I used to have a garden that was over an acre in size, plus a few small gardens to the side. It took all day to water the gardens and the fun was disappearing. The garden was turning into a chore.
photo credit: SDCDeaCerte
Then I heard about Square Foot Gardening. It’s a form of gardening where you lay out your garden and plant in square or rectangular shapes.
Its purpose is to use less space and less water. It’s great for the city gardener and you can even have a garden in containers on a patio or beside a garage if space is limited.
What really attracted me to the Square Foot Gardening method was the use of combination planting and successive planting, the basis of organic gardening which I totally believe in. I think that plants, vegetable and fruits should be as chemical free as possible.
This method works for the beginning gardener, suburban gardener and the gardener with a large garden. By organizing the garden more efficiently you can cut down on watering and weeding, a very time consuming chore.
The garden also looks very pretty laid out in almost a formal pattern with walkways in between the small garden plots.
I gave this plan a try about 10 years ago. I was impressed. My watering time was cut to 10 or 15 minutes a day and weeding could be done in minutes. I also liked that I could target one area of the garden and get that watered, weeded, and harvested and not feel the pressure to do the entire garden. The fun was back!
Where to start
It’s best to start your Square Foot Garden planning in the winter or spring. You need to decide how much space you want to use and how much food or flowers you want to grow.
Usually the garden areas are laid out in four by four plots or four by eight plots. I myself make my plots three foot wide. Its easier for me to reach the center plants. I use a six foot or eight foot length. I also must admit I tend to lay the plots out in a triangular form. It seems my gardens always get a little artsy!
Garden rows are not in single plantings like in older gardens. They are grouped in one foot squares and depending on the size of the plant will determine how many plants go in one square. For example one tomato (grown vertically) would go in one square because its a bigger plant. Four bean plants would go in one square because they are smaller
When planning for the garden you will also use combination planting for more crops in a smaller area, You will also learn more about soils and how to make sure its fertile and drains well. If you are planting crops closer and using the plot again during the season you will need to.
The next important decisions are how to lay your garden out, how much you will grow and to improve your soil. Using an intensive gardening method your soil must be rich in nutrients and that is actually easier than you might think.
Stay tuned for part two: Square foot Gardening: Improving the soil.