Saturday, September 18, 2010

Square Foot Gardening

Square Foot Gardening

With square foot gardening you can grow more food in 1/4 the space of a traditional garden. The secret? The new method of planting in square grids instead of rows. Your grandmother planted her garden in nice straight rows, but did you know she wasted 80-percent of her growing space? Why? Because that’s the way everyone did it. But why did everyone do it that way? Because Americans did not traditionally grow their own kitchen gardens until World War II. The Victory Gardens of yester year originated the family vegetable garden of today.

Because most people in the early 40s were growing a Victory Garden for the first time in their lives, they simply imitated the method of the agricultural farmer. The commercial farmer must plant his crops to accommodate his machinery and equipment. Row planting is the most efficient method that works for him.

However, if you are just an ordinary person wishing to grow your own garden, there is really no good reason to plant in standard rows, unless you like to work hard for fewer results. This new method actually requires less work and produces more food.

You can actually increase your harvest by 200-percent by planting and spacing according to square feet. To plan a more efficiently spaced garden, divide your garden plot into a grid of one-foot squares. An easy method is to begin with 4-feet squares then divide by four until you have divided the space into a grid of 1-foot squares.

In a 1-foot square it is possible to grow 16 radishes. Simply divide the square foot into sixteen 3-inch squares and place one seed in the center of each.

Any plant can be easily conformed to this new method without compromising the required spacing for optimum results. A 4-foot block will hold four tomato plants, giving each tomato 2-feet of growing space. Simply divide the 4-foot block into four smaller squares and plant the tomatoes in the center of each 2-foot square.

Because sweet corn must be spaced 1-foot apart, using the traditional row method in a 10-foot long garden you could plant 5 sweet corn plants in one row. However, in a 2-foot by 4-foot space you could plant 16 sweet corn stalks.

Depending on the crop you plant, each 1-foot square can accommodate anywhere from one large plant to 16 small plants. Just read the back of your seed packet and plant in squares, according to the spacing instructions.

This particular method only requires that you plant one seed in each designated spot. Because the need for thinning is removed, you will have less waste. A packet of seeds can sometimes last years if stored properly using this method.

This system also means fewer weeds. Why? Because every usable space is being used there’s not as much room for weeds to flourish. You will have to do some minor weeding, but usually five minutes every day or two will control them.

Some gardeners construct 12-inch wooden or brick pathways around each 4-foot block. Charming stepping-stones or patio stones add extra charm. This is also a great method to keep the shoes clean and it prevents compressed soil.

This type of garden is usually very attractive to look at because it is so well ordered. Every square holds a different variety of texture and color giving the garden a natural checkerboard pattern. To enhance the checkerboard pattern, try planting flowers in every other square. Marigolds are great for this because of their vibrant color and their scent is a natural pest repellent. Some have found this new garden to be so attractive that they grow it in their front yards instead of hiding the garden behind the house.

The stone or brick pathways can be further decorated with birdbaths, ornate garden statues or fountains. If you try this groundbreaking technique, you will be surprised by its simplicity and beauty.

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