Vegetable Garden Best Bets

Some of the vegetables listed below, while not normally considered for limited spaces, can nevertheless be worked into a square foot garden. These vegetables will be preceded by an asterik, denoting the necessity to plant this type only at the garden perimeter, within the confines of an elevated garden box, or beyond the main body of the garden.



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Raspberries*** The Raspberry is a good example of a plant that is not a candidate for the Square-Foot method, and, in fact, should be kept away from most other plants. They don't really play well with others, so to speak. Or at least they don't compete well for the soil's available nutrients. In addition to planting away from the main body of your garden, raspberries should be thoroughly weeded, and the soil should be prepared with organic additives, paying strict attention to the removal of perrinial weed roots. One last thing to remember: Raspberries are susceptible to some diseases, particularly Verticillium wilt. Therefore it is never a good idea to plant in soil where Tomatoes, Potatoes, Egplants or Peppers have grown within the last three years. All of these are predisposed to Verticillium infection.

Individual Raspberry canes will last for two years, though its crown and roots are perrenial. As opposed to Blueberries or Cranberries, the Raspberry plant produces a composite or aggregate fruit, which is actually a collection of small, clustered fruit, each containing a seed. It looks like a bright red version of a blackberry, with a distinctive sweet-sour flavor that can't really be confused with any other kind of berry.

Raspberries do best in full sun, but will accept slight, partial shade if necessary. Late fall or winter is the best time to plant dormant canes. Put space, 2 1/2 to 3 feet, between plants. In their first year all flowers should be removed. From the second year on, raspberries should be ready to harvest in mid summer.

ZuchiniSquash may be the most popular garden vegetable. Maybe the best known of the summer squashes, Zucchini is an extremely prolific producer.  One zucchini plant and one summer squash should feed a family of four throughout the summer.

They don't do well in acidic soil. An optimum pH range would be 6 to 6.5. Carrots don't require a lot of space, so you can plant at intervals of 3 inches. In other words, each 1-foot square should contain 16 plants. Germination occurs at 6 to 18 days.

PumpkinsPumpkins are a fun crop that, believe it or not, can be grown in a square foot garden, as long as you use a vertical frame of the sort used for tomatoes and melons. Pumpkins are a warm season vegetable easily damaged by frost. To harvest in time for Haloween, plant between late May and early July. They like at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Pumpkins are heavy feeders and like a lot of water.

The type most commonly used for Jack O' Lanterns is the Connecticut Field Pumpkin. Unfortunately this isn't the best variety for cooking or for pies. If Haloween is important to you, then it might be best to grow two types of pumpkin.

CeleryCelery is a stem vegetable related to fennel. It has almost no calories, but adds vitamins and minerals to your diet.

Celery can be a difficult crop-- so much so that many people avoid it entirely. But it can be grown, and it can be worked handily into a square foot garden. One square foot will provide enough root space for 4 plants.

It does best in a cool, damp environment. Celery is a heavy feeder and requires lots of water and a long growing season. Plant in full sun and use plenty of mulch to keep in moisture. Plant only after the last frost date for the area.

Some gardeners prefer to blanch their celery (various processes for preventing sunlight from hitting the stalks) to make it more tender and sweet. Keep in mind that planting close together, as in a square foot garden, will result in a sort of self-blanching.

PotatoPotatoes will do well in a square foot garden, and digging them up is always like a treasure hunt, since you never know what will turn up. For large potatoes grow only one plant per square. For "new" or young, tender potatoes, you can try as many as four plants per square.

Plant in the spring in ground that is moist, but not overly so. Prior to planting, it might be a good idea to expose your seed potatoes to warmth for a couple of weeks to speed up the sprouting process. It is a good idea to add mulch or other organic material to the soil below the potatoe seed, in order to feed the roots, but not come into contact with the potatoes themselves. Too much contact with rotting vegetation can cause "potato scab."

BlackberriesThere are few differences in blackberries and raspberries. Both are from the genus Rubus and are members of the Rosaceae family. Both are aggregate fruits grown from a bramble bush. Both are cold climate plants that require two years of growth before the first real harvest. The various types of raspberry are a little hardier tha blackberries. And raspberries are "hollow," or in other words the inner core reamains with the plant when picked. When you pick a blackberry, that core comes off with the fruit.

As far as growing goes, the raspberry information above can apply to planting blackberries.

BroccoliBroccoli Broccoli is a frost tollerant cool weather crop related to the cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. It needs to be planted in early summer and harvested in the fall or early winter, and benefits from full sun and regular water. Seedlings can also be planted in mid winter to harvest before the summer's peak heat.

Broccoli produces multiple florets rather than a single large head like cauliflower. Each plant will produce continuaously over the season, so just a few plants will feed a large family. The best results will be from a staggered planting, so that you don't end up with too much of a harvest at once.

Broccoli will do well in a square foot garden but requires space. One plant per square is as close as they can be planted.

StrawberriesSrawberries - A lot of square foot gardeners have bypassed the strawberry, believing them to be too widespread a plant for the confines of a 1-foot square. Not so. Many square foot gardeners have reported success with strawberries. The general consensus seems to be the placement of 2 to 4 plants per square foot, keeping all of the runners trimmed.

As with conventional gardens, many people feel that it benefits the plant to trim off all flowers during the first year, preventing it from forming fruit and thereby diverting energy elsewhere, building a stronger root system and healthier runners.

Planting basics for Strawberries are simple; plant in the spring, in full sun if possible, in well drained sandy loam. As with Raspberries, because of Verticillium Rot susceptibility, don't plant where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant OR Raspberries have been grown recently.

Summer SquashSummer Squash-- What, you may ask, is the difference between a yellow Summer Squash and a Zucchini? Well, as far as cooking or taste goes, not much. Summers squashes such as the two above mentioned varieties differ from winter types in that they have thinner rinds and usually grow on bush type plants.

Squash, at least the summer varieties, may be the easiest vegetable to grow in a garden. You'll want to provide more space than is usually used in a square foot garden. Three square feet per plant should do it. Don't overdo it though. Three or four plants, mybe even less, will feed a family of five for weeks.

JalepenoIf you can grow bell peppers, you can grow Jalepenos, or for that matter, any of the hot peppers. All peppers do best in warm to hot weather, and it can never be too hot for them. At maturity they range from 24 to 48 inches in height. Peppers do well in square foot gardens, but shouldn't be crowded. Grow one plant one per square.

Jalapenos are usually harvested and eaten when green, but if you allow it to redden on the vine the resulting pepper will be sweeter. With the exception of the mild Poblanos, Jalapenos are probably the most popular peppers in Mexican cuisine. They do pack a slight punch, but are have a fraction of the heat found in the notorious Habaneros.

AsparagusAsparagus is one of the few perrenials that do well for home gardeners. A healthy plant can produce for up to 15 years. It is possible to grow them from seed, but you may be better off buying year-old healthy crowns from a reputable grower. Not exactly an ideal choice for a square foot garden, but you could place them in a long row behind the main body of the SF garden, or as a hedge or border plant, since they are an attractive plant and will be more or less permanantly placed.

Asparagus is not a crop for the impatient. You won't harvest for nearly three years, but once it starts, the spears will pop up like proverbial weeds. The complicated process involved was covered extensively by Erin J. Dingle for Penn State's Frederick County Master Gardener's Program.

RhubarbRhubarb is another perennial. It is a cool season crop that needs to drop to at least 40 degree fahrenheit to kick start its spring growth.





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