Square Foot Gardening Pros and Cons

Photo Credit: Organic Life

Square foot gardening looks neat and orderly, but you might wonder if this method is the best way to grow your vegetables and growing herbs. You've probably seen them, highly organized garden beds that are divided into perfect squares, each featuring their own variety of vegetable, fruit or herb. Raised garden beds look beautiful, and like anything, there are both pros and cons to starting a garden this way. You'll want to take a loo at the pros and cons to this type of gardening and determine whether it is right for you. Square foot gardening was a method invented by the backyard gardener, efficiency expert and retired engineer, Mel Bartholomew. The method was invented as a better way to grow a vegetable garden, and the method became popular when he first introduced the idea to the gardening public in 1981 in his book Square Foot Gardening. The basic concept of square foot gardening is you create a small garden bed of about four feet by four feet by eight feet being a common size, and then dividing it into a grid of one-foot squares, which you manage individually. When starting a garden like this, the seeds or seedlings of each kind of vegetable are planted in one or more of the squares, at a density based on the plant size. An example would be to plant about 16 radish seeds per square, but only one tomato plant in a square. Since there are no paths in the square foot garden, there is no wasted space, and the soil in the garden bed stays loose because you never step on it. Twenty-five years later Bartholomew updated his square foot garden methods with a new book, All New Square Foot Gardening, which advocates creating a 6-inch deep frame or a raised bed and filling it with a good mixture of vermiculite, peat moss, and compost, to plant in instead of garden soil enriched with compost.

Pros. Raised bed gardens are super productive. Intensive planting means that you get huge yields from small spaces, so this type of garden and DIY idea is ideal for gardeners who have limited space. Raised gardens are fast to set up. Raised bed gardening is a fast way of starting a garden, so it is a great diy idea for first-timers. You can place your raised garden bed anywhere, even over grass or pavement, which allows you to build, fill, and start planting your garden in a just few hours. Even if you work with your existing soil, you only need to prepare the planting areas in the raised bed garden and not the paths, so it takes a lot less time and effort. Raised gardens require minimal maintenance.

Cons. Sometimes these pricey. The cost of starting a garden even a small raised bed garden and filling it with soilless garden mix for the updated method adds up quickly. But, if you have good soil to already work with, you don’t have to build the raised beds and buy soilless mix. Instead, you want to stick with the original method and form in-ground garden beds for less money. Things in a raised garden bed can get cramped. Small square foot garden beds aren’t ideal for plant crops that take up a lot of room, such as asparagus, vining winter squash, or sweet corn plants. A smart approach to raised bed gardens is growing herbs and more compact veggies to include carrots and radishes and consider the large plants or plantings to a traditional vegetable garden.

You will find these tips to starting a garden on the Organic Life site. On the site, you will find starting a garden, growing herbs, DIY ideas, food ideas, well being and more. **

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