Winding Down my Square Foot Gardening Beds This Season

Within the past few days I’ve done a lot of gardening work outdoors to wind things down for the season. I managed to get everything out before a couple more hard freezes set in. While I do more than square foot gardening, I’ll focus on that aspect of my survival gardening for now.


Square Foot Gardening Beds in Early November 2010


Back in late September and early October, I uprooted everything in the 4’ x 6’ bed (at right in photo), which I call bed #1. Things in it performed rather poorly all season, so I dug out all the soil mix, got rid of the plastic barrier at the bottom and put down black weed fabric. Then, as I put the soil mix back in, I enriched it with organic compost and said a prayer that it would do better next year..

A few days ago I pulled up everything from square foot bed #2 but the sage plant. Bed #2 is the 4’ x 4’ bed (at left in photo) containing Mel’s Mix on top of a layer of weed fabric. It’s the bed that looked like a green overflowing jungle most of the season, thanks to Red Ripper black-eyed peas. More on those shortly.

The popcorn I planted just didn’t make it. Neither did the squash, which I couldn’t even find. It’s as if I never planted any. The Red Rippers absolutely took over.

The okra was killed off by a freeze late last week. I saved the few pods left on them to dry out and save seeds.

Once everything was pulled up, I worked organic compost into the soil. To my dismay I found a few masses of roots that looked suspiciously like the damnable tree roots the weed fabric was supposed to keep out.

I’d like to think those roots were the mat that resulted from the tangle of plants that grew this season. But I’m not certain and won’t be unless I dig up and rework the bed like I did with bed #1. I’ll let it go until next spring.


Containers of Red Ripper Black-eyed peas


The Red Ripper black-eyed pea plants had lost nearly all their leaves and were a tangled mess, but I got a large amount of pods off of them, as was the case several times this summer and fall. I’ve never had any that were as productive as these.

I spent over 2 and a half hours shelling that last mess the other evening. This is the latest I’ve ever harvested black-eyed peas.

I figure I harvested four cups, maybe four and a half cups of black-eyed peas, from this one 4′ x 4′ square bed. And that’s with other plants taking up some of the space. If I have results half that good next year, I’ll be thrilled. Naturally, I saved back some seed.

The two larger containers in the photo above hold two cups. The smaller container (at right in photo) holds a cup and is only partly full. Half of a 3″ x 5″ card has the variety written on it. The container has approximately half a cup in it now, about the same amount of Red Rippers I’d saved back from a year or two ago, to give you an idea of what I started with.

This year’s harvest completely filled both of the larger containers, but the contents of the top container in the photo has already been cooked in a large slow cooker with ham pieces. I plan to enjoy some of it this weekend.

Did you grow something this year that produced beyond your expectations?


Click here for info on Mel Bartholomew’s All New Square Foot Gardening.


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.

2 thoughts on “Winding Down my Square Foot Gardening Beds This Season”

  1. I planted 4 asian long bean plants (sometimes called yard long beans) and had way more harvested beans than I knew what to do with. I canned a bunch, gave away a bunch, and ate a lot. Waited to harvest some a little too long, got some beans that were 20-24 inches long, a little too tough to eat. Plants were relatively pest free, seemed to enjoy the southwest AZ sunshine, and were a magnet for bees and butterflys to their blossoms. Good plants, I plan on growing some more next year.

    1. Very good. I planted some of those a few years ago, too, but never had the success you mentioned. But I didn’t harvest mine as green beans. Instead, I let them mature and shelled them like dry beans. They’re hard to work with, too, because the shells and beans are fairly small. Long pods, but small beans. If I’d have harvested the beans when they were young, I likely would have had more production. They’re fun to grow at any rate. I may grow some again. All the best for yours next time.

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