Square Foot Gardening – Update #3

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on May 30, 2009

Here is the latest shot of our SFG!

The peas have reached the tops of the twine I set up for them to grow up…will have to convince them to grow over to the trellises!

I’m usually a little LOT possessive about my garden…and don’t let the boys touch or water it…but this week I just had to let Cheeks  help me out a little!

Question about Basil…and when to pick it…

I pick the larger leaves from around the tops and chop those. I just {big puffy heart} the smell of fresh basil!

So for the good news….

The first little tomato has formed.

And a little red has appeared in one of the little mini strawberries.

And I harvested the first round of spinach leaves.  I checked my planting date on my garden chart and it’s been 8 weeks!  Time to snip and steam the larger leaves, and give the smaller leaves and new leaves room to grow in!  It was lovely eating fresh steamed spinach from the garden…just tasted better!

And now for the bad news

Something is eating my bean and pole bean leaves!  I’ve seen a few little creatures on the leaves, like a tiny little beetle and a really jumpy little thing.  Any suggestions on how to handle are welcome!  I’m counting on all you EXPERT gardeners out there to help me out with my first garden!  I’m just a novice and need all the help I can get.

Thanks!  I’d love to hear how your gardens are doing!  Leave a link if you’re posting updates or progress notes!

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Brenda May 30, 2009 at 9:53 am

Your garden looks great. We plant our seeds 3 weeks ago and I am excited about the little seedlings popping up. I am anxious to here any remedies for the beans. Something is doing the same thing to our bean leaves.


Cheryl May 30, 2009 at 9:55 am

Your garden looks great! Awesome!


saph @ walk with me May 30, 2009 at 10:05 am
saph @ walk with me May 30, 2009 at 10:09 am

This is a great forum to go to when you have questions- http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/organic/msg0502160918897.html

And companion planting is great way to repel bugs naturally – it’s what I’m doing now with my beans and other veggies.


Dawn May 30, 2009 at 10:31 am

My husband’s the gardener in the family and he says it really depends on what kind of bugs. If you can identify, then google that type of bug. I know that Marigolds around the border of a garden keep away certain critters, as can planting hot peppers.


gourmetmomma May 30, 2009 at 10:46 am

neem oil. organic, and it works.


Alea May 30, 2009 at 11:11 am

Your garden is beautiful! I am also trying to let my little guy “help”. He imitates every thing I do, just not always with the same results. : )

News of my garden has not yet reached the insects. I don’t think it occurs to them that somebody could possibly be trying to garden in Mordor. Here is an update: http://premeditatedleftovers.blogspot.com/2009/05/extreme-gardening.html


Kandi May 30, 2009 at 11:30 am

I agree 100% with the taste of home grown! I just harvested our first round of Romaine lettuce and made Greek Chicken Salad. My hubby and kids devoured it. It seemed to taste soo much better than store bought. I think all my hard work and garden possesiveness paid off!!


Going Green Mama May 30, 2009 at 11:41 am

Sigh. I am so jealous looking at these photos! Mine is not faring so well. Maybe it’s just not the year…


Erin May 30, 2009 at 11:51 am

Sorry :( I’m convinced this garden is growing so well because of the manure we mixed in with the soil. It only gets about 4 hours of sun right now…will get more as the summer passes. I thought that would be an issue, but apparently not. We’ll see how much “fruit”…I mean vegetables…it reaps!


Becky May 30, 2009 at 12:26 pm

I actually work part-time at a garden center– definitely not an expert, but you pick up some things there. If you want to keep it as organic as possible, you might want to consider trying to get a couple of praying mantis egg cases to hatch in there– they’re supposed to eat pretty much any bug that moves. (Plus if your boys are anything like typical boys, they’d probably think they were pretty cool.)


Gayle@GroceryCartChallenge May 30, 2009 at 6:21 pm

It’s too funny that you’re so protective about the garden. I’m the same way. I think it’s just because we put so much work into it and we know that one misplaced little foot can squish multiple heads of lettuce. Your square foot garden looks so neat and organized. Very beautiful.


Jessica May 30, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Love the pics of your garden. I’m so jealous. Its too hot where I live to grow so marvelously. Congrats on such a great first harvest and I wish you all the best with all the future ones.



Brandie M Valenzuela May 30, 2009 at 7:59 pm

I am so impressed with your garden…it’s beautiful! You’ve inspired me to try next year.


Joyagg May 30, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Your SFG looks great! I just got mine planted today (I live where we had FROST last week!). Thanks for sharing the photos and I hope you get help with the bugs.


Kitty May 30, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Your garden is beautiful, it is amazing how much it has grown so early in the season. How many hours of sun does your garden get? I have not planted a garden in many years but have extra time this year and it has proven to be a real pleasure and doing well. In the past I have used a mix of 1/2 water and 1/2 Dawn dish liquid in a spray bottle and sprayed all infected plants. It will not harm the plants and you will wash off at harvest prior to eating.
I also plant marigolds and onion sets around the entire garden and for bunnies, taped tinfoil strips on cooking skewers and place around their favorite plants.
Happy Gardening


Madonna May 30, 2009 at 9:06 pm

Here is an organic killer that I have used in the past. I got in online years ago and don’t have the slightest clue where.

3 Fresh Garlic Cloves
1 Teaspoon Hot Cayenne
1 Quart Water
Spray Bottle

Blend all the ingredients together in your blender. Pour the
mixture into a separate bowl and let it stand overnight. Wash
your blender immediately, so the garlic will not remain. Strain
the mixture through a nylon sock or cheese cloth the next
day. To use, add one part mixture to four parts water in a
spray bottle to kill bugs on outside plants.


Jason May 30, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Sevin dust works well on most plants if you don’t mind chemical insecticides. I have also used dish detergent diluted about 8 to 1 with water on the entire garden with success.
I like to use Jerry Baker’s website for as much help as possible!
Otherwise you’ve got a great-lookin’ garden!


Kristel May 30, 2009 at 9:14 pm

The first time you posted about your garden was the same day a friend of mine mentioned her Square Foot Garden. It peaked my interest that day and I too, now have a SF garden. I’m in northern MI so not too much is growing yet, but it is exciting to see your garden that is well along. I saw a deer nearby at dusk tonight, so I’m hoping he doesn’t come back to find my garden!


JULIE May 30, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Try Diatomaceous earth, it can get rid of many insects but is safe for your garden. Here it is at Lowe’s but should find it at any garden store.



Jennifer May 30, 2009 at 9:20 pm

Looks great! I have to tell you that I think your tomatoes are going to get too heavy for your supports. I did my first raised bed square foot garden last year and got rid of my steel supports with nylon mesh and did heavy duty cages. Those cages were no match for my ABUNDANT tomato harvest. All my plants fell over (bending the thick metal) and I had a yard full of vining tomato plants. Still tasted fine but hubby didn’t love having to mow around 8 fallen tomato plants. I look forward to see how yours do! The raised bed version is 200% better than the old school dig-in-the-dirt method I used for 9 years previously. Love your pretty pictures.


Joe Lamp'l May 30, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Great looking garden you have going here. Especially for a rookie! Regarding the bugs eating your beetles, they are likely Mexican bean beetles. I’m the host of a show on DIY Network called Fresh from the Garden. We featured how to grow every vegetable you can imagine over three years and 52 episodes. Bean beetles were always the culprit of our bush and pole bean plants. I have a picture I can send as a jpg but I would need to email that if you want to compare these to what you are seeing. The beetles start off as little yellow spiny caterpillar type larvae and evolve into the adult beetle that resembles a lady bug. Same family but big difference! I would advise against using praying mantis egg cases as a previous commenter suggested. Although they will devour your beetle pests, they are voracious eaters and will consume all beneficial insects and can even snag and kill humming birds. I’ll send you the jpg image if you want. Just send me an email address. Mine is email@joegardener.com.
Joe Lamp’l


LB May 30, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Looking wonderful! I love these alternative ways to gardening. I posted a second look at mine earlier this week. http://kittytigerskitchen.blogspot.com/2009/05/look-at-my-no-till-garden.html


Donetta May 30, 2009 at 11:04 pm

Hello, My peas were a lesson learned DO not spray the leaves. The square foot is vulnerable to powdery mildew on the leave and it can spread like wild fire. the strawberries show signs of needed a good feeding of something with copper in it. Organic for the critters can also be dusted with organic DE see my blog and the link to learn more. I am only going to use it in the soil.
Down to Earth is a good resource too. She is on my side bar.


Amy May 30, 2009 at 11:17 pm

Wow. I SO wish I could have a veggie garden!! We rent, so it’s not really a good idea for us right now, unfortunately. How much room do you have for your spinach, and how much are you able to harvest at once? I would LOVE to be able to grow fresh spinach….along with other salad veggies and such.


Laurie May 30, 2009 at 11:46 pm

Don’t forget to pinch your basil to have it grow more bushy! Otherwise it can get a bit leggy, with bitter leaves.

Do you find you are having any fungus issues with the tomatoes planted so close together? I had always heard they needed a lot of air flow between them, and I am planting them for the first time this year. I’d love to have planted them closer together, but it’s all in containers with herbs at their bases.


Andrea Schwartz May 31, 2009 at 12:00 am

I highly recommend you check and see if there is a Master Gardener program in your county. If you can bring samples of the insects and the plant leaves, they can identify the culprit (for FREE) and recommend appropriate solutions.

Your garden is going well so far, but 4 hours may not be enough time in the long run. Manure will get you lots of beautiful green leaves. Master Gardener programs also run soil test for a minimal amount and can tell you what you might need to add to your soil to get the results you desire.

I posted the Master Gardener site for our county here.

Best of luck!
Andrea Schwartz
Master Gardener (in Mercer County NJ) 2007


Bethany May 31, 2009 at 5:09 am

My strawberries are finished and they were good. We’ve had a ton of rain. Green beans are looking good along with cilantro, tomatoes, chives and watermelon. No sign of carrots or radishes, yet.
Try sprinkling flour over plants that are being chewed. Helps great wtih cabbage. Pick basil before it goes to flower. I let a few go to flower and use the seeds for next year. This works with cilantro too. Keep up the great work and photos.


momof4rugratz May 31, 2009 at 8:09 am

i love that site your greens are getting eaten up by pole beetles they will kill whole crop.


Tonya May 31, 2009 at 8:40 am

We are keeping our garden organic and so we have chosen to use both a protective netting to protect the zucchini from bugs and cayenne pepper to protect everything else. Just take a handful and sprinkle away. (Make sure you throw some up under the leaves too) Bugs hate this! Works great…… :) Just wash hands good when you are done.


Jenelle May 31, 2009 at 10:55 am

I was just reading in a book that applying rock lime to the bean plants help to discourage beetles. Maybe you could try that.

Your garden looks gorgeous by the way!



Holly May 31, 2009 at 11:30 am

As for the Basil… you can pick it anytime you want :) As you cut it back, it will branch out and become bushy and full. You will have all the basil you (and your neighbors, and freinds, and family) can use :) Enjoy!
I just got 4 ears of corn, and a bunch of carrots, a bell pepper and some hot peppers out of my garden :) Gotta LOVE Spring!


susan June 1, 2009 at 7:17 am

ohh…i’m jealous of your garden. none for me this year. we’re still getting frost & freeze warnings. i’ve never had much success anyway with my super-short growing season.


Susan June 1, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Oh, I miss our huge basil plants from our last house. I would harvest it and make big batches of basil and freeze them into 1/4 cup “hockey pucks” that I could defrost, reconsistute with a little olive oil, and use — with pasta, on pizza, and in YUMMY pesto swirl bread…


Megan June 1, 2009 at 1:15 pm

My mother in law suggests simmering garlic for a long time until you get a concentrated juice. Then spray that on the garden. it seems to be working for us! Good luck and great looking garden!


Melisa June 1, 2009 at 2:56 pm

The garden is looking so good! We always planted marigolds in the garden because some bugs don’t like the way they smell. It doesn’t work for all bugs, though. Occasionally, we had to resort to Sevin Dust. Organic is great, but when you’ve babied those plants and worked and sweated over them and the bugs are just killing them overnight, well, you do what you have to. Living in the boonies makes fancy organic methods harder to come by. The internet has helped that a lot, though. I hope you find a good solution.


michelle June 1, 2009 at 4:58 pm

i love to win all three


paula June 2, 2009 at 6:36 pm

A good multipurpose spray for gardens is as follows (gotten from Patricia Lanza, The lasagna gardening) They are beetles in your garden. Mix 1 ounce murphy oil soap with one gallon of water and mist on plants. You can also take one bulb garlic, one onion, put in blender with 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder and one quart water. Let sit overnite and then strain, spray liquid on the plants but keep away from your eyes, skin and wear gloves. Good luck.


heather June 3, 2009 at 9:08 am

The best thing to do about bean beetles is pick them off and squish them. Let the kiddos do it. Have squished many a bean beetle in my day


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