Early miniature cabbage and lettuce under screening

Learn a variety of sample layouts and rotations for your square foot garden, so you can plan multiple crops and regular harvests throughout the year.

1)  How to Harvest Fresh Salad Every Week

Here is a simple layout for a salad bed, where you would grow any vegetable that you can harvest in 45-60 days – such as lettuce, spinach, radish, Japanese turnips, etc. Divide your garden bed into four sections (A, B, C, D), and plant each section 2 weeks apart. In this example, you will be able to harvest 3 crops from each section of the bed.

These dates work with a frost-free season from about May 15 – October 15, if you protect your vegetables in the early and late ends of your growing season. You can adjust the schedule to fit your own climate.

Salad rotation layout

By the time you return to the first section (8 weeks after you have planted the first crop there), you should have finished harvesting in that section, and can start planting your second crop there. Keep working your way around the bed.

Be sure to plant cold-tolerant vegetables in early spring and late fall, and heat-tolerant varieties in the summer. Use a cold frame or row cover to protect your early or late crops, and shade cloth to protect your cool-season vegetables in the heat of summer.

With a little bit of planning, it’s not hard to enjoy fresh salads nearly every week of the year from a small square foot garden! The following article provides easy-to-understand directions and layouts on how you can grow multiple crops in two garden beds (including tomatoes, snap peas, and miniature cabbages) in order to harvest fresh salads year-round:

How to Enjoy Fresh Salad Every Week of the Year

2)  Double Your Crops in Most Beds

Succession planting is when you plant one crop after another in the same year. It’s pretty easy to grow two crops in one year in most of your garden beds.  To see photos of examples, go to Photos of Gardens.

Sample 1:
April 15th – Plant onions
August 15th – After harvesting onions, plant kale

Sample 2:
Oct. 30th, 1st year – Plant garlic in the fall
July 15th, next year – After harvesting garlic, plant carrots

Sample 3:
April 15th – Plant broccoli
July 1st – After harvesting broccoli, plant summer squash

Sample 4:
April 1st – Plant spinach
June 1st – After harvesting spinach, plant sweet potatoes

Sample 5:
April 15th – Plant early potatoes
July 15th – After harvesting early potatoes, plant cabbage

When you are planning multiple crops, it is very important to make sure that each crop has enough time to mature.  Allow extra time (1-2 weeks) for your fall crops to mature in the shorter daylight hours of autumn, and double-check the days to maturity for both crops.

Sometimes selecting an early variety that matures just 2 weeks sooner will allow you to fit in multiple crops that wouldn’t work when using a long-season variety.

3) Use Interplanting

While succession planting is growing one crop after another, interplanting involves growing small, fast-growing crops (often lettuce, spinach, baby turnips, etc) in between larger, slower-growing crops (like peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, squash, etc).

Interplanting Broccoli and Lettuce

This is a sample of interplanting: lettuce planted between miniature broccoli plants (underneath window screening to keep off cabbage worms).

4) Use Vertical Gardening / Trellises

Growing plants up vertically is another great way to increase your yields in small garden beds. If you want to grow even more large vining vegetable plants in your small garden, you can use two trellises on the same 4-foot-wide bed – one on the north side, and one on the south side.

In summer, the sun crosses high in the sky and both trellises will get full sunshine. Just don’t expect to grow other vegetables in the middle of the bed, between the trellises, after the large vining plants have gotten more than about 3-4 feet high (usually mid-July in my area).

Doulge Trellis Layout

Always use the vining indeterminate tomato plants on trellises, not the bushy determinate varieties. When growing melons or small watermelons on trellises, always support the growing melons with slings – you can use old nylons, mesh onion bags, or other flexible material. Smaller winter squash, like butternut, won’t need any extra support at all.

Watermelons in slings on trellis

These miniature watermelons trained on a trellis are hanging in slings made from old nylons. Although my butternut squashes never need extra support, I’ve lost too many watermelons, even the miniature ones, if I don’t support them.

To learn more about vertical gardening, see:

Bountiful Trellised Squash!

Growing Watermelon on Trellises

Training and Pruning Trellised Vegetables

5) Use a Combination of Techniques to Maximize Your Yields

If you’re interested in growing up to 3 crops in one year in your small square foot garden beds, check out the garden plans and layouts in this article:

How to Harvest 3 Crops a Year From Small Garden Beds

Though some of the plans/layouts that I describe are fairly simple, most use a combination of the gardening techniques I have listed above.  If you are new to this type of intensive gardening, you may not want to try to use all of these techniques in your first year or two.

It will take practice to learn how to use these methods in your particular climate and soil. As you become more experienced, you will be able to combine many of these methods (and more!) to maximize your garden harvest.

If you’d like to learn more about spacing your vegetables, see:

Spacing Plants in Square Foot Gardens

With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to harvest abundant fresh organic food 12 months a year from your small square foot garden – no matter what your climate is!

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Have any questions?

Feel free to ask me in the comments below, directly through the contact form on my About page, or join us at our Square Foot Abundance Facebook group.

Happy gardening!

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