Square Foot Garden Planning Guide

The square foot garden planning guide shows you how many plants you can put in a square foot for different kinds of vegetables. For the beginning gardeners this method is easy, convenient and can take up as little as a 4 foot by 4 foot space. These little gardens can produce as much produce as a garden 3 times the size. No digging up sod, or spending hours hoeing in the hot sun.

For more square foot garden planning guide information go to the Square Foot Garden website at http://www.melbartholomew.com/ .  Learn how easy it is to get started with your own square foot garden. The secret is the soil mixture, and plant spacing. Watch this video to learn more about starting a square foot garden: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNxmOrxZM9Q&feature=youtu.be Help beat growing food costs by planting a square foot garden. What fresh vegetables would you like to eat directly out of the garden?

By Richard Godke.

Square Foot Garden Planning Guide

Square Foot Garden Planning Courtesy of: Preparing For SHTF – http://prepforshtf.com/.

Fall Garden Ideas Help Beginners

Fall Garden Ideas Includes Lettuce

By Richard Godke

Here are some fall garden ideas that will get the beginning vegetable gardener started without waiting for spring to arrive. August and September are perfect times to start a fall garden in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4B and higher. The warmth of summer gives the new vegetable plants a quick start and can provide some of the best quality produce of the year. Yes, this is the time for beginning gardeners to get started. The experienced gardeners have been enjoying fall vegetable gardens for years.

Fall Garden Ideas – Which vegetables do I plant?

My favorite quick harvest, cool loving fall crops are frost sensitive. They include: radishes (maturing in as little as 18 to 21 days), kohlrabi, (one of my favorites), leaf lettuce, arugula, and spinach, (maturing around 55 days). A frost blanket row cover can keep the plants 4-6 degrees F. warmer and greatly increases the length of your production. I like the frost tolerant brassica crops that can take some frost like: kale, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. The frost sensitive root crops that I recommend are beets, carrots, turnips, and parsnips. If they are well covered with straw you can leave them in the ground until the soil starts to freeze, and they will become tastier. However don’t let them get frozen into the soil. I have had good luck with frost resistant crops like evergreen bunch onion, garlic, leeks, and chives wintering over in USDA zone 5A. Many gardeners recommend these risky frost crops including: bush beans, sugar snap peas, and cabbage. However, I would not recommend them for beginners. Any of these vegetables are great fall garden ideas.


Fall Garden Ideas – When do I plant?

How does a beginning gardener know the best date to plant a fall garden? First click on Plant Hardiness Zones, then enter your zip code, and click on the zone it provides. It will show you the date of the Average First Fall Frost. Count back from the Average First Fall Frost, the number of days needed for your crop to mature. It will be found on the seed package. This will give you an estimated planting date for that crop. These fall garden ideas are just an estimate; mother nature does not always follow the charts. Areas within a specific zone may be affected by buildings, trees, hills, lakes, etc. creating a micro climate. You can reduce the number of days needed by using a frost blanket, closures, covering plants with straw, or by purchasing vegetable transplant from your garden center.

Fall Garden Ideas – How do I start?

Gardening in a bag, square foot gardening, and straw bale gardening are fall garden ideas that are easy, cost efficient, and productive ways for the beginning gardener to get started. Bag gardening is when you plant your vegetables directly into the bags of soil you purchase from the store. Yes it really works! I had two bags going this summer and they produced sugar snap peas, Swiss chard, and meal after meal of okra. I am now getting ready for my fall crops. Straw bale gardening is a method where one takes a wheat or oat straw bale, tip it on edge, soak it with water, let it set for a week, make a depression in the bale, fill with potting soil, and plant. As the bale slowly decomposes the vegetables will grow into the decomposing bale. Square foot gardening take a little more planning and cost but is well worth the effort. Build a small raised bed 4 feet by 4 feet by 6-12 inches deep and then fill it with quality organic matter. I have had square foot gardens that yield four times as much produce compared with a traditional row garden.
Fall is a great time for beginning gardeners to get started. Fall gardens provide seeds with faster germination in the warm soil. It is very pleasant to work outside in the fall weather and the soil takes less water while many of the common insects are no longer around. Try these fall garden ideas and enjoy the cool loving crops that thrive in the pleasant fall weather. So if you are a new gardener it is time to get started with these great fall garden ideas.

Best Vegetables for Kids to Grow

By Richard Godke

Finding the best vegetables for kids to grow is a great way to get your family outside away from the screen — TV or video games. Get them involved in an educational activity that results in trying vegetable fresh from the garden and getting some exercise. Most people start with a garden that is too large and in the hot summer the weeds win out. I am a strong believer in starting with a 4 feet by 4 feet raised bed garden that will produce lots of produce if managed correctly by using the square foot method (no rows for weeds to grow), companion planting (planting two vegetable close together that will harvested at different times during the same season) and successive planting (re-planting a crop multiple times after each previous crop is harvested). Here are my vegetable picks for kids helping in the garden.

Best Vegetables for Kids To Grow

Best Vegetables for Kids to Grow – Peas

are a cool season early crop that has a big seed that is easy to plant. Most kids love peas and they will also get to help shelling the peas for a meal. Peas can be planted next to the tomatoes. The peas are harvested early so the tomatoes will not start to grow fast until the peas are harvested. This is an example of companion planting. My variety pick is Little Marvel Garden Peas, 62 days till maturity, 8 plants per square foot.


is a cool season early crop with a mild flavor that most kids like. The color is a light green so it is easy to tell apart from the weeds that might come up. You will want to plant several small plantings about a week a part (succession planting). Even the healthiest family can only eat so much lettuce at one harvest. My variety pick is Black-Seeded Simpson Lettuce, 48 days till maturity, 4 plants per square foot.

Swiss Chard

is a leafy vegetable that is planted early and produces all season long. Kids love the colored variety that grows in shades of orange, pink, red, white, and yellow. Who knows your kids might even like eating green after growing this colorful vegetable? My variety pick is Bright Lights Chard, 55 days till maturity, 4 plants per Square foot.


is an interesting vegetable that is a swollen stem the size of a tennis ball. It is a round ball with leaves growing up. It looks like a vegetable from outer space. This interesting vegetable is a hit with kids if served in a cream sauce. My variety pick is Early White Vienna Kohlrabi, 55 days till maturity, 16 plants per square foot.


are an interesting to kids because of the red color. The seeds are easy to plant in early spring and the tops are edible as a salad green. Your family will need to decide on how many to prepare as “Pickled Beets” or “Harvard Beets”. My variety pick is Perfected Detroit Dark Red Beets, 58 days till maturity, 16 plants per square foot.


are planted early and come in a rainbow blend of colors that I recommend for kids. Carrots need a deep soil with lots of organic material in the soil. I recommend that your first year you purchase bagged soil from the garden store to insure success. The colored carrots are not as productive but much more interesting for kids to eat. My variety pick is Rainbow Hybrid, 75 days till maturity, 16 plants per square foot.

Yellow Wax Bush Bean

seeds are large and easy to plant. Again the kids love the yellow variety that is easy to see when you harvest. As a child I was surprised that they did not taste like wax. These yellow beans need to be planted after the danger of frost is gone. If they get harvested early you could possibly get a second succession crop if you have a long season. My variety pick is Improved Golden Wax Bush Beans, 56 days till maturity, 9 plants per square foot.

Best Vegetables for Kids to Grow – Tomatoes

are a must in every garden. I recommend that you go to your local garden store and purchase you plant(s). A commercially grown tomato will never taste as good as the first ripe tomato you eat off the plant in the garden. I have raised tomatoes in four states and every year I am guaranteed an attack by the tomato hornworm. It is a large green worm with a horn sticking out of its tail. What a great opportunity for kids to learn outside the class room – an up close bug sighting. For kids I recommend a patio type variety. The tomatoes are smaller but they are earlier and produce before the onset of diseases common with the larger tomatoes. My variety pick is Tiny Tim, 50 days till maturity, 1 plant per square foot.

Vegetables for Kids Review

When choosing the vegetables to grow in your family garden, remember to: 1. involve your family in the vegetable selection with some for younger children who prefer the milder flavors, 2. choose some large seeds that are easy to plant by younger gardeners, 3. include vegetables of all different colors, size, and shapes, 4. select plants that are planted and harvested in different months, and 5. pick plants that work well with square foot method, companion planting, and successive planting. See what the White House Garden has planted there ten best vegetables for kids to grow at  http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-parenting/2009/03/20/10-easy-grow-veggies-for-your-kids-obama-white-house-garden.     If you have vegetables that have worked well with your kids please send me an email on my website http://homegardeningforbeginners.org/.  By

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Richard Godke

Soil Calculator for Raised Bed Novices

By Richard Godke

A good soil calculator for raised bed is the most important decision a beginning gardener. It starts you on the right road for producing lots of high quality vegetables. I recommend the square foot gardening method that concentrates the production in a smaller space using less soil. Learn the important math calculations you will need to get started along with a connection to a spreadsheet that will do the calculations for you. Soil is a living breathing constantly changing substance. The soil must have the ability to hold water and also slowly release nutrients to the growing roots of the plants. During the growing season the organic part of the soil is broken down by organisms living in the soil. This happen if it has the soil has the proper water, air, microorganisms, soil nutrients and correct temperature. Here are some important questions a beginning gardener needs to ask.

Soil Calculator for Raised Bed Novices

Should I purchase organic soil?

Do not let the marketer confuse you. Organic soil is soil that has some organic material in it. If you want soil that is produced without chemicals you need to purchase Organic Certified Soil. This is organic soil produced from plant materials that were not treated with pesticides, within standards set by an organic certification organization. You can check with the certifying organization for the details of the process and standards. If you want to eat truly organically grown vegetables you must start with organically certified soil. Be prepare – the organically certified soils will cost more.

How do I calculate the amount of soil I will need?

The formula is simple: The garden’s length times the width times the depth gives you the amount of soil you will need to purchase. Here are the calculations for a typical beginner’s square foot garden that is four feet wide by four feet long and eight inches deep. Calculate by multiplying the width 4 ft. X 12 in. = 48 in. and Length 4 ft. X 12 in. = 48 in. Take the 48 X 48 = 2304 square in. Multiply the 2304 square inches X 8 in. deep = 18432 cubic in. Finally divide the 18432 by 1728 [the number of cubic inches per cubic foot] = 10.7 cubic feet. For the non-math gardeners I have developed a simple spreadsheet link towards the end of this article where you enter the length, width and depth in yards, feet or inches and it will calculate the cubic feet or yards of soil you will need for your specific garden space.  The calculation for experience gardeners is the same as for beginners.

How do I compare prices among the different produces or brands?

Some manufacturers use cubic feet others use quarts and others use pounds abbreviated as lbs. For the non-math gardeners the spreadsheet link later in this article will also let you enter three different products, the number of cubic feet or US Quarts per bag, and the cost per bag. It calculates the total cost of each soil choice for your garden size. For the gardener that loves math, here are the calculations for converting US quarts to cubic feet. US Quarts X (57.75) cubic inches divided by the number of cubic inches in a cubic foot (1728). Example for a 10 US quart bag: 10 X 57.75 cubic inches per quart = 577.5cubic inches. Divide 577.5 by 1728 cubic inches in a cubic foot = 0.334 cubic feet. When it comes to comparing ingredients in pounds like cow manure you need to compare the percentage of moisture present.  My soil calculator for raised bed can help you with these calculations (see below).

How do I compare different bagged soil ingredients?

The Standard Soil Mix consists of ? peat moss, ? compost, and ? vermiculite or perlite (a non-organic soil additive). This mixture is very similar to bagged potting soil. Bagged Potting Soil provides great growing material for you vegetables if you can closely manage the watering. When this mix is moist you can squeeze ahandful and it will easily crumble into small pieces. Unfortunately this mix is expense, it tends to dry out more quickly in the garden and it will quickly decrease in volume. Bagged Garden Soil is the lower cost than potting soil and the watering of the garden is easier to manage. This is my pick for the beginning gardener. Bagged Compost is dead plant materials that have decomposed during an aerobic process that has reached 160 degrees F. This product varies a great deal among different manufacturers. It sometimes lowers the garden soil pH and requires nitrogen to be added during the growing season. It is less expensive than other products. Compost is a good additive but it will have a high soil replacement percentage, and should not be used as the only ingredient. Non Organic Soil Additives like perlite and vermiculite are used to lighten or aerate the soil. It is expensive, and increases the need for careful water management. Only use these produces in combination with other soil additives. Peat Moss is a partially decomposed ancient swamp material that is harvested from peat bogs. It loosens clay soil and provides organic material to your garden. It has a high decomposition rate and will lower you soil pH. This should only be used in combination with other soil additives.

Soil Calculator for Raised Bed Available

Soil is one of the biggest expenses when starting a home garden. I highly recommend that beginners purchase a mid-priced prepared bagged garden soil. Trying to mix you own individual ingredients may seem cheaper but it is more difficult. In most cases the soil has been prepared by an expert and has the proper nutrients, pH level and organic materials to set you on the road to a successful vegetable garden. You can use my garden soil calculator spreadsheet http://homegardeningforbeginners.org/soil-calculator/ to help you figure the volume of soil you will need, compare prices of different types of soil and experiment with your own soil mix combinations. Here is another link to a garden soil calculator http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/soil-calculator/7558.html. You can expect to replace from 10 to 20 percent of the soil each year because of the microbial break down in your soil – remember this is a good thing.  By Richard E. Godke.