Now that you’ve learned all about this new gardening method called Square Foot Gardening, I’m now going to show you the details of “how to.” Remember from the first article, we are  merely building a box, laying it on top of our soil or it could be put on a patio or deck if it has a bottom, filling it with a special soil mix, called Mel’s  potting soil Mix , laying down a 12 inch by 12 inch grid, to divide the box into 16 square feet. Then we are going to plant a different crop in each of the square feet. As each square is harvested, you add a trowel full of compost, and replanted with a different crop, depending on the season.

It’s a very simple common sense method. It’s all organic, natural, requires no chemical fertilizer, insecticides or pesticides, and because we start with a perfect soil, we never have to dig up our existing ground. Hence, we need no expensive heavy-digging tools. And the whole system is really so simple and easy most people end up saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Here are the 10 basics of Square Foot Gardening. In my next column, I will discuss how to start planting. For more details of the whole system, go to our website, and .org and you’ll be able to follow the steps very easily. If you’d like a book, we have several available on our website. As a reminder, sales from our website support all of our educational and humanitarian projects. We put gardens in schools, prisons, community parks, nursery homes all as part of our national programs.


Square Foot Gardening Tips


  • Pick an area that gets 6-8 hours of sunshine daily. (Most plants need this.)
  • Be sure it is not near trees and shrubs. (Where roots and shade won’t interfere.)
  • Have it as close as possible to the house. (For convenience, and protection.)
  • Existing soil is not really important. (Since you probably won’t be using it.)
  • Area must not puddle after a heavy rain. (In other words, good drainage.)


10 Basics

1. Layout Arrange garden in squares, not rows. Layout 4`x 4` planting areas. For higher yield production, try some 4`x 8` or 12` boxes.
2. Boxes Build bottomless boxes to hold new soil mix.
Add plywood bottoms for tabletop gardens.
3. Aisles Space boxes 3` apart to form walking aisles.
4. Soil Fill boxes with Mel’s special soil mix:
1/3 blended compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 course vermiculite.
5. Grid Make a square foot grid for the top of each box. A MUST!
Tend your garden from the aisles.
7. Select Plant a different flower, vegetable, or herb crop in each square foot; using 1, 4, 9, or 16 plants per square foot.
8. Plant Conserve seeds. Plant only a pinch (2 or 3 seeds) per hole.
Transplants are planted in a slight saucer-shaped depression.
9. Water Water by hand from a bucket of sun-warmed water.
10. Harvest When you finish harvesting a square foot, add compost and replant it with a new and different crop.


What could be easier than this?

3 Step Process - basic

And Start Planting!

The next step will be what and when to plant.