Gardening…one square at a time!

Hubby and I always wanted a big garden, but when we moved to our home in Calgary, complete with postage stamp sized lot, we knew it would take some creativity to make it happen.  After quite a bit of research, we came across the Square Foot Gardening Method, and we have had wonderful success!

First, what is square foot gardening (SFG)?  In a nutshell, it is planning out your crops in square foot segments while increasing yield and cutting down on maintenance.  There are several thoughts behind the method, one, you only plant what you can eat.  We’ve all been there, you plant an entire packet of zucchini seeds, only to find that you cannot eat all that grows and it takes over your garden.  In SFG, they suggest that you only plant 1 plant per 2 squares.  If you really like zucchini, then simply dedicate another square to it.  Like carrots, no problem, you can plant 16 per square foot.

The next thought behind the process is that if you really like a certain crop, stagger when you plant the seeds.  In our home, we really like radishes, but at 16 per square foot, we don’t need two full squares at a time.  So, we simply plant another square about 2 weeks after the first.  Then we have 2 weeks to eat the first 16 radishes, and we have another crop ready to go when we run out.

Next comes maintaining the garden.  I found right away that I was working in the dirt much less with my SFG.  Because you know exactly how many seeds are in each square, you can determine what growth is weed related right away.  You will also use less water since you are planting fewer plants.  It is suggested that you try to plant upwards, tying peas, cucumbers, etc onto trellises (to save space), so when you water, more gets to the roots, versus sitting on the leaves and evaporating in the sun.

The set-up for a SFG is quite simple.  First, you need to decide how many squares you want to plant.  Then build a box that meets that requirement.  Ours is 32 squares…4 squares by 8 squares (though we are debating on making it larger).  You can use any material to build your garden…we went with a raised garden kit from Costco.  You will also need to construct a grid to fit over the top.  Hubby made ours out of wood that he bought at our local home improvement store.  Because all of this will be out in the elements, you will want to have good quality materials.  Finally, if you want to grow your plants upwards or have irrigation, you can figure those items in.  We bought pre-made trellises and a soaker hose for ours.

Once you get your garden built, the fun begins…planting seeds and watching them grow!  If you want to dive right in to SFG, I highly suggest purchasing one of Mel Bartholomew’s books on the subject.  He is the creator of this method, and his books are easy to follow and, in my opinion, essential to “doing it right.”  There is also a website, http://www.squarefootgardening.org/ that you can visit to get ideas for your garden, and an app that helps you plan out your garden and keep track of your crops.

I highly recommend this method of gardening.  It has worked great for us and has provided both fun and food for our family!

Happy Gardening!

Sharon is a New England girl who never imagined that she’d find herself living in Canada. She has a wonderful husband and together they created a Diva Monster. Follow her on her crazy journeys at Nanas Button Jar!!

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6 thoughts on “Gardening…one square at a time!

  1. Thanks for the great comments!!! I can’t say that this snow we’re currently getting is inspiring me to do any planting, but my windows are filled with seed trays already!! I can’t wait to see everyone else’s gardens this summer!!! Happy Planting Everyone!!

  2. My biggest problem with square foot gardening has been the cost of the mels mix. I am filling my beds with lasagna gardening layers this year–free compost material gathered from various sources–then I will plant by the square foot method. I can’t wait for fresh garden tomatoes.

  3. In all honesty, I have never bought the Mel’s Mix. We have had wonderful success with a simple potting soil blend that was delivered by Eagle Lake Turf Farm. We also compost and add a bit of that, but overall, I have never used any of the “fancy stuff”.

  4. Pingback: Month in review – April | Kids in Cowtown

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