Best Location for a Square Foot Garden
A square foot garden is a plant-intensive type of container gardening that’s great for small spaces. Before starting your square foot garden, choose a good spot. It should get at least 6 to 8 hours of sun each day, so observe the location beforehand. Build it away from trees and shrubs, since their roots can interfere. Find a well-drained location that does not collect puddles when it rains.
Layout and Design of Garden
You may want to start with just one box, or you may start with several. Arrange them in squares, not rows, to keep your planting, weeding and watering work efficient. Plan for walkways between boxes; make them wide enough to walk comfortably and get down close to the boxes, at least two or three feet wide. You can make your boxes two feet, three feet, or four feet on a side. Don’t build one wider than four feet, or it’ll get hard to reach the plants.
Building the Garden Box
Use untreated lumber, which is rougher, but avoids the possibility of chemicals from treated lumber leaching into your soil. Plan on having boxes at least 6 to 8 inches deep. Boards that are 1 by 6 or 2 by 6 are good choices. A power drill with a screwdriver bit and some deck-type screws will work great to fit the boxes together. If you plan to put the boxes on existing grass, you will want to lay down a tarp, cardboard, or landscape cloth underneath to keep grass or weeds from sprouting up inside your garden.
Soil and Compost for Square Foot Gardening
Square foot gardening relies on rich, loose soil, not the usual garden soil from your yard. A rule of thumb is to use one-third heavy compost, one-third peat moss, and one-third coarse vermiculite. Be sure the compost you use is true, dark compost; you may want to use your own compost made at home rather than relying on commercial mixes.
Creating a Square Foot Grid
You also need a grid of some kind to fit on top of the boxes before planting, to keep plants separate and plan your square foot garden. The lines of the grid should divide the box into square feet. If you have some thin scrap wood or plastic around, you can nail a grid together out of it, or some gardeners just use heavy string tied across the box from nails pounded into the box edges every foot.
Planting in a Raised Bed Garden
You can grow any plant you want in a square foot garden, but vegetables and herbs are common inhabitants, since this design is meant to increase produce yields. Use the recommended seed spacing on the seed packet, and plant just one in a square if it says to plant them 12 inches apart. If the packet calls for six-inch spacing, put four in one square; four-inch spacing allows nine seeds; and three-inch spacing means you can put sixteen seeds in one square. Cover seeds shallowly with loose soil, and water right away.
How to Care for & Harvest from a Square Foot Garden
In a square foot garden, watering is needed more often than in a conventional garden, but varies with your plants. Note their water requirements, water more during hot or dry spells in the summer, and use lukewarm water in the spring, to help warm up the soil. You can plant more than one crop in a square foot if your first one is harvested early, such as June peas. Just add fresh compost, and replant with a mid-season crop like turnip or winter cauliflower.
Want to learn more about square foot gardening?
Check out these Web sites chosen by us for more information on the subject.
Learn from the original square foot gardening method plus resources, at SquareFootGardening.com.
All New Square Foot Gardening, 2nd Edition by Mel Bartholomew
Check maturity dates for planning multiple crops from Hume Seeds.
Mother Earth News writes about an organic gardener’s square foot garden.
Please note that links to Amazon from Gardening Channel are affiliate links.