Method - Square Foot Gardening (2024)

Method - Square Foot Gardening (1)The Square Foot Gardening Methodsaves gardeners time, effort, tools, space and water. The Square Foot Gardening Method is estimated to cost 50% less, uses 20% less space, 10% of the water, and only 2% of the work compared to single row gardening. Additional benefits are: virtually no weeds, no digging or rototilling, no fertilizers, and no heavy tools are necessary.

Anyone can be a successful gardener using the Square Foot Gardening method. While there are many more details, tips, and applications in the SFG books, the basics are very simple.

Once a spot is chosen that has good drainage and receives 6-8 hours of direct sun per day, there are three simple steps:

Method - Square Foot Gardening (2)Step 1: Build a box

You can use many materials to build your 4’ X 4’ box such as UNTREATED cedar, pine or fir. If treating wood only treat the outside of the box as to not have contact with the Mel’s Mix growing medium. You can even use brick, cement blocks, vinyl or recycled plastic. Be sure to put down weed mat or landscape fabric to prevent weeds from sprouting up through your soil.

Step 2: Fill SFG with Mel’s Mix™

Method - Square Foot Gardening (3)This tested and proven formula is easy to make at home. Please note: these ingredients will be in equal volumes, not by weight.
• 1/3 Coarse grade Vermiculite (Mel’s preferred medium)
• 1/3 Sphagnum Peat Moss (You can also use Coconut Coir)
• 1/3 Blended Organic Compost (Mel recommends 5 different composts combined for optimal results)

The Square Foot Soil Calculator

Method - Square Foot Gardening (4)Step 3: Add a grid and start planting!

Grids can be made inexpensively from Venetian blinds, wood lath sold in home improvement stores, or even wooden yardsticks twist-tied together. The grid is one of the most important features of a Square Foot Garden. The grid lets you clearly see how to space your seeds/plants and keeps your garden looking neat and organized. See the Planting Chart to learn seed and plant spacing. This efficient and organized planting promotes higher yields at harvesting time, providing the most out of your limited space garden.

Method - Square Foot Gardening (2024)


What is the square foot method of gardening? ›

The formula for planting is simple: one extra-large plant per 1x1-foot square, four large plants per square, nine medium plants per square, and 16 small plants per square. Here are some ideas for filling the squares: One vine tomato, pepper plant, or eggplant. Four bush tomatoes, heads of cabbage, or heads of lettuce.

What is the square foot method? ›

The square foot method combines all the costs for a particular type and quality of structure into one value as a cost per square foot (or cubic foot). This method produces a value based on the floor area of the structure.

Is square foot gardening legit? ›

If having a pretty garden is your main goal, the SFG method does create attractive grow boxes that might be worth the expense. But when the goal is producing high-quality vegetables, there are alternatives—and even ways to hybridize a raised-bed system with deeper sides—that are more effective.

Is there an app for square foot gardening layout? ›

Garden Manager is a web app that allows you to visually create your beds, then say what you want to plant per square foot. Based on your information that you give it about the amount of sunlight the bed gets, and how deep your soil is, and your planting zone, it will help you choose the best vegetables to plant.

What is one of the biggest disadvantages to square-foot gardening? ›

Drawbacks of Square Foot Gardening

Some crops, like large, indeterminate tomatoes, need more space than a single square foot—otherwise they'll start stealing nutrients and water from other plants. Plus, plants can deplete moisture and nutrients quickly in a square foot garden due to the intensive planting technique.

What is the square foot formula? ›

The next step in how to calculate square footage is to plug your measurements into the square footage formula: L x W = A (in square feet). How to find square feet: multiply the length measurement in feet by the width measurement (in feet).

What's another name for the square foot method? ›

The Comparative Unit Method is a method of estimating the cost of a structure. It is the most common method of estimating costs used by residential appraisers. Although units of measure other than the square foot may be used, the comparative unit method is often called the Square Foot Method of estimating cost.

Is square foot gardening the same as intensive gardening? ›

Intensive gardening is a generic term used to describe methods of maximizing the garden space you use to grow your plants. Square foot gardening, an intensive gardening technique, was popularized by Mel Bartholomew in his book Square Foot Gardening.

What is the soil for square foot gardening? ›

The principles of square foot gardening are simple. You start with a mix of soil made up of compost, vermiculite and peat moss. Then you divide your garden space into square feet, planting each foot according to the number of plants you can plant per square foot.

How many peas are in square foot gardening? ›

How Many Peas to Grow Per Square Foot? Here's the answer you've been looking for: according to the SFG Method, sow these seeds eight per square-foot section of your raised bed. Now that you know this answer, you'll want to decide how to lay out the eight seeds within the section.

Does square foot gardening have to be in raised beds? ›

Certainly you can apply the principals of square foot gardening without doing a raised bed . The raised beds do serve a function and help produce better vegetables. With a raised bed you build your bed on top of your existing topsoil and add more soil to fill in your raised bed.

How do you map a square foot garden? ›

With the square-foot gardening method, you plant in 4x4-foot blocks instead of traditional rows. Different crops are planted in different blocks according to their size; for example, 16 radishes in one square foot, or just one cabbage per square foot. A lattice is laid across the top to separate each square foot.

What is the best layout for a vegetable garden? ›

As a general rule, put tall veggies toward the back of the bed, mid-sized ones in the middle, and smaller plants in the front or as a border. Consider adding pollinator plants to attract beneficial insects that can not only help you get a better harvest, but will also prey on garden pests.

How do you calculate square footage of a garden? ›

Multiply the length by the width to determine the square footage—or area—of a square or rectangle. Find the square footage by multiplying the length and width of the area in question. Make sure to keep your units the same (feet or inches).

What is square foot estimating method? ›

What is a Square Foot Estimate? In simple terms, square foot estimates use an historical cost per unit, which is one square foot, and multiply that cost by the total number of square feet a building is expected to be.

Which planting method usually allows more plants to be grown per square foot? ›

Square foot gardening (or SFG for short) may be the solution. As the name implies, the method involves planting in sections a square foot in size, mapped out with a grid in a raised bed. It was started by Mel Bartholomew, an American engineer and gardener, who released a book all about it in 1981.


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