Square-Foot Gardening

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 - 6:53pm

If you have a smaller gardening space and want to increase your yields, there is nothing like Square Foot Gardening (SFG). It was invented by efficiency expert Mel Bartholomew, when he asked himself the question, "Why was a suburban or kitchen garden planted in rows, like a farm?" No reason, it was habit. It turned out you could dramatically increase the amount of food you grew per square foot if you eliminated the rows and put your vegetables in raised beds small enough to reach all the way into.

This means that the area planted can only be a maximum of 4-feet in wide (for adults, children can have 3-ft across beds). The length is variable. Above is a typical 4-ft square raised bed. It does not have to be that fancy. Mine look more like this:

Other than increasing the number of plants per square foot, the SFG model accomplishes several things.

  1. The soil does not get compacted by walking on it, and stays loose and friable (crumbly).
  2. There are less weeds, since close-planted crops tend to crowd weeds out.
  3. It takes less water, with smaller overall areas to water than a row garden.
  4. If you have hard-packed clay soil, tree roots, or even concrete underneath, SFG raised beds can get great results from small amounts of good soil .

We built our raised beds out of wood, but you can use stones, concrete blocks, or other materials. There is a very long thread in the forums on SFG, here. I know a number of you use the practice, and would love to see pictures and examples of how it has worked for you over the years.

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