As the price of food continues to increase more and more people are turning to square foot gardening so that they can grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables. Home grown fresh vegetables generally are healthier and fresher than the stuff that you can buy at the store. The good news is that you don’t need a lot of space to start a square foot garden.
One of the benefits with square foot gardening is that you can start small with just a few plants and expand the size of your garden as you gain experience with gardening. One of the first things to consider when selecting an area is the amount of sunlight that the area receives on a daily basis.
The area that you choose should get around six to eight hours of direct light per day. You need to choose an area that drains well and has easy access to water. If you can’t seem to find the right area, or if space is an issue, you could always grow your plants in a container garden.
Once you have found the place that you will be growing your square foot garden your next step is to set-up the spot. A raised bed garden is easier to start with and has a few benefits over an in-ground garden such as better drainage, a better soil mix, and better yields.
Start with a 4’ by 4’ space since that size is easy to work with. Several materials can be used to make the raised bed such as wood, bricks or plastic. There are even pre-made kits available if you are not very good with do-it-yourself projects. If you choose wood, do not use treated lumber, instead use untreated wood. Cedar works the best since it is highly resistant to rot.
After you have made the frame, the next step is to add soil and compost. If the ground is hard and compacted be sure to till the soil to loosen it up before adding the compost. If the soil is to wet, wait for it to dry out before working the ground to avoid the soil from clumping up while you are working the soil. Add a mixture of roughly one-third part compost, a one-third part pet moss, and a one-third part of vermiculite or topsoil to the square foot garden.
The next step is to plant some seeds in your new square foot garden. There are several different varieties to choose from that are good for beginners to choose from. Here is a small list of plants that tend to grow well and are fairly easy to work with.
Warm season plants:
Tomato: Tomatoes are a warm season plant that is a favorite plant for many people. Since the tomato is a vine plant you need to use a pole to grow them vertically. Keep in mind that the tomato can block out sunlight so it should be planted behind the rest of the plants to avoid this.
Pepper: Like tomatoes the pepper can block out the sunlight of smaller plants so they need to be put further back with the tomatoes. Peppers can help protect other plants from insect infestations making them useful.
Cucumber: Another favorite vegetable, the cucumber is another vine vegetable that needs to grow vertically on a pole.
Green Bean: Some varieties grow on a bush while others grow on a vine. They tend to grow fast and can produce beans until frost sets in.
Cool season plants:
Cabbage: Can be planted in the spring and fall for two harvests.
Broccoli: Like cabbage you can grow two crops if you time them.
Lettuce: An easy to grow plant as long as you harvest before hot summer weather sets in.
Radish: fast maturing, easy to grow, and cold tolerant making this a good choice for fall.
Onion: If you plant these in early spring you can harvest some plants early for green onions, or let them grow until they fully mature if you want full size bulbs. Onions can also help protect other crops from insects.
Starting a square foot garden is a fun and rewarding experience that will yield you with lots of fresh and delicious fruit and vegetables for most of the growing year. It is not hard or difficult to start one and it will help you develop a very useful skill.
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