This year has been a learning year for one of my beds. This year I chose my most established bed to try some square foot gardening. The first attempts at this form of gardening I have been less than successful.
The first thing that I have noticed that I have done wrong is that the bed is too large. And by large I mean that it is not easily accessible from all sides. From what I have been reading the optimum width is no more than 4 feet across or 2 feet to the center. The bed that I chose is a 6×6. This made its very difficult to reach the center squares, and served to encourage discouragement.
The second aspect that hampered success is my lack of irrigation on the beds. Admittedly irrigation has not been a huge issue this year with all of the rain fall that we have had.
The next kink in the plan is a lack of planning. When I started the project I had the bed planned out. Even accounting for companion planting. The plan was set aside in favor of letting the kids have fun with it. Make no mistake, this was not a mistake. It only made it more difficult to track where everything landed. The disorganization is completely worth having the kids get interested in gardening.
Another error that I think happened was that the planting inside the square feet was too sparse. I think that if I had packed some more plants into the area, the pollination would have been better and led to a better faster yield. Another portion of this is that I did not fill all of the squares up. There were a few squares that were waiting on a pepper, onion, or tomato that did not get planted.
The last and I think biggest error was that I planted into “stale soil” I assumed that the soil would Be perfect to simply plant into without augmentation. Well it wasn’t the soil in the bed is about 3years old with no amendments. I should have stirred it and added Some good stuff.
Over all I think the concept is sound, and has been proven many times over. I will work with this again, perhaps as a smaller kitchen garden. I would caution though that if you have never tried it before not to use an area that has been your main production area. Use a new bed or a small portion of an existing bed outside the main production area.