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Longing for the days when people used to grow their own vegetables through traditional sweat and dirt…..but don’t have the time? Well, it’s time to get off your butt. Consider this your call to action: a beginner’s guide to square foot gardening layouts.
(This article is an excerpt from my best selling gardening book, Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide to Backyard Gardening. You can get the entire book including more layouts on Amazon or directly from me, which will save you 10% and includes shipping.
Say hello to a newer and easier type of gardening.
In case you’ve never heard about or aren’t sure what square foot gardening is, this technique (some say it’s a way of life) lets you harvest more veggies in a smaller space while decreasing your workload.
If you’ve never tried it, then you’ll want to print out this article and grab my book above, which is a step-by-step guide to implementing these layouts.
The square foot gardening layouts I’ll show you make adopting this style of growing really easy.
So easy, you’ll write me love letters (well….maybe a like letter. I’m married….and don’t want the drama from receiving random love letters. Although an argument might spice up a Friday night here in the country where nothing ever happens.)
The bottom line is that cultivating plants in square foot boxes optimizes the use of your garden space and minimizes your effort while maximizing production – pretty nifty stuff.
Planning your square foot gardening layouts
Like any other growing technique out there, success with square foot gardening layouts requires a bit of planning so you can get a great harvest.
You can grow what you like – but you’ll do better making sure all your plants “play” well together. Layouts like the ones in this article will make it super easy for you.
A square foot gardening planting guide (like my companion planting guide you can download right here) also will help you be successful with any layouts you design yourself, especially since not all vegetable plants play well together.
Three square foot gardening layout guides you can use this spring
Three square foot gardening layouts I personally love are a salsa garden, a greens garden, and an all-tomato garden. Because who doesn’t love tomatoes?
(Well, I know a few people….but they’re not friends. Friends don’t let friends be friends with people who don’t like tomatoes. ← Gardening haiku)
These are three square foot gardening layouts I use every year (and I start them indoors in my warm greenhouse), and some of my tried-and-true hacks you can use to have a great harvest!
This one is probably my favorite square foot gardening layouts because….well….salsa.
Salsa garden layouts can be fancy or simple. This one includes just a few veggies and herbs: tomatoes, scallions, peppers, and herbs such as parsley, oregano, basil, and cilantro.
(Salsa generally includes onions, but they take up a LOT of room and have a long growing season – your better layouts include more tomatoes or herbs. You can buy your onions or plant them elsewhere on your yard.)
How you arrange the plants in your raised bed will depend on certain factors such as growing size.
For example. tomato plants need an entire square, and it’s best to plant them one or two feet away from each other.
You CAN plant herbs near tomatoes, however, and they’re supposed to improve the flavor of the our red fruity friends.
A pepper plant needs as much nutrients and sunlight as a tomato plant, but consumes less space. You can place pepper plants 12 inches away from another.
For the most part, these vegetables and herbs mature at the same time, particularly if you grow indeterminate tomatoes. If your herbs start flowering, pinch them off to extend their life.
If you are a fan of fresh salads (or have a lot of rabbits), a square foot gardening planting guide for a greens garden is gonna be your jam.
Some of my favorite layouts include spicy mustard greens, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, and arugula (I grow the arugula for my rabbits though – personally, I can’t stand the stuff).
Mustard greens and kale must be planted three inches away from each other. Spinach, on the other hand, should have at least 14-inch spacing. Green lettuce and arugula need 4 inches.
All Tomato Garden
Now, I know when you think about vegetable gardens, you’re dreaming of tomatoes. Since tomatoes are my specialty, I love using all tomato square foot gardening layouts.
This plan will show you how to grow an near-unlimited supply of tender tomatoes in the summer (as long as you grow indeterminate varieties).
An all-tomato layout can have as many varieties of tomatoes as you would like to plant – try some heirloom varieties for fuller flavor.
You can get husky red cherry tomatoes or golden jubilees to name a few. Although different, they still have the same needs, like an adequate amount of sunlight and enough space between each other.
The bottom line, regardless of the types of vegetables you grow, is that planning your square foot garden is the key to a healthy harvest.
Factors such as distance, amount of sunlight, moisture, nutrient amount, and maturity length must also be considered when planning your layout.
If you want very detailed gardening advice, then get Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening, and refer to it as you plan out your own garden.
Do have favorite square foot gardening layouts? Send them to me, and I might feature them in an upcoming article!
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.