DIY,  Gardening

The Lazy Gardener: Square Foot Gardening

Each bed is 
drawn out to some scale and individual plants are given 
the space they need.

I have been planning and planting for several weeks now. It’s very rewarding walking out to the garden and seeing little plants popping up in their dedicated locations. I also have quite a few volunteers this year, my favorite type of plant.

I always start with a piece of graph paper. This helps in planning out where things will go and dedicating space to those plants I most want to eat. It also prevents forgetting where things are planted and accidentally planting over top of seeds that are working on germinating.

I have 16 square foot garden beds. A square foot garden bed can be any size. Mine are 4′ by 4′. This makes it easy to reach all the plants in the bed without stepping on the soil. Plants like nice fluffy aerated soil, so stepping on the beds and compacting the soil is something to be avoided. There are no rows in my garden. There are mulched walkways between the slightly raised beds. The walkways are not included in the plan, but I know they are there.

In each bed, determine what you would like to plant and how many fit in one square foot. This makes it easy to plan out how many plants to grow from seed (or buy at your local nursery) and even how to space direct sow seeds. You can create a key and plot out plants individually, or for plants that can grow close together, just dedicate the right amount of space and label it. You can also keep track of which beds get the most sun and which are shadiest. If you’re really organized you can keep your plan each year and rotate where plants are grown to help improve the soil and confuse pests. If a plant did not grow well in the shade, next year rotate it to a sunny plot. If you are attacked by a plague of squash beetles, you may have to skip squash for a year or two.

Raised beds help prevent weeds and make it easier to harvest what’s been sown. It’s now the third year of my raised beds and there are very few weeds. Mulching between the rows means I don’t have to mow there and the grass and dandelion seeds aren’t spewed from the mower into the beds. I still get some weeds, but very few. Once the plants have filled in there isn’t much space or sun left for weeds. Another benefit of square foot gardening.

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