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Mel Bartholomew was experimenting in his garden on how to grow the highest yield of veggies out of the smallest amount of space available. He created the Square Foot Gardening concept which is now widely used as one of the absolute best ways to garden. The trick is in the soil. When it has the right organic matter added to it, it makes it super enriched, which makes the plants thrive.
Tips for the Soil for Square Foot Gardening
The key to successful square foot gardening is definitely in the soil. Into your starting organic potting soil add in blood meal, bone meal, and earthworm castings plus organic compost. You can also add in fish emulsion and bat guano as well. Mix it all together really well before you create your planting beds. As your plants grow, side dress them with this mixture.
Tips for the Size and Planting Area
One thing that Mel Bartholomew realized was the amount of wasted time and energy that occurs when growing in rows. It wastes a lot of space and you typically need to invest in machinery to clear and harvest the space. Instead, create 4×4 foot planter boxes. This size is perfect so you reach into the square instead of stepping on the soil or harming the plants.
The most common material used to build a square foot garden is untreated wood. They can also be created out of cinder blocks or bricks. Make sure that you create it to be at least 8-10 inches deep so you can grow root vegetables. Place a weed barrier down before you add the enriched potting soil.
Pick up some garden string and make a grid on top of the planter box. The grid lines should be 12 inches apart, making each square a perfect 12 inches.
Planting in a Square Foot Garden
The key to the planting in a square foot garden is to know how many plants will fit into each square.
- Small: 16 plants per square – Carrots, looseleaf lettuce, radishes, spinach
- Medium: 9 plants per square – green beans, peas
- Large: 4 per square – Basil, cauliflower, broccoli, melons
- Extra Large: 1 per square – Tomatoes, Brussels Sprouts, cucumbers