The basics of square-foot gardening : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

From Southern Living's Garden Guide, 1990:

If spare time is limited but you still want to grow your own vegetables, try a square-foot garden. This isn't a garden measuring a single square foot. It's one where the vegetables are planted in high-yielding blocks instead of farm-style rows.

The term square-foot gardening was originally coined by Mel Bartholomew, a garden-loving engineer who published a book on the subject, but the principle of intensive gardening dates back thousands of years. The idea is simple--squeeze as much produce as possible from a small plot. By planting vegetables close together in blocks, you eliminate single rows and all the weeding and work that goes with them.

To create such a garden, think in terms of blocks. For example, you can set aside a 3- x 3-foot block for lettuce, with plants growing only 2 or 3 inches apart within the block. Another 3- x 3-foot block might hold nine broccoli plants spaced 18 inches apart. Just be sure to leave yourself enough room to work, and don't make the blocks so big that you can't reach plants in the middle.

Leafy vegetables suit the square-foot garden perfectly. They don't mind being crowded and can be eaten at any stage of their growth--even as seedlings. You can broadcast seeds of collards, kale, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnip greens. Thin plants so they are 1 to 2 inches apatt and continue thinning every week.

Small root crops also like the intensive layout. Beets, carrots, onions and turnips will thrive if thinned to 3 to 4 inches aprt, when seedlings are about an inch tall. Radishes will do okay at a 2-inch spacing. Space bush beans 4 inches apart.

Broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts don't like crowding. But plant them 18 inches apart on a grid and you'll harvest more than from a comparable space in traditional rows.

A single plant of summer squash requires a 4- x 4-foot block. If you space plants closer, they won't fruit.

Place eggplants, pole beans, cucumbers and tomatoes in cages on the north end of the garden so they won't shade adjacent vegetables. Give yourself enough room to work around the cages easily.

Only a few vegetables don't work in the square-foot garden because they refuse to grow close together. Corn is just too big and won't fruit when crowded. The sprawling vines of watermelon, winter squash, and pumpkins don't work either.

Type by

-- Old Git (, May 03, 1999


Thanks Old Git!

I plan to try that this year. I have ordered Bartholomew's book, and have obtained a number of 3 foot squared frames from the local lumber yard. I think these frames may have at one time been pallets.

-- GA Russell (, May 03, 1999.

Actually, my wife ordered the book this past winter and we now have almost all the squares planted. It is fun to watch the plants come up and we will have all kinds of veggies.

For such a small area, there is a lot of work in preparation. It has to be the richest soil around and I am hoping for a giant beanstalk. The truth is that I had forgotten how relaxing and enjoyable it is to grow some of my food. Whatever happens, this is another positive change.

-- Mike Lang (, May 03, 1999.

Don't forgit to stock up on some Spray n Grow to increase your harvest. This stuff kicks ass with ALL kinds of plants and gardening techniques. Whoo-ya to ya brother.

-- tesla (, May 04, 1999.


Mirical Grow in a small pump up sprayer is cheaper and works wonders for leaf feeding.


Can you get Lipton like tea trees (?) and can you grow them in a pot ( 5 gal non food grade bucket ? ) How long to first harvest? Love your gardening posts,,,

-- CT (ct@no.yr), May 04, 1999.

Hi, CT, I know you won't believe this, but I hate tea! Love coffee. Did you see the earlier thread about growing tea? I think it's in the Food archive, just search on "tea." And here's something interesting I found on a BBS:

In Reply to: Growing Tea posted by Dave on June 05, 1998 at 09:21:42:

This just in from Nichols Garden Nursery:

"We have plants, they are in one gallon pots and are 18" to two feet. We have two selections, Tea breeze, white fowers just a little larger and more ornamental than most teas and Tea Breeze with pink flowers and a bronzy cast to the foliage. Plants are shipped priority and are $23.95 plus our uniform handling charge of $2.75 on all orders. We do not have seed. It is not too difficult to propagate plants from cuttings. If you would like a copy of our catalog please reply with your postal address."

Their website is at:

ADDRESS: 1190 North Pacific Highway Albany, Oregon 97321-4580 Phone: 541/928-9280 Fax: 541/967-8406

-- Old Git (, May 04, 1999.

Hints from some folks who practice raised-bed gardening, very similar to square-foot. From Garden Ideas and Outdoor Living, Summer 1990.

Line paths with newspaper - This keeps paths from being muddy and controls weeds. Annually put down at least nine layers (no glossy inserts.) Wet the paper, then cover with straw and grass clippings. It all decomposes into humus.

Make compost - Leaves, grass clippings, manure, and other organic materials are readily available and enrich the soil.

Interplant crops - Insects infested tomatoes that [the couple] planted in containers, but tomatoes planted among onions were not bothered.

Replace crops immediately - Have new plants ready to fill vacant beds. It's possible to grow several crops of some plants. [The couple] ate lettuce from the garden until early December,.

-- Old Git (, May 04, 1999.

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