Rusty Divine

Live, Love, Learn, Teach

Square Foot Gardening

Last July my wife and I moved from Seattle back home to Lincoln, NE.  We lived in Seattle for 5 years (and Washington state for 8), but Seattle’s mobs of people and infamous winters wore us down.

Seattle’s northern clime and short growing season made vegetable gardens a bit too much hassle for us spoiled mid-westerners.  Now we’re back and I had a little spot in my backyard between a fence and the house that was perfect spot for a vegetable garden.

I stumbled upon an interesting gardening technique – gardening by the square foot – that sounded both promising and appropriate for my space.

Pros: Low maintenance, good yields

Cons: Some reviewers reported the loose soil mixture wasn't hefty enough to stabilize tall-growing plants.  Also, with two greyhounds (and one who really loves to dig), I would have to fence off the garden area.

Box

Supplies:

I constructed a raised bed container that measured 12’x2’x6”

  • 4 8’x6” untreated cedar boards from local box home improvement store
    • I cut 2’ off each of these and used them for the ends
  • 2 cubic feet each: Vermiculite, Compost, Peat Moss
    • More would have been better, even though the volume was supposed to be correct.
    • 1 bag of compost at gardening centers is about 1/2 cubic foot
  • Some 2” wood screws that I had on hand
  • Optional – landscaping paper for the bottom
    • I didn’t use this in hopes my plants get into the soil below to stabilize the taller ones
  • Some twine and a handful of nails to divide the boxes into square-foot sections
  • Garden Fence (for keeping out the dogs)

The total pre-planting cost was around $100 and it took me an afternoon to put together.

Plants:SqFtGarden

I used Excel to plan what plants to put where.  I’ve already put in the potatoes, radish seeds, onions, beet and lettuce seeds.  The rest I’ll buy as plants from the nursery when they are ready.

Tips:

  1. Use the soil mix described in Supplies above
  2. Don’t ever walk on or otherwise compact the soil 
  3. No need for fertilizer, and weeds are rare and easily removed
  4. To plant seeds at 1/2”, e.g., scrape 1/2” of the soil off, sprinkle in the seeds, then cover them back up
  5. Read this beginner's guide
  6. Lookup your county’s Extension Office

Links:

  1. Official Site
  2. Square Foot Gardening (the book)
  3. With irrigation
  4. The Ultimate How-To Guide
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