Magazine article The Saturday Evening Post

Gardening by the Square Foot

Magazine article The Saturday Evening Post

Gardening by the Square Foot

Article excerpt


Mel Bartholomew of OldField, New York, gardened all his adult life. But not until he retired from engineering and ran a community garden did he ask himself: Why do gardeners use antiquated farming methods that often lead to unwelcome results? He set out to devise a no-work, foolproof, small-space, continuous-harvest garden method that would work for beginners and experts alike.

Euclid would have lovedMel's solution--the Square Foot Garden, so-called because the garden is built in a series of squares. Each 12" X 12" square holds a single species of vegetable, herb, or flower. The number of plants in each square depends on the particular variety, the size of the plants at maturity, and the distance they should be planted to develope properly. Follow the rules on the seed packets as though you were planting in rows. Peppers, for example, require 12 inches between plants; therefore, a pepper plant is placed in the center of a squre.

The one-foot squares are groupedin four blocks. Each block, planted with a different crop, contains 16 squares. The number of blocks planted depends on how many people you want to feed. Thus you control the number of blocks, what is planted in them, and when. You have a continuous harvest because you plant only what you can take care of and eat. Bartholomew calls this "controlled planting."

This continuous replanting procedurealso makes it simple to plan what you will plant next. As you harvest a square, add humus and fertilizer and turn over the soil. Take a look around the garden to see which blocks will be ready for harvesting within a few weeks, then make a decision about the next crop to plant.

The Square Foot Garden yields thesame harvest as a comparable single-row conventional garden--but in only 20 percent of the space. …

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