Thanks to square foot gardening (SFG), you can create a flourishing edible landscape that requires 2% the effort of a traditional edible garden. You get the added benefit of not having to bend over as far to tend your plants. Mel Bartholomew developed the SFG system in 1975, after he became a retired engineer and began gardening as a hobby. After using his analytical skills to identify problems he encountered in his gardens, he became motivated to reduce the need for excessive weeding, which he accomplished with this system. Read on to find out how you can create a square foot garden and add edibles to your landscape.
The best way to enjoy success as you add to your landscape with a square foot garden is to follow the virtually foolproof rules developed over the years:
Using ACQ-treated lumber, concrete blocks, stones, synthetic materials, or bricks, create deep raised beds that measure 4 feet by 4 feet. They should be between 6” and a foot deep, which allows for good drainage and abundantly provides plants with rich nutrients. An added advantage is that the SFG system helps you get around the problem of sandy soil, so common in Florida. Add lattice to divide each square foot, so that the crops are visually separated.
Add new soil to the box, which lays excellent groundwork for the plants to thrive and starts you off with a weed-free garden bed. Use either blended compost or mix the soil yourself, using equal parts beat moss, blended compost, and vermiculite.
Do not walk on the soil in your raised garden (a revolutionary idea at the time the SFG was developed).
Plant 1, 4, 9, or 16 plants in your garden squares, depending on the sizes of the plants. The following is a planting guide indicating the number of plants to use per square foot:
Use scissors to remove excess plants. Do not pull plants out because doing so can harm the root systems of the plants you’re growing.
You can add a range of accessories to your square foot garden, such as vertical supports and handy protective cages.
Following the rules of a square foot garden can ensure success of your Florida garden, even if you are a beginner. You don’t have to stick strictly with edibles in your box garden. You may want to boost the interest and add color by planting some flowering annuals.
Due to the compact style of your new square-foot garden, you may be able to water adequately by hand. You can help to prevent some types of diseases while also avoiding rapid evaporation by watering your plants early in the day.
There is great satisfaction in eating foods you grew with your own hands. If you’ve never known that feeling, a square foot garden is the perfect place to start.