Square Foot Gardening
Rodale Books, 2005
"Twice as much in half the space!"
"Grow a perfect garden in only ten minutes a day."
"A new way to garden with 80 percent less space and work"
The claims on the back cover are promising, intriguing. . . and true. When I bought my copy of Square Foot Gardening (the previous edition) years ago, I had a garden bed that was roughly three feet deep by five feet wide. I was interested in growing vegetables for salads, but there was no way I had room for those long rows of vegetables you see in most gardens. After reading Bartholomew's book, I was still unsure about whether his method would really work. The following spring, I was raring to go to give his method a try. I was amazed at how much I could grow in such a small space. Even more amazing was the small amount of time I had to spend maintaining my garden. Even though it was small, I had always spent a lot of time weeding and watering. Once the garden was growing nicely, I barely had to spend any time weeding at all.
Bartholomew's method is based on what he calls a "square," which is a plot of perfectly amended soil that is four feet wide by four feet deep. You can have as few or as many squares as you like, but you'll be surprised by how few you actually need. Bartholomew does away with traditional gardens grown in rows, working instead with squares. And how he does it is so simple, I'm amazed that more people don't garden this way. If you look at a seed packet, it will say something like "plants should be spaced twelve inches apart with three feet between rows." What Bartholomew says is, why three feet between rows if you only actually need twelve inches between plants? And he's right!
Square Foot Gardening is a complete source for vegetable and herb gardeners, but its methods can also be applied to flower gardens. Bartholomew covers everything: tools, planning, structures, starting from seed, watering, weeding, extending the growing season, and end of season cleanup. He also has a chapter on special gardens, such as gardens for children, patio gardens, gardens for people in wheelchairs, and herb gardens, to name a few. But my favorite part of the book is the chapter on growing different crops using the square foot method. Under entries for each type of crop, you can find how many plants to plant per square, when to plant, when (and if) you can do succession plantings, and specific care information for each crop.
I heartily recommend Square Foot Gardening for anyone who is interested in vegetable gardening, whether they are short on space or not. ITGO