Square Foot Gardening: An Easy Method for Beginner Gardeners

Vego Garden

If you’re a beginner gardener, planting those first few seeds or transplants can be so intimidating. You might be standing there with the plants or seeds in one hand and a shovel in the other just staring at your bed. If this is you, I have your solution!

Have you ever heard of square foot gardening? In my first few years of gardening it was very hard for me to correctly space my plants the appropriate distance apart. One year, I had an overcrowded garden, to the point that I could not even walk between my tomato plants. The next year, to my surprise, I had so much extra space in my garden. 

Square foot gardening became the key to my gardening success, especially when using my raised garden beds. 

There are two ways to learn how to square foot garden, of which you will probably use both. I will teach you how to use a 1-inch square garden spacer and how to use string to mark your 12-inch squares. If you are planting large plants such as brussels sprouts, you will want to use the string method. Refer to the back of your seed packet or transplant tag to see the recommended distance between the plants. In this case it is usually recommended to have them spaced 1.5 to 2 feet apart.

To start, you will want to measure and mark every 12 inches across each edge of your garden bed. Once all of your markers are set, you will then either dig a small trench from the 12-inch marker on one end to the 12-inch marker on the opposite end, or run a string from one end to the other and repeat this for every marker all the way around. When you are all finished, your garden should look similar to the diagram below. 

Square Foot Gardening | Vego Garden

Now, you are probably wondering “why on earth did we do it this way?” Well, if brussels sprouts need 2 feet in between each plant, this makes it easy to plant four brussels sprouts plants the correct distance apart. So, if you place your first plant at the 12-inch cross - the cross closest to the corner - then your next plant will be located at the intersection that is two lines away. This results in the plants being 2 feet apart. See the diagram and image below. I did this for my raised garden beds last year. My beds are 10-feet long and 4-feet wide. So that means I could fit 10 plants per bed. 

Square Foot Gardening | Vego Garden

If you are planting a seed that does not require much spacing in between them, such as bush beans, you might make your life easier by using the square foot gardening tool. You can make your own or buy one on Amazon. You can see a picture of mine here, it is handmade. 

 

Square Foot Gardening | Vego Garden

So with this square, you will notice it has many holes in it. After your garden bed is prepped and ready for planting, place the square in the corner of your bed. Look at the back of your bean package to see the recommended spacing for that variety of bean. Most will recommend around 3 inches between seeds.  You will place your seeds in the 3-inch holes of the square. As a result you will place your beans the recommended distance apart, and hopefully you will have a bountiful harvest. 

You might be thinking, wow this seems like a lot of work for a garden. But the truth is, gardens do take time, effort, and planning. Using the square foot gardening method will give you the maximum harvest for your garden space, whether it is in raised beds or on tilled land. It will also give you a very neat and organized looking garden that is not only easy to navigate, but easy to harvest and weed! 

Square foot gardening is a win all the way around. Spending a little extra time on your planting days will make the rest of your gardening season easier and more enjoyable. 



 


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