There are many benefits to square foot gardening and more and more people are deciding to do their gardening this way. So, what is it, and what are the advantages of using this method rather than the traditional method of planting in rows?
Square foot gardening is done in 1 foot squares with 4 of them making up 4 foot by 4 foot blocks. These blocks are a maximum of 4 feet because that allows you to reach into the entire planting area without having to step on the soil and thus compacting it. Each 1 foot square can be divided into smaller squares depending on the space needs of each particular plant.
Gardening in squares encourages you to only plant what you want whereas gardening in rows tends to make you want to plant all the seeds inside the packets. You want to end up with just the right amount of plants, not so many that you become overwhelmed and abandon your garden. So, you could get yourself a few microgreen seeds from a site like Skysprouts to plant, a few Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and Cabbage to plant. Of course, the number of crops you sow depends on the space you have at your disposal, but planting the right amount of seeds also saves you time from having to constantly thin out your garden.
Your squares should be physically divided, not eye-balled, for the best results. You can use nails and string (being careful to put the nails where you won’t kneel on them or otherwise hurt yourself), or commercially-made wire dividers.
An example of a 4 foot block planting is 2 tomato plants in 2 squares, 4 bush squash plants in 2 squares, 1 eggplant in 1 square, 1 cabbage plant in 1 square, 1 pepper plant in 1 square, 2 broccoli in 2 squares, 1 cauliflower in 1 square, 16 onions in 1 square, 32 carrots in 2 squares, 12 loose leaf lettuce in 1 square, 4 marigolds in 1 square, and 9 spinach in 1 square (each square is 1 foot).
Square foot gardening works well when you make your blocks as raised beds. When you build your beds on top of existing soil you don’t have to do back-breaking double digging and you can add a perfect soil mixture at the start. With raised beds you don’t have to bend over as much so it’s easier to pick a weed or water by hand.
Not only can gardens be in squares instead of rows, you can probably fit the squares closer to your house. The space needed is about 20% less than that needed for planting in rows. By planting closer to your back door and not way out in some back corner, you’re more likely to see it, tend it, and harvest the vegetables when they become ripe.
The advantages of square foot gardening are many. Not only will you plant only what you want and not too much, but you will be planting in better soil and in raised beds that are easier on your back. No more time consuming double-digging and thinning out (killing) little seedlings. You can plant closer to the house and you use your space more efficiently. Try your hand at this method of gardening and I bet you will soon be enjoying the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor.