Square Foot Gardening

Not such 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 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, plant only one per square. 

Square foot gardeining – the advantages

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 turn 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 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.