Square Foot Gardening Essentials
In a previous post, I discussed tips for a successful vegetable garden. Recently, I came across a gardening principle that I hadn’t heard of before. Usually, when gardening, it conjures images of long paths of tilled soil with crops planted directly into the ground. Or sometimes, container gardening. However, today I am introducing the concept of square foot gardening.
The idea is pretty straight forward. You mark off your garden in 1 square foot segments. In each square, you plant your crops and base the densities off of the type of crop. The idea is to maximize the efficiency of the space used. Instead of wasted space between rows of crops, you are utilizing the full area of your grid.
With that being said, the premise was originally devised by Mel Bartholomew in 1981. Mel has published a couple books based on this practice. In his most recent book, “All New Square Foot Gardening“, Mel suggests using raised beds instead of sowing the crops directly into the ground. The reasoning is you can fill your raised beds with mixtures of peat moss, vermiculite, and compost. This provides a better growing environment and should produce a better yield.
An Example Grid
In this particular example, our grid is 4′ x 4′. Each square is a square foot. In this example, you will notice a couple things. One, the tomato plants are planted with only one per square. Secondly, we are utilizing Marigolds as a companion plant to help repel pests. The rest is pretty straight forward.
Each crop is assigned a certain capacity depending on how it grows. Compact plants such as carrots and radishes can be sown 16 per square. Even smaller crops such as green onion or herbs can be sown even denser, with 32 per square. For the bush variety of green beans, you can plant 8 per square. Lettuce can usually fit 4 per square. And of course, the tomatoes, as mentioned before, is 1 per square. As with any gardening, these numbers can be changed depending on your specific variety, preferences, and what works best in your environment. And of course, the tomatoes, as mentioned before, is 1 per square
Bear in mind, this is just an example diagram. As with any gardening, these numbers can be changed depending on your specific variety, preferences, and what works best in your environment. Also, for plants that grow tall, you can also accommodate these in a northern row to ensure they don’t shade the other plants. You can use poles, wires, or netting to help support the climbers as well.
I am actually surprised that I had never discovered across the methodology before. The premise is super simple and makes a lot of sense. If you are tight on space or can’t easily dig a traditional vegetable garden, then Square Foot Gardening is an awesome way to work past these limitations. Have you tried this style of gardening before? Do you have any tips for beginners? Be sure to sound off in the comments!