For the past three years I’ve been utilizing the square foot gardening techniques outlined in the book, All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.
I plant my vegetable garden in raised beds which are ten feet long and five feet wide. Ideally, a square foot garden should be planted in a four by four raised bed to allow for easier access to the plants, but I had these raised beds already built long before I switched to the new system of planting.
The concept of square foot gardening is that you can more efficiently use the space in your garden by planting each individual foot separately in an organized pattern. For example, you may plant one cabbage in one square foot, four lettuce, nine spinach or sixteen carrots in another.
As the plants mature and are harvested, the square can be replanted with another crop. So a radish square may become a lettuce square in it’s second go-around.
The look of the square foot garden is what initially attracted me to it, but I did some math and calculated that it also saves space and produces more. Weeds are easy to keep at bay because they fall outside the pattern of the plants and can be easily identified and plucked.
Every year I enhance my soil by adding a combination of vermiculite, peat and compost. The raised beds tend to settle with each season, so I add the mix to compensate.
I made the grid in my garden using recycled blind slats from the ReStore, and I use a set of cardboard stencils to plant my seeds; a quick and tidy method. In some of the squares I plant flowers to add some panache.
Conveniently, when you are ready for more space you can simply add another raised bed wherever you like. A four-by-four raised bed near the back door is ideal for an herb garden.