Square Foot Gardening (SFG): Growing More in Less Space

Square Foot Gardening (SFG): Growing More in Less Space

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[Music} If there was a method of gardening which
promised 100% of the harvest using just 20% of the space and only 2% of the work, most gardeners would be very interested. In fact, there is a method which claims
to do just that. Square foot gardening is a simple way to
create easy-to-manage raised beds that need a minimum of time spent
maintaining them. So, how does it work? And what do you need to
know before planting a Square Foot Garden? Square Foot Gardening was developed by a
retired engineer, Mel Bartholomew, in the 1970s. He used his analytical skills as an
engineer to eliminate the inefficiencies he saw in traditional gardening methods. In particular, he found the average
gardener was spending hours weeding the big gaps between long rows of plants, creating unnecessary work for themselves. Square Foot Gardening rapidly gained popularity during the 1980s through Mel’s first book and television series. Mel’s work is carried on through the Square Foot Gardening Foundation, which promotes the method around the
world. The building blocks of the Square Foot Gardening method are raised beds, typically 4’x4′, and 6-12 inches deep. Almost anyone will be able to reach into
the middle of the bed with these dimensions. These raised beds can be placed on any
surface in your garden, grass, soil or concrete – it doesn’t really
matter what’s underneath because each raised bed will be filled
with a rich, moisture-retentive soil. On top of this, add a 1’x1′ grid. Mel suggests making this out of wood as it
makes it easier to work with later on. These beds mean there’s no need to walk
on your soil, which risks compacting it and reducing drainage. Keeping off the soil is common practice now, but in the 1970s it was unheard of – how else would you weed along that 30 foot row? The second vital building block is the soil. Known as Mel’s mix, this is seen as a key
part of Square Foot Gardening. It’s made of 1/3 peat moss,
1/3 vermiculite (which is a mined and processed mineral which helps to retain moisture in the mix, and also keeps it aerated) and 1/3 blended
potting soil or compost. Either use your own compost if you make it, or buy several different types and mix them together. Increasingly, many people prefer more
sustainable alternatives to peat moss, in which case a blended mix of coir and
potting soil can be used as a substitute for the first third. The mix is lightweight, making it easier to
work with, and nutrient-rich, so it has all the necessary goodness for raising great plants without ever having to add fertilizer. Just top up the beds with more mix if they need it. Many people add a layer of potting soil or
compost at the start of the year. Each one foot square is planted with
just one type of crop. Across your raised bed it’s recommended
that you plant each square with different crops and companion planting flowers. So, in this 4’x4′ feet bed you could plant 16 different crop types. To keep the planting simple, there are no plant spacings to remember. Instead, each square has either 1, 4, 9 or 16 plants in it depending on the size of the plant, easy to position in each square by making a smaller grid in the soil with your finger. It really is that simple. The Garden Planner makes it easy to plan out Square Foot beds with the correct number of
plants in each square. Enable Square Foot Gardening mode by clicking the SFG button. Now when you select a
crop, the Garden Planner will give you a one-foot-square block that can be easily dropped into place. The number indicates how many of that crop you can grow in the space. Plan out your bed in this way and then
use the Plant List to see how many of each plant you need to grow. Climbing plants such as peas, beans and
cucumbers should be placed along one edge so they can climb up supportive netting. Other crops, such as fruit bushes, which don’t fit into Square Foot Gardening squares will automatically retain the standard
spacing. And if you want to plan traditional rows of crops just switch off SFG made and add them as
usual. In traditional gardening methods you
would use most of the packet of seeds along a whole row, and then thin out the seedlings to the
correct spacings. In Square Foot Gardening you use just a small pinch of seeds in each planting space – usually 2 or 3 seeds. With this approach, you use less seed than you would if you were using traditional methods and thinning out is now simplified too. You don’t have to worry about the correct
spacings – if 2 or 3 seedlings grow, you can
just use scissors to snip off the weaker ones. That way, you won’t disturb the roots of
the strongest seedlings – a common problem if you pull up or transplant the extras. It’s easy to create structures for the raised beds which will protect your crops and help
them to grow. A cage made out of chicken wire will
protect it from pets and large pests like squirrels or birds. A dome support can be covered with
plastic to keep out a spell of poor weather, or with horticultural fleece to reduce
frost damage. And a plant support can be easily be
created – either at the back, so beans and peas can climb up them, or across the top of the bed to provide
support to crops such as tomatoes. The All-New Square Foot Gardening book
contains full plans of how to make these structures yourself. Square foot gardening is an almost
fail-safe way to get started with growing your own, but it’s not to everyone’s taste. The experienced gardener can quickly outgrow the method, particularly if they want to grow large quantities of crops such as potatoes, fruit bushes, and perennial plants such as rhubarb and artichoke. without the expense of the special Mel’s Mix soil in raised beds. Square Foot Gardening works brilliantly
for beginners, for those who only have a small amount of space, and for creating low-maintenance gardens
close the house to grow high-value crops. That’s why, 35 years on, Square
Foot Gardening is still going strong. [Music]

9 thoughts on “Square Foot Gardening (SFG): Growing More in Less Space

  • Anna Lieff-Saxby Post author

    I've used the SFG method for years. For regular harvests of fast growing veg (saladings etc) it has no rival.

  • J.G. Campbell Post author

    Too bad the garden planner app isn't made for the Android OS.

  • LIeb Lee Post author

    Thank you for sharing ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ™

  • Family Roots Gardening Post author

    Everyone should grow their own.
    Huge believer of home grown fruits and vegetables.
    Please watch our videos.
    My son and I are just getting started.

  • J Kl Post author

    any tips on planting fruit bushes, trees as close to each other as possible and avoid powdery mildew?

  • Home Grown Veg Post author

    This is an idea of mine that I've been giving a go this year and so far so good. Check it out you might want to give it a shot. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qOYb96AP3o&t=309s

  • Member information Post author

    1 John 2: 15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the price of life-comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

  • Home Grown Veg Post author

    Square foot bucket garden. The next generation. Give it a go, it works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-vrwmI5KM8&t=1002s

  • Taiki Bansei Post author

    This gives me hope, I am far from an intuitive gardener, but perhaps this would work.

  • Frau W. Niemand Post author

    Great video, need to tell this English information to my German speaking mum will be a challenge.

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