The Square Foot Garden

How often have you been inspired by the warming spring soil, birds out, dreams of fresh vegetables, leading to planting huge gardens that by mid-summer become overbearing task masters that you would just as soon avoid?  Trying to find someone to take all the extra vegetables you’ve grown.  Endless rows that need to be weeded.  You created a monster!  By fall, you can’t wait for the garden to just disappear.  This all too common scenario inspired author Mel Bartholemew to write the book “Square Foot Gardening” as an alternative to traditional gardening methods.  Those traditional methods were developed over 100 years ago during a time when America was largely rural and had plenty of land, time, and people to devote to raising produce.  Even today’s seed packets give instructions geared for large commercial, mechanized production. 

 

WHAT IS THE SQUARE FOOT METHOD?

 The method is based on planting in a grid system of individual one square foot sections.  Our Buhler garden is made up of 4 ft. x 4 ft. raised beds, giving you 16 sections to “play” with.  Different plants have different spacing requirements.  For example, you can plant 16 onion, carrots, or radish plants in a square foot (4 x 4), 9 bean plants (3 x 3), 4 lettuce plants (2 x 2), and one plant per section for peppers, okra, and broccoli.  Larger plants like squash or tomatoes require four sections each.  Some people grow trailing type plants like cucumbers on stakes or trellises.  Make sure these tall plants are on the north side so they don’t shade smaller plants.  Dwarf or bush type tomato, cucumber, and squash are well suited for the square foot garden. 

 

THINK SMALL

 Remember, gardening is supposed to be fun.  Smaller means easier to take care of.  Fast weeding, fast watering, then you can be off to enjoy the rest of your day!  The small blocks allow for easy access for planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting.  It also means you never have to walk on the soil you are planting, keeping it loose and mellow.  You can use a watering can, or even smaller containers to water with.  No need for cumbersome hoses to drag around.  Compared to traditional gardening, you get 100% of the harvest, with 50% of the cost, 20% of the space, 10% of the water, 5% of the seeds, and 2% of the time! 

 

THINK INTENSIVE

 By planting in compact, specific spacing, there is very little open ground to allow weeds to have a chance to get started.  You are essentially using a “living mulch”.  When a section matures, you can plant a different crop, practicing crop rotation without even thinking about it.  A variety of plant types creates interest, looks good, and can benefit from companion planting like adding a few marigolds to not only add color, but also help ward off certain pests. 

 

THINK FRESH

 The square foot garden is not going to fill your freezer for the winter.  It is for fresh eating, straight from the garden, nothing quite like it!  Be adventuresome, try varieties that you can’t get in the grocery store.

 

 THE SECRET IS IN THE SOIL

 Mel’s mix is 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 blended compost.  If it sounds like potting soil, it is!  Lowes sells a comparable mix called vegetable mix, 2.2 cu. Ft for less than $7.  It even has a bit of slow release nitrogen.  3 of these will fill the 4 x 4 square nicely.  It insures good drainage, while holding moisture at the same time.  It is weed free, and by filling the raised bed, will help smother out existing weeds in our garden.  We are planting over the top of an old Bermuda lawn which can be very troublesome and invasive.  It is going to take some time and diligence for us to finally rid the area of the grass.  With this soil, you don’t need large tools.  Almost all operations can be done by hand, or with a trowel. 

 

THINK RECYCLING

 We hope to establish a compost bin where discarded plant tissue can be chopped up and naturally “cooked” to return back to our beds. 

It will insure our beds maintain their texture and fertility.  When you pull a plant after harvest, scoop in a couple of trowels full of compost and you are ready to go again! 

   

SPRING CROPS

 

 

SUMMER CROPS

 

Plant Type

Plants/Sq Ft

 

Plant Type

Plants/Sq Ft

Broccoli

1

 

Tomato

1 with support or use bush type (requires 4 sections)

Cauliflower

1

 

Cucumbers

1 with support or use bush type (requires 4 sections)

Cabbage

1

 

Squash

1 with support us use bush type (requires 4 sections)

Onions

16

 

Pepper

1

Peas

9

 

Corn

1 (plant in groups to insure pollination)

Lettuce

4

 

Okra

1

Radish

16

 

Beans

9 (bush type) or grow runner types with support

 

For further information, check out squarefootgardening.org

Another interesting site is timssquarefootgarden.com

 Square Foot Gardening is also on Facebook.

 

 Plot Names and Locations

All plots are 4 ft x 4 ft.  A map of the plots is provided below.

Please use a watering can to water your plot (there is one available).

You are responsible to water and care for your own plot.  Enjoy!

                                           (North End)

 

Wisdom

 

 

 

Contentment

 

 

Purity

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rejoice

 

 

 

Humility

 

 

Thankfulness

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace

 

 

 

Encouragement

 

 

Mercy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endurance

 

 

 

Forgiveness

 

 

Hope

 

 

Faithfulness

 

 

 

Gentleness

 

 

Self-Control

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodness

 

 

 

Kindness

(taken)

 

 

Patience

(taken)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love

(taken)

 

 

Joy

(taken)

 

 

Peace

                                     (South End/Street Side)