Introduction to Square Foot Gardening Plans:
Square foot gardening is actually extremely easy. A lot of people take the concept and try to over complicate it because they think it is harder than it really is. The concept is a simple one. You take a defined garden area, and break it down into 12 inch by 12 inch squares, forming a grid pattern. Each square foot section of the grid becomes an individual planting section.
This is why it is called square foot gardening, because you are literally planning your garden one square foot at a time. Now your first reaction to this might be to question: "How much can you really grow in 12 square inches of space?". The answer is, more than you think! Designing square foot gardening plans is not a new idea. In fact, it was first pioneered by a man named Mel Bartholomew in the early 80’s. He wrote an extremely popular book on the subject, and also featured square foot gardening in a PBS television series.
Benefits of Square Foot Gardening Plans:
There are numerous benefits to square foot gardening plans. The biggest advantage to this concept is how easy the gardens are to maintain. Since most of the surface area of the garden is used for the plants themselves, there is very little wasted space. What few weeds that do find their way into the gardens are very easy to spot and remove. Most typical vegetable gardens consist of large plots of land where the entire surface area needs to be tilled and prepared. Because of the size, you are forced to walk on the tilled soil, between the rows of plants. When it comes time for watering, so much water is wasted on soil that has no plants in it.
Year after year you have to till the soil and rework it to make it useable for the next growing season. What a waste of time and energy! The true genius behind square foot gardening is the density of useable soil. There is very little wasted space! And because the concept is based on 4 foot by 4 foot gardens, you never have to set foot inside the garden itself. You can work each grid from the outside, thereby keeping the soil loose and workable. Watering requires half as much water as traditional gardening, because it’s targeted only on the soil actually growing the plants.
Starting Square Foot Gardening Plans:
Getting started is really simple. The first thing you need to do is define your growing area. The best format for beginners is to start with a 4 foot by 4 foot raised bed. These are very easy to construct with a few common tools and materials found at any hardware store. You can go online to look up other peoples’ square foot gardening ideas as there are countless resources available for crop rotation and spacing. Here we are going to keep the concept simple for beginners and after you’ve had a little experience, then you’ll be designing your own square foot gardening plans in no time.
Constructing Your Square Foot Gardening Plans:
To build your first box, pick up two 2 x 6’s from your local lumber yard, in 8 foot lengths. Cut each board in half exactly so you have 4 equal length pieces. You can pick up galvanized corner brackets from the hardware store for $2, or you can simply screw the boards together, whatever works best for you. When forming the corners, make sure to use one end of each board on the inside face, and the other end as an outside face (as opposed to two inside and two outside).
This might seem confusing to read, but you will see what I mean when you put it together. If you use two boards inside and two out, you will be left with a slightly rectangular box. If each board has one end exposed and the other screwed into, you will end up with a perfectly square planting bed. Now square foot gardening call for equal grid sections. You can pick up half inch thick slatting, that you can nail down on top of the assembled sides, to create a large tic tac toe board on your frame.
Maximizing Your Square Foot Gardening Plans:
Once you have the box built, the next step is to fill it with a nice rich soil. You can use a mix of compost and top soil, mixed together with a little potting soil to help keep the ground loose. Since you will never be walking inside, the soil should never get compacted. You don’t even need to bother tilling the soil underneath your planting bed, but you can if you like to get some of the existing soil mixed in. the next step in square gardening plans is to choose your plants. Maybe you are growing veggies, or maybe you are growing herbs…or perhaps some of both. The beauty of this design is you can have both in the same bed, but side by side in different sections.
For each plant you decide to add to the bed, you need to do your homework and determine how big the mature plant will get. Once you are armed with this information, you can then determine how many of each type you can fit into your square foot gardening plans. Remember, the goal here is to maximize every square inch of space. So if a vegetable takes up say 4 square inches, you will plant 3 rows of 3, for 9 plants total.
If the mature plant exceeds 12 inches across, then you’re going to plant just one, right in the center of the grid, and you can prune it to size when it begins to outgrow it’s allotted space. For these situations, you can also plan to put smaller veggies next to larger, bushier herbs for instance, that was if the foliage of the larger plant gets a little big, it won’t interfere with its neighbors.
Once you start coming up with your own square foot gardening plans, you will see just how easy and fun this type of gardening can really be!
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