Best Plants for Square Foot Gardening

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Square foot gardening has revolutionized the lives of many people who love growing vegetables, but only have a tiny garden to work with. Carefully measured gardening spots can impact how much food you can grow and how much waste you can avoid. But, what are the best plants for square foot gardening? We’ll share below 🙂

Square foot gardening

This type of gardening takes a raised bed, usually measured at four feet, filled with growing matter.

Mel Bartholomew’s book Square Foot Gardening: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space has all the details, including his revolutionary soil mix that works wonders (I use it myself!).

This bed is then separated into 16 one-foot squares to form a grid, and each square is then planted with a different crop. The compact size means you don’t have to lean over any crops to harvest or tend to them, making your life and the plants’ a lot easier.

Some vegetables can fit snugly in one square: celery, peppers, and rosemary. On the other hand, you can fit two of each of these: cucumbers, pumpkins, and watermelons (they’ll need a trellis to climb vertically). You can even fit four, eight or nine seeds, or even 16 in just one square for smaller plants.

You can plant almost any plant in this type of garden bed, but to really maximize your space, you’ll want to look for smaller crops.

Small pepper starts

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In a hurry? This is our winner!

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Get your minimalist space-saving going with our favorite plants for square foot gardening … but why stop at one when you could get a pack of thirty vegetables and herb seeds? We’ve chosen this as our top choice because:

  • You’ll get a wide variety of products so you can pick and choose what you plant. 
  • Great, affordable price for how many seeds you’ll receive. 
  • You can store the seeds for years without them going dormant.

Best Plants for Square Foot Gardening – Comparison Table

Best Plants for Square Foot Gardening – Reviews

Our Top Pick
Set of 35 Assorted Vegetable & Herb Seeds 35 Varieties Create a Deluxe Garden All Seeds are...
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You’ll want your square foot garden to keep reproducing for years, and sadly nothing lasts forever.

Sometimes your plants will die and you’ll have to replace them, so why not buy a set of thirty vegetable and herb seeds? You can switch up your garden whenever you want and keep your garden fresh.

You’ll get thirty Valley Greene seed packets including beetroot, broccoli, carrot, sweetcorn, many different lettuce types, spinach, as well as many more. They all have an average germination rate of 7-14 days, meaning you won’t be waiting around for ages to see results.

All the seeds you’ll receive are heirloom and 100% non-GMO, making them the highest quality of seeds on the market. Customize your garden and family meals with these many seeds without having to raid the store and succumb to subpar herbs and veggies.

Make sure you consider how many squares will need to be used for each of these seeds before you overpopulate your garden.

Pros
  • Seeds stay fresh for years if stored correctly.
  • Wide variety of herbs and vegetables to choose from.
  • Great price point for the value.
Cons
  • Some seed packet varieties may vary.
  • One user received napkins instead of seeds.

Quinalt Everbearing Strawberry 25 Bare Root Plants - Huge Fruit Size
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Unlike other plants on this list, Hirt’s Gardens actually offers bare rooted strawberry plants which can be put straight into your square foot garden.

This takes out the first steps of getting the seeds to take to your soil and speed up the whole process, getting you your strawberries quicker. These plants offer the biggest, softest and juiciest fruits, and you’ll be sure to get a high yield with this.

The strawberries can get up to a full two inches wide, making them perfect for a summer snack or dessert. These plants will continue to grow from late spring right through summer, giving you an unusual but welcomed four to five months of solid crops.

The Quinalt Everbearing Strawberries are self-pollinating, making them great for small spaces such as pots or a square foot garden. It’s advised that they are planted over two squares as they can spread up to two feet wide.

This plant is amazingly resilient to many common strawberry diseases, including leaf scorch, leaf spot, and root rot. Their unmatched flavor, size and smell make these plants perfect for your square foot garden!

Pros
  • Many users have found that all 25 of their plants have survived.
  • Continue growing from May to October.
  • Resilient to common diseases.
Cons
  • Not the best customer service.
  • Plants appear dead when they arrive, but do revive themselves.

10,000 Seed Lot - 30 Vegetable & Fruit Variety Pack - Survival Non-gmo Varieties
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Virgin Seeds are on a mission to provide people with reliable and affordable means to sustain a healthier future, by offering a variety of seeds including vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers.

The perfect starter kit for a square foot garden, all the produce is naturally pollinated to ensure the best quality and a 98% germinate rate. At room temperature, these seeds will last around 3-5 years, whereas if stored in a cold basement they’ll keep for 10 years.

However, if you freeze them for long term storage most strains will last for thirty years, making this a great and valuable investment.

You’ll receive a handy instruction booklet, four-inch scissors as well as the seeds. You’ll get a variety of quantities of the seeds ranging from 4 to 500.

Some examples of the seeds you’ll get are asparagus, Brussel sprouts, celery, honeydew and watermelon, tomato, pumpkin, sunflower, and eggplant, and many more, making this an excellent purchase if you’re starting up your own square foot garden.

Pros
  • Some seeds grow during summer, some grow during winter so you’ll have produce all year round.
  • Almost 100% germination rate.
  • Great variety of fruits, veggies, plants, and herbs.
Cons
  • Not great customer service.
  • A few users didn’t receive all the seeds.

Set of 50 Flower Seed Packets! Flower Seeds in Bulk (50, Sunflower)
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Sunflowers are the epitome of summer – what better way to wake up is there than throwing open your curtains and seeing a great big towering sunflower staring back at you?

These seeds from Valley Greene are all-natural, non-GMO and have high germination rates. You won’t be receiving just one packet, either – you’ll get fifty! Fifty seed packets may seem excessive, but they last years if stored correctly.

Valley Greene also offers a range of 26 other flowers, and if fifty packets aren’t enough, you can even opt for 100!

These plants can grow from five to ten feet tall and they should be planted far apart so their roots can grow independently to their heart’s content. This means you should plant them conservatively within your square foot garden to prevent them from taking over the other plants.

Nonetheless, a tall sunflower can be a great protector over your whole garden as it can be perceived by predators as a scarecrow!

Pros
  • 50 packets each holding 20 seeds means you’ll have sunflowers for years.
  • Super easy to plant and grow.
  • Lovely, bright color to add to your greenery.
Cons
  • Some reviewers were upset that the price was printed on the packet.
  • One user received the wrong seeds.

Large Leaf Italian Basil Seeds - 1000 Non-GMO Seeds
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Basil is one of the most versatile and widely used herbs on the market, and it’s also very easy to grow. Here’s how to grow basil.

While you can buy basil from the supermarket, it tends to be extremely overpriced and you’ll only get a small amount. Growing basil in your square foot garden is an excellent way of ensuring you have enough herbs to keep you going, and you can even freeze it for the winter months.

Seed and Plant offers 1000 non-GMO seeds with an 85% germination rate, giving you the means to grow more basil than you and your family could ever need.

Taking only a month and a half to reach maturity, these seeds will satisfy your need for basil in record time. This strain of basil has crinkly, broadly oval leaves which are dark green in color and give your dishes a little bit of a kick.

Sweet basil is often used in Italian dishes such as pesto, giving you top-quality herbs for all your meals.

Pros
  • These seeds grow faster and healthier than similar seeds on the market.
  • 1000 seeds means you’ll never run out of this versatile herb.
  • Quick to sprout.
Cons
  • Haven’t worked for everyone.
  • Slow delivery for some reviewers.

Best Plants for Square Foot Gardening – Buyers Guide

Space needed for different types of plants

Square foot gardening is all about space-saving, so make sure you plan out what you’re going to plant in each square and remember that some plants require more space.

Bigger vegetables, such as pumpkins, and plants like sunflowers, can sometimes only fit two seeds into one square, so do the research and determine how much variety you’re going to want from your square foot garden.

One plant per square foot

The largest plants that can be planted in a square foot garden often take up a whole square just for one seed.

These include cabbage, broccoli (tips for growing broccoli), Brussels sprouts, tomatoes (here’s how to grow tomatoes), eggplants, peppers and herbs such as coriander, rosemary, and mint.

Four plants per square foot

Plants such as swiss chard, parsley, basil and a number of other leafy greens can be planted four to a square, but beware that these will need to be harvested more often to prevent them from overgrowing.

Nine plants per square foot

This category includes beets (here’s how to grow beets), parsnips, spinach, peas (how to grow peas) and large turnips.

Plant these nine seeds in a grid with four inches in between each of them to ensure there’s enough room for their roots to grow.

Sixteen plants per square foot

Here are just a few of the plants that can grow close together with 16 plants per square: radishes, carrots, garlic, onion, and spring onions.

Make sure to space them apart around three inches, in a grid of four rows of four.

Companion planting in the square garden

Plants, just like people, can be really good for one another and create mutually beneficial relationships.

For example, some plants can reduce the occurrence of pests or diseases in their neighbors. Placing chives next to carrots can help eliminate the detrimental carrot fly by masking the strong carrot odor.

Similarly, it’s easy to see how plants can help each other keep their optimal conditions.

Planting tall plants like sunflowers next to lettuce can give the latter their desired mid-summer shade so they’re less likely to bolt and die.

Planting randomly can cause problems like root rot and the infestation of pests.

For instance, placing Mediterranean herbs, which don’t need to be watered a lot, next to an exceptionally thirsty plant can cause the herbs to be overwatered and unfortunately die.

Spend some time researching your plants and figure out what will benefit most from being positioned closely and what should be separated.

Crop rotation in your small garden

Avoid growing veggies from the same family in the same bed year after year, as this could attract and increase the likelihood of pests and diseases. Here’s more about garden pest control.

The different plant families include:

  • Brassicas: broccoli, kale, and cabbage
  • Legumes: peas, runner beans, and broad beans
  • Potato family: potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomato, peppers, and eggplants
  • Roots: beetroot, celery, parsnip, and carrots
  • Onions: leeks, onions, and garlic

A great example of crop rotation is having multiple beds in your garden and assigning one plant family to each bed. Then keep switching them around every now and then to avoid pests and diseases settling into the soil.

Pests and diseases in the soil are much harder to get rid of. You may need to remove all the soil and replace it all with fresh soil. That, my friend, can get costly really fast!

Of course, you didn’t just spend way more than needed but lost out on delicious crops in the process.

I hope my ideas about the best plants for square foot gardening is helpful to you. Enjoy a nice garden this year 🙂

Best plants for square foot gardening

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