Everything You Need To Know Before You Start Square Foot Gardening

Square foot gardening is a popular, relatively new gardening method that can make all the difference in how much you can grow in your home garden and even how easily you can maintain a garden.

Many gardeners are turning to this method to make it easier to maintain their garden and increase their yield allowing them to feed their families from even a relatively small home garden.

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What is Square Foot Gardening?

Square foot gardening is a simple, effective, and low-maintenance gardening method that is growing in popularity. 

This involves planting in 12 by 12-inch squares often placing multiple plants in each square. Traditionally done in raised beds, square foot gardening can be done anywhere.

This gardening method originated from the effort to make growing food in urban areas easier and more accessible to all.

Square foot gardening allows you to plant more in a smaller space than traditional row gardens and garden beds that use traditional spacing. These methods tend to leave large open spaces helping to make the most of your garden.

Pros of Square Foot Gardening

A square foot garden has many great qualities making it a great gardening method for beginners.

Square foot gardening is an ideal method for gardening in small spaces. You do not need to have a large garden space and can even get started with square foot gardening in a small garden bed on a patio if you find yourself with limited space.

You can plant more food in a small garden when using the square foot gardening method. This is because no space goes wasted. Because more food is grown in your limited space you’ll get a larger crop from your garden overall.

Square foot gardening puts a large variety of plants into your garden beds. Like with other forms of companion planting a square foot garden is great for helping to create biodiversity that helps to keep diseases and pests at bay in your garden.

The entire garden bed is easily reached from at least one of the sides, allowing for easier gardening for those with physical limitations.

Plants that are grown close together help to act as living mulch. Helping to snuff out weeds and trap moisture by blocking out the sun, making your garden much easier to care for.

You can intentionally stunt the growth of some plants by planting them closer together.  In some cases, the close quarters of square foot gardening can be an issue, but for aromatic herbs, a square foot garden can help increase the flavor of the plants. This is because the reduced growing space stunts the overall growth of your plants concentrating the flavor.

Cons of Square Foot Gardening?

While square foot gardening has many great benefits there are a few risks and complications.

A square foot garden tends to grow thick as the plants are so close together.  This can make watering a bit tricky as your plants get bigger. To fight this issue you can set up an irrigation system that will allow the water to go directly to the base of your plants.

Square foot gardening puts your plants very close together. This can stunt the growth of some plants. For this reason, you want to keep plants that need a lot of room in squares by themselves or planted with something that can grow close without complications.

You must plan your garden beds well. Packing so many plants into a tight spot means you need to consider how well each plant companion plants with the next square over on each side. You must also consider how each plant will shade or block other plants so you can plan your taller plants and trellises to avoid blocking the sun.

Things You Should Be Mindful of

Don’t make your square foot garden beds too big. A 4 x 4 or a 4 x 6-foot garden bed is perfect for square foot gardening. By keeping them small you can make it easier to reach each and every square in your garden bed.

You can always grow multiple beds leaving walking space between them to make it easy to care for your garden beds.

Square Foot gardening is often done in raised beds as they are easier to start fresh than to dig out an in-ground garden bed. These beds are often too shallow for growing larger plants like tomatoes.

If you are growing larger plants in your square foot garden consider making your garden beds taller or leave out a bottom liner and tilling compost into the soil under your beds before adding soil.

You do not need to buy frames for your square foot garden and you can make your own grid for relatively cheap using rope or string and attaching them to your garden bed or using tent stakes to keep the grid in place. This will help you plant in square foot boxes and keep it all organized even on a budget.

Not all plants are suited to square foot gardening. Plants that need large mounds to grow like potatoes and melons are best kept out of your square foot garden where they will take up too much space and can easily crowd other plants in the garden bed.

Take advantage of trellises in your square foot garden. When you take the time to train plants to grow vertically you can fit more into your garden beds and get the most value from your garden.

Using trellises in your square foot garden is easy and can be a great asset in increasing your garden’s yield. When you grow plants on trellises you can often fit a bit more into those squares as well with companion planting.

Use a seed sowing template in your square foot garden to make it easier to get the right spacing for your plants inside each and every square to make the most use of your garden space.

For more top tips on using garden beds in your garden, take a look at these popular posts:

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