Square foot gardening is one of the most effective and efficient methods of organically growing plants and vegetables in a limited garden space. Square foot gardening is generally used along with two other gardening techniques; raised bed gardening and companion planting. The production in areas with poor soil can be significantly increased with Square foot gardening and it is an easy way of gardening for people with disabilities as all parts of the garden can be easily accessed.
How does it Work
Square foot gardening is a way of gardening in which plants or vegetables are grown in an area of one square foot each. Square foot gardening can also be carried out without a raised bed but it is advisable to use one. The bed must then be filled with rich top soil. Once a raised bed garden has been prepared the area of the bed is divided into grids. These grids are one square foot each in size and the divisions between these grids are clearly marked using twine and tacks. In Square foot gardening, it is important that the bed is divided into grids and not rows. If you are planning on more than one bed make sure you leave an aisle space of at least 3 feet between two beds so that you can access the beds easily without stepping on the soil.
After you have made the grids, plant a different vegetable, flower or herb in each square foot. The density of each plant within its grid depends on what size the eventual crop grows to. For instance a large plant like broccoli would have only one plant per square. Lettuce can be grown four per square. Spinach can grow nine per square and onions or carrots can be grown with sixteen plants per square. Always plant either one, four, nine or sixteen plants per square foot.
In Square foot gardening it is important that you add compost to the soil as that is the only way to assure your plants receive the adequate nutrients. Also carry out mulching to ensure a good harvest.
For carrying out Square foot gardening, you will need wood to build the raised beds. You will also need soil mix that is made of one third peat moss, one third compost and one third vermiculite. Besides this you need weed cloth, screws, twine and of course seeds. Place each box three feet apart, especially if you are planning on more than one Square foot gardening box in your yard.
It is also important to choose a proper location for placing your Square foot gardening boxes. You want to put them in an area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight. Make sure you protect them from wind, which can potentially dry out your plant, by making a barrier or placing the box in an area where the wind gets blocked out. Choose an area which has a water source close by so that watering your plants is not a hassle. Also place your bed in a well drained area.
The other problem people face while carrying out Square foot gardening is how to decide on the number of boxes to create. This can be solved by deciding what you want to grow and how much would you need. Allot 3 boxes per child and 4 boxes per adult. So if you want to grow enough for a family of four you will need fourteen boxes. The extra produce can always be refrigerated or given to neighbors.
What are the precautions one must take while Square foot gardening
It is important that each bed is at least 3 feet high, so that if you want to grow vegetables like potatoes which grow downwards there is enough space. Make sure you divide the bed into grids using twine to demarcate divisions as these will eventually help you once the plants start growing.
Make sure you carry out companion planting with Square foot gardening. Plants are crowded quite densely in Square foot gardening. Companion planting makes sure that plants which are beneficial to each other, symbiotically, are placed next to each other. These companion plants help nourish each other, assist in pollination and help to control pests. To sow seeds little holes must be made and only two to three seeds must be sown in each hole. A depression in the shape of a saucer must be made for transplants.
In Square foot gardening just like any other form of gardening plants must be protected from pests. You can use chicken wire over the wooden frame or build a protective cage to deter pests. PVC pipes can also be used to support protective fabric that will help to keep out insects and spring frosts.
What are the advantages of Square foot gardening
Square foot gardening is extremely good for the plants’ health as it helps in providing mineral rich soil from the very beginning as opposed to ground soil whose quality you cannot be sure of. Square foot gardening is extremely economical as it uses up only 20 percent of the area a traditional garden would.
Square foot gardening is an economical form of gardening in these times when our planet’s eco-system is threatened. It makes optimum use of soil, compost and helps conserve seeds. It also requires much lesser water than a conventional garden. Square foot gardening is also beneficial to you as it helps you to save time and energy. Tending to these gardens is much easier as they are easily accessible. For people who can not bend they can look after their gardens by sitting on a stool without stressing their backs.
The greatest advantage of Square foot gardening is that the soil does not get compacted. Since the gardening can be carried out from the aisles on the side, there is no need to step on the soil. As the soil is less compacted weeds find it hard to get a hold in the soil and thus can be easily pulled out. The soil does not have to be loosened regularly and the plants roots can grow easily. Companion planting also helps protecting the health of your plants and ensures you a pesticide-free, organic produce.
Thus, Square foot gardening is a great way of carrying out organic gardening even in smaller spaces. Besides you can cultivate plants successfully in any environment or climatic conditions without the use of chemicals. Square foot gardening is a convenient way of ensuring a healthy produce for your family without stepping out of the comfort of your homes.
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