As a little girl, I knew that my grandpa was a farmer in Indiana. I didn’t experience the farm much because by the time I was old enough to help around the farm we lived in California and then my grandparents retired from farming.
My mom will tell me stories of riding the tractor through rows and rows of the same crop of seed. That’s how farmers have grown food for years. Each field was the same crop of seed.
Little did they know back then what we know now. That diversity in growing a garden creates a beautiful ecosystem that supports and produces more because of the different crops in one space help each other to grow.
If you have a small area to garden in, you want to make the most out of every square foot of space. There are so many benefits to this type of intensive planting or types of square foot gardening. Let’s find out more about 3 wonderful ways to use square gardening to maximize yield for your future garden space.
1. Grow Intensively thru a Square Foot Garden to Get More
Square foot gardening is a method of gardening where plants are grown in a raised bed, which is divided into small square sections. Each one square foot section is then planted with a different type of plant based on the amount length of space they need to grow thus named the square foot garden.
This square foot gardening allows for full harvest and maximum use of space and resources, making it ideal for people with limited garden space or those who want to grow their own fresh produce at home.
For me personally, I do not use square feet or dividers in the garden to measure out each square foot. I use this style of growing as a way of thinking about spacing and how much space different crops will need when fully grown for each season.
Others I know, love the idea of marking their garden beds using measuring tape to know each square foot in the square foot garden.
Both ways of spacing your beds work, the main principal of Square Foot Gardening is to know your beds spacing to grow more veggies in an intensive method.
No More Rows
Using rows with planting of the same crop can be less effective in small space gardens because it doesn’t make the most efficient use of limited space.
In a small garden, you want to maximize and divide your growing area as much as possible, and planting in rows can leave unused spaces between plants that could be used for additional crops.
Additionally, planting the same crop can make your garden more susceptible to pest and disease infestations, as pests can easily move from plant to plant and spread diseases throughout the row.
Consider spacing and using techniques like intercropping or intensive planting to maximize your growing area and help keep your garden healthy and productive.
I don’t follow the seed packets recommendations for planting. Those are for the farmer that does the rows of planting. Instead, I use a method called intensive planting.
Intensive planting is a gardening technique that involves planting crops closer together than traditional methods. This allows you to maximize the growing area in a small enough garden bed to save, and increase your gardeners overall yield. In an intensive planting system, crops are typically spaced just a few inches apart, rather than the several feet that is common in traditional row planting.
This type of planting can be achieved through techniques like square in garden bed, foot gardening, intercropping in raised beds, or using raised beds with tightly spaced in raised beds.
By reducing the amount and width of space between things growing, you can also reduce the amount and width of space available for weeds to grow and compete with your crops especially in raised beds.
However, it’s important to note that this technique requires careful planning and attention to soil health to ensure that your crops have enough nutrients and water to thrive in less space.
I use an organic liquid fertilizer to help me in growing how many plants close together to make sure they are all getting what they need.
2. Growing All Together
Think about what bed space your plant will need in its bed in the future, not as a small seed transplant but as a full-sized plant.
Let’s take a look at a tomato plant, it starts as a small to medium sized plant. When a tomato plant grows it needs to create its own square foot of gardening space. But at the beginning of the summer growing season, your tomato plant looks like it can have a square or more square of planted around it.
I planted marigolds and basil at the base of my tomatoes one year and those plants struggled 2 months later to get enough sun to grow. Planting those things that need little room closer to the outside of the plant spacing the tomato plant or in the next space over would be more effective in giving each of the plants the right space to get sun and grow.
Here is a great tool I found and am using in my own garden this year to make spacing easier for planting.
3. What about Crop Rotation?
While crop rotation is a traditional method used to prevent soil-borne diseases and pests, planting different crops in the same area can be an effective alternative to gardening that doesn’t require crop rotation.
When you use variety to plant out your garden next to each other that have mutually beneficial relationships, such as repelling pests or improving soil health then you don’t need to do crop rotation.
By diversifying the types of plants in your garden, you can naturally break up pest cycles and improve soil health without needing to rotate crops. Additionally, some plants like legumes can fix nitrogen in the soil, which helps fertilize other nearby plants.
Overall, companion planting can be a low-maintenance way to keep your garden healthy and productive over time without needing to rotate crops.
Try Companion Planting
One way to use the areas in your garden to plant with variety is by implementing companion planting. This technique involves planting different crops next to each other that benefit one another in various ways, such as repelling pests or improving soil health.
For example, you could plant tomatoes and basil together, as the basil can help repel tomato hornworms. Another option is intercropping, which involves planting multiple crops in the same area at the same time, such as growing lettuce between rows of carrots and potatoes. This helps maximize space and can also improve soil health.
Getting the Basics:
Setting up your raised bed for square foot gardening to have the basics will help your backyard to grow. Let’s see what some of these basics are:
Sunlight is essential for a garden because it provides energy for photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert light into food.
Without enough sunlight, plants won’t be able to produce the energy they need to grow and thrive. Sunlight also helps regulate plant growth and development, including flowering and fruiting.
Different types of plants have different requirements for sunlight, but most vegetables and fruits require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Some herbs and leafy greens can tolerate less sun, but they still need some exposure to light in order to grow properly in a square foot garden.
Consistent water is essential for a square foot garden because plants need water to survive and grow.
Inconsistent watering can lead to stress in plants, which can result in stunted growth, wilting, and even death. It’s important to provide your plants with a consistent supply of water so that they can thrive.
Nutrients thru Healthy Soil
Healthy soil is essential for a square foot garden because it provides the foundation for plant growth and nutrient uptake. Soil is a complex mixture of minerals, organic matter, air, and water that supports the growth of plants by providing them with nutrients, oxygen, and water.
Healthy soil contains a diverse community of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and protozoa that help break down organic matter and make nutrients available to plants.
How to Plant Out Garden:
When planning a small square foot garden, it’s important to consider the size and growth habits of the plants you hope or want to grow.
Here are some general gardening tips for selecting plants based on size for a square foot garden.
Determine the mature size of each plant:
Before choosing your plants, research their mature size and growth habit. This will help you determine how much space each plant needs and how they will fit together in your garden.
Group plants by height:
One common technique is to group plants by height, placing taller plants in the back or middle of the garden bed and putting shorter ones towards the front. This creates a layered effect that can add depth and interest to your garden.
Consider spacing requirements:
With spacing requirements of each plant, some plants need more room than others to spread out and grow, so be sure to give them enough space to thrive.
Think about companion planting:
Certain plants grow well together because they have complementary growth habits or because they repel pests or attract beneficial insects.
Experiment with different combinations:
There is no one “right” way to plan a small garden – it’s all about finding what works best for you and your space. As a gardener, experiment with different combinations of plants and see what looks good together.
Planting Plans for Each Season
Planting plans for each season with a square foot garden can be easy with a square foot gardening chart to help you know what to plant for each season with the correct number of plants in each of one square foot each.
Just like differences in our gardeners’ crops help the garden to grow, I find that the more I embrace the people around me who are different than me, I’m able to grow as a person.
I think that’s what gardening all is about; learning in life what grows together well, what encourages growth the closer things are, and what is more beautiful when placed together.
Use containers in your garden to create a space to grow different types of veggies, fruits, herbs, and flowers together to create an ecosystem of health, production, and beauty.
How do I plan a square foot gardening layout?
First know when your first and last frost dates are to know what types of plants will grow best in each season. If you need more information and help on this, I have prepared a mini-course that helps you figure out the basics that bring you gardening success. And you can get a free planting plan that utilizes the square foot gardening method for all three seasons.
Can I plant intensively like this in a container or pot?
It depends on the size of your garden, the container or pot and the type of plant or plants you want to grow. Some plants require more space for their roots, for example while others can be grown in smaller containers.
It’s important to research the specific needs of each plant before planting intensively in a container or pot. Additionally, make sure the container has proper drainage to prevent waterlogging and root rot.
How do I add to my garden with this method?
As for knowing how many plants and when to take out a crop or add one in, it depends on the specific plant and its growing cycle. In general, you should remove plants once they have finished producing their fruit or vegetables.
You can then replace them with new plants that are appropriate for the current season. It’s important to plan ahead and stagger planting times so that you always have a variety of crops in your garden throughout the growing season.
Keep track of what vegetables you plant and when you plant them so that you can manage and make adjustments as needed.