Have you ever wanted to grow your own vegetables and lead the ‘good life’, but been put off by the thought that it takes acres and acres of land?
Then you’ll be delighted to hear that as much produce can be harvested from a small square-foot patch as from a traditional long row.
Square-foot gardening has the potential to revolutionise the way you use your outside space and could help you maximise the fruits (and vegetables) of your labour.
Making your vegetable patch
If you already have a raised vegetable patch, then great; if not, then you can easily make a suitable square-foot plot.
To convert part of your lawn into a square-foot vegetable plot, first you must mark out a space that allows you to comfortably reach the middle without stepping on the growing area (4ft x 4ft is ideal). Next you should knock stakes into the ground along the perimeter of the patch and nail timber planks to them.
Line the patch with newspaper to smoother the grass. This space should now be filled with a quality soil mix comprising equal quantities of coarse-grade vermiculite, sphagnum peat moss, and blended compost.
A key element of square-foot gardening is the grid: the method for dividing your available land to make the most of your efforts.
Mark out your patch into square-foot sections using twine or timber strips tacked to the edges of your beds – there will be a different crop planted in each plot.
What to plant where
Depending on their size, between one and sixteen plants should be sown in each square-foot patch.
Only one broccoli, cabbage, pepper and pumpkin plant should be put in each square, while four lettuce, runner bean and tomato plants can grow in the same space.
Nine spinaches, peas and beetroots will flourish in a grid for each crop, and as many as sixteen garlic, onion and carrot plants will grow together.
Because the beds are raised and the soil is loose, growing is abundant and a typical patch can produce everything from small lettuces and herbs to large cauliflowers.
Caring for your square-foot vegetable patch
Tending to a square-foot vegetable patch is remarkably easy: the raised bed makes weeding a doddle; watering is straightforward because everywhere can be reached without stepping on the plot; and the close planting makes harvesting a piece of cake.