Square Foot Gardening
What is square foot gardening?
A simple, unique and versatile system that adapts to all levels of experience, physical ability, and geographical location. Grow all you want and need in only 20% of the space of a conventional row garden.
Save time, water, work and money!
I am following the square foot gardening method, and I’ll be using it as a reference through out the blog.
Square foot gardening invented by the genius Mel Bartholomew! Learn more about it in his website , Or order his very very valuable book. It may come in downloadable PDF files too, if you search.
Here are the 10 things that make SFG different from traditional row gardening:
- Layout. Arrange your garden in squares, not rows. Lay it out in 4′x4′ planting areas. Companion plants can help each other grow bigger and tastier!
- Boxes. Build boxes to hold a new soil mix above ground. Your existing soil doesn’t matter! forget about it, and just worry about the new soil called Mel’s Mix.
- Aisles. Space boxes 3′ apart to form walking aisles. It makes it easier to walk and sit around the boxes, especially when your plants get really big and spill out of the boxes a little.
- Soil. Fill boxes with Mel’s special soil mix: 1/3 blended compost (please please make your own! The compost sold in Kuwait is a little shady) , 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 coarse vermiculite (All available in True Value).
- Grid. Make a permanent square foot grid for the top of each box. A MUST!
- Care. NEVER WALK ON YOUR GROWING SOIL. This is how the soil stays so fluffy and airy for the roots stay happy. Tend your garden from the aisles.
- Select. Plant a different flower, vegetable, or herb crop in each square foot, using 1, 4, 9, or 16 plants per square foot. You might, for example, plant a single tomato in a square, but you’d plant 16 carrots in another. Using this system, you can cram a lot of garden into a small space and still get excellent yields.
- Plant. Conserve seeds. Plant only a pinch (2 or 3 seeds) per hole. Place transplants in a slight saucer-shaped depression. This means you wont waste seeds! The traditional way is to plant lots of seeds then cut off the majority and leave the strongest.
- Water. Water by hand from a bucket of sun-warmed water.
- Harvest. When you finish harvesting a square foot, add only compost and replant it with a new and different crop.
Here’s how Im starting my square foot garden :
I decided how big of an area I want to use, I am placing my SFG on the roof of my house, which I made sure received at least 8 hours of full sun. I am going big and starting with lots of boxes. So after thorough planning I decided I want two 4×4 square foot boxes (which is the standard) two smaller boxes for root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, and one long box for herbs. You can download the guide I created for the carpenters here . Its not the most accurate illustration of what the boxes look like in the end, but the numbers are right.
You can change the measurements how ever you like, most importantly, you have to make sure each square is 1ft squared in size= 30 cm. Also Most vegetables require 6 inches of soil, I’ve decided to use around 20cm.
If the boxes are placed over a garden/soil, they don’t need bottoms. In my case, I have to apply bottoms since they’re going to be in the roof. The bottoms are waterproof 2cm thick plywood. The plywood has to have around 0.6 cm holes drilled in each square, plus in the corners.
My boxes have weird squares in the plywood because the carpenter mistook 0.6cm for huge 6cm holes, I had them fix them without problems.
One of the 4×4′ beds with the herb bed:
You can ofcourse build your own boxes, and a very detailed guide is in the book. Im sure its much more fun.I don’t have the skill or time, so I had the boxes done for 50KD total, 30 for the wood and 20 for the building.
The work was done by Ibrahim in Classic Design Carpentry :
Maybe I’ll paint the outsides of the boxes with the kids before the season starts, what do you think?