Step 4: Start planting!

spacing shot-9 per squarespacing shot-16 per squareIt’s that easy! This is all you need to have a great garden. Now all that’s left is the spacing. In the SFG system, this is simple too. As a general rule things will be planted in 1, 4, 9, or 16 items per square. You’ll know by what the seed packet lists as the “thin to” spacing. As an example, broccoli will say “thin to 12.” This means there will be one broccoli plant per square. If you’re using transplants it’s easy-just drop it in the middle of your square. If you’re using seeds, you only need to add 2 or 3 seeds into each hole. That’s it! If all 3 of those seeds grow you can either cut them back with a scissors(a tough thing to do)or you can gently come under the early starts with a pencil and carefully lift them out. You now have another broccoli plant that’s germinated and can become a full plant. If the packet says “thin to 6 inches” you will plant 4 items per square. “Thin to 4 inches” will mean you’ll plant 9 items per square, and the last one-“thin to 3 inches” means you’ll be planting 16 items per square. The following is a short list of the spacing used in the SFG system. One per square: broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, tomatoes, kale, brussel sprouts, basil, rosemary, and cabbage. Four per square: all lettuce, chard, pok choi, radicchio, arugula, marigolds, nasturtium, and cilantro. Nine per square: beets, leeks, chives, spinach, garlic, onions, mizuna, tatsoi, kohlrabi, and bush beans. Sixteen per square: radishes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, mache, and scallions. Keep your soil moist-especially at the beginning and you’ll be rewarded with a garden that you never knew could be so much fun and so little work.

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4 thoughts on “Step 4: Start planting!

    • by Jim This is post author

      Most people plant seed potatoes in the soil and then cover them with a few inches of soil. When they start to grow they add more soil. This goes on and on until you reach ground level. For me, that’s too much work. I put 5 seed potatoes in the square-each with at least 2 eyes-about 8 inches deep. I then cover the entire square with soil. I do not hill my potatoes. Water thoroughly and in about 4-5 weeks you’ll see them poking out of the ground. Done this way, I can plan on 5-7 pounds of potatoes per square.

      • by Tina

        I’m confused. How do you plant the potatoes 8″ deep if the box, as suggested in Step 1: build a box, is 6″ deep?

        • by Jim This is post author

          If you need to grow anything that needs more than 6″, all you do is make another structure. Lets say you want one square of potatoes. You will put together a 1X6″ box that has no top or bottom to it. Make the box so it fits right inside your grid. Now you place that small box right over the square where you’re planting potatoes. Now you have an extra 6″ of soil, making a total of 12 inches to grow things in. It’s called a top-hat, and you may be able to find a picture of it somewhere on my blog(not Facebook.) Keep in mind, my two big boxes are made after the old school version of the original SFG book. This required me to double dig my soil. I have 12-15 inches of Mel’s mix that I originally put in. But for my other boxes, I used the new way-6 inches, and it really does work. If I need more, I add the top-hat.

          There are times when I need to plant a mass of something-like potatoes. Knowing that I can get 5-6 pounds per square inch if planted correctly, my family needs 40 pounds of potatoes to take us through the winter months. That means I need to plan for 8 squares of nothing but potatoes. What I’ll do is make a wood structure that will be 2 feet by 4 feet-just an open rectangle with no top or bottom. In this way I can just lay the top-hat over my 8 squares, fill it with soil and then plant away. Hope that answers it.

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