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Square Foot Gardening For The Post Industrial World


If we are to expect some bad days ahead when the impact of the peak oil is finally felt then It's probably a good idea for people to start growing their own square foot gardens. Of course even if it doesn't turn out to be as bad as a lot of people are claiming it to be, having a garden in your back yard sure isn't going to do you any harm. Below you will find the basics of square foot gardening.

The first thing is figuring out the layout and where it's going to be. The place that you pick needs to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight on a daily basis. So, you need to make sure to stay away from trees as well as shrubs where the roots and shade might interfere with your garden. You should to have it as close to your house as you possibly can. It also should not be an area that tends to puddle after heavy rains. You will also want to make sure that you garden is arranged in squares and not in rows like a lot of people do. So, always think in squares like 4 x 4 planting areas for example and making sure there are walkways between the squares. You can have your planting squares all in one place or you can arrange them around your yard.

You will need to build boxes that will hold new soil above the ground. The box frames should be no wider than 4 feet and shouldn't be any deeper than six to eight inches. You can go smaller, just don't go any bigger. You can make the frames from just about any material except for treated wood because treated wood has toxic chemicals in it which will get into the soil.

Make sure that your boxes are spaced about 3 feet apart to form your walking aisles. This will make it easier for you to plant, work and harvest in the garden. It can be a little bit more or even a little bit less just as long as you give yourself plenty of room to move around. You can cover the walking area with grass or an attractive ground cover if you want.

You should take some soil that is 1/3 blended compost, 1/3 coarse vermiculite and 1/3 peat moss and put this in your boxes. It's better to make your own compost but if you don't have the time then the blended will do just fine. All of these ingredients are natural and will work well for your garden.

Put a permanent grid on top of each frame that will divide each box into one foot squares. This grid makes this kind of garden system work well. It can actually allow you to plant 16 different crops if you wanted to. It will also keep your garden plots nice and neat and organized. Also, if you don't have the grid you will be more tempted to plant in rows. You can make your grid from wood or even plastic strips to old blinds. Take some screws to attach them where they cross each other. You should leave your grid in place all season.

The most important thing to remember when you are gardening is to never ever walk on your growing soil. This is why you have garden boxes and paths to walk around them. This way you never have to do any heavy digging and the soil is going to always stay loose and useable forever.

When it's time to plant make sure to plant a different flower, fruit, herb or vegetable for each square foot. So if your grid was had 9 squares in the one garden box you would plant 9 different plants one in each square foot of the grid. If you had a grid of 16 you would plant 16 different ones.

After you have decided on the seeds then you can plant one or two seeds in each spot by making a very shallow hole with your fingers. Cover the seeds but try not to pack the soil down too hard. Planting this way eliminates thinning of plants and there are no seeds wasted. Your extra seeds can be stored in a cool dry place in your refrigerator. Never over plant only plant as much food you know you are going to use so you can conserve your seeds.

Always water your garden by hand from a bucket that has been warmed by the sun. Warm water will help to keep the soil warm and only water as much as each of the plants appear to need. Make sure to water often, especially right after you plant the seeds and then on very hot dry days as well.

Make sure to harvest on a continual basis and when you are finished with one harvest in a square foot just add a little compost and replant it with a new or different crop.

Some of the typical plants that do well in this type of garden are listed below:

  • Radishes, onions and carrots (plant 16 per square foot)
  • Bush beans and spinach (plant 9 per square foot)
  • Pole beans and peas (plant 8 per square foot)
  • Celery, chard, corn, garlic, lettuce and mustard (plant 4 per square foot)
  • Cucumbers (plant 2 per square foot in a row of 4 squares)
  • Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, potatoes, eggplant, okra, summer squash, tomatoes (plant one per square foot)
  • Winter squash (plant 1 per 2 square foot)






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