Nothing brings me as much joy as the process of growing food in my own yard. For the last handful of years, I have been using the square foot gardening method to organize and grow my garden. I am amazed by the yield and I love the aesthetics—half archeological dig and half patchwork quilt tidiness.
I have an old, sun-faded copy of Mel Bartholomew’s book, Square Foot Gardening, which I use as a guideline, but I treat every year as an experiment. Sometimes the results are unexpected, like when my summer and winter squash cross-pollinated, but I love these things that nature teaches you.
To get started, think about sun exposure. Full sun is your friend when you are growing a vegetable garden. Creating a good soil as a foundation for you plants should be your next step. There are many different ways to build up quality soil, but if you are curious about how to make adjustments the University of Minnesota offers soil test for homeowners that will help you learn more precisely what your soil needs to be balanced and productive (http://wordpress.cfans.umn.edu/soiltest/how-to-submit-samples/lawn-garden/).
One of the best things about square foot gardening is that you need very little space to get an amazing yield. The standard “garden block” outlined in Bartholomew’s book is 4 feet x 4 feet and planting this small area with the square foot gardening method will go a long way to provide you and your neighbors with fresh garden-grown vegetables throughout the summer.
Now that you have sun and soil, divide your garden up into square feet and get your hands dirty. Each square foot can be packed with veg and there are guidelines for how to determine quantity and spacing in Bartholomew’s book. To give you a sense of this, one square foot of garden space can hold 16 carrots, 9 beans, or 1 broccoli.
So apartment dwellers, folks with only a small patch of full sun in their yard, anyone who wants to give vegetable gardening a try but doesn’t want a huge investment of time or space, I encourage you to try this method. Stop into Sunnyside Gardens and we can help you get started with all of your square foot gardening–and all of your gardening—needs.