Gardening by the square foot
Apr 3, 2012, noon
By Liesl Greathouse
For local gardeners who are looking for a new, easier method for growing plants, square foot gardening may be just the thing.
Square foot gardening is the method of using blocks instead of rows for growing plants, saving garden space by allowing for a closer planting of vegetables, herbs and flowers. It utilizes many techniques, including companion planting, crop rotation and single-seed sowing. Square foot gardening is a simple method that can be used by gardening beginners and experts alike.
The premise is simple: you separate your garden space into 4-by-4 foot blocks, then mark out smaller blocks (1-by-1 foot) in each of those larger blocks. You will grow different plants in each small block, so each larger block can have up to 12 different plants growing in it.
This technique enables a closer planting of vegetables, helping gardeners with limited mobility gain better access to all their plants. You can also use the square foot gardening method with raised planter boxes for an even more relaxed gardening experience.
An example of the many techniques that you can use is single-seed sowing. This is where you create a small hole in the ground where you want to plant your seed, then place a single seed in it and cover the hole with dirt.
Wit h traditional row gardening, it is much faster to sprinkle a packet of seeds over a long row of dirt instead of planting seeds individually. However, once those seeds sprout, a gardener must then face the laborious task of thinning out the many excess sprouts, which can waste up to 500-1,000 seeds per seed packet. By using the single-seed method with square foot gardening, it limits the time involved in planting, as you will not have to worry about thinning all the extra sprouts from your garden.
Western Slope gardeners that wish to try out square foot gardening should consider what vegetables grow best in our area.
Montrose gardener Marietta Johnson knows quite a bit about that. While using various gardening methods on her family’s small farm, The Garden of Eatin’, she has learned a lot about what grows best in the area.
“Potatoes do really great [in Montrose],” Johnson said. “Lettuce, salad greens, carrots, beets and sweet corn also do good in our area. I grow a lot of celery and we do a lot of onions as well. However, tomatoes don’t do too great here and peas only do well in certain years.”
Mesa and Delta Counties can grow some vegetables better than in the Montrose area, but Johnson explained that “We grow a lot of the same things as Mesa or Delta County,” so you can be confident that most of the seeds you plant will grow into delicious vegetables.
A great reference book is “Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew. It outlines the entire process of the “block method” and explains all the techniques that can be used with it. The book is a good reference point for using square foot gardening in your own garden. Also visit www.squarefootgardening.org.
Visit www.BeaconSeniorNews.com for local gardening resources.
If you are interested in square foot gardening, or need gardening supplies and advice, here are some other great resources:
The Square Foot Gardening Foundation
2775 Hwy 50, Grand Junction
755 26 Road, Grand Junction
The Garden Center
1970 S. Main St., Delta
16612 S. Townsend Ave., Montrose
San Juan Gardens
12225 65.30 Road, Montrose
The Garden of Eatin’
CSU Extension – Garfield
1001 Railroad Ave., Rifle