A square foot garden, popularized by Mel Bartholomew’s book All New Square Foot Gardening, is a method of gardening that uses raised beds filled with a soilless mix. A grid is then imposed over the bed to guide planting based on vegetable/plant size and proper spacing considerations.
The beds can be any length, but it is suggested that you leave 2 feet clear around each bed so you can easily work and tend the garden.
1. Basic Layout
Creating a basic layout is an easy first step for beginner square foot gardeners. Start by measuring your garden area and making a map of it on paper or another surface that can be easily written on, such as a whiteboard. Sketch out the shape of the garden, including any existing buildings, walkways, patios, walls, and fences. If you have existing garden beds, mark those as well. It’s helpful to also draw in the size and location of any trees, shrubs, or perennials that you plan to plant.
Once you have a general idea of the garden’s size and shape, use a ruler or other straight edge to divide the space into equal 4 x 4 plots. Then, using your vegetable seed packet’s planting instructions as a guide, determine each plot’s desired crop density and spacing. For example, you may want to plant taller vegetables (such as peas and beans) closer together, while planting shorter crops like lettuce farther apart.
If you prefer the classic rows method, you can plant your vegetables in long rows, just as you would in a traditional row garden. In this layout, plant the tallest vegetables in the northmost row and the shortest vegetables in the southmost row. This way, the taller vegetables don’t cast shadows over the shorter ones and stunt their growth.
Another option is to use a square foot gardening layout that is similar to the rows approach, but with more flexibility. This method is ideal if you’d like to grow veggies in raised garden beds or even in the ground. It’s also a great choice for those who plan to build trellises to support vining vegetables such as squash or cucumbers.
Spreadsheet programs, which are often used for business and personal finance, can be a great tool for planning your garden. They offer the advantage of being easy to edit and store, and many people find them useful on their phones or tablets as a reference while in the garden. Once you’ve completed your garden plan, make a copy and keep it handy for next year. It’s always good to remember what worked and what didn’t in previous seasons so you can improve your garden each year!
2. Vertical Layout
The vertical layout places components top-to-bottom in a column. It can be used to place components next to each other, align them vertically or horizontally, and it can also control how excess space is distributed between components.
To create a vertical layout, first create a LayoutGroup with the following steps:
For the parent, select a layout and set its Width and Height to the desired values. If you want to use the rule of thirds in your design, choose a LayoutGroup with a ratio that represents this (for example, a 2:3 ratio would be good for images).
Then add any child layouts to the layout group. Set the minimum, preferred, and flexible height for each child element. If the child element’s flexible height is greater than the preferred size of its parent, the extra available height will be divided amongst the children according to their flexible height settings. The more each child is closer to its preferred height, the less flexible height will be required of them. The children can be force-expanded by checking the ForceExpandWidth and ForceExpandHeight properties of the LayoutGroup.
3. Combination Layout
Square foot gardening is a method of planting vegetables that divides a gardeners plot into square foot areas rather than rows. This makes it a great option for beginners who don’t have much space but want to grow their own food. There are a few things to keep in mind when planning your square foot garden layout.
The first step is to build a raised bed, usually 4×4 feet in size but can be larger or smaller depending on your needs and garden area. You can use a wood plank or even old plastic blinds to create the grid but cedar is the best choice as it resists rot and also repels insects.
Next, plant a mix of crops in each box so that there is plenty of variety from year to year. You should include trellises to help plants climb and save space on the ground. You may also want to try growing herbs such as basil, lavender and rosemary in between your vegetables as they are natural pest deterrents. Also remember to rotate your plantings from year to year to prevent disease and insect infestation.