Find Your Gardening Style – 8 Reasons to Try Square Foot Gardening
I admit it – I’m a plant crowder! The back of every seed packet has some specific planting instructions. You can look there to find when to start your seeds and the space requirements for each plant at maturity. Every year, my eyes get bigger than my planting space. How about you? Since I don’t live on a farm or have enough room to grow all of them, I always have leftovers. If you tend to stretch the boundaries with your planting then square foot gardening is right up your alley.
The premise of square foot gardening is pretty simple – grow a lot of vegetables and herbs, in a small space. It’s intensive gardening at its best.
From the book “Square Foot Gardening ” by Mel Bartholomew
“The system is simple, but versatile. It can be adapted to fit all kinds of gardening situations. Whether you want to grow all your own food or just enough for a few salads each week…you will be able to adapt the principles of square foot gardening to meet your needs.”
8 Reasons to Try Square Foot Gardening
- Growing your vegetables close together cuts down on weeding
- Works great with raised bed gardening
- Soil is enriched for super nutrition – for you and the plant
- You can grow more in less space
- Easy to weed, water and spot pests
- Easy to plan and stretch your harvest over several seasons
- Controlled planting so there is no more over planting and thinning
- Square foot gardening is a seed saver, you only grow what you need
Things to Consider About Square Foot Gardening
- You build your garden in a series of 12 inch by 12 inch squares – an area of 1 foot each.
- Each square is grouped together in blocks measuring 4×4 foot. With an average of 8 plants per square, you can potentially grow almost 130 plants in your 4×4 foot block.
- Each square foot grows one kind of plant
- Each plant has specific growing requirements. You can plant 4 leaf lettuce plants, or 9 spinach or, 16 carrots per square foot. The book has detailed planting directions for each vegetable.
- Succession planting and crop rotation is easy. You will find that you can’t stand to see a square empty, so you automatically plant as soon as the harvest is finished.
- Soil health is the key to your success. Mel recommends a specific soil mix. I always use regular garden soil and made sure it is amended with plenty of compost.
Square Foot Gardening, 1981 by Mel Bartholomew, page 29-30
“My suggestion that you start with only one 4 foot by 4 foot block per person is often met with disbelief, until it is actually tried. Before you scoff, take a moment to consider what can be grown in just one block with a vertical frame at one end. For example, if you started in early March, by the time the weather is warm enough to plant tomatoes, peppers and squash, you could already have grown and harvested the following:”
|4 head oak leaf lettuce||16 standard size carrots||9 bunches spinach||32 radishes||16 scallions|
|4 heads salad bowl lettuce||5 pounds sugar snap peas||4 heads Ruby lettuce||9 Japanese turnips||8 bunches Swiss chard|
|1 head cabbage||16 small round carrots||4 Heads Romaine lettuce||1 head cauliflower||1 head broccoli|
Resources Around the Web:
I have an old worn copy of Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew from 1981. You can find the same reliable information, planting guides and encouragement no matter which version you purchase. Go to the library and check one out, but I guarantee, it’s a book you will want to purchase for your preparedness reference library!
Square Foot Gardening – commercial site
Square Foot Gardening – educational site
Mel Bartholomew’s Blog. This is a link to the beginner page, you need to take a look!
The Postage Stamp Garden Book website has information about adapting the square foot method to planters.
Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew (book from Amazon)
Square Foot Gardening: How To Grow Healthy Organic Vegetables The Easy Way by James Paris (book from Amazon)
The Postage Stamp Garden Book: Grow Tons of Vegetables in Small Spaces by Duane & Karen Newcomb (book from Amazon)
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