If you want to start growing vegetables, try square-foot gardening. Perfect for homeowners with limited yard space, this method involves small, square, raised beds, divided into square-foot segments. Each segment hosts one type of plant. Gardeners with more space can build several of these raised beds.
Do you like the idea of growing your own vegetables? In this article, we look at the easiest way to start your gardening venture. Become self-sustained (or at least reduce your dependency on the local grocery store).
Square-foot gardening is a growing method started in the 1980s by Mel Bartholomew. The method was named after the organizational pattern he used to create a garden.
A square-foot garden is simply a small raised bed, typically four feet by four feet, that has been divided into smaller squares. The subdivisions allow for easy management of plant growth and for different types of vegetables to be planted next to each other.
Because a square-foot garden is small, monitoring the growth of individual plants and managing weeds can be done with ease. Gardeners don’t have to step on any dirt, which keeps all the soil productive and the plants out of harm’s way.
Elevated beds mitigate back strain as gardeners do not have to stoop so low to do maintenance work. You can even sit on a footstool and comfortably reach every part of your little crop.
Creating a Square-Foot-Garden Bed
Creating a square-foot-garden bed is easy and does not cost much. A raised bed only needs to be six to eight inches tall. This allows the soil to drain effectively and provides enough depth for roots.
Use pressure-treated wood, which will not rot, as the edging material. Some gardeners believe that pressure-treated wood can contaminate the soil, so if you prefer, use wood like cedar. Cedar has oils in it that naturally keep it from rotting. You can also use brick, short lengths of railroad ties, or concrete blocks for more permanent perimeters.
It is optional, but you would do well to lay permeable gardening fabric inside your raised bed to help keep weeds and pests from getting in from the bottom. A layer of newspapers will also do the trick, but newspaper disintegrates over time and the gardening fabric does not.
Create a four-by-four-foot square with your chosen edging material, line the inside with garden fabric or newspaper, and fill the square with potting soil. Voila–you now have a raised bed. Build one four-by-four-foot square or several of them wherever you have space in your yard.
Lastly, using wood or string, create a grid of dividers inside the bed. These will help you organize your plants into the square-foot configuration.
Easy Vegetables to Grow
While you are getting used to gardening, try planting carrots, radishes, Asian greens, and zucchini. These plants practically grow on their own. (Once these plants take root, they may even be hard to get rid of when you decide to grow something else.) These plants also help condition and stabilize your soil for future gardening adventures.
You can also plant peas. Peas are nutritious, easy to grow, and easy to harvest. Unlike most other plants, peas take nitrogen out of the air and store it in their roots. This means that while you’re growing peas, you’re improving the quality of the soil for future nitrogen-hungry plants.
Creating a square-foot garden is relatively easy. If you are new to gardening, start with building just one raised bed. Enjoy the whole process, from bed-building to plant harvesting, and if you love it, add another square-foot garden next year!