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Home > Article Library > Gardening > Square-Foot Gardening: Grow a Lot in a Small Space Search

Square-Foot Gardening: Grow a Lot in a Small Space


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by Victoria Rosendahl

Throw out the idea that vegetable gardening can only be done in long rows with a minimum of an acre to work in. For anyone who wants to have a productive garden but doesn't have the space, welcome to square-foot gardening.

Square-foot gardening is a concept that has been around for quite a while. What is it? This method of gardening uses space as economically and efficiently as possible and became popular in the 1980s by Mel Bartholomew.

As its name implies, you'll want to create 12" x 12" squares when planting. Use this technique when planting directly into the ground. You can outline your square-foot beds using anything you want. Wood (don't use pressure treated wood as the chemicals can leach into the soil), plastic, or even string works to mark the edges of the beds.

Or you can build square-foot boxes and create your own raised bed. What I like about that idea is soil control.

All gardeners want to have lovely, loamy soil that's easy to work in. The reality for many of us is that we feel stuck with the soil we're given. Not so!

If you choose to garden in a square-foot box (4 feet by 4 feet square is a perfect size), it's up to you to add the soil and amendments. And as long as you keep the soil in good shape with minerals and compost, you should be able to use it for years.

This garden box technique is perfect for a first time homebuyer who doesn't have a lot of extra money. If that describes you, you've just closed on your new house and may feel like your bank account's bone dry. Square-foot gardening is a great way to infuse your garden with color without having to spend a lot of money on landscaping. And you can have fresh veggies your first year.

You don't have to start plants from seed when you're square-foot gardening. You can easily do this with plants that you buy at a nursery or home center. The whole idea behind square-foot gardening is growing a lot to in a small space.

Now, I admit you can't grow absolutely everything in a one foot by one foot square, particularly if you're doing it in a raised bed. For instance, zucchini needs lots of room to roam around and so do pumpkins. If you want to grow plants that like to spread out like cantaloupe, cucumber and beans, try growing them vertically on a strong trellis.

Trellises can be attached to square-foot garden boxes or can be anchored in the ground. In my very first square-foot garden in Marlton, New Jersey, I pounded pointed tomato stakes into the ground at the corners of the north end of the garden box. Then I strung some white garden netting between the posts and grew tomatoes, beans and flowering trumpet vine.

About the Author

Victoria Rosendahl is a freelance copywriter, novelist, and passionate gardener. Visit her website,, for three free gifts and tons of great money saving ideas for your garden. You can also email her at

Important Notice: The content and information in this article is the sole responsibility of the article's author who retains copyright. Publication of this article by The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum is not endorsement of the statements, opinions, or claims of fact made in the article.

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