Square Foot Gardening

by Maria on August 1,  2013 


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This summer marks the first time I have had an official vegetable garden. I have had a little barely-any-maintenence-required herb garden for several years, a couple of berry bushes, and I usually buy a few patio tomato plants every summer. But a real garden always seemed too overwhelming to tackle. 

Enter the square foot garden. A square foot garden is a raised garden that is divided into squares that are 1 foot by 1 foot. In each square you can grow a different vegetable, herb, or flower. Depending on how big the plant is you can grow 1, 4, 9, or 16 plants in each square. Aside from the initial setup, which involves a little bit of time, but isn't hard, it has made me realize that growing your own vegetables can be really easy. 

My husband gave me the official Square Foot Gardening book, written by Mel Bartholomew, for Christmas a year and a half ago. It sat on our coffee table for a while, then moved to the bookshelf, and then finally this spring was pulled out and leafed through over and over by both of us. This was the year we were going to start a garden. 

We already knew the perfect place for it, near our back door and kitchen. It was one of the few sunny areas of our little backyard, and it currently held a sandbox built by my brother-in-law. The sandbox had seen years of love and attention, but was now ready to be enjoyed by another family. 

To make things really easy we ordered a raised garden kit from Costco. Then, over Memorial Day weekend my husband put it together and filled it with the recommended soil blend (very important). He then added the grids that are the trademark of a square foot garden. I was left with the fun task of deciding what to plant and then planting.

I planted a mix of transplants and seeds. The transplants I picked up at our local garden center and consisted of bell peppers, Swiss Chard, zucchini, cucumber, parsley, cilantro, dill, spinach, and tomatoes. They helped make an instant garden. The seeds I planted included arugula, beets, radishes, mixed lettuce, pole beans, bush beans, and snap peas. 

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Since then, I have added rosemary and sage (in place of the two bell pepper plants which weren't faring well after our rainy June) and some mint (in place of the spinach which we used up). In the fall I will grow kale, Swiss chard, spinach, and maybe some other cold-tolerant vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli. 

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Aside from being beautiful to look at (especially the Swiss Chard), there are so many benefits to having a garden. Some of my favorites are:

- being able to harvest just the right amount of salad right before dinner

- having any herb you need, fresh and ready to go right outside your back door

- being amazed by the vegetables that sometimes just seem to appear overnight 

- exposing kids to the wonders of growing food

- knowing your vegetables haven't been sprayed and being able to control soil

- sure, it needs to be watered, but it can be kind of a nice routine to escape from your inside chores and get out and water for a little bit every day; and a square foot garden doesn't need weeding!


If you are at all interested in having an easy, low-maintenence garden, I highly recommend the square foot gardening method. There is a lot of information about it on the internet, just search for images of square foot gardens on google and you will be amazed and inspired. 



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