Square Foot Gardening

Do you have a DIY project that you never seem to get around to doing? I do. Or did. I have been wanting to do this gardening project for years and never got around to it.

Square foot gardening
The 1-nail method with jute twine: stays put and it’s cute.

Then, this past Friday we had a beautiful spring like day. I must have spring fever because I was out in the garden getting ready for early spring planting. Then, I convinced my husband to help me make these. These are grids used for square foot gardening.

Grids for gardeing

The square foot gardening approach is based on planting in squares rather than long rows. I like the concept because it’s not based on long rows or planting a bunch of seeds then thinning. There’s not much space in our yard for gardening so the efficiency of keeping the crops fresh and planting more is appealing to me.

Square Foot Gardening

Here’s what made this project the best – we used scraps of wood that my husband had in the garage “just in case” and we didn’t have to purchase anything. (Side note: I have fabric on hand for “just in case” and my husband gives me a hard time about the fabric and I give him a hard time about his extra wood. Equality in marriage!)

Urban homestead garden
The backyard chickens stayed in their coop during the project. They weren’t much help.

After measuring our raised beds (we have 4 and how to make them is here), we decided that 18” or so (for each square) was a fine amount.

Measure for grid gardening

After measuring and cutting the wood, we used 1 nail to hold the wood together. Then I added jute twine to keep it from twisting and so that it looked cute. Come on – it’s scrap wood and it needed to be cute-ed up a bit!

Assembling grid for garden

The grids sit on top of the dirt and can be lifted out when the rains arrive in the winter.

Square foot garden bed

The soil is soft and the weeds came out easily. Yes, weeds are my cover crop.

DIY Project Grid Gardening

Check that off the to-do list! My early spring planting will be sown directly from seeds and I’ve got beets, spinach, arugula (from seeds I saved last year), and peas. Oh, and radishes. I’m not a radish lover but my husband is. Hey, there are perks to helping me in the garden with scrap wood.
If you want to read more about square foot gardening, this book is helpful: [amazon_link id=”1579548563″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Square Foot Gardening: A New Way to Garden in Less Space with Less Work[/amazon_link] I checked it out from our library.

What are you planting this spring?

Go Gingham related links:

I also like to save seeds and re-use those in my garden!
How to stake tomato plants – a very stylishly frugal method!
Why my tomato plants are happy – what I plant with them
My non-gardener-gardening-strategy – yes, non gardeners can fake it
Three easy herbs to grow – you won’t be able to kill these, I promise!
Growing vegetables in small spaces – I call it “sky gardening”

More related links:

Mel Bartholomew, who is the founder and inventor of the Square Foot Gardening method, can be found here. You can read all the details about square foot gardening and the good work Mel is doing.

17 thoughts on “Square Foot Gardening

  1. Thanks for posting this, Sara. I have never grown anything, but after our great experience with making our own jam last summer, I’m wanting to. I got all excited this weekend because I found (at the library, of course!) Edible Estates (by Fritz Haeg). I’m not ready to tear up all our lawn, but we did talk this weekend about how we could start small this year.


    1. Rita, you will love growing your food! It is so easy and satisfying. My biggest success? Arugula! Once planted, the little starts shoot out of the dirt in a couple of weeks. Added to a green salad, it’s a wonderful flavor of peppery-goodness. I just planted some seeds yesterday that I saved from last season. You can’t go wrong with it!
      Great job getting the book from the library, too. Very stylishly frugal 😉
      Can’t wait to hear how your garden grows…


  2. My alternative to gardening myself is to support the local Farmer’s Market. At present it is held the second Saturday of the month, downtown in a central location. During the more active growing seasons it is more frequent.


    1. Karen, I think this is an excellent alternative! If I didn’t have the space to grow veggies, that would be route, too.
      Thanks for pointing that out, Karen, because not everyone wants to garden or has the time/space.


  3. I’m going with the square food method this year to try to better use my existing space. I’ve requested the book from the library but haven’t gotten it yet. I understand the concept, but why do you need to mark out the squares? Is it just to visually guide you? You’ve obviously managed without them, so I’m curious as to how they will improve on your existing system?


    1. Cee, my existing system is once the entire row is done, I leave it until the next season. Basically, I’m wasting my garden space and not thinking inside the box (pun intended but not one of my better ones!).
      I planted one of my raised beds this weekend and had 8 squares. Instead of planting lots of seeds, I put enough holes based on my spacing and dropped seeds in. The need to thin your seeds goes away, which is helpful for me. I couldn’t stand the waste.
      It’s also neat and organized out there now – which everyone in my family had to make fun of me about!
      Let me know how it works out for you. Glad you got the book from the library, too. 🙂


  4. Why am I not surprised to see this here, Sara? I saw this in the Saturday H&G insert in the Oregonian within the last week or two, and saved it. At our place, it’s difficult to garden – everything is in pots, but I might be able to adapt this method. We do currently grow tomatoes, blueberries, basil, hot peppers, cucumbers (if the snails don’t get them), oregano, flat-leaf parsley, and mint. I want to try carrots, beets, and lettuces this year as well.


  5. Love it! I was just thinking today that it is time to start getting my garden ready! I have a very short window to garden in AZ. It’s about March-June, then everything dies cause of the ridiculous HEAT!! I like your idea, and am going to try that this year! :O)


    1. Martha, I’m so glad you like it!
      I would have thought you’d have a long growing season with the heat. Last summer on our home exchange to Spain, I noticed many orchards and fields had a fabric cover to them. (Well, the campground we stayed in did, too.) It was sun block/mesh fabric. It kept the plants/trees from getting too much sun. Maybe this would work for your garden and stretch out the growing season. Just a thought! Good luck ~ please let me know how it goes if it all works.


  6. Brilliant idea! I am going to work on the garden today. I am also going to stop by the hardware store, and inquire about some type of mesh fabric/sun blocker material. Will keep you posted! Thanks for the tip! :O)


    1. Hi Sharon,
      Early spring seeds can go in now – depending on where you live. Where I live, President’s day weekend is the rule of thumb but I’ve had hearty plants like kale and arugula winter over. Lettuces are great to plant because they grow and are pretty fool-proof ~ which I need! Thanks for stopping by, Sharon.


  7. I have a brown thumb, but have seen and heard of this method as being less work. I don’t know, seems like a lot of work still – short of hiring a gardener. I have tasted lettuce from a “lettuce table” — an elevated table made for growing lettuce. Apparently the bugs don’t attack the lettuce. I have to admit, the lettuce was tasty. Neighbors around us do container gardening. I am not sure how that works in controlling mold. Seems like moldy leaves are a mainstay of that form of gardening.


    1. Sue, my favorite part of the square foot method is that it (visually) breaks the garden up into small squares rather than just one big plot. The small squares are easier for me to deal with – baby steps of gardening – rather than tackling the entire bed.
      You’d be surprised how well lettuces do in the wet/rainy weather, as long as you can keep the slugs away! Thanks, Sue.


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