As I’ve mentioned, due to our black walnut trees, we’re limited to the space available to us for growing. We currently have two 4′ x 8′ raised beds. I’m hoping I can convince Papa we need a third bed this year. For right now, I have just plans for the two beds.
I’ve been keeping an Excel spreadsheet for years that plot out where each of the plants should go. It’s helpful not just for planting, but it helps hubby know what was planted where so he doesn’t accidentally replant over what is there … or pull a “weed” only to discover it was a plant we wanted to keep. (That is, if he bothers to check the map first! ahem)
Since these are “square foot” gardens, it’s not always intuitive how far to space the plants within each square foot (12″x12″). One of the best resources I’ve found for plant spacing for a square foot garden is (wait for it) … MySquareFootGarden.net. Intuitive, right? She has great information showing how many plants can be placed inside each square. Example: Spacing of carrots in a traditional method says carrots should be 1-3″ apart, with each row 16-24″ (according to one website). In a square foot garden I don’t have room to space them out 16-24″. However, I can put 16 (!!) carrot plants within a square. As long as they are spaced 4 plants wide and 4 plants in length, they will have plenty of room to grow.
My spreadsheet is hard-coded with the Plants/square and I have it look up how many times I have them listed in the map to auto-calculate the total number of plants I’ll have. Geeky, but I love it.
In other words, if I reserve one square foot for basil, I will actually get 4 plants. Four sections of beets will yield 36 plants. And so on.
There are some exceptions. For those that require more than one square, the plants/square end up to be a fraction less than 1 and then I put notes on the right-hand side. I don’t often grow those, but I’m looking to try cabbage this year.
Another exception you might see is tomatoes. Technically those should be .25 plants because they require 4 squares for one plant. However, I know this – and we plant tomatoes every year, so I have my squares merged into one bigger square for tomatoes and just count those as one plant.
Clear as garden mud? Right. Next time I’ll talk about the color coding and how it is used.
If anyone is interested in using the Excel sheet I have, you can download a copy here (you must download; you can’t edit the online version). The trick to having the right columns add up automatically is the COUNTIF function. It looks for matching names in columns B through R that match column W and puts them in X. Hopefully that makes sense. Otherwise, the boxes are just a nice tool to visually see where everything will be placed.
Part 1: Seed Starting by Zones