Articles, Blog

Square Foot Gardening Basics – Family Plot

September 7, 2019

Alright Tonya,
it’s good to have you here at The Family Plot garden. – Yeah, thanks so much. – Oh, no problem. We’re going to talk about square foot gardening. So the first question is this,
what is square foot gardening? – Well it’s my very favorite
method of growing vegetables in my own backyard. And it was popularized by
books from Mel Bartholomew. The idea behind
square foot gardening is that it’s a raised bed system. The basic raised bed size
is four foot by four foot. And a square foot garden, a true
square foot garden always has a grid laid on top of the
four-by-four square bed. That divides it
into square feet, so you’ll have
16 square foot sections in a square foot garden bed. And you can make those
grids out of twine and nails, or little pieces of wood
strips that you lay on top. – Ok, that was going
to be my next question. Ok, well what are the benefits
of square foot gardening? – Ok, well here’s the
reasons why I do it in my yard. The first one is that it doesn’t
take up a whole lot of space. You can grow a lot in a
very small back yard. You don’t have to own a
tiller or anything like that. The only thing I’ve ever
used in my square foot beds are my hand trowel. Very, very little weed
pressure, almost no weeds, I rarely ever
have to pull a weed. You use less water
because it’s a smaller space that you have to water. And I have dogs in my backyard,
so if I had a great big garden, I would have to fence around the
whole thing to keep my dogs out, but it’s very, very simple to
fence around to keep dogs or other critters out of
your square foot beds. – Good point, good point. No weeds. Did I hear you say that? – Very, very little. Yes. – How about that, ok. Now how do we get started
with our square foot garden. – Ok, the first thing that you
have to do is build your bed, or now, you can even buy kits
to build your square foot bed. And you want them to be
at least six inches deep. Mine are a little bit
deeper than that in my backyard, but six inches is
really all that you need. And then you would first locate
that in an area that gets at least six hours of sunshine
a day, so full sun is best. – Full sun is best, ok. – And you know if you don’t have
a lot of full sun areas in your yard, if it’s a concrete patio,
you can put this thing right on top of concrete, so, it’s
great for small spaces. And then you fill it with
whatever you’re going to put in your raised beds. I think in his books
Mel Bartholomew has his own mix that
he’s formulated. It’s like a third
vermiculite, a third peat moss, and a third compost. But you don’t have to put that if that’s not what
you have on hand. If you’ve got some good
compost, or whatever, you can fill that up. So we’re going to modify this
barrel to show you an example of how to do
a square foot garden. So we’re going to add a little
bit of compost to our barrel. – I think I can
handle that Tonya. – Thank you. – You just tell me how much. – Ok. And in my own
yard in the spring, I usually will have to top dress
with compost to get it back up to the top of my container. – This is good stuff here. – Alright, so another thing
about square foot gardening is inside of these grids,
you’re going to plant your plants very close together. And you don’t plant in rows
with a square foot garden. So you’ll usually see
in planting guidelines, plant your things so
many inches apart, and then so many
inches between rows. But we just ignore the row part
and you put them on centers. And so this allows you to be
able to plant a lot of things in a small space, like
in a square foot. In one square in your raised
bed you can plant 16 carrots. – Really? Wow. – Or you can plant
one tomato per square, so that gives you 16 tomatoes
in one four-by-four bed. Which is highly
intensive planting. Or you can do one pepper,
or one eggplant per square. You can also do four
bush beans per square, or you can do nine
sweet peas per square. So I know that
sounds like a lot, but I’ve tried it on my
own and it actually works. So in my one little
one foot by one foot square I planted nine
sugar sweet peas. And when they grow up they kind
of support each other as they grow, and you don’t even
hardly need a support system, and there’s no weeds
because they’re out-competing all the weeds. – Right, I got you, I got you. – Those are some of the basics,
and if you want to do this in your yard, and you’re not
sure how many plants to put per square, there’s some
good resources online. You can go to and watch short video clips on
how to set this thing up. And you can also if
you’re on Pinterest, you can follow the Square Foot
Gardening Foundation and they have charts of samples for
how many plants to put in each square, so that’s a great
resource if you’re on Pinterest. – Pinterest, ok. – So I brought some things with me to show,
you could do one tomato plant per square,
this is ‘Pink Girl’. – [chuckles] Pink Girl. – Or one pepper,
you could put that. And then I like to
plant from seed sometimes, you could do one okra
per square in your garden, or 16 carrot seeds per square, you could plant
a whole bunch of carrots. Also it’s good to plant carrots
in containers because the soil is usually not as
compact, they do better, they’re a root vegetable. Also eggplant, I’m going
to try from seed this year, and this is a container
variety for a 12-inch pot, so this would be
perfect for my space intensive
square foot beds. So I’m just going to
go ahead and plant, sorry, this
tomato plant in there. And we probably have, this is
probably a little bit more than one square would be in
your square foot bed, so I’m going to put it
kind of towards the back, and then I’m going to put
a parsley in there too. ‘Cause I think we’ve got room. – It’s a good root
system on that too. – Nice, fluffy dirt. – Alright, looks good. Now how successful are
you with the seeds though, when you’re planting
your seeds at home in your own square foot garden? – Well I have three of the
four-by-four raised beds, one of them I use
strictly as an herb bed, so I have a lot of success
with planting things like basil, and parsley, and dill from seed. I’ve already got basil and dill
seed sprouted up in my own yard in my own square foot bed, and
also I’ve had a lot of success with carrots especially. And lettuce, lettuce is a great
spring crop that you can do. You just get a nice seed bed and
sprinkle out your lettuce seeds, it’s fantastic for
this type of scheme. And then let’s see, what
else have I planted from seed? My peas, I plant peas from seed. So you can definitely
save money that way. And that’s pretty much
all there is too it. – And I guess it’s
easy to harvest too, right, you said
there’s no weeding. – No weeding. – Harvesting is
going to be easy. What if you had like pest
problems, it would be easy to just come in here
and take those off, right? – Yeah, I mean I’ve mostly just
had aphids that you can easily remove if you
catch them in time. Yeah, the pest
problems, very few, and my favorite
part is no weeds. And it’s easier
on your back too, it’s easier on your back
than doing it in the ground. – I’m glad you mentioned that. – And they’re easy, the
beds are easy to build. My husband built mine for me,
but I’ll tell people that he was outside building my beds, and
I was inside cooking dinner, and he got finished first. – Oh, Daniel’s good. He’s good. [both chuckle]
One last question, any disease problems,
you know because they’re planted fairly
close together, so… – Yes, well, for my tomatoes I
spray preventative fungicide. Chlorothalonil is my favorite. Yeah, so. – And it works pretty good? No other problems? – No. – Alright, well Tonya we appreciate that demonstration,
we can’t wait to see what it looks like throughout
the summer. – Yes! – Thank you much. – Thank you.


  • Reply Daybird Aviaries November 1, 2018 at 2:37 am

    Great video. Thank you.

  • Reply wi54725 April 12, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    I love Family Plot and wish it could be on live in Nashville. As a rabid raised bed gardener, I have experimented with more economical methods to make alternative Mel's Mix. Using 50% homemade leaf mold and 50% homemade compost and then adding some rock dust and worm castings, I get identical results with little cost. The leaf mold replaces the peat moss/coconut coir and the coarse vermiculite.

  • Reply Dirtandseedsmake May 8, 2019 at 5:37 am

    How do you do crop rotation in square foot garden?

  • Reply Melissa Nuckolls June 29, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    I have tried watching this video 5 times. When it gets to 21 seconds it stops. I have went to other videos on Youtube and watched without any problems. Just this video is having problems.

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