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A Full Guide to Square Foot Gardening

A Full Guide to Square Foot Gardening

As you become familiar with gardening, you start to realize that there are so many different ways out there to garden. From container gardening to raised bed gardening, your head may be spinning with all of the different possibilities!

The idea of learning how to create a square foot garden may seem daunting. The name alone may strike fear into the hearts of everyone who hated math when they were in school. Fortunately, square foot gardening doesn't require any complicated equations! You just need to have a basic understanding of what square footage is. It only takes a few minutes to refresh yourself on this topic!

Once you have a good understanding of square footage, the rest is relatively simple. A square foot garden is a great way to grow your own vegetables and fruits. Many Americans are growing increasingly health-conscious, making them want to stray away from store-bought produce that has harsh chemicals used on them.

By following our guide, you'll be well on your way to having a happy, healthy square foot garden in no time at all. This is a great gardening method for both new and experienced gardeners. Growing your first garden can feel like a real challenge, but with this guide in hand you'll be good to go.

Square Foot Gardening

Not a very new concept, but a great one for beginners

Square foot gardening methods have been around for decades. They are fabulous, even if they are a bit square. If this method of gardening is so great, and has the benefit of being time tested, why haven't more people adopted it? 

That is a great question. Maybe the reason is that not very many people have ever heard of it. If that is the case with you, get your green thumbs ready for some action.

The basics of a square foot garden

The most basic tenant of the square foot garden is that gardening should be easy and enjoyable. To that end, author and originator of the method, Mel Bartholomew, got to work and devised the square foot method of gardening

As the name implies, these are gardens laid out in raised beds and measured and planted by the square foot. Mr. Bartholomew suggests starting with a 4 by 4 foot square to start. Fill the square with soil, then separate it into squares. If you are using a 4 by 4 box, the end result would look something like this:


Once the squares are in place, you plant. Each square can be planed with 1, 4, 9, or 16 plants. For small plants like lettuces, you can plant 16. Larger plants like tomatoes need more space, so plant only one per square. 

Advantages of square foot gardening

Square foot gardening is one of the simplest gardening methods there is by design, but this is not its only advantage. 

Square foot gardening is easy on the environment.  This is true of water needs, yield compared to land use, waste management, and rotation.  If you want a truly organic garden, go with square foot gardens.  They are maintained without added chemicals for fertilization or pest control.

This does not mean more work by you trying to stave off harmful insects or turning compost heaps to make natural fertilizers. Because the soil is used so efficiently, weeding becomes virtually unnecessary once your crop is large enough to shade the ground beneath it. This does not take long; only a few weeks after sowing the seeds in most cases. It is difficult to imagine a strong healthy garden without hours of weeding, yet it can be done.

Square foot gardening methods have been taught and used to great success in harsh arid climates, like those in Africa, because of its ability to grow plants well without wasting water. The ability to be so water wise is also thanks to the plants being close together and easily managed.  The garden is easily hand watered at the base of the plant each day. This eliminates wasting water growing weeds, spilling on walkways, or other non-growing surfaces. 

If you are new to gardening starting a square foot garden might be the perfect way to get your green thumb growing. It doesn't matter whether you are old or young; there is never a time like the present to get started.

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