Square Foot Gardening

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Lately I’ve been reading about our food supply and all the concerns that go along with getting food to our local grocery stores, in an “affordable” manner. I put affordable in quotes because that term is up for debate. Affordable from a monetary standpoint is one thing, but affordable from a health standpoint is entirely different. It’s not a coincidence that the fruits and vegetables most people like to eat (yes, I am making an assumption here) are the ones on the dirty dozen list. I about cried when I saw my beloved potatoes made the list.

square foot gardening basics

Instead of boo-hooing about potatoes, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I’ve always had a few tomato plants and herbs, but this year I wanted to actually grow enough food for my family to avoid spending a lot of money on produce from the grocery store. I bought Square Foot Gardening (2nd Edition) by Mel Bartholomew and read it from cover-to-cover. As much as I like to pull weeds (no kidding, I really do, it’s a sickness I have), I don’t want to HAVE to pull weeds, if that makes any sense at all. Enter square foot gardening.

What is square foot gardening?

Quite simply the best thing since sliced bread! At least I am hoping it is. The idea is that you build raised bed gardens, and section the beds off in 1×1 foot sections. Once you harvest your fruits/vegetables from that section, you replant.

Why choose square foot gardening?

If you don’t have a lot of space for a garden, SFG is a great solution. While my yard is a decent size, the space I have available for a garden isn’t that big. In order to maximize the number of plants I could put in the ground, SFG was the right choice for me.

We used commercial grade weed barrier.

We used commercial grade weed barrier.

square foot gardening beds with grids

How do you make a square foot garden?

Everyone is going to have their own opinions on this (even different from Mel Bartholomew’s) so I will tell you what we did. To keep our investment as low, we used 2x6x8 pine to create our 4×4 boxes. Over and over in the book Mel says you can grow beautiful plants in only 6″ of Mel’s Mix (equal parts compost, peat moss and vermiculite), and I’m holding him to that. I opted to put commercial grade weed barrier in the the beds and secured them with 6″ staples.  Now some sites I’ve read say the grid on top of the raised bed isn’t necessary, but I’m a rule follower and I also like things evenly spaced and orderly, so I opted to have string grids.

square foot gardening

Now that they’re built, what are you planting?

This is the fun and challenging part. Fun, because I may find some new vegetables that my family will eat, and challenging because the growing season is different in every area. Sometimes the information on the back of those packs of seeds isn’t accurate. In the garden we have three different varieties of tomatoes (beefsteak, roma and cherry), peppers, spinach, okra, radishes, carrots, bush beans, snap peas and lots of herbs. I’ll share updates on my garden on my Instagram feed, so make sure you’re following my new handle, The Outside Family.

What’s growing in your garden?

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About Sarah

Mom. Blogger. Runner. Hiker. Insomniac. Not necessarily in that order.


  1. Now this is the perfect size garden. The boychild wants one, this would so work for us

  2. Kim Croisant says:

    I love these….from the looks of yours, I did mine wrong. We will build another next year right next to the one we have and I’ll will be sure to do it this way. Much more organized for sure.

  3. Your garden looks great! This is a great use of a small space.

  4. This is brilliant! We have tomatoes and pumpkins growing but want to plant a lot more. I’m sharing this with my husband to see if it will work for us.

  5. I love how well organized your garden is! My kids love to plant things in our flower garden this would be an easy way to manage more than flowers.

    • The grids make it easy to be organized. Last weekend we planted stage II of our “crops.” I’m sure your kids would love planting food.

  6. I haven’t heard of this type before. It does sound goo! Good luck to you with it.

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