Light, Wind & Weather
These 3 factors are so important. You need to ensure that your plants are getting a good amount of sunlight so that they can grow and for photosynthesis.
Regardless of the size of your garden, build the square foot garden away from the trees. Shade shouldn’t be an issue and the bed should be exposed to sunlight for a minimum of 6 hours and a maximum of 8 hours. More is always better, but 6-8 hours will be good enough. Fruits and vegetables need 8 to 10 hours of sunlight because these tend to be more demanding than other plants or crops.
If you happen to be living in a city or country where the summers are dry and hot, water your plants so that they aren’t overwhelmed by the amount of sunlight they are receiving. Also, as was said earlier, grow your plants close to one another- they should be close enough so that they can protect the soil from the heat and evaporation, but not so close that you end up with a square foot garden with plants growing on top of one another. If you have a tree that’s leafless in your garden right now, remember that come summer the leaves will grow back. So be sure to build your bed in an area where this won’t be an issue.
Wind can be good for your plants because it can blow away certain insects and pests, but too much wind is never good. Such winds can practically ruin everything for you. Do not grow tall flowers or crops near the monsoon period or fall because such crops and flowers tend to break easily and the damage done would be irreversible.
However, if you would still like to grow such plants, there is a solution to this problem: temporary support. The monsoons or fall will only last for a few weeks and making use of temporary chicken wire will prove to be helpful. You could use 6 inches of it over the box. When these plants, flowers, or crops grow to a height of 2.5 to 3 feet, make use of sturdy steel posts and use nylon netting tied from one end of the box to the next horizontally. Be sure to do this properly, though, and take measurements. The length and width of the nylon netting must be tall enough to support the plants in the box. If you go wrong with this you will find yourself starting from scratch.
Here’s an example of 2 steel posts put over the same bed
Here is another good illustration of what steel posts and nylon netting should look like.
One might think ‘why use nylon nets and not something sturdier like wires?” Here’s the answer: the problem with steel wires is that if the wind were to blow fast, the steel wire wouldn’t support it but it might end up ‘breaking’ the flower or crop due to the force of the wind. Nylon is a safer option because it will support the plant and it can withstand the wind too. You could put these up whenever you want to. Some people utilize these a lot before the monsoon starts.
Let us consider the third factor- weather. Many people presume that spring, summer, winter and fall affect all plants, everywhere, the same way, but that is not the case. Summers tend to be more humid in some areas than in others, and likewise the winters in some areas might be drier than it would be in others.
The weather determines what you grow and how you grow it. So, for example, if you happen to be living in a city that experiences ‘dry’ heat, you would have to water your square foot bed quite often.
In some areas you have to use more compost to grow a certain crop and if you were to grow the same crop in an area where the summers are more humid, you could use less compost instead.
You also have to use more steel posts and nylon nettings in areas where the winds tend to get strong, In areas where the wind isn’t an issue, you need not do that.
How you treat the soil varies according to the weather as well. In the winters its best to grow a few cash crops to prepare the soil for the winter season. This way you are ‘adding’ nitrogen to the soil. Cash crops produce more nitrogen than they can use and so the unused nitrogen is released into the soil, which enriches the soil. In the fall mulch the soil by using dead leaves and some green leaves for this purpose. This will add other nutrients to the soil.
In the springtime, it is a good idea to remove the mulch and throw in some fertilizer instead. Both fertilizers and mulch consist of nutrients that are good for the soil, but the mulch must be removed so that the fertilizer further enriches the soil. Some people choose to till the fertilizer while others go for sprinkling it- either way would suffice really. You don’t want to have to fertilize too often, so you should make use of slow-release fertilizers. These will dry up slower than other types of fertilizers. Summer is known as the growing period for most plants.
As summer approaches, keep replacing the compost every now and then and continue to do so even in the summertime. Compost in raised beds is known to dry very early and replacing is a good idea.
Planning according to the weather and climatic changes is important because the weather will affect the way your plants grow, It is always good to plan how you intend to grow your plants beforehand. Certain plants can only be grown in certain types of weather and knowing how this applies to square foot gardening will assist you with coming up with the kind of garden you want.