One of the common excuses people use to not garden is that they do not have enough space. But just because you do not have a huge yard or acres upon acres of land doesn’t mean you can’t have an abundance of homegrown produce. You can actually grow quite a lot of produce in a little space; it just takes some creativity to do so.
One of the most popular methods of maximizing small spaces for garden production is called Square Foot Gardening. This method was developed back in the 1970’s by Mel Bartholomew. The idea behind his thinking (he was an engineer) was creating a way to be more efficient in both time and space when working in the garden.
First of all, raised beds are used in Square Foot Gardening. They are typically 4×4 feet and about 6-12” high. If the raised bed is too wide, it makes it hard to reach the middle section. For the soil, Mel recommends using 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 vermiculite (if you have made your own compost, this is a great opportunity to use it!), make a grid that creates 1 foot by 1 foot squares.
Next, plant one type of crop in each square (obviously you can plant the same crops in several of the squares – it’s entirely up to you!). Depending on the crop that you use will depend on how many you can put in each square. For example, you may be able to plant 16 carrots in one square but only 1 cabbage plant in another. Climbing plants such as peas or cucumbers should be placed along the outer squares.
Once your plants start to grow, you can easily thin out plants for correct spacing. The controlled spacing of Square Foot Gardening makes it easy to weed because there’s less space for weeds to grow and take over. With very little time and effort, you can have a weed-free garden using this method (less back breaking work the better right?).
If you have children or grandchildren, this is a great way to help them learn the basics of gardening. Give each kid a box (you can make a box smaller such as a 3×3 or keep it at the traditional 4×4 box) and let them plant the vegetables that they like. Help them plant, water, weed and enjoy the fruits of their labor. It’s a great tool to start kids gardening with.
And don’t think you need to only limit your Square Foot Gardening to planting vegetables. Want to add beautiful color to your backyard? Plant flowers. Again, this is a great way to show and share the beauty that God has given us. What kid doesn’t love to smell and pick flowers?
Regardless of your age, young or old, experienced or beginner, Square Foot Gardening is a great way to put fresh produce on the table.
If you have any pictures of your own Square Foot Garden at home, we would love to see it! Please send any pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.