Monday, May 25, 2009

Square Foot Gardening: A New Way To Garden In Less Space With Less Work - Mel Bartholomew

Square Foot Gardening: A New Way To Garden In Less Space With Less Work
Mel Bartholomew
Rodale Press
Copyright: 2005
0425070506

From the cover of Square Foot Gardening:
You CAN garden with
Less work, Less weeding, Less watering
Say good-bye to the hard work and endless maintenance of gardening in long rows, and say hello to Square Foot Gardening. This easy, fool-proof, and ingenious method of gardening allows you to grow more vegetables than you ever thought possible in less space than a traditional garden takes.

With Square Foot Gardening, you build your garden in a series of one foot squares. Each square holds a different vegetable, fruit or herb planted in quantities that you'll actually use. Gone are the long, labor-intensive rows that need to be thinned, weeded and maintained over the growing season. Gardening in squares means that you won't need to thin because you'll only plant what you can use. You'll water less because there's no wasted space in the bed, and you'll weed in record time because you can reach weeds from all sides of the square bed. By replanting squares as soon as you harvest, you'll guarantee a steady crop of vegetables throughout the growing season. Best of all, there are no elaborate structures, tools, or equipment to buy when you start your square foot garden.

All it takes for this simple system to work is a little bit of planning, just an hour or two of maintenance each week, and a bundle of enthusiasm. Once you start square foot gardening, you'll join millions of other square foot gardeners who are enjoying garden that are manageable, beautiful, and productive all season long.


I'll admit it right off. I did review Square Foot Gardening last year, but I'm following the method again this year. This is now a reference work for me, for reminding me of the spacings, water quantities and pest problems etc., and not a book for reading through for me. I bought it last year and tried the method in one 4x4 foot patch. I got the first successful vegetable garden I've ever had last year.

This year I've set up two patches. One of which, it turns out, gets a couple of hours more sun each day than the other. As a result, I'm giving the bell peppers another try. I got no result last year, but I did start things a bit late.

Otherwise, I'm repeating last year's crops (tomatoes, lettuce, swiss chard, radishes, bush beans, chives, parsley) with a couple of exceptions. I'm going to try growing a squash plant. The radishes didn't work last year, but are growing this year (if I can keep the slugs away). I'm also trying celery (which isn't in the book), a rosemary plant and spinach. The lettuce and swiss chard are all ready harvest-ready, as are the chives that survived from last year.

I absolutely love Bartholomew's book. You don't need much space, the weeds don't take over, and it really doesn't take up much time to maintain the garden (at least once you've dug it out). Generally, I'm actively hunting for weeds when I'm out there now, as they don't have the chance to get very big. Maybe twenty minutes every couple of days is all it takes.

There's a newer version of the book available as well: All New Square Foot Gardening. I've only taken a cursory look through it, but the book looks to be the same for the most part. The photos and drawings are in color, which is a help, but on the other hand, I noticed that the planting grids for spacings have been removed from the sections on the individual plants. Those are what I'm finding that I use the most. I haven't checked to see if the book includes any different plants from the 2005 version, which would be nice. As far as I can see, it's a matter of choice as to which is preferable.
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