January IV: testing Square Foot Gardening on 1.5 square metres

Square foot gardening is a concept of precision gardening where planting is planned on a square foot basis i.e. 30cm * 30cm.

I have decided to test this approach in a 15 square foot experiment, the aim being to have crops to harvest over a 6 week period from 15th May to 30th June, with five square feet for each two week period. A second crop will then be planted as the time comes.

The five crops in each case will be:

Late May: Spring onion, spinach, radish, turnips for greens and miniature lettuces.

Early June: Spring Onion, Radish, Spinach, Cabbage, and Beetroot.

Late June: Spring Onion, Cabbage, Beetroot, Dwarf Bean and Amsterdam Carrot.

Second Crops will be:

Plant around 1st June: Summer Chard, Summer Beetroot, Autumn Carrot, Spring Onion, Bush tomato.

Plant around 16th June: Autumn Chard, Summer Beetroot, Autumn Carrot, Spring Onion, Young Leeks

Plant around 1st July: Kale, Spring Onion, Young Leeks, Autumn Turnip, Autumn Beetroot.

The Early June crop may be followed by a third crop if time permits (after chard, beetroot and spring onion): candidates would be rocket, pak choi, Sicilian radish.

The aim is to generate small amounts of each crop on a regular basis, thereby eliminating gluts.

Sowing date precision, good germination in modules and immediate planting out of follow on crops will be necessary to succeed.


For further details on square foot gardening, from a US perspective, read: ‘Square Foot Gardening’, Mel Bartholemew (1981), Rodale Press, Pennsylvania. ISBN 0-87857-341-0

Author: Rhys

Rhys trained as a research biologist, working for a decade in the cancer research charity sector, before completing an MBA and working in management consultancy, technology transfer and early technology investment spaces, mostly working with UK academics to turn their scientific discoveries into value for society. AS a younger man, he was fascinated with mountains, both climbing them and ski-ing down them. Whilst living in Scotland, he completed a round of (then) all 277 Munros, the independent mountains over 3000ft originally complied as a list by Munro. He also spent his holidays representing the Ski Club of GB, as a Representative and Party Leader between 1990 and 1997. During that time, he found to his bemusement that he was able to predict, without understanding fully why, to a remarkable degree of accuracy, when good snow conditions would occur in the Alps, gaining an unworthy reputation for predictive genius in 1990 when predicting the evolution of the 1989/90 winter in Wengen, Switzerland for his CEO boss. He used this skill for the next seven years to ensure that he enjoyed powder snow pretty much every time he went ski-ing. An MD student he was training in Oxford also impressed his wife by taking Rhys' advice about when to take her to Italy in the mid 1990s! In recent years, Rhys has turned his mind toward how to grow prize tomatoes, winning several prizes in local and London shows and has, in the past 3 years, moved toward taking over a 50 square metre urban vegetable patch, which he has turned into a no-dig area since autumn 2014.

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