In 1981, Mel Bartholomew, a gardener and engineer, published Square Fool Gardening. His method for gr owing food easily and efficiently using less space, water, and time than traditional long rows gained popularity and garnered him a series on PBS.
So how does it work?
His technique involves dividing the garden into I-foot-by-I-foot sections an d then grouping those sect ions into 4-fect-by-4-feet sections. The 4-foot block allows easy access to all of the squares and otherwise eliminates the need to walk through the garden soil. Six of the 4-foot blocks can feed a family of four.
Each square contains only one variety of plant. Be sure to follow the seed packet’s planting instructions. For instance, you would plant a Single pepper seed in the middle of the square since the plant needs lots of room to grow, while 16 carrot seeds could also be planted in the same amount of space. Thinning is not required with this method. Watering and weeding are very simple. Crop rotation is automatic.
When a spring crop like lettuce finishes its harvest cycle, a later summer crop like bush beans can be planted. It is also easy to plan t successive squares of the same plant to space out the harvest. Vining plants grow vertically at the north edge of the garden block so they don’t shade the other plants. Any vegetable or fruit can be grown using this method.
Seeds are used much more sparingly, which allows a single packet to be shared with neighbors.
Square Foot Gardening can be easily adapted by gardeners who have room for only a couple of planter boxes on their patio. This method is also an excellent way to involve children and pass along the gardening bug.
Square Foot Gardening inspired me to convert my front yard in Cleveland Heights in to a cooking garden.
Follow my progress through my blog at EdibleCleveland.com