Square foot gardening is the practice of creating intensively planted gardens in a small area. Square foot gardening combines the practices and concepts from other organic gardening methods. The main focus in square foot gardening is given to compost, densely planted raised beds. Square foot gardening is very good for all beginners who are looking forward to gardening. It’s also well suited for regions having poor soil where many things can’t grow. Mel Bartholomew is known for the phrase square foot gardening.

In square foot gardening method, the soil always remains loose as it’s never walked upon as in conventional gardening. With the recommended soil mixture in this method, it’s easily workable and we can grow many plants without caring about the nature of the soil. Weed can also be easily removed from this soil as it’s loose and secondly planted raised beds bring the level of the soil closer.

Here are few pics to understand Square foot gardening :

Square Foot Gardening

Square Foot Gardening


Here are the Advantages of Square Foot Gardening :

  • Due to light soil, weeds are easier to remove.
  • Water holding capacity is more in square foot gardening due to mixture of specific soil and hence less water is required.
  • A living mulch is formed by densely planted crops and also prevent weed from establishing or germinating.
  • Natural insect repellant methods are much more efficient in a close space rather than in a big area and because of it, you don’t need to use pesticides.
  • In a small space, the diseases among plants cannot spread easily because of different types of plants.
  • You can protect your plants from sun or cold by making cover for the beds and it’s easy because the beds are small.

Square Foot Gardening Spacing, Layout and Planting Guide

The original method uses a four sided box to hold finite amount of soil with no top or bottom. It was divided with a grid into sections. To plant variety of crops in the box over a time, a different kind of plant will be planted in each square. Depending on the size of the plant, the number of plants should be decided to be planted in the square.

For Example : Herbs such as Basil, Mint, Oregano and even tomato plant can take the full square while plants like strawberry’s can be planted four per square. Radishes can be planted as high as 16 per square.

Tall or climbing plants must be always supported with lattice or netting and secondly you should keep in mind that these tall plants shade should not go on other plantings.

The following Soil Mixture is recommended for Square Foot Gardening :

  1. One third (1/3rd) Compost
  2. One third (1/3rd) Peat Moss
  3. One third (1/3rd) Vermiculite

You should also have a variety of compost as this will give plants more nutrition. Reason being one compost may be made up of one type of material and hence more than 1 is required. New compost should be added to square foot gardens over time. You can also make your own compost by mixing various material such as vegetable scraps, eggs shells, coffee and tea bags, leaves and grass clippings.

For accessibility, raised boxes may have bottoms to sit like tables at a convenient height, with approximately 6″ (15 cm) of manufactured soil per square foot. For plants like carrots or asparagus, it is always recommended to build areas deeper than 6″ in order to facilitate a deeper root requirement of these plants.

In this method, garden space is divided into beds which are accessible from every side. A 4 ft × 4 ft (1.2 m × 1.2 m) garden is recommended for the first garden, and a path wide enough to comfortably work from should be made on each side of the bed. Each of the beds is divided into approx. one foot square units and marked out with sticks to ensure that the square foot units remain visible.

Square Foot Gardening Spacing

Common spacing is one plant per square for larger plants (broccoli, basil, tomato, etc.), four plants per square for medium large plants like lettuce, nine plants per square for medium-small plants like spinach, and sixteen per square for small plants such as onions and carrots.

You can also refer book All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.

Here is the list of items that you can purchase for Square Foot Gardening ( Click on item to know more)

  1. Frame It All SBX-FNP 4-by-4-Foot Raised Garden Bed
  2. Suncast RBD939 48-Inch by 48-Inch by 18-Inch 6 Panel Tiered Resin Raised Garden Kit
  3. Suncast WGB48 48-Inch by 48-Inch Cedar Wood Raised Garden Kit
  4. Dalen Gardeneer 5-Foot x 30-Foot Trellis Netting TP-30C
  5. Nature’s Way 33002 Garden Potting Soil Mix, 2 Square Feet
  6. The Garden Stamp: Stop Plotting. Start Planting

A few seeds per square foot, the ability to make compost, to water by hand, and to set up the initial garden in a sunny position or where a container, table or platform garden may be moved on wheels to receive light is all that is needed to set up a square foot garden.