Best results - with least effort
Square Foot Gardening
In his bestselling Square Foot Gardening Mel Bartholomew advocates limiting the amount of space - and therefore time - devoted to 'each vegetable, chore, and step in the garden.' He says that if you do not define these limits you are likely to lose control of your garden as the season progresses.
As an example, he points out what we do wrong when we plant lettuce:
"Now you probably grow a whole row of it. You till the soil, plant a packet full of seeds, thin once or maybe twice, spend a lot of time weeding and watering, and still probably end up with more lettuce than you can use in the short harvest season."
According to Bartholomew, you should plant just 1 square foot with 4 lettuce seeds. Then plant another square in a week or two and so on throughout the season. This allows easy weeding and watering at any one time, a succession of crops - and allows you to change the variety if you wish.
Bartholomew's method is based on squares - 12 inches by 12 inches - hence the label: square foot gardening. Each square is allocated to one type of plant and Bartholomew is happy to devote neighboring squares to both vegetables and flowering plants. Seeds or plants are placed in each square according to the recomended distance apart (after thinning) on the packet. So a space-hungry plant such as a green pepper will have a square to itself, with smaller types of plant getting proportionately more room. Obviously, this is a distinct alternative to the traditional row method of planting.
The squares are organized in blocks 4 feet by 4 feet square, so that each block contains 16 squares. At an average of 8 plants a square that can mean up to 128 plants in each block! The number of blocks you use is a matter of choice, depending on the time and space you have available. And if you need to plant a family-sized garden, you can use four adjacent squares to grow the same variety.
"One block will produce enough vegetables for salads for one person all season. Each fully planted block becomes a checkerboard pattern of contrasting colors, textures, and shapes - adding an extra visual dimension to the garden."
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