Questions? Write Me at

Questions? Write me at fullcirclegardener @ cableone . net.

Spring Planting! Experimenting with Square Foot Gardening

My newly planted garden - May 19, 2011

Last week I shared with you that I have made a real effort to use the vertical space in my garden.  Doing this has given me the ability to plant and grow more in the space that I have.  This spring I also planted some things using the gardening method called 'square foot gardening'.  I'd never heard the words 'square foot gardening' until this spring when I attended a gardening day, but this method is also suppose to maximise utilization of garden space and I'm all for that!

Mel Bartholomew, the creator of the concept of square foot gardening, recommends planting in small raised beds so that you do not have to walk in your garden space.  This is a big benefit as you do not have to leave space for walking inside your garden and you do not have to worry about decreased production from compaction in the root zone.  While this is a great option for someone who does not have an established garden, I already have approximately a 14x20 ft raised bed and am not planning on changing it anytime soon.  I instead chose try my hand at square foot gardening along the front edge of my garden where I can reach in without having to walk in the garden.

reachable squares for easy access
My kids and I planted carrots, parsnips, spinach, lettuce, beans, kohlrabi and snap peas along this front edge (kids too can reach in and help without walking all over my plants... I'll tell you in a month or so if they strip all the produce out as well! ;}).  According to this system, your garden should be divided into one foot squares in which you plant specific numbers of seeds or plants based on the size of the mature plant.  Thankfully he also gives recommendations in his book** so I followed his guide.  Below is what I planted and the recommended densities for one square.  Note: Some of my seeds are several years old so I did plant 2 seeds in each location that I will have to thin out if both come up.

carrots     16
parsnips*     16
4 squares of snap peas
spinach     9
lettuce     4
bush purple beans     9
bush wax beans     9
kohlrabi*     9
snap peas     8

* not in his chart so I found something that was close at mature size and followed that suggested density

**'All New Square Foot Gardening; Grow more in less space' by Mel Bartholomew

Are you trying something new in your garden this year?  a new veggie?  a new variety of an old favorite?  a new method of gardening?  I'd love to hear about it!

If you are a square foot gardening 'pro', I'd love to hear your thoughts as well.  :)

Happy Gardening! :)


  1. Stacy,
    Last year it was a bit chilly in Illinois and my tomatoes didn't fair well. Its already starting off chilly. Any ideas how to combat the chill?

  2. Barb, that is a great question. I am having the same problem so far this year. You will want to create a warmer micro-climate for them in some way. This is easier while the plants are still small, but a little creativity will keep them warm longer. This spring I covered my tomatoes with milk/juice bottle cloches (see get them warmer. They have been in the ground for one week and they are already about 2x as large as their counterparts that didn't get planted. Over the long term as the plants get larger it will get harder. You may consider creating a greenhouse of sorts with plastic around a large tomato cage, or if you have a large greenhouse, set it up in the garden over the top of the tomatoes. Just be sure how what ever you do that there is some way for the heat to escape as it will get warm inside whatever you use. (There are also water walls/tubes that can be purchased on-line if you want to look into something like that.) TI hope this helps. Good luck. I'd love to hear what you go with and how it goes for you. :)


I would love to hear your gardening comments and/or questions.