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How To: Square Foot Gardening

Are you looking to maximize your garden space and yield? Try Square Foot Gardening, a straightforward method for turning your garden beds into a grid for simple spacing. Square foot gardening is very easy to to with a raised bed system. It gives you real, visible guidelines to be able to plan your garden every year. Plus, the dense planting required for this method helps suppress weeds!

Varieties Perfect for Square Foot Gardening

Finished bed with sectioned off grid that is  planted into. 


Use nails and twine to create the grid. 


Use a guide to know how many plants of each type to plant into each square. 


Put tall crops on the north side of the bed so they don't shade out other crops. 

Step One: Create the Grid

To start, simply tap nails along the perimeter of the raised bed 1 foot apart. Make sure you measure from the inside, so all your squares will measure 1'x1' of growing space. Tie garden twine across the length of the bed. If your bed is 4 feet wide, you should have 3 long lines across the length of the bed. Next, tie the twine from the nails along the length to their corresponding nails on the other side. You should end up with a square foot grid. The raised bed pictured above measures 4x10 feet, so there is (4) 1 foot squares to work with.

Step Two: Make a Plan

Before planting and sowing, make a plan. Create a list of what you want to grow and consult a Square Foot Garden Guide (like the one below) to see how many plants you can fit per square. Count the number of crops you have chosen. This, and the amount of space each crop will take up, will determine how many squares you will need for each different crop. For example, 1 dwarf Tiny Tim Tomato plant will need 1 square foot of space, but you might want more than a handful of Tomatoes each week, so you might want to plan for 4 dwarf tomato plants in four of your squares. Note that Squash, Melons, and Pumpkins want 2-4 squares per plant. 

If your plan included many short season crops (Greens, Radishes, Beets) you will be harvesting those crops in 4-8 weeks, so you can also put together a second crop plan to fill those squares when empty to help maximize your eating potential for your Square Foot Garden.

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Step Three: Transplant or Sow into the Squares

Transplant or direct sow into the grid.  Tall plants that need to be trellised should be placed on the north side so they don't shade out the other crops. Also, crops with a tendency to flop over but don't need to be trellised can be planted on the edges, such as Nasturtiums and Cucumbers. You can also plant cool loving Lettuces and Greens under the shade of tall summer plants.

Step Four: Record Your Results for the Future

Once your crop plan is complete, save it in a notebook or transfer it to a computer file. You can add valuable notes to your plan to help you in the years to follow. Record the size of your harvests each week, the yields with your spacing, the amount of seed you used, and the like, and keep them with your garden plan. You can even attach copies of your seed order and/or seedling purchases. This will take much of the guess work out of the planning decisions you will make in the future.

Varieties Perfect for Square Foot GardeningVarious email banners (1).jpg__PID:7447e595-4bb2-4731-939a-d311da8486e1