Did you know you could make use of any unused sunlit space in your back yard to grow an intense patch of vegetables using the Square Foot Gardening (SFG) method to produce as much as you would if you were gardening conventionally, in an area 20 % lesser?!!
Yup! Ever since Mel Bartholomew popularized the phrase “Square Foot Gardening” in the early 1980’s it has been gaining recognition and acceptance from all over the globe, not least because it is a variation of the French Intensive Gardening (FIG) method that is widely regarded to be the most effective way to cultivate crops. This said the scope and effectiveness of the SFG method is actually second to none.
What is Square Foot Gardening?
SFG can be broadly defined as the practice of growing intensely packed crops in small raised beds that inculcates a simple system that can be adapted to experience, physical abilities and geographical locations.
The method makes use of raised beds that are generally four sided boxes with no tops or bottoms to be placed in a location in the garden so as to contain a certain amount of soil. As the name suggests the raised beds are square shaped measuring 4 feet wide and 12 inches deep. However, gardeners have claimed that it is not necessary to use a container/box as a compound for the bed citing that the box has no significance other than being a frame support.
The bed would then be gridded into a number of square sections; each section accommodating a variety of different crops over time. Each square thus holds a number of plants depending on its size. For example, a tomato plant will occupy a whole square while there could be upto 16 radishes per square!
How to Start A Square Foot Garden
-Pick a Spot
As with any gardening method, the first thing to do is to plan and identify a place to begin your new adventure. Undoubtedly most vegetables and fruits thrive in sunlight, so find an area that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. Keep in mind water sources too!
-Construct your bed
The next step is to make an excellent raised bed. Ideally you should create a 4 by 4 feet square box made of wood and stay true to the method! Get lumber from your local store, chop them and screw them together like in the picture. Use tools as you see fit! I do not want to hold you back.
What the bed should contain is up to you and what you want to grow. Generally good soil, compost and manure make up the bed.
Plant in the square according to size and interchange the locations in the grid in successive planting seasons. In general, it is possible to have 1, 4, 9 and 16 plants in each square. You can always thin out the plants if you feel they are too tightly packed.
Good luck and click this link to a chart depicting the number of plants per square for different vegetables and fruits!