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help with raised beds! how much can I grow in a 4' x 4' raised bed?

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help with raised beds! how much can I grow in a 4' x 4' raised bed?

Post  ittehbittehkitteh on 7/26/2017, 1:08 pm

Just to clarify, I am not asking how much I can grow in a 4' x 4' raised bed using the square foot gardening method.  I am just trying to figure out in general how much I can grow in a 4' x 4' raised bed without overcrowding the plants.

I realize how much I can grow in a 4 'x 4' raised bed depends on what I am growing, and how far apart (in inches and/or feet) I space the plants.  Below I have listed what I plan to grow in raised beds (no I'm not going to plant all of the things listed below in one 4' x 4' raised bed, nor am I going to plant them all at once).

However I'm trying to be as through as possible with how much of each vegetable variety I can grow in each 4' x 4' raised bed.  I have also included the plant spacing that is traditionally used according to the plant instructions on seed packets (once they have been thinned and/or transplanted if you're using starter plants).

Napa Cabbage (12"-18")
Red Cabbage, 12"-24"
Green Cabbage, 12"-24"
Beans (snap beans, lima beans), bush variety 6"
Turnips 2"-4" (2" for small size carrots, 4" if you want a turnip that is bigger in size)

carrots 2"-4" (2" for baby, if you want bigger size carrots, it's the 3"-4"; I plan to do 4" apart cause I want bigger carrots)

beets 4"
corn 12"
spinach 6" (baby) 12" (full size)
kale 8"-12" for baby, 12"-24" apart for full size
tomatoes (slicer, roma, and/or cherry) 2'-4'
eggplant 18"-24"
peppers 18"-24"
lettuce baby and/or mini heads 6"-12" full size 12"-24"
broccoli and/or cauliflower 12"-24"
peas, snap and/or snow 6"

NOTE: I couldn't find plant spacing for individual plants for zucchini and cucumbers.  I won't need to do the hills, since they'll be in raised beds.  Can somebody please help me with this?  I have the same question regarding melons, the varieties of which I'm planting will most likely be bush-types.
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Re: help with raised beds! how much can I grow in a 4' x 4' raised bed?

Post  Robbomb116 on 7/26/2017, 4:06 pm

I know you noted you were not specifically asking how much you could grow by the square foot gardening method, but truly the whole design of the square foot gardening method was to grow as much in as little space as possible. And a 4'x4' raised bed is the recommended basic size for a SFG. It was truly designed for this.as such the square foot method would be the most you could grow in that space, as it takes the recommended plant spacing and goes that way in a plane rather than a row.  Since with a 4x4 raised bed you do not need a row to walk if you can reach in from all four sides, you can utilize the whole space for planting by using the SFG method. If you do not want to use the square foot method, you have to decide how wide wide your rows are going to be. And Then it would appear you have all the data to answer your question yourself.  It will vary greatly on the amount of each vegetable you plant.  

As you may know, by the square foot method, we divide each area by a square foot.  Then to figure out how many plants in each square to plant you divide 12 by the recommended plant spacing in inches, and square it. For example, beets recommend 4" spacing,  so that would be 12/4 = 3. 3x3= 9. 9 beets per square.  One every 3 inches in every direction of that square. This can be done for any plant spacing, although the most densely you usually want to try to plant something is 16 a square, although some peiple have had success eith tighter spacing if going for baby carrots and the like.

As for a lot of the spacing, it will depend if you are going to try to grow things vertically or not.  Using a trellis will dearly increase your yield out of a single 4x4 box.  

Zucchini in particular are space hogs.  If you grow them on a corner you can "try" to stake it to grow it vertically or try to encourage it sit over hang the bed.   If you can not train it in one of these ways, it will generally take up about 3x3 area... most of your 4x4 bed.


Last edited by Robbomb116 on 7/26/2017, 4:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: help with raised beds! how much can I grow in a 4' x 4' raised bed?

Post  Robbomb116 on 7/26/2017, 4:12 pm

Note: an intensive planting such as this requires good, rich, well draining soil to be effective. It is up to you to use what you feel would be best, but the square foot method used a mix dubbed "Mel's Mix" to accomplish this. Mel's Nix (often abbreviated MM here) consists of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 high quality blended compost by volume. For best results the compost should be from 5 or more sources/types.

From my own researching of different mixes, I've read some people have had success with premixed raised bed soil. But around this forum you'll find nearly everyone is a fan of MM, and it is near blasphemy to use something else. Although we won't judge, as it is of course your decision.
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Re: help with raised beds! how much can I grow in a 4' x 4' raised bed?

Post  sanderson on 7/27/2017, 2:51 am

Rob, very good replies. Kitteh, Using the SFG spacing guide (In the book All New Square Foot Gardening) and using Mel's Mix (Instructions also in the book) will maximize how many plants you can grow. The summer squashes should be grown out of the beds unless you have one dedicated beds for them. Melons (1 per Square) and cucumbers (2 per square) and pole peas and beans (8 per square) can be grown on a trellis. (Instructions also in the book)

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Re: help with raised beds! how much can I grow in a 4' x 4' raised bed?

Post  plantoid on 7/27/2017, 8:01 am

@Robbomb116 wrote:Note: an intensive planting such as this requires good, rich, well draining soil to be effective.   It is up to you to use what you feel would be best, but the square foot method used a mix dubbed "Mel's Mix" to accomplish this. Mel's Nix  (often abbreviated MM here) consists of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite,  and 1/3 high quality blended compost  by volume.  For best results the compost should be from 5 or more sources/types.

From my own researching of different mixes, I've read some people have had success with premixed raised bed soil.  But around this forum you'll find nearly everyone is a fan of MM, and it is near blasphemy to use something else.  Although we won't judge, as it is of course your decision.


 

 I've been doing ANSFG for a fair while  following on from Mel's earlier SFG ideas.

When I joined this site I set up brand new beds at my new home under the ANSFG system with 36 inch deep beds as I have spinal injuries ....


Re the near blasphenous comment.

 Not really ....... it's because the long hard earnt experience of many of us has shown that buying in ready mixed stuff is rather risky , for you never really know what is in it .

 Should you be unfortunate to get a bit of weed killing hormone treated grass cuttings  included in your ready made stuff  you will have the devil of a job getting any seeds to germinate well if at all . The feed & weed hormonal lawn treatments are selective weed killer that don't affect grass . Theseweed killers / suppressors have a longevity of six or more years .

 The other part of this is :-
Ready made stuff versus most commercially made stuff . 
Commercially made composts are usually made from whatever waste material is to hand  & there is rarely any guarantee as to what ratios of green& browns have been used in it's making .
Sadly it's usually no where as near balanced in nutrients , well decayed & decaying matter as your own compost made to Mel's suggestions or those from the  Berkley  18 day hot composting method ( plus their lists ) of the Cornell university .

My raised bed are 36 inches deep full of as near to MM that I could make , with an addition of nine or so extra well composted & mixed in animal dungs added to the MM fill .
 
I found that due to the super levels of nutrients that in year three once the high nitrogen levels had dropped  down I was able to grow massive carrots .... three inches apart ,. Once the alternate carrots had been used up those left behind went on  to turn into 4 inch dia carrots  about 15 inches long.

 Much the same happened with almost all my other crops . I put it down to the large amount of nutrients available and the nearly always consistent levels of moisture available to the crops .

 Now several years later on the crops are still excellent & they have had  Mel's simple idea of one plant out add a trowel of home made compost to the square once it has been cleared .

 For the greedy feeders  each square has had an extra trowel of my home made compost added  a week or so before sowing in or transplanting a seedling in it .

 My alliums  have and still will get the occasional dressing of mixtire of powdered ...dried fish , blood & bone meal , as I've found that this can really boost the size of the onions & leeks tremendously so long as it only goes on the soil not in the joints of the leaves ( it caused the m to rot if it landed in the joints ).

For a while getting decent 9 to 12 " diameter heads of cauliflowers eluded me my big bro was always taking the Micky .. I purchased a decent soil test kit & found all the bed contents were boron deficient  so gave them a decent dressing of Epsom salts  for the next year.  That year  I ended up with far more cauli's than we could handle .

 If you look in the gallery photos ( middle of the green band at the top of the page ) you'll see  a few of my pictures
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Re: help with raised beds! how much can I grow in a 4' x 4' raised bed?

Post  No_Such_Reality on 7/27/2017, 10:39 am

I think what you're looking for is called bio-intensive gardening. There's similarities and for many plants, they use virtually the same spacing as SFG.   There are many YouTube instructional videos.

Theres a few things I've noticed firstly the beds they're planting in are much larger, more like 4x16 or 4x20' I haven't seen any using smaller beds.  Quite literally, seen them doing "a small" lettuce area with 4 kinds of loose leaf lettuce, it took about a 4 foot by 3 foot area to be effective to use the cut and come again or continual harvest method.  Not very practical IMHO if you have a smaller bed, like I do.

For SFG, since I've got smaller beds, I've always been trying to maximize what I can grow.  In general, IMHO, it backfires and bites me in the backside 80-90% of the time. Most of my problems I've experienced I attribute to the fact that I'm a crowder.  I've had the best success with I stick with the generally accepted planting spacing for SFG 

Good luck.

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Re: help with raised beds! how much can I grow in a 4' x 4' raised bed?

Post  No_Such_Reality on 7/27/2017, 11:07 am

I just looked at your post again and realized you might be asking about plant spacing.  The forums have a seeds and plants section that talks about inidividual plants and their spacing.

I'll link off site as a starter as my searches in the forums returned so many hits and I couldn't find a general link.  https://gardeninminutes.com/plant-spacing-chart-raised-bed-gardening

There are variations based on varieties and discussed in the seeds and plants part of the forum.  The basic rule is divide 12 by the thin to distance and multiply that by itself.  I.e. A plant like carrot that says thin to 3" would be 12 / 3 = 4, therefore 4*4=16 per square.

When dealing with species that are thin to 18" or 24", the spacing gets more difficult, 1 per 2 squares or 1 per 4 squares.  

For many plants like tomatoes, an SFG favorite for many, in general trial and error has shown 1 per square is recommended.  However, inidividual tomatoe type and other things planted affect this.  Along with your plans for vertical support etc.

Good luck.

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Re: help with raised beds! how much can I grow in a 4' x 4' raised bed?

Post  Robbomb116 on 7/27/2017, 11:54 am

Some 18 inch thin to spacing could use 4 plants in 9 squares, ie 4 plants in a 3'×3' area.
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Re: help with raised beds! how much can I grow in a 4' x 4' raised bed?

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