Plant Spacing, etc – Mittleider Method vs Square Foot Gardening

Square Foot Gardening – Planting Instructions:
“Vegetables will be planted in each block according to their size at maturity.
Artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower get one block each (1/sq ft).
Corn, cilantro or leaf lettuce 4 to a block (4/sq ft).
Beans Leeks, bulb onions, 9 to a block (9/sq ft).
Carrots, green onions, or radishes, 16 to a block (16/sq ft).
Exact seed count
• Plant two seeds per hole in case one fails to sprout.
• If both seeds sprout, snip out one with scissors.
• If neither seed sprouts within two weeks – replant.
• For small seeds, radishes and carrots just a pinch of seed in each hole. After a few weeks if several seeds sprout chose the strongest one and snip out the others. Don’t pull or you will disturb the roots of the survivor”.

Mittleider Method Plant Spacing Instructions, etc.

Plants require ample space for light and air, and must not crowd adjacent plants, or all will suffer and none will produce properly. The Mittleider Method recommends much more space for most plants than does SFG, with a planting area of 18” separated by 3 ½’-wide aisles, and mandates that taller plants be planted North or East of shorter plants, so as not to shade them.

Artichokes require at least 6 square feet of space, and they require 150-180 days to mature a crop.
Broccoli and cauliflower need 14” spacing with 2 rows in 5’ width. (2 ½ sq ft ea) – 85 days.
Cabbage – depending on variety – needs from 1 ½ to 3 square feet each – 65-85 days.
Corn – again depending on variety – can be planted 8” apart in 2 rows 12” apart, but must have 3 ½’ aisles between each two rows – 65-85 days. (1/2 sq ft ea)
Leaf lettuce can do with 6” spacing – if they are pruned regularly to keep them small – 30-6 days.

Planting multiple seeds in the same space is wasteful of seeds and disruptive to the plants’ growth. Both compete for the same water, food, space, and light and all plants suffer, stretching for light and producing leggy and weak stems.

Waiting for “a few weeks” is far too long, plants become “leggy” and weak from sharing limited light, water, and nutrients, and rarely recover fully.

Planting a 4 X 4 box with many different varieties is problematic, as growth rates and hence requirements for light, space, fertilizer, and water are very different, as described above. Also, maturity dates differ greatly, and spaces would need to be re-planted, but adjacent plants, being taller, would shade new plants and deny them essential light.

The Mittleider Method is designed for high production in limited space. All seeds are planted in shallow furrows and covered with sand, to facilitate easy germination and seedling emergence. Small seeds are planted by mixing 1 part seed with 100 parts clean sand, then sprinkling evenly throughout the length of the furrow and covering with sand. All seeds are covered 2 ½ times the thickness of the seed.

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