By Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
We’ve covered how to build raised with Stone Walls, also creating the best-raised beds, sizes, and soils. Once your beds are built, you can plant however, you’d like. You can go upward with a potato tower, plant in rows, or go with more intensive garden methods. Here we share a technique with raised beds noted as square foot gardening.
Square foot gardening helps to take the guesswork out of planning. If you’ve got a raised bed but aren’t quite sure what to do, square foot gardening takes the stress out of planning this year’s gardens. Gardening by the square foot maximizes space, minimizes exposed soil, and utilize companion planting techniques.
Square Foot Gardening – is part of a raised bed with a grid added to the top marking off 12-inch square sections. Each square has different plants for simple planning.
Gardeners from the past planted in tidy rows, with space between to walk up and down to weed and harvest. This can be helpful with some plants, like potatoes that need to be mounded throughout the season. But it also leaves a lot of room for exposed ground, which can lead to moisture loss, weeds and become compact.
Advantages – Raised beds bring lots of benefits. The soil is usually mixed with compost and potting soil that is higher quality than the typical back yard garden. This looser planting soil is much easier to work, better for new root formation and higher off the ground for easier access. Yields tend to be higher with the quality soil and intensive planting, and water is typically conserved since the ground isn’t left bare.
Measuring your raised bed into manageable sections also brings benefits. By blocking sections, you can easily see how much space you have to work with. This makes grouping companion plants together a cinch in the garden.
Breaking the garden bed into square foot sections also encourages you to try new plants and varieties. Experimentation is always good in the garden! This is a good technique for vegetable gardens but really plays to your advantage with flowers bed designs.
How to Plan a Square Foot Garden – Start by building your raised bed and filling it with a quality potting soil. It’s important to use raised beds for square foot gardening so your garden soil is loose and well-fed. Decide how much you want to try in the square foot beds.
Make sure you pay attention to water and sun needs when grouping plants together. Companion plants and antagonists are always noteworthy as a garden learns what’s happy in the garden. As on seasonal plant fades another takes it’s place for a continuous harvest with bare soil showing for weeds to take advantage of. Even after this week’s cold snap I was able to pick parsley, kale and swiss chard fresh from my square foot gardens. It only gets betters with the arrival of the spring growing season.
For a free copy of Watters, Vegetable planting guide visit us at the garden center. This simple two-page guide show how many plants to us per family and when exactly to plant them in the garden. Peruse the new seed arrivals and dream of spring that is soon upon us.
Until next week, I’ll see you at the garden center.