Square foot gardening is an amazing way to simplify your growing situation while producing some of the best harvests you’ve ever had!
The way square foot gardening works is that you plan your bed around square foot segments. You then plant a set number of seeds per segment. To determine the number of seeds per segment you can view our square foot gardening tools page or scroll down to the bottom of the page. Once that round of seeds is done producing you can simply remove those plants and plant new seeds. In a 4 foot by 4-foot bed, you have 16 segments/16 crops. 1 of those segments may have 16 carrots, or 9 beets, etc. This is also a great way to incorporate some beneficial plants that draw in beneficial insects and deter non-beneficial insects.
Before we can start planting seeds you’ll want to set yourself up for success.
Step 1 – Set Up Your Garden Bed
We’re going to start this example off with a raised bed. Raised beds are our favorite grow structure to use because you don’t have to bend down as much, you get to start your soil off right, and they look nice. You can build your own fairly easy or you can buy your own on Amazon or anywhere that sells raised beds. Amazon has the best prices we have found and may actually be cheaper than making your own with raw materials.
When you set up your bed you want to make sure you put it in an area that gets a good amount of sun. If the bed is in the shade all day you will get minimal production from your plants and the variety of plants you can use will decrease.
Here are some great options for garden beds.
Step 2 – Fill With Soil
You may want to read some of our other posts or talk to a local grower to find out more about what soil you should use in your area. We like to use a combination of composts, coco coir, perlite, and sprinkle in seaweed dust. Compost adds nutrients that your plant needs, coco coir helps retain water, perlite helps retain water while increasing aeration, and seaweed dust adds even more nutrients.
You may be tempted to buy bags and they may seem like a good price, however, depending on the size of the bed you go for you may have to get lots of bags to fill the bed. In that case it may be cheaper to see if there is a place that delivers soil in bulk.
Step 3 – Make the Grid
Now that you have the bed filled with soil, it’s time to make the grid. The grid is simply made by spacing strips of wood 1ft apart. You can also use string or pvc pipes. Whatever you can use to make a grid pattern on your bed!
Step 4 – Plant Your Seeds!
Now you have everything set up and it’s time to plant your seeds. You can use our square foot gardening tool page to see how many seeds to plant per square foot. Alternatively, you can use this cool spacing tool that makes everything so much easier. You may still have to refer back to our tool page in case your plant isn’t listed on their instructions, but this will help ensure spacing is always perfect!
If you want to learn more about the square foot gardening method we recommend that you pick up the book by Mel Bartholomew. This is the inventor of the square foot gardening principal and he runs through every aspect of the gardening method in the All New Square Foot Gardening book.