There is nothing quite like a home-grown tomato or some really fresh green beans from your garden. Maybe you have always wanted to have a vegetable or flower garden but just didn’t know how to get started. Square foot gardening is a great way to begin, and has the added advantage of making very efficient use of your garden space. Rather than wasting a lot of ground between rows in a traditional garden, each square foot of space is continuously occupied during your growing season.
The basic plan for square foot gardening is a square that is four feet by four feet, giving you sixteen square feet of growing space. It is easy to reach each square from the sides of the area so tending your garden is easy. If you want to grow more than this will allow, simply prepare multiple beds with adequate aisles between them. Now you have to consider the sun, soil, and water needs of your plants.
Most vegetable and flowers need 6 to 8 hours of full sun a day to produce well. Don’t put your garden in an area that is shaded or one that puddles after rain.
If you already have good soil in a great location, you could use the square foot gardening method to maximize the efficiency of your already prepared garden area. If your soil is less than ideal, making a raised bed from 2″ x 6″ untreated lumber is easy. Make sure to use untreated lumber, since the chemicals used to treat the lumber can leach into the soil. Fill the box with a mixture of 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 coarse vermiculite. Since you never walk on the soil it will stay nice and loose, perfect for growing great vegetables.
Mark off the sixteen squares with string or wire and you are ready to plant!
What flowers do you love? What do you like to eat? What is best suited to the climate conditions and length of growing season in your area? To maximize your production, you can plant several smaller plants in one square whereas one bigger plant, like broccoli, may take up the whole space. Guides are available that help you to plan out your space. After harvesting from the square, simply add a little extra compost, mix it in, and replant the square to keep it producing.
Make sure that you visit the garden regularly to check on the soil conditions and water if necessary. Don’t overwater, though, since this can be just as bad for your plants as not having enough. Keep the weeds under control to get the best yield and be alert for garden pests.
It only takes a few hours to get started with square foot gardening but you will enjoy seeing your plants grow all summer. And you will get to enjoy some delicious vegetables and lovely flowers that you have grown yourself.