Square Foot Gardening

This gardening method is a great way to harvest the most vegetables within a small space.  It is wonderful to incorporate in a small yard, school or community garden.  This simple plan was developed by Mel Bartholomew in the early 1980’s and is still very popular today.

Since most vegetables prefer full sun, find the sunniest spot and build a 4’ x 4’ raised garden using non-treated wood.  Fill the garden with good garden loam and compost and divide the garden into 16 one-foot squares.  Your garden is now ready for planting.

Choose your veggies and start planting!  Each vegetable is allotted to a square and the size of the veggie determines how many will fit in each square.  Start with the veggies that grow the tallest…they get planted on the north side so they don’t shade the other plants.  Those that grow larger (tomatoes or peppers) will need one square for each plant, whereas smaller veggies (radishes or carrots) can have several plants per square.  For rambling veggies (cucumbers, squash), try vertical gardening by adding a trellis for them to climb.

Water, weed and fertilize as the plants require.  Once the veggies have been harvested, top dress with additional compost and replant for a second crop of carrots, kale or radishes.

By growing a small square-foot garden, it is easy to weed as it can be reached by all 4 sides.  It is a manageable size to maintain for a busy family and by successional planting, there can be a harvest from spring to fall.

Small: 3” apart (or smaller) = 16 per square (beets, carrots, green onions, radishes,)
Medium: 4” apart = 9 per square (beans, beets, chives, onions, peas, spinach, turnips)
Large: 6” apart = 4 per square (basil, garlic, lettuces, swiss chard)
Extra Large: 12” apart = 1 per square (broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, dill, eggplant, kale, okra, oregano, parsley peppers, potatoes, tomato with stakes, etc)