If space is at a premium or you don’t want to garden on a big scale but you do want to grow the maximum amount of vegetables in the smallest area, then square foot gardening might be for you.
Square Foot Gardening
The square foot gardening system was developed in the ’80s by an American architect to maximise the amount grown in the least space and also to save seed wastage and minimise weeding and watering.
The system works by taking an area of land and dividing it up into square feet patches. The optimum size is four foot by four foot giving a sixteen square foot patch. Then in each patch you plant a different crop and as it is harvested you replace with another crop.
I tried it out a couple of years ago and I was impressed with how much can be produced in such a small space. I found a pallet in a skip outside a local shop that had been used to deliver a refrigerated unit. It had plywood side and base so all I did (with the help of my son) was put some legs on it, drill some drainage holes in the base and fill it with compost . Then I measured it (it was three foot by four foot) put a screw in at each foot and tied some old washing line around each screw thus giving me twelve square feet of growing space.
What to grow
There is a guide you can access online showing how many of what type to plant in each square, it’s something like 16 carrots, 16 onions, 9 beetroot, 1 tomato,1 aubergine, 4 beans, 1 cabbage, 4 lettuce and so on. Stick with it and it will surprise you just how productive this system is. In my first season with this system I grew carrots, spring onions, tree onions, tomatoes, rocket, beetroot, lettuce, garlic chives, marigolds and dwarf beans. The only failure I had was butter nut squash and I believe that was because I didn’t allow enough space for it to develop properly.
Square foot garden uses
This system can be used in borders, on the ground or on table type plots like I built so its applications are endless, it could be used in a garden designed for wheelchair users or people with back problems and other conditions where bending is a problem.
It also lends itself very well to companion planting as you can easily plant various types of vegetables and flowers together in a controlled way.