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Square Foot gardening methods

25 comments


I have always liked to garden but since an accident and a diagnosis of OA a few years ago I have not been able to do much of it. Two years ago my husband found a new edition of an old book called Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. This updated version has a slightly different method then the original book and after reading it he suggested that if I would do the gardening, he would build the boxes and we would give it a try.
The idea is to grow the largest number of plants in the smallest space, so depending on the size of the spacing recommended on the seed pkg you plant 1 per square foot if the spacing is 12’’ or more, 4 per sq ft if 6", 9 per sq ft if 4", and 16 per sq ft if 3 ". The book calls the plants small, med, lg and Xlg to easily designate how many to plant in each Sq ft. To be able to keep things in order he says it is absolutely necessary to divide up the boxes with twine or small wooden dividers.

Here is a picture of our original box with my new lettuce sprouts this winter.

The book recommends a 4ft sq. box made from 1″×6″ lumber, or for kids 3 ft sq. We decided that for me it might be easier to use the smaller kids size. The idea is that you can still reach the center of the box without stepping on the soil.(More about the soil later) We wanted to have it close to the back door on a raised patio(deck) so I could get to it easily. On a solid surface the box needs a bottom, the book recommends 1/2 inch plywood with 3/8 inch drainage holes every 6 inches and at each corner. So that the box would drain well we also used feet made of 2″×4″ lumber just to raise it up off the patio and not have the decking rot underneath. We used old baseboard trim to divide the box and planted Basil and tomatoes and Jalapeno peppers all of which take 1 square each. Sage, 4 to a sq and onions, 16 to a sq.
But before we could plant it we had to have soil to fill it.
The book recommended a soil mixture of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 coarse vermiculite and 1/3 mixed compost. He recommends you use at least 5 different types or sources of compost so you can have a good mix. We tried but could only come up with 4 that first year. We had cow manure, hen manure, mushroom compost and worm castings. (The next year we made our own compost and worm castings.) After harvest you then add a scoop of new compost to a sq and replant. That way you can have a continuous harvest through the season.

We were so impressed with the ease of using this method and also the amount of produce. It just seemed tailor made for me and my circumstances. I could sit on a small chair and weed or water, it was great! Hubby was so impressed that he agreed to build more boxes for last year. We grew a lot more this past year and it has worked very well. Now we are experimenting with winter protection of which I have already written.

Here is a picture of the largest of the 3 boxes we made last year.

I hope this gives you the basics of this method. It is a wonderful way to garden in unusual circumstances and can be used by the handicapped or in small spaces or even on a city rooftop.

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Comments

 

Thanks for this blog. Recently, when you told me about Square Foot planting, I couldn't totally imagine what you meant. It seems a great idea, and the children's size boxes, where you can reach the soil without stepping on it, would be ideal for lots of people with health problems or little space.

Thanks for describing the whole system so well, and I'm glad you've been so successful with the project. You told me of the wonderful lettuces you had produced, and I now understand why they grew so large and healthy ! :o)

29 Jan, 2009

 

Thank you I enjoyed this blog and it has given me a few idears

29 Jan, 2009

 

That could be so useful to so many people. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and the name of the book.

29 Jan, 2009

 

That might come in handy one day, as we get older. I'd even like them higher up so there will be no bending over either. You're doing fine there with this method. If I ever have to adopt it, I'll have my hubby there with the calculator. That sounds soooo complicated to me.

29 Jan, 2009

Ams
Ams
 

I am so glad you found ways of adapting to continue gardening despite any physical difficulties, keep us updated this season. Take care.

29 Jan, 2009

 

Very interesting, most people would find this helpful.

29 Jan, 2009

 

Hi, thank you for the ideas. We built a veggie bed last year which we can easily adapt to this system.

I think we will give it a try. Love Marge.

29 Jan, 2009

 

Its a great space saving idea..and should cut down on the weeding too !

29 Jan, 2009

 

hi, I found my way to the authors' site, that was interesting too. Thanks for the lead.

30 Jan, 2009

amy
Amy
 

Thanks for explaining every detail so well , we have already taken some of your ideas on board from previous messages , this is our first year at growing veg, in boxes and at your suggestion hurried to put in some broccoli it is doing very well and hopefully we will be eating it in the spring ..........

30 Jan, 2009

 

Thanks for all the feedback. I remember Amy, glad they are doing well. The one that seems to be doing the best for me is the Kale. Kale sauteed in olive oil and garlic is divine! Maybe even better then steamed broccoli with cheese sauce! : ) You go girl!

30 Jan, 2009

amy
Amy
 

I,ll remember that Wohlibuli . I,m not sure if we have ever grown Kale , Its worth doing for a winter crop .. :o)

31 Jan, 2009

 

~seems like a very good idea!

31 Jan, 2009

 

I think this is great and is another reminder that virtually everyone can do some gardening and produce food if the will is there.A really very interesting blog.Thanks.

31 Jan, 2009

 

In my garden club newletter, they gave a recipe for a Chirozo stew, that five minutes before finishing you added finely shredded Kale.

As Kale is not something found where I lived, we thought perhaps strong green cabbage could be substituted.

31 Jan, 2009

 

I feel sure that would work just fine Marge. I looked it up and Kale is called Borecole in Europe, so maybe also in UK?
I have also subsituted Spinach. Chirozo stew sounds good and spicy!

31 Jan, 2009

 

Great blog Wohlibuli. Very informative. Thank you.

1 Feb, 2009

 

I love this idea! My balcony is a bit too small to do this but I will keep it as a reference for the future...I don't mean to pry Wohlibuli, but what is OA?

1 Feb, 2009

 

OA is just the short term for Osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease. I dislocated my right knee and when the Dr looked at my Xrays they discovered I had OA.

1 Feb, 2009

 

~it's my left knee Wohlibuli~ landed on my knees from quite a height some years ago breaking my left ankle in the process ~my ankle healed well but my knee is badly affected so they tell me ~ strangely it does not hurt at the moment~I don't know why but I don't mind!
Between us we might make a decent pair?

1 Feb, 2009

 

Dislocated the right knee while carrying groceries, twisted left one while feeding the dog, my Orthopedic surgeon says I just get to involved. I can't walk as fast as I used too and I can not kneel without knee pads. Injections of an artificial cartiledge has helped me a lot. The Dr. says gardening is good for me also. The cold does seem to make it worse doesn't it?

1 Feb, 2009

 

~yes it does usually ~sometimes very badly ~but lately I have had hardly any pain in my fingers which are horribly mishapen or my neck ,wrists and knees~only thing I can think is that the hematite bracelet I am always wearing helps?
It was really bad a couple of years ago and I intended having an op to put plastic joints in my fingers but chickened out.
I was told that it was the optimum time to do it but who knows?
The only thing I find very disconcerting is when I hear everything clicking....

1 Feb, 2009

 

Thanks Wohlibuli. I'm glad you've found a way to garden! But I think gardening is like reading, if you like them you will find a way to do them!

2 Feb, 2009

 

Hightly informative blog !!
I'm sure I'll have a try this year.

Breeze

4 Feb, 2009

 

I am glad I found this ,as I to am going to try the sq foot method.i have the book. Please tell me what wood is best to build the boxes and any help, tips and advise you can share with me would be wonderful. Thanks

27 Jun, 2012

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