When I was a newbie gardener, I found it a dilemma to increase the amount of space I have to use for growing my plants. Then, I read about square foot gardening. Square foot gardening, also known as SFG, is a garden planning method developed by American author Mel Bartholomew. CFG was able to reduce the time spent in the garden than traditional gardening. I used this method, and it works! If you want to maximize your small garden space, here is a square foot gardening planner for you!
This method was developed as an alternative to address the inefficiencies of conventional gardening. During 1975, Mel Bartholomew, a retired engineer at that time, started gardening as his hobby. He analyzed the ways to avoid weeding through long rows and big gaps of crops which took a lot of time. He added some of his analytical skills and came up with the SFG method.
This method eventually evolved and has the following rules currently.
Four feet by four feet is the usual size of a garden bed and where we place a square-foot lattice on top that will separate the crops visually. Beds are 6 -12 inches deep which are good for drainage and also offer more nutrients to the plants.
SFG uses a specific soil mix and has vermiculite, peat moss and compost in one-third composition. This special mix of soil is effective in retaining water and nutrients, and makes the bed weed-free. Our square foot gardening planner can tell you want type of soil is ideal.
SFG advocates follow the rule that walking on the soil is not allowed.
To make it easier in planting and spacing between the plants, SFG method in our square foot gardening planner follows a definite number. According to the plant size, each square will have 1, 4, 9, 16 plants. Beans and climbing peas are as exceptions, which will be planted four per square in two mini-rows.
Rather than pulling up excess crops, you should use scissors to snip them. This will be easier and does not affect the fine roots of the plants.
Our square foot gardening planner provides some more practical guidelines for constructing other accessories like protective cages etc. It’s a great method for new gardeners, people who have little time, the elderly or disabled (SFG gardens can be built at a raised height to make them more accessible) and children. Many schools have embraced the SFG method because it’s easy to create and maintain without becoming an additional burden for the teacher. However, there are some limitations:
Even though plenty of vegetables can be planted using SFG method in our square foot gardening planner, you will find it hard to grow large sized plants. Squash, main-crop potatoes, melons, fruit bushes and trees cannot fit in SFG.
Though this is really good for plants, some of its ingredients are non-renewable. Peat needs many years to develop and vermiculite comes through mining. So many SFG gardeners avoid peat and vermiculite.
SFG method is found to be expensive for large scale gardening. They are cheap in maintaining but expensive to set up for a large area.
All these limitations do not mean that the SFG method is bad or not efficient. You can use organic compost instead of non-renewable soil mix and you can have SFG in between your large garden.
Despite its limitations, square foot gardening still has its own benefits.
First it takes up lesser space. Square foot gardening seems to work everywhere, even on your backyard or patio. You just need is an area that measures 4 feet x 4 feet area or even larger than this. However the area required in this method is 80% lesser than the space that is typically needed in traditional gardening.
Unlike the usual gardening methods, square foot gardening needs lesser care and maintenance. These gardens won’t require you to do too much tilling and needs very little compost or fertilizer. Another good thing about this that also requires less water as compared to traditional gardening methods. You also won’t have to need a truck to haul materials or do heavy digging. Larger compost piles are not needed. SFG gardens can easily be protected from pests, weeds and other insects.
If you have a square foot garden, you can easily protect it against pests because they are smaller-sized compared to a traditional garden. It is more practical and feasible to cover them with nets or other barriers because they are smaller.
Square foot gardens are easier to weed and you can easily exercise weed control. The reason for this is that crops do not have any rows between them. Also, to lessen your chances of weed control, you should use a perfect soil mix.
With square foot gardening, there is not chance of over planting. It helps gardeners focus on the quantity of the harvest that is needed. In traditional gardening over large gardens, there may be excess crop production which the gardener can just throw away in case they get damaged. With SFG, crops are grown adequately for about a year.
The SFG method is said to be very effective in producing high yield of crops with only a small space. You can grow your vegetables and herbs easily in only a small space. The yield is greater than that of a traditional garden.
Most gardeners who are beginners want to grow a big garden at a start. However they soon realize that this garden is more than what they can manage. This can result to an unmaintained garden with lots of weeds and pests. On the other hand, SFG can give beginners the chance to grow a garden successfully.
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