to tend to and harvest your middle squares.
You can also alternate your vegetable squares with a few companion flower squares to keep the bugs away and to add a bit of colour to your Square Foot Garden box. Marigolds and Nasturtiums make good companion plants and the Nasturtium flowers can also be used to spruce up a salad.
You will see on the back of all seed packets, a spacing guide which usually indicates a recommended ‘Thin To‘ or ‘Final Spacing‘ measurement. Remember that with conventional single row vegetable gardens, the idea is to sow the whole packet of seeds at once and then thin them out to the correct spacing once they have sprouted. With the Square Foot Gardening method we are conserving seeds by planting only what we need, we have the perfect soil so we are confidant that a high percentage of the seeds that we plant will sprout and we are planting at the correct spacing right from the start.
Think of the plants as if they were shirt sizes – They come in small, medium, large and extra large sizes.
Small Plants: The small plants are your radishes, carrots, onions etc. They are planted 16 to a square which works out to exactly what the spacing instructions say on the back of the seed packets (thin to 5cm)
Medium Plants: These are things like your spinach, beets, bush beans, large turnips etc and they are planted 9 to a square (10cm spacing between plants).
Large Plants: Parsley, basil, marigolds and swiss chard all fall into this category. Because you are using the SFG method, you will constantly be snipping and harvesting the outer leaves of your edible greens like large head leaf lettuce and Swiss chard so they don’t take up as much space as in a conventional garden. Large plants are planted 4 to a square.
Extra Large Plants: The extra large plants are those that take up 1 entire square by themselves – plants like cabbages, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and your vine (indeterminate) tomato plants.
Dividing the Squares & Sowing the Seed
Simply use your fingers to draw lines in the soil as per the diagrams below and then poke holes in the middle of each block to plant your seeds.