SFG Update – October 2013

Winter vs Summer

I mentioned in a previous SFG post that, according to my research, if you live in the tropics, you can plant anything, anytime.

Not true.

Well, you can plant it, but it won’t grow.

This is what I think: there are two seasons in the tropics – winter, when most plants are dormant, and summer, when they wake up and take off with a vengeance!

I planted my Square Foot Garden bed in July, and the only things that produced a crop, were the snow and sugar snap peas, and the bush beans – I guess they’re a winter crop.

Most of the other seeds germinated, but the seedlings remained tiny until very recently.

I’ve had 3 failures – despite having tried three different Roma tomato varieties (a number of times), they have yet to germinate. I’m also having trouble with germinating the English spinach and Cos lettuce.

But I refuse to give up – there are hundreds of seeds in those little packets, and if I have to sow every last one of them, I will!

Harvest and Growth

After tasting the peas and beans, we finally understood why people grow their own vegetables – they were unbelievably sweet and tender – we became addicted, and ate them every night.

Sugar snap peas

Sugar snap peas in their prime

First harvest

The very first harvest – not many, but delicious all the same

I initially planted one square of bush beans (9 per square), and seven squares of peas (4 per square) – this yielded enough for the two of us over a couple of months.

I’ve since planted two more squares of bush beans, and have just replanted the square that got infested with mealy bugs.

Bush beans

Diseased bush bean square

Mealy bugs


Most of the pea plants are dead – I’m not sure if it was the heat, the dreaded mealy bugs, or simply that the season is at an end, as we were overseas when they started dying. I’m letting the remaining pods dry on the vines, so I’ll have more seeds for next year.

As an experiment, I recently planted a few sugar snap peas to see if they’ll grow through the summer.

I bought 3 small basil plants to go near the tomatoes, as basil is supposed to aid in their growth.

As I mentioned, the Roma tomatoes have yet to make an appearance, and the Grosse Lisse tomato has only just started to grow – in the meantime, the basil has gone berserk – I’m going to have to make pesto, or give some to our local Italian restaurant – way too much for the two of us!

Soil Composition

I didn’t find either vermiculite or peat moss before I started planting, so the soil is a mix of topsoil and compost.

I’ve since bought a bag of potting mix made from fertilised peat moss, and spread that around the seedlings.

Then I found perlite and coco peat – as I replant each square, I’ll mix some of both into the soil to aid with water retention.

For those of you living here – all of them were from Lolo Supermarket in Morcellement St André.


Now that the plants are actively growing, I’ve started watering them with a seaweed extract every couple of weeks.


Herbs: basil, oregano, mint, parsley, thyme, spring onions (scallions), dill (not doing well – I think it’s rotting)

Veggies: carrots (baby), bush beans, snow peas, sugar snap peas, silverbeet (Swiss chard), parsnips, red onion, celery, Chinese celery, Grosse Lisse tomato, Roma tomato (one day), cos lettuce (also one day), English spinach (ditto), iceberg lettuce, capsicum (peppers), hot chilli

Fruit: strawberries

All that in a 5×10 foot space, and there are still plenty of empty squares.

So, as the bulk of it’s growing, I’d call it a successful first foray into the wonderful world of Square Foot Gardening.

I need a life.

Strawberry cage

A cage to keep the mynah birds away from the strawberries


One of the carrot squares and silverbeet

Parsley and spring onions

Parsley and spring onions



SFG bed

Lettuces in the forefront

SFG bed

Tomato dwarfed by basil plants

Shaded from the afternoon sun

Shaded from the afternoon sun

SFG bedIf you’re interested in starting a Square Foot Garden, this website is the one I used to gather all the information I needed – it’s a one-stop shop!

13 thoughts on “SFG Update – October 2013

  1. Hi. I just moved to Mauritius and would like to make a square foot garden in Moka . I am wondering if you know of a place, since your post in 2014, that sells compost + coarse vermiculite + peat moss ? I want to grow organic herbs and vegetables, and have only found organic seeds at La Vie Claire. Any information about where to get rich soil and organic seeds would be really helpful. Thank you !!


    • Sorry Sara, but I’m not going to be of much help here – I haven’t been doing any gardening for the last couple of years, and consequently haven’t looked around for gardening products. I bought a bag of compost at my local hardware store, but it would be an expensive way to fill a SFG bed. That’s also where we sourced soil (to which I added a lot of composted manure which we got from the Mont Choisy horseriding place). I’ve seen vermiculite at Mr Bricolage (though that was a while back), but not peat moss. Ask at your nursery (garden centre, if you’re from the UK!) as they may have a better idea. I usually buy my seeds when I’m overseas, so sadly, I can’t help you there either! Good luck, and if you do find any of these things, would you mind posting details here for anyone else who’d like to start a SFG.


  2. Thanks so much for your two posts about mealy bug. I thought it was some variety of mildew/ mould/ fungus as well until I read your post. I have a tiny terrace garden and it destroyed my (previously flourishing) marigold and has taken over a wedelia though it still seems healthy albeit spotted with the white stuff. They seem to like yellow flowers. Until I read your post I was diligently and pointlessly spraying everything with fungicide…!

    I’d be very grateful if you could clarify two things
    – what was more effective in your experience, the Amidor (Imidacloprid) or the vegetable oil mix?
    – also, did you use the Amidor as a preventive on the other non-affected plants?

    Thanks again for the very useful posts.


    • Hi there – the Amidor is more effective than the white oil. It’s systemic, so is absorbed into the plant’s sap, and will kill any pest that tries to chew it or suck the sap.
      Unfortunately, that’s also the reason I can’t use it on the vegetable garden – I don’t want to ingest insecticide!
      I didn’t use Amidor as a preventative – the mealy bugs were very selective – they only attacked certain plants – all of which were heavily infested by the time I realised I wasn’t dealing with mould. But thanks for the idea – I’ll spray the susceptible plants next winter just in case!
      Hope your plants recover. V


  3. It’s great! I imagine how you are happy to have a harvest))
    I didn’t plant any vegetables yet (exept of tomatoes which started grow by itself). I have some herbs. And I noticed the same problem with seasons. Dill didn’t grow in winter, but now it feel pretty good. My seeds of parsley from Russia didn’t grow well, but my neighbours planted local parsley and it go very good. So I think it’s a climat problem for my seeds.
    I received a gift from friend – one little plant of strawberries, having some berries, waiting for new branches to cultivate it.
    I don’t use any fertiliser, only watered with water infused with an egg shell. Could you please share where did you get the seaweed extract? Is it possible to buy it, or you prepared it by yourself?
    Thank you for so interesting article. It’s really good to plant something at home. And I usually don’t understand why local people, if they have some land, don’t grow anything on it.


    • Hi Olga – I bought the seaweed extract from two different places – the nursery at Labourdonnais had one called Seasol, and the other one was called Rapid Grow, and I bought it at a little agricultural supply store in Triolet (across from Pandoo hardware store, if that’s any help!). These stores are all over the place – they sell bulk seeds, pesticides, fertilisers etc for the small planters. If you don’t live in the North, ask your Mauritian neighbours where your closest shop is – I think those places are you best bet, as Labourdonnais don’t always have Seasol in stock. You could also try at your local plant nursery.
      I’ve just started using the eggshell in water solution on the tomato and capsicum – does it actually make a difference, and how often do you use it? V


      • Hi! Thank you for advices.
        I living in Mauritius less than year, and I started to plant just few months ago. So naturally I didn’t realise yet how this eggshell influence on plants. Anyway I think its better then nothing.


      • Hi again Olga – where are you living – I can give you better advice if I know that. Also, I’m thinking of starting a little group to swap seeds and plants – we can all meet up occasionally – have to think about it a little more. V


      • Good afternoon Veronique, I live in Curepipe. Not the best place on island, but for a while I will live here.
        It’s good idea with seeds. I still have some seeds from Russia, mostly flowers, some peas, some carrot (didn’t try to plant yet). Can share some. Only one plant in my small garden has ripened and has given many seeds – Amaranth. Just the other day we were working to improve the backyard, so in the near future, I’m going to organise a vegetable garden.


      • Hi am Vicky from mauritius I would like to take contact with you to know more about lettuce and other plant many thanks hope received your reply soon


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