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Planning for successful Square foot gardening

Small is beautiful

Square foot gardening is the process of planting crops in a small area that is separated from the surrounding soil. We are not looking at plant pots or flowerpots or window boxes (terracotta or plastic)in this page, see Container gardening page. Lasagna gardening will also be examined on this site soon.

Here we are looking at containers used in square foot gardening, which is a more active type of gardening popularised in 1981 in a book by Mel Bartholomew.

Square foot gardening is especially useful where soil is poor, or for people with disabilities want to involve themselves in gardening. Or for lazy or only slightly motivated people! This includes children.

It is like the difference between having a goldfish bowl and having a pond.

You can grow multiple crops in a small box-shaped square foot. Novice gardeners can also start their gardening practice from square foot gardening.

This type of gardening is distinguished from traditional gardening in such a way that it gives you relaxation from the many hassles, aches and pains, sprains and bites, you have in normal gardening.

If you are planning square foot gardens you can consider these tips to make your gardening plan flourish. Or is that flower-ish?

container or square foot garden planter

Above: Container or square foot garden planter. This one is very solidly constructed form a supplier, but you can do it yourself with cheap materials, if you have the skills and time

Basically in container gardens you need an open-bottom, for drainage, pot, usually terracotta or plastic.

Then the box has to be divided into grids so that multiple plants can grow in the same box. Each grid can be used for one or more than one plant as it depends on the size of plant. You should put very good quality soil that is suitable for the individual plant species with an adequate amount of moisture and fertilizer in it.

Once you have one bed or box ready you can set up multiple containers in the same way.

Be sure that you keep enough distance between each box; it will help the gardener poke around the beds and will give plants space to thrive. When planning for the size of beds it is better to keep them smaller in size, this is helpful when you need to manage your crop which is in the middle of box. If you have a grid system you still have to reach over to the midle ones, and get to the back ones.

Do not place too many plants in a single box. Plants need area to grow and cramped conditions can help contagious diseases in plants.

People with disabilities can modify their garden up to the level that suits them. For example, they can place marine plywood or plastic below the box to put it on a level which is comfortable.

This also applies to children. When I was a kid I had an old Belfast sink which I used to grow herbs and small flowers in, this was a great introduction to gardening, and also teaches care and attention. Much better than a television!

The height of the beds can vary depending upon your choice, you can have 8 to 14 inches (20-50 cm) beds above the ground. If you are not very active, or disabled, or it is for children, the container garden can be set at an easy access height.

Square foot gardening can be indoors, they only take up a bit more room that pot plants, and are much more interesting as you do some proper but miniature gardening. Pot plants just sit there. Be careful about drainage though as the boxes are open bottomed. On the patio they can make an interesting area rather than just have man-made things so provide a greener touch to your garden design.

Outdoors in a small garden, rather than planting out into the proper soil, you can lay square containers over it, especially if the soil is too poor or unsuitable for the type of plants you want to grow.

Square foot gardening is also good for a bit of mini market gardening, for herbs, spring onions, one tomato, small pretty flowers, and so on.

There are numerous advantages of square foot gardening, some of them are extremely useful like:

See also

Container gardening advice - images of pots

Container gardening