Square Foot Gardening is a simple system that adapts to all levels of experience, physical abilities, and geographical locations. The Square Foot Gardening system is a very condensed, natural, and organic method of gardening.
Compared to single row gardening, you get 100% of the Harvest with only:
50 % of the Cost
20% of the Space
10% of the Water
5% of the Seeds
2% of the Work
It doesn't matter what type of soil you have, because you don't use any of it. There's no digging or rototilling. If you use a solid wood bottom, or weed barrier underneath, you don't have weeds (unless they blow in from somewhere else). With Mel's Mix, instead of regular soil, there's no fertilizing.
Your Square Foot Garden can be started in any season.
SFG can be done by those with physical or mental limitations. If getting down on the ground is a problem, raise the boxes to a higher level. It makes a great family project and all ages can participate - kids love to garden.
All the hard work has been removed in the Square Foot Gardening method ~ only the enjoyable part remains!
Ten major improvements to the Original Square Foot Gardening method:
1. New Location ~ Close to the House
2. New Direction ~ Up, Not Down
3. New Soil ~ Mel's Mix
4. New Depth ~ Only 6 inches Deep
5. No Fertilizer ~ You Don't Need It
6. New Boxes ~ Above the Ground
7. New Aisles ~ Comfortable Width
8. New Grids ~ Prominent and Permanent
9. New Idea ~ Don't Waste Seeds
10. New opportunities ~ Tabletop Gardens
You'll be able to reduce the size of your SFG so much that you can locate it close to your house for better care and more enjoyment. You'll never have to dig up your existing soil anymore because you can build your new garden on top of it. No more hard work or heavy-duty tools needed. All you'll need is 6 inches of perfect soil mix from three common ingredients. You'll use bottomless boxes made from common lumber, have aisles that are wide enough to comfortably move about in, and each box will have a permanent grid for that unique SFG look and use. You'll use a minimum of seeds, and best of all, some of your boxes can have bottoms so you can move them, or place them at tabletop or railing heights for easier care and unique locations.
Choose a location away from trees and shrubs, where roots and shade might interfere. Pick a spot that gets 6 to 8 hours of sunshine per day, and doesn't puddle after a heavy rain.
Build a box or buy one from us by clicking the box on the right -->
Fill it with Mel's Mix.
Add a grid and start planting. (It's not a SFG if it doesn't have a grid).
For each square (depending on plant size) poke 1, 4, 9, or 16 holes and plant seeds accordingly.
Small crops, such as radishes and carrots, (and other plants whose seed packet instructions recommend 3" spacing) should be 16 per square.
Medium plants (spinach, large turnips, bush beans, for instance) should be 9 plants per square.
Next, the large plants, which require 6" spacing (leaf lettuce and parsley, among others) can be planted 4 to a square.
And finally, the extra large plants take up a whole square. These include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, peppers, and even geraniums.
If stored properly, your seeds will last for many years. SFG teaches you to plant just a pinch of seeds. Then store the rest.
Store the seeds in a cool, dry place. We suggest refrigerating them in a wide-mouth glass jar with a screw lid. Label your containers and store them in the refrigerator on a back shelf. In each jar place a desiccant packet from a film container, or medicine vial. Or add a little powdered milk wrapped in a tissue to soak up any excess moisture in the jar. Rice is another alternative for preventing moisture in the jar.
For most crops, six inches are all you'll need. However, root crops such as potatoes and carrots need deep soil to grow. Instead of digging down as in most gardening methods, we take the easy way and build up , using a Top Hat Box.
These are 1'x1' x 6 inches high. You can get more information on these in the "All New Square Foot Gardening book, on page 61.
For potatoes, put 4 inches of Mel's mix in the square you want to use and 2 inches of pure compost on the top. Plant the potatoes according to the proper spacing in those 2" of compost. When they grow 1" above the surface, you place this box on top of the square and add 2" of soil. When they grow another 1" above the soil, add soil again.
For large carrots (the ones that grow up to 12" high) select the square you want to plant them in. Place this box on top and fill to the top with Mel's mix. Then plant your carrots normally. They will grow deep and large!
Mel's Mix is the most important, productive, essential, necessary, critical, major subject and is the backbone of the Square Foot Gardening method! You'll never have to go through all the hard work, expense, and time-consuming, back-breaking labor of improving your garden soil every spring like we used to. Your Mel's Mix never has to be replaced and you don't have to do a thing except plant your seeds.
The Simple Formula is this:
1/3 Blended Compost
1/3 Peat Moss
1/3 Coarse Vermiculte
Mix equal parts of each, measured by volume, not by weight.
Compost is absolutely the best material in which to grow your plants. Good compost has all the nutrients needed for plant growth. It's loose and friable and easily worked. It holds lots of moisture yet drains well. It ’s easy to make yet hard to find. The best kind is homemade compost that you make in your own backyard. The worst kind is the single ingredient by-product some company has produced and bagged.
Pages 92 through 98 in the All New Square Foot Gardening book tell you all about compost and composting, and how to decide which ones to buy.
If you do decide to buy compost, don't buy all of one kind. Buy a variety of composts (at least 5 kinds) and mix them together. That way you are more likely to get a better mixture.
9. WHERE DO I FIND COARSE VERMICULITE?
Locating vermiculite can be difficult. Call around to all the major home improvement stores to see if they carry the large 4-cubic-foot bags of coarse vermiculite. If that fails, look under "greenhouse supplies or suppliers" in the yellow pages, or on the internet for wholesale suppliers.
Caution: Both vermiculite and peat moss are dusty when dry right out of the bag, so wear gloves and a painting mask when mixing. Mix only outdoors on a calm day.
There is no better way to learn to teach Square Foot Gardening than by coming to our 3 day symposiums. You will learn hands-on from our certified teachers.
We also have a Correspondence Course that allows you to become certified through a home study course. It is available now, and includes all the following Materials:
Disk 1: DVD: Contains the 3 minute trailer, 10 minute intro, Mel teaching, and other teachers teaching.
Disk 2: Instruction CD: Contains SFG contracts, Course information and Quiz, Teaching guides, Posters, etc.
Disk 3: Powerpoint CD: Contains 1 hour, 3 hour, and International Powerpoint with teaching instructions.