Total Pageviews

Friday, March 15, 2013

Square Foot Gardening with Aquaponics

A Grow Bed with a Grid

I like the idea of square foot gardening - marking your growing space into square patches that are each about one square foot in area. But since I have these oval rubbermaid tanks, I hadn't wrapped my mind around how to do the marks.

But this past February I decided to pay attention and figure something out. I took some thin rope and black binder clips. The binder clips can be the small ones that hold 3/8-inch of paper. This allows them to grab onto the edge of the lip of the rim securely. Then the thin rope is tied between the handles of the binder clips on opposite sides of the grow bed.

When I initially created the grid, the rope was slack. Here's where the rounded edges come in handy. I moved one of the binder clips for each pair around the lip so the distance between the two clips was smaller. I re-tied the rope between the clips, then slid the clip back into position. This made the rope taught.

Once I was done, I broadcast seeded the squares, as well as planting my floating raft. I also added seed to bare patches in my two grow beds that still had plants that had survived the winter. Here's the map I drew for myself.

I planted seeds on 2/16, and a month later the bok choy, turnips, and radishes have germinated. I'm starting to see hints of cabbage and leek, and my carrots and beets are still AWOL. I'm sure they would have germinated more quickly inside, but direct seeding is much easier. And even though most of the nights since February 16th have dipped below freezing, the temperature of the water in the fish tanks has held steady at 40-50 degrees, as measured by my "through the cover" meat thermometer.

My tank temperature was still 38 degrees on February 23rd, even though night-time temperatures had dipped well below freezing for six nights in a row leading up to this picture.

1 comment:

  1. Things have germinated well enought that I don't have enough room to let all the plants grow to maturity. We'll just have to eat ourselves some "microgreens."

    For those of you coming to this page from a search engine, let me mention that I ended up getting tapped to write The Complete Idiot's Guide to Aquaponic Gardening for Penguin Book Group. The book is now available for purchase at It includes lots of DIY plans as well as everything I wished I could have found in a book back when I was starting out (which wasn't very long ago...). So far the reviews are good!

    The book has a chapter on growing vegetables, which includes the square foot gardening spacing for all the vegetables discussed (several for each part of the growing season, from cold weather to hot (e.g., hardy to tender). There are also plans for making your own 3x5 grow bed from lumber and plywood (and liner), which is a perfect grow bed size for doing square foot gardening. Once I get up the gumption to renovate my garden, I'm going with square foot gardening-sized grow beds instead of the Rubbermaid stock tank beds, which may allow me to increase my growing area by a factor of two!