Square foot gardening offers an ideal method for new gardeners. It is also perfect for busy people, and those with arthritis or other physical limitations. If you are looking for the easiest way to garden, this method offers real advantages. Square foot gardening can even be done in raised beds, or in containers, to make it easy on your back.
Square foot gardening is simply dividing a well-planned garden into one foot sections. Each of these one foot sections is part of a four foot square block. These garden blocks are designed to be four feet on each side so you can easily reach all of the plants from outside the planting bed. When you step in a garden bed, your weight will compact the soil and make it harder for plant roots to grow. Each individual square foot is then divided so each plant gets just the space it needs.
Gardening in simple squares allows you to plant only what you need instead of having to plant a whole row of one crop. With this method, you can also plant crops in succession so they do not ripen all at once. If you have too many plants it can become overwhelming to care for them.
Square foot gardening works well in raised beds. By raising the beds 12 inches (or more if needed) it also makes it easier to reach them. Wheelchair users or those with severe back problems may choose to have truly raised beds built so they can tend to their garden without having to lean over.
Container gardening can be adapted to the square foot method as well, although you will need to take care to select containers that are deep enough for the roots. When using containers, plan to use rich soil and water often for best results. Container plants are dependent on you for nutrients and can dry out quickly in hot weather.
An example of a four foot block planting for maximum production might be one tomato plant in each of the first two squares, four bush squash plants in the next two squares. The next four squares could hold one eggplant, one cabbage, one pepper plant, and one cauliflower. Broccoli in two squares, 16 onions in one square, 32 carrots in two squares, a dozen loose leaf lettuce in one square, four marigolds in one square, and nine spinach in one square (each square is one foot). As produce is harvested, short season or late season crops such as baby lettuce or cabbage can be planted in the empty spots.
Gardening in squares instead of rows saves space too so you will probably be able to put your garden closer to your house. You will need about twenty percent less space than with traditional garden rows. With your garden just beyond your back door, you will enjoy it more and spend more time tending to our vegetable garden. A closer garden is also easier for harvesting since you can pick vegetables as they ripen and use them right away.
You’ll find that square foot gardening is much easier for both new gardeners and experienced gardeners. Not only will you plant only what you want and not too much, but you will be planting in rich, loose soil and in raised beds that are easier on your back. No need for exhausting double-digging and pulling out excess seedlings. You can plant closer to the house and you use your space more efficiently. Once you try square foot gardening, you’ll love having your own fresh vegetables with much less effort.
Julie R. Holland is the editor of Gardening it Easy blog and e-newsletter. Want more tips and hints about how to raise a lush, beautiful garden while saving money, time and your back? Subscribe to the free Gardening it Easy e-newsletter and get the Beginner’s Guide to Organic Gardening for free! http://www.gardeningiteasy.com