Friday, May 21, 2010

Square Foot Gardening

I am intrigued by the idea of square foot gardening. Mel Bartholomew, the creator and author of Square Foot Gardening, questioned why gardens had to be in rows separated by pathways. The answer was to be able to reach the rows to plant seeds and veggie plants, to weed, fertilize, dress, etc. Gardens laid out in rows and paths have been the accepted method of gardening forever. But what about the folks who have limited space?

Many urban dwellers have relied on container gardening with tomatoes, peppers, etc growing in pots on their patios.Square foot gardening allows these folks the opportunity to grow compact gardens making healthy and satisfying use of their property.

Bartholomew's plan is to build a 3x3 foot or 4x4 foot square made of 2x6 lumber, essentially a raised bed.  Mark off the square into one foot sections. Fill this box with good soil mix...and you know what a champion I am of having great soil for a successful garden. Begin by planting in one square foot section one broccoli plant, or one cauliflower plant, or 16 radishes, etc. After the cool crops are harvested plant the summer crops, one tomato plant, one pepper plant, etc, per one square foot. Cucumbers, squash and other crops are grown on upright trellises or wires. This is known as vertical gardening. Fall cold crops follow as the summer crops are harvested.

Families build several 4x4 boxes for their garden in as much space as available. They may have a 4x4 area of tomatoes only or plant four tomatoes in four of the sixteen squares and other crops in the remaining. The gardener can plan and  choose whatever works for him/her.

Wouldn't it be amazing to have only one zucchini plant so that you won't have to make a midnight run to sneak the extra zucchini onto your neighbor's porches? This plan allows you to grow the amount of food your family can eat and grow only what the family likes.

Square foot gardening is compact gardening. It brings all the benefits of growing your own veggies, as well as using the land in a responsible, helpful, sustainable way of living.

For more information check out the Square Foot Gardening website.

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