A couple of our gardeners I’ve spoken with are implementing ‘square foot gardening’ in their beds. After so many years of living in small urban apartments, I know almost nothing about gardening, so I set out to investigate what this is all about.
In a nutshell, it’s just what it sounds like; planting in a small amount of space. More specifically, planting a LOT in a very small amount of space. Using compost, raised beds, companion planting and well planned irrigation, it’s amazing what can be grown in a few feet of a garden.
Some of the basic tenets of square foot gardening are:
- As the plants grow, the density creates a ‘living mulch’ which inhibits weeds (yay!).
- Companion planting allows the gardener to mix insect resistant plants like Marigolds into their garden, and the small size of the garden allows these companion plants to be more efficient and effective than they would be in a larger bed.
- Using raised beds means the soil need not be walked on or otherwise compacted which makes for happy plants.
- Mixing a variety of crops together helps to keep down the spread of diseases and pests.
- Creating a good planting mix allows for great water retention and, therefore, less water waste.
Square foot gardening was popularized by Mel Bartholomew in his 1981 book named, of course, Square Foot Gardening. If you are interested in learning more, Mel has a great site http://www.melbartholomew.com/ with lots of resources.