We’re going to give it a try! Square Foot Gardening, that is. We recently read Mel Bartholomew’s All New Square Foot Gardening and will be incorporating many of the principles into our vegetable garden this year. Square Foot Gardening (SFG) attempts to maximize space and efficiency by growing plants in raised beds comprised of square planting areas (bet you can guess what size the squares are).
First of all, raised beds are key. The soil stays loose in raised beds (because you’re not walking on it) and therefore weeding is a much less daunting task. The looser soil is good for the plants, too, as it allows their roots more freedom to grow!
Second, SFG utilizes square foot planting areas to maximize space and efficiency, and to minimize weed growth. When you plant in rows, much space is wasted in paths between the rows. That also leaves more room for weeds to grow and provides more work for the gardener (just what we need, right?). By planting blocks of plants closer together, you can fit more plants in a smaller space, without all the wasted space for weeds to take over.
You also don’t need to worry about crop rotation with SFG, as each square block is growing a different plant. When that plant is finished (say, lettuce in the spring), you plant another different crop in that box (like peppers for the summer). This not only takes the headache out of crop rotation, but it also helps with pest control. When your tomato or cabbage plants are spread throughout your garden, rather than all in a row, it’s a lot harder for pests to set up camp there!
There is MUCH more to this gardening method, and I definitely recommend reading Bartholomew’s book. We’ll be combining this method with what we learned last year from reading How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons. There are many similarities in these two approaches, which both attempt to maximize space and efficiency.
If you’ve used Square Foot Gardening, please leave a comment! I’d love to hear your experiences and advice!