I’d been wanting to plant some vegetables for some time when a friend of mine introduced me to the concept of square foot gardening. I have a huge back yard without many trees and plenty of daylight, so it would be easy for me to start a garden back there. After researching square foot gardening, I decided to give it a whirl. I liked that I could dedicate as much or as little space to the garden as I wanted. I don’t like taking up hobbies that require you to go in over your head only to realize you’re no longer interested or cut out for said hobby.
Square foot gardening, as its name implies, is based on the principle of planting in squares (12″ x 12″) rather than rows, which is the traditional way in agriculture. Mel Bartholomew advocates for this method in his book as the most efficient use of space. I’m all about bang for your buck. Not only can you fit more plants in a smaller space, but there is less room for weeds to grow and a smaller area to water.
I chose to follow his recommendation of starting with a 4′ x 4′ garden. This size allows for easy access to all plants. Any bigger and a short person, such as myself, might not be able to reach an inner square. The beauty of square foot gardening is you can utilize the concept wherever you have space, even in an existing flower bed.
The ideal spot for your garden is facing South receiving 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. As long as the sunlight is spread throughout the day, 9am-4pm or thereabouts, rather than concentrated in the morning or afternoon you’re good to go. Worried you don’t have the ideal daylight conditions? Check out the lists below to find some plants that might work for you.
Only needs 4-6 hours/day
Needs 6+ hours/day
According to Mel, the plants in bold are easier to grow. From my experience, I would add spinach and herbs to this list. What other vegetables do you think are easy to grow?
Before you plant anything, you need to make sure your soil has the proper composition and drainage. Check out my entry about the perfect soil!