The Square Foot Gardening System
Over the years the SFG system has evolved into a precise set of rules:
Create Deep Raised Beds:
Typically 4 feet by 4 feet, although mine is 6 x 4 feet. They have a square foot lattice placed on top to visually separate the crops. Beds are between 6 and 12 inches deep which gives the plants plenty of rich nutrients while maintaining good drainage.
Use a Specific Soil Mix:
One-third each of compost, peat moss, and vermiculite. This starts the raised beds completely weed-free as well as being water retentive and full of nutrients.
Don’t Walk on the Soil:
This is now common practice with raised bed gardening. Back in the 1970’s, it was revolutionary to suggest that you wouldn’t need to dig your soil if you didn’t tread on it.
Plant in Squares:
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 fingers. As an exception to this, there are a few larger plants that span two squares. Climbing peas and beans are planted in two mini-rows of 4 per square.
Thin with Scissors:
Instead of pulling up excess plants which can disturb the root systems of the plants you want to grow you snip them off with scissors.
There’s a purpose to each of these ‘rules’ and together they make up a powerful and almost fail-safe method for successful gardening. It’s a great method for new gardeners, people who have little time, the elderly or disabled (SFG gardens can be built at a raised height to make them more accessible) and children. However, there are some drawbacks:
What Are the drawbacks of Growing Organic Vegetables this way?
- Easy to Outgrow: Although many vegetables can be grown in SFG gardens it struggles to accommodate larger plants (squash, melons, main-crop potatoes etc), perennials (globe artichokes, rhubarb) and fruit bushes/trees. Once new gardeners experience the success of SFG gardens they often want to expand the range of crops they grow beyond the standard SFG crops.
- Non-renewable Resources: There’s no doubt that ‘Mel’s Mix’ makes an excellent soil for vegetables. However, two of the three ingredients come from non-renewable sources. Peat takes thousands of years to develop and Vermiculite is mined and is therefore also a non-renewable resource with a significant carbon footprint. In common with many organic gardeners, I won’t use peat and would prefer not to use vermiculite as I make my own organic compost.
None of these reasons should stop you from growing Organic Vegetables in a Small garden.
- You can use 100% recycled compost in the beds instead of “Mel’s Mix”
- Y0u can grow bigger crops in large pots – I have potato bags for my potato crop and miniature apple trees in pots too.
- I even grew Sweet corn last year !!
- Using this method is great if you have awful soil ( which I do !! )
Many of the SFG techniques that were revolutionary in the 1970s are now commonly used for all vegetable gardening.
Planning Your Organic Vegetable Square Foot Garden with my FREE PRINTABLES.
To get you started to Grow your own Organic Vegetables in your own garden. I have made up a FREE set of Printables.
If you sign up to The Snapshot and Snippets Newsletter below will get.
- Your” Own Square ft Printable Grid” to help you plan
- A “When to plant your Vegetables” Guide
- Your Seed Order form to help you remember what you ordered and from where
- Composting Guide
- Quick guide to Square ft Gardening
- And the first four of my quick vegetable growing guides, which you will be able to build up into a series.
- Anyone that signs up through my Garden posts will also receive new quick vegetable growing guides and garden news every two weeks.
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