Planning Your Square Foot Garden
Before you go about making your square foot garden, you must plan it properly. While it is easy to make such a garden, you also need to consider other factors. By way of example, you can make a square foot garden, but you would have to make it in an area where the garden will be exposed to maximum sunlight for at least 6 hours. Here are some of the factors that you must consider:
- Layout- how would you like your layout to be? What types of plants would you like to grow in the square foot garden? In what quantity would you like to grow these plants? Would you like to go for a 4×4 layout? Or would you prefer a 3×5 garden bed instead?
- Location- Where would you like to locate it? Where can you locate it?
- Light, wind, weather; is your square foot garden getting enough sunlight? Will wind erode your soil? Is the weather suitable for the types of plants you would like to grow? Is the weather ideal for a square foot garden?
- Other factors (which will be touched upon later) – What material would you use to raise the bed? Is it safe for your plants? What kind of pesticides and insecticides would you use? Will you use insecticides and pesticides? Should you use these? Do you have the funds you need in order sustain a square foot garden?
These are 4 factors that you must keep in mind if and when you choose to try square foot gardening. Also, remember to consider the factors in conjunction with one another.
We will divide these into 4 different chapters and elaborate on each so that you can understand why these factors are important and how to apply what you know about them in a practical manner.
When it comes to the layout, you need to consider how you would like to ‘organize’ your garden. Originally, square foot gardening was a method that was to be employed by people interested in growing vegetables and fruits in a 4×4 garden bed.
As time went on, people found that they could increase the length or width of the bed to grow more crops and plants in the same bed. Now, it is possible to grow crops in 3×12 garden beds, 4×8 garden beds, etc.
Always take garden space into account. The layout of your garden is determined by the amount of space available to you. The bigger the garden, the larger the bed can be, but a smaller garden doesn’t always put you at a disadvantage either. You can always put two 4×4 beds in a small garden rather than building one large 3×12 bed instead.
Example of a 4×12 garden bed
The image above shows you a large 4x 12 garden bed. One of these can be built in a large garden. If you have less space and want use for a smaller bed, you could choose the 3 x 6 bed below, instead.
While Mel originally intended for people to use this method of gardening for 4 x 4 beds, some people with little space in their houses use boxes that are 2 feet long beds as well.You must be wondering whether it would be ideal to use various smaller beds or to make one large bed instead.
If you choose the former option, remember that it will require more time, not a lot though. Smaller beds are easier to work with and these are less daunting than one large bed. If you’re a beginner, you might consider choosing smaller beds, but larger beds have their benefits too. Not only are larger beds easier to build, but you can also use that one large bed to grow all the crops or plants you want to grow inside of it. Several small (4 x 4) beds mean more space. Also, you will have to go from box to box and provide them with nutrients, water, compost, and fertilizer to keep these plants alive. One large bed is more manageable, but that depends entirely on the gardener himself.
Beginners should try one 4 x 4 bed rather than going for larger beds. A 4 x 4 bed means you have to spend less and once you have mastered square foot gardening you could try larger beds.
This factor must be considered in conjunction with sunlight, water, and wind but we will see how to do so in the next chapter. For now, let’s talk solely about location. So, you have a garden, you have the material you need, and you have the layout, but where would you build the square foot garden?
When building the square foot garden, look for that one spot where the bed will be exposed to maximum sunlight and where it will benefit the most from sunlight and wind. If there are trees near the bed this could affect the amount of sunlight it will get. On the other hand, if you build it out in the open, windstorms could affect the bed and you may find that the entire bed has been damaged. However, that depends upon how fast the wind was blowing at the time.
Many people make the mistake of underestimating or overestimating the amount of space they have in their gardens and so they end up with an oversized or an undersized bed. Take the right measurements and estimates so that you are aware of how much space is available to you.