Square foot gardening is a great way to grow plants that you like. It’s often used to grow a variety of vegetables that you can enjoy at home. The best part about it is, it lets you maximize whatever space you have, even if it’s limited. Here’s how to start a square foot garden at home step by step.
What Is Square Foot Gardening?
Square foot gardening is a planting technique where you set up a small raised garden bed. You then divide the inside of this garden bed into one foot square boxes.
Each of these one-foot by one-foot squares represents a planting space you use for a specific plant for example carrots. This allows you to plant different vegetables or plants even if you don’t have a lot of space.
Because of the shape of the one by one foot squares, most square foot gardens come in square or rectangular shapes. A 4×4 feet or 4×8 feet garden are common because they give you enough space to plant different varieties of crops without using up a lot of space.
Since different crops vary in planting density, you will almost certain have different number of crops yielded per square foot. For example, you can plant bout 16 carrots within one block. The same is true for radishes as they require very little space. However, the one by one foot area can only make room for one tomato plant.
Pros and Cons of Square Foot Gardening
So why is square foot gardening popular? And, is it right for your home? To answer these questions, we take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of gardening technique.
Pros of Square Foot Gardening
- Easy to set up. Square foot gardening is simple and quick to set up. This is one of the reasons why it’s ideal for beginners. You get to pick your own spot since you’ll be setting up your raised garden anyway. This gives you the freedom to do so on concrete or certain parts of your lawn.
- You’re able to plant different crops within a small area. One of the biggest advantages of square foot gardens is variety. Because you split the area into square foot boxes, you’re able to organize the plants and grow different varieties within a small amount of space.
- High crop yield. You get a lot of harvest for the space you have. Square foot gardening maximizes the amount of room you have. Because there are no intervals between rows of vegetables, you’re able to plant more even if you have limited space.
- Low maintenance compared to other gardening methods. The small space also reduces the amount of work needed in planting, maintaining and harvesting the crops. This makes it ideal if you don’t want to spend a lot of time in your garden.
- It reduces weeds. During the first year of your garden, there will be no weeds since you won’t be using seeds there. This reduces the amount of work needed to remove the weeds.
Cons of Square Foot Gardening
- It costs more to start. Compared to other more traditional gardening methods, square foot gardening requires that you build raised beds to house your garden. In addition, you’ll also add more soil in addition to the one already on your lawn. Both of these things increase the initial expenses of starting a square foot garden.
- You can’t plant as deep. If you were to follow the exact rules of square foot gardening as done by its creator, your square foot garden will go down 6 inches deep. This isn’t enough for most plants, which limits your ability to grow other types. The good news is, you can modify this to your needs. So, before starting your garden, do check the depth you can plant in that space and the types of plants you want to grow. If needed you can go as deep as 12 feet down to accommodate more crops.
- More watering is needed. Raised beds dry out faster than soil that’s in the ground. Because they’re exposed more to the elements and they’re don’t have the benefit of hiding the moisture in them, you’ll need to water your garden more often.
- The plants can get tight. Because you’re limited to a small space per crop, you’ll need to decide how you’ll allocate the boxes. The one foot by one foot space works just fine for smaller, compact crops. But, they’re not well-suited for those that need more space like sweet corn or squash.
How to Build a Square Foot Garden
1. Choose the Size of Your Garden
The first thing you need to do is decide the size of your garden. This will depend on how much free space you have at home. Also take into consideration where the space is. Ideally, you want it in an area you can easily access and one that doesn’t get in anybody’s way.
More importantly, choose a location that gets a lot of sun. Somewhere that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight every day is a good spot.
2. Build the Garden Boxes
Once you’ve decided the size and location, it’s time to get to work. For this step, you’ll need some wood boards that will be the borders of your garden. In addition 6 inch wood screws will let you keep them together.
3. Make the Soil Mix
Because you’re going to grow a lot of plants in a small space, you want that dense area to be filled with soil that’s full of nutrients. This ensures that all the plants, packed as they are, will have the proper nutrition needed to grow.
4. Add the Soil Mix into the Garden Beds
Once you created the soil recipe, it’s time to lay the soil on the surface. Make sure to fill the box with enough soil so that the roots can go deep enough to set up a good foundation.
When the soil is set, it’s time to water it. This will allow the surface to be hydrated priming it for the plants which are almost ready to go in.
5. Set the Grids
Once the soil is set, it’s time to add the grids. The grids will help divide the garden into smaller square foot areas where each crop is planted.
6. Start Planting
Now that you’ve set everything up, it’s time to get planting. Do choose the right spots in your garden depending on the location of the sun. You may also want to note which crops should go beside which since some plants don’t always play nice with everyone.