Square Foot Gardening Gives an Easy Start for Anyone

Urban Square Foot Garden

Are you ready to jump in and plant a garden in your backyard? If you have the space to move beyond an indoor garden or an outside vertical garden, a square foot garden is an ideal way for a beginning gardener to get started on the gardening adventure.

A square foot garden divides a small space into one foot squares with only one type of plant in each square. Larger plants, like tomatoes, are planted just one to a square, while smaller plants, like carrots, are planted with many (16) to a square. The method is very efficient in use of seeds, use of space, and use of water. Because it is so easy to understand and so encouraging, this method works well for gardeners who are intimidated or overwhelmed by the idea of growing their own food.

The space needed can be quite small, but the method is scalable by just repeating the 3′ x 3′ or 4′ x 4′ squares separated by spaces big enough to walk through and to stand while you tend your garden. Your squares can be dug into the ground or planted in a raised bed frame. (The official guidelines put the garden in a frame, but you can adapt the method.) The grid lines between each square foot section can be made with string or something more permanent, like strips from old blinds. You have a lot of choices within the basic guidelines for square foot gardening.

Best of all, you can start today. Draw a 3×3 grid, add dots to represent your crops (1, 4, 9, or 16, depending on plant size), then start building the frame. You can begin in any season.


Square Foot Gardening Resources

  • All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholemew. This is the square foot gardening bible.
  • Square Foot Gardening Foundation. This foundation, started by the Square Foot Gardening author, aims “to end world hunger by reaching out to families and teaching them how to grow healthy food for their daily meals.”
  • “How to Build a Square Foot Garden,” Frugal Dad. Using the method outlined by Mel Bartholemew, this gardener added a drip irrigation system. Photos and detailed descriptions.
  • My Square Foot Garden. If you are wondering how to garden for your climate, look for planting plans from many different gardeners. The plans are so simple to create and so inspiring to look at.

Image © Claus Mikosch | Dreamstime.com

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