Garden Design


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What to Grow

A lot of times when people begin a vegetable garden, they ask, "What should I grow?"  The answer to this question is simple... kind of.

What do you like to eat?

If you don't like brussel sprouts, don't plant brussel sprouts.  If you love broccoli, plant broccoli.  It literally is that simple.  With that being said,  there are some things to consider, such as the climate, and where you live. 

I live in a desert where we experience about 4" of rainfall every year; this does not mean that certain things won't grow for me but if I want to plant a citrus tree, I'm really going to have to work at it.  As a general rule of thumb, almost everything you plant will grow if given the right care and nutrients.

Hardiness & Heat Zones

When planting, there are two things to consider, the hardiness zone and the heat zone for your area.  In 1960 the US Department of Agriculture created what is known as the Plant Hardiness Zone Map.  The hardiness zone is a geographically defined area in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand the average minimum temperatures of the zone.  By locating where you live on the map, you can easily determine which of the 11 major zones you live in.  Knowing your planting zone is helpful in knowing what will grow best in your area.  Most seed catalogues, or my Veggie Index will inform you of each plant's Zone hardiness.

While knowing your region's hardiness zone is informative, it is not always helpful.  Knowing your area's average minimum temperatures is only half the battle.  What about the maximum summer temperatures?  The effects of heat damage are more subtle than those of extreme cold, which will kill a plant instantly. Heat damage can first appear in many different parts of the plant: Flower buds may wither, leaves may droop or become more attractive to insects, chlorophyll may disappear so that leaves appear white or brown, or roots may cease growing. Plant death from heat is slow and lingering.  This is where knowing your heat zones comes into play.

The American Horticulture society developed a Heat Zone Map.  The 12 zones of the map indicate the average number of days each year that a given region experiences "heat days"- temperatures over 86°F; the point at which the plant begins to suffer physiological damage.  Zone 1 consists of areas with less than 1 heat day per year, and Zone 12 areas experience more than 210 heat days. 

Since heat zone ratings are fairly new, they are not listed as regularly in references, catalogs and plant labels as hardiness zones. However, as time progresses, you will see heat zone designations joining the hardiness zone designations. Each plant will have four numbers. For example, a plant might have the designation 3-10, 11-1. The first two numbers refer to hardiness zones and the second two numbers refer to heat zones. So, the plant is cold hardy in zones 3 through 10, and heat tolerant in heat zones 11 through 1.

The Easy Approach

If you're just wanting to know, "Morgan, what are going to be the easiest, most-fool-proof crops I can plant?"  Well, I'll tell you.

  • Leafy greens:  Salad staples like Lettuce, Cabbage and Mustard Greens grow quickly, and you can harvest the outer leaves while the inside leaves are still growing.  These greens prefer cooler weather, and will do well with partial sun and a little bit of shade.
  • Bush Beans and Peas:  such as Green Beans grow very well once they emerge as a seedling.  Although they don't tolerate cold weather very well, they require little attention.
  • Green Onions: these babies tolerate a wide range of cool to warm temperatures making them ideal for any planting season/location.
  • Zucchini and Summer Squash:  These guys are from the same family and are probably the easiest crops to grow.  Once they sprout, they grow like weeds, and one plant is enough to feed an entire family, however they need a little bit of room to grow, at least 12" per plant.
  • Cucumbers: Cucumbers are fairly easy to grow, but they spread out and take up a lot of space.  Using a trellis is a good idea to grow them vertically, saving space.
  • Blackberries:  Blackberries grow like weeds, and because they are a perennial, once you plant them, you'll never have to re-plant them.  They grow in almost all weather conditions, and as long as they get adequate sunlight you'll have to work to keep them under control!
  • Radishes: radishes grow from seed to plate in just over two months!  As long as they have warm weather, and full sun, these are easy-peasy to grow.
  • Carrots:  Small spaces are ideal for growing carrots.  There is usually more shade than sun, and these babies aren't fussy.  While they take a while to grow, once planted, very little needs to be done with them.
  • Raspberries: These berries can grow on a trellis and do well in shady areas.
But what about tomatoes?  Tomatoes, although a staple in every garden, aren't that easy to grow.  They require some care, full sun, and warm temperatures.  In fact, if nighttime temperatures get too cool, the plants will bolt (flower) and they will stop producing fruit.  However, for any small space garden, I recommend a small variety of tomato like grape or cherry tomatoes!

When you find yourself asking, "What should I grow?"  the answer is simple.  Grow what you like.  If you're a stickler for rules, by all means, follow the Zone Hardiness and Heat Zone maps.  However if you like something that isn't congruent with your zones, plant it and see what happens.  That is, afterall, what beginner gardening is all about.  Try it and see what happens, then if necessary, make adjustments next year.

Journal Ideas!

  • What is your area's hardiness zone?
  • What is your area's heat zone?
  • What crops did you decide to plant?
  • Why are you planting them?  Because they'll grow, or because you like them?
  • Are you going to experiment and plant anything that falls outsize of your H-Zones?

Sowing Seeds

I think when most people think about starting a garden, their thought process is simple, "Grab some seeds, put them in the ground, and let them grow."  The process of planting seeds in soil is technically called sowing

There are two different methods of sowing.  Open field sowing refers to the form of sowing used historically in agriculture where fields are prepared, and then directly sown with seeds.  Because I don't have a field, and this blog is geared mostly towards people with "backyard" gardens, I won't be dealing much with open field sowing, or large scale gardening.

The second method of sowing seeds is called Hand sowing.  Traditionally, hand sowing refers to the process of casting hand fulls of seeds into prepared ground.  We are going to talk more about hand sowing, but on a smaller scale.

If you are starting a garden without seeds and have starts, or transplants, please click here to visit that page.

Most home gardeners start their fruits and vegetables from seeds.  This method is much less expensive than buying transplants, and can be very rewarding.  Typically, depending on your area's last frost date, you will want to start your seedlings by sowing them indoors or in a greenhouse. 

Materials Needed:
  • Peat pots or other seed starting trays or your garden bed
  • Your Garden Design
  • Seed starting mix or homemade soil
  • Seeds
  • Plant markers
  • Spray bottle 
There are such items like seed depositors, heat mats, or grow lights that you can also purchase, but they aren't necessary.  Unless you are a serious gardener, I wouldn't suggest spending more money than you have to, and even then I would only recommend the grow lights.

Seed Starting Indoors 
  1. To start your seeds indoors, fill your peat pots, or other small containers with seed starting mix or homemade soil. 
  2. Check the back of the the seed packet for each crops "seed sowing depth."  This is how deep you will need to plant your seed.  Typically these depths range from about ¼" to ½".  Using your pinky finger, poke a whole in the soil the length of your pinky nail for a ¼" hole.  For ½", go up to the knuckle closest to your pinky nail.
  3. Drop between 2-3 seeds in each hole. 
  4. Spray the seeds a few times with the spray bottle. 
  5. Cover the hole with some more soil, and gently pat it down.
  6. Gently water being careful not to wash your seeds away
  7. Place next to a sunny window, or under fluorescent lights
Direct Sowing
Depending on what you are sowing, and where you live, you may be able to sow your seeds directly into your garden bed.  For our backyard gardens, I strongly recommend using the Square Foot Gardening Method.  Here is where your garden design plan will come in handy. 

Check your Square Foot Spacing Chart to see how many plants will fit into each square foot (hopefully you tied these off when you built your bed).  If your crop is not listed, follow these guidelines found on the back of your seed packet:
  • 12" spacing - 1 per square
  • 6" spacing - 4 per square
  • 4" spacing -  9 per square
  • 3"  or less - 16 per square

  1. Now that you'll know how many you need, poke holes about 1" deep into the soil
  2. Drop 2-3 seeds in each hole
  3. Spray the seeds with a spray bottle
  4. Cover the hole with some more soil, and gently pat it down
  5. Gently water each square, being careful not to wash away any seeds!
Put the rest of your seed packet into a Ziploc bag, and label it with a permanent marker.  Store it in a cool, dry place.  Also, don't forget to mark your newly planted seeds with garden markers!  They all look the same in the cups, covered with soil, and it can be easy to loose track of what is what.  You can buy garden markers at the store, but I was surprised at how expensive they can be.  I'd suggest using Popsicle sticks, or even using the seed packet stapled to a Popsicle stick (be sure to cover this with a Ziploc bag, the sun and water will remove the ink from the packet).

Keep in mind that as your seedlings come in and begin to grow, you may need to thin out the seedlings.  The process of thinning is essentially cutting out certain plants to ensure the survival of others.  This is tough on some gardeners- they work so hard to grow their plants only to cut them down- but it is necessary.  Because you plant 2-3 seeds in each hole, there is a chance that more than just one will sprout and grow.  Without thinning, these plants will fight for water, nutrients and space, and they may not survive.  Wherever there are seedlings that are really close together, just some scissors and cut their stems as close to the soil a possible. 

Journal Ideas!

Lastly, if you haven't done it already, now is a good time to start your garden journal!  Decide if you're going to record things chronologically or by plant.  Some things to include in today's journal entry are:
  • The date
  • What you sowed
  • Why you planted that particular crop
  • A history or fun facts about it
  • Information from the seed packet or just put the seed packet in your journal
  • What you put the seeds in (direct sow or small pots)
  • What kind soil you used (brand, home made, or mixture)
  • The weather/temperature
  • Take some pictures using your date stamp function in case you don't upload them right away
  • Draw pictures 
If you have any seeds that haven't sprouted after about 15 days, you should probably re-plant them.

My 2011 Garden


There is a lot of information on this blog, and I encourage everyone to read and learn as much as they can.  I know there are some readers out there who aren't newbie gardeners and so for them, I have created this page.  This is my quick reference link to everything that is growing on in my garden.  My triumphs, my fails, and basically just a look into my garden journal.  Enjoy!

The Sequence of Events

I Started a Garden
My Garden Design
4.18.11 Update: I've Got Sprouts!
My Raised Garden Bed
Planting Day
You Are Going to Fail
The First Fruits (of my labor)
6.17.11 Update: What's Growing On
30 Minutes Every Day
6.26.11 Update: A Lovely Surprise

Growth Charts (Click photo to enlarge)





{Bell Pepper Sprout}
Many people live in areas where they don't have growing seasons that are long enough to grow from seed to fruit.  For them I would suggest transplanting!  Transplanting involves starting seeds indoors or purchasing a plant at the store.  Once the plant develops four true leaves, it is ready to be put into the ground. 
{Bell Pepper w/ True Leaves}

If your plant has, up to this point, only experienced artificial grow lights, it will need some time to adjust before being put in the full sun.  Taking a relatively new seedling and plopping it into your garden bed will "sunburn" and kill the plant.  The stems are also not used to strong winds, and will need time to strengthen themselves before becoming accustomed to it. 
About two weeks before you wish to transplant, start taking your plants outdoors for a little "visit."  For the first few visits, keep them in full shade and leave them for about an hour or so.  Gradually introduce them to sunlight and increase the amount of time they spend out doors and the amount of sunlight they get.  This process is called "hardening off."  After about two weeks they are ready for their new life in your garden bed. 

Here's what you'll need to get started:
Items with a * are optional
The Transplanting Process
  1. The day before you transplant your plants, give them a good watering so that they will be well hydrated and able to tolerate the transplanting process. 
  2. Transplant on an overcast day or in the evening hours.  This way the plant is able to concentrate on setting it's roots before it has to worry about eating, and growing and the overall process of photosynthesis.
  3. Water the plant immediately before digging or removing from its pot. Soak the root ball so that the soil will adhere to the roots, when it is dug from the garden.
  4. Do not leave the roots exposed to sun, heat or wind and don't remove all plants from their pots and place them in the garden. Remove just prior to planting.
  5. Water the hole before you place the transplant into it.
  6. *Optional Step* Following the instructions on the bag, add some rock dust minerals to the bottom of the hole.
  7. *Optional Step* Following the instructions on the bag, add some mycorrhizae to the bottom of the hole.
  8. Place the transplant into the hole and fill it halfway with water. Allow the water to settle the soil around the roots and then finish filling the hole.
  9. Lightly firm the soil around the transplant.
  10. Once again, water the whole plant, leaves and all.

Check the plant daily for the first couple of weeks. Transplants will need watering every day, if not more. If it is wilting, water the plant. Depending on the weather and the plant, you may need to water twice a day until it becomes established. The larger the plant and/or the less roots to top growth ratio, the more water will be needed.

You will notice that the leaves of your transplants will begin to change.  Prior to transplanting, the leaves on your plant were probably larger and flatter.  This was so they could absorb more of the artificial light indoors.  After transplanting, the leaves will become smaller, and slightly curly.

Journal Ideas!
  • Did you decide to sow your seeds directly into your garden bed, or did you transplant? 
  • When did your seedlings develop their first set true leaves? 
  • When they develop four sets of true leaves?
  • How long did you allow for your plants to harden? 
  • How tall were were your plants when you transplanted them? 
  • Did you use rock dust minerals or mycorrhizae? 
  • Where did you purchase these items and how much did you pay for them? 
  • As always, take pictures!

Common Vegetable Fungi

...Coming Soon...

Your Garden Plan


...Coming Soon...


Once you learn about the wonderful world that is compost, regular soil will never again be good enough for you...

What is Compost?  Isn't it just garbage?

Kind of.  Compost is a mixture of decaying organic matter, water and soil that is used to improve soil structure and supply the nutrients that plants need to grow.

Think of it as “concentrated nature”…

In order to make healthy soil that allows plants, trees and grasses to thrive, nature has come up with a complicated and perfect cycle. When plants and animals die, they, along with their excrement, are slowly decomposed by a combination of microorganisms, oxygen, water and heat. The smaller and smaller the decomposed plants, animals and animal waste (i.e. manure) become, the more they blend with the earth beneath them.

Once the plants, animals, animal waste and grasses have completely decomposed into the soil, they actually become the soil. The ground where the dead plants, animals and excrement once lay is now rich in organic matter, and any plant, grass or tree that sprouts on that spot will be able to use the healthier, more nutrient-rich soil to grow into an even stronger plant, tree or grass.

Composting simply speeds up this process to create the “perfect soil” for growing anything, also known as “garden gold”.

Why is Compost Important for my Garden?

By creating conditions that closely mirror the natural cycle, gardeners can create nutrient-rich soil relatively quickly that is superior to “regular” soil in many ways, including:
  • More stable soil pH
  • Better able to retain water
  • Encourages colonization of “good” organisms by being a better source of food and by being more easily aerated
The end result for the gardener is a crop that is more nutrient-rich, has a better ability to fight off pests and disease and is healthier to eat.  The process of creating compost can take one of two paths: the hot pile path or the cold pile path.

Hot vs. Cold Piles, What's the Difference? 

There are two types of composting piles: hot piles and cold piles. Hot piles get their name from being… well… hotter than cold piles. 140° to 160°F (60° to 71°C) to be exact compared to the cold pile which ranges from 70° to 90°F (21° to 32°C).
Before we dive further into their differences, let’s discuss their similarities. Both hot and cold compost piles require…
  • Nitrogen-rich or “green” ingredients such as kitchen scraps, grass clippings, or even weeds.
  • Carbon-rich or “brown” ingredients such as straw, hay or leaves that have been chopped down to no more than 2 inches (5.1 cm) in length.
  • Soil or compost – your pile of compost is nothing without the organisms that will break it down. Since the organisms live in soil or compost, you’ll need to add some to your piles to get the decomposition started.
  • Air – There are good and bad organisms that can feed off of your pile… the good ones need oxygen and the bad ones don’t. The right amount of oxygen can be infused in several ways, including adding a layer of un-chopped straw to the bottom of your pile, turning the piles periodically or adding ventilation to larger piles. Any ingredients that can easily stick together and keep out air (such as leaves) should only be added to your piles in thin layers.
  • Water – The good composting organisms also need the right amount of water to do their job… moist but not soggy. An often-used analogy is this: your compost should be about as moist as a wrung-out sponge. If you squeeze your compost and a few drops of water come out, that’s good. If you squeeze it and water streams down your hand, you’ve added too much (this can be remedied by adding more dry browns).
  • Protection from the elements – To prevent over-watering by rain or the scattering of your piles by wind or animals, you’ll need to protect your piles. Composting bins, enclosures, tarps and plastic sheets are most commonly used.
  • Avoiding the wrong ingredients – the wrong ingredients could add disease or other harmful ingredients to your compost and therefore to your crops. Keep the following OUT of your composting piles:
    • Ashes (other than burned plants)
    • Dairy products
    • Diseased plants
    • Dog or cat manure
    • Lawn clippings from yards treated with chemicals
    • Manure from feedlots
    • Meat products
    • Roots of weeds (weeds above the roots are okay)
    • Weeds that have “gone to seed” (when plants produce seeds after flowering)
Now let’s get back to the differences…

In order to get up to the higher temperatures, hot compost piles must be built all at once rather than gradually over time. One of the upsides to the harder work involved when creating hot piles is the speed at which your compost will be ready. While cold pile composting usually takes at least a year to be ready for garden use, hot piles can be ready in as soon as two or three months.

Hot piles are also much better at killing weed seeds, something that a cold pile does not do. In addition, hot piles do a much better job at killing any disease-causing organisms than cold piles.  But don’t let these positives keep you from starting a cold pile which has one big benefit over its warmer brother: a waste-reducing outlet for your kitchen scraps and yard waste that still yields healthy, nutrient-rich compost.

Here's a side by side comparison to make things simpler:

 Recommended Equipment

The hardest part of making compost is done for you by the organisms living in and breaking down your compost ingredients. These tools will help them do their job the most efficiently and productively:
  1. Compost bins for hot piles should be at least 3 X 3 X 3 ft.  If they’re 4 ft. (1.2 m) or larger on the sides they should have ventilation slats. Cold pile compost bins should fit your lifestyle – the fewer greens you’ll have, the smaller the bin can be.
    • In regard to bin size, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, none of which are necessarily better than others. Just be sure that it’s sturdy (all that compost will eventually be compacted into soil, so ask yourself: could this thing keep its integrity if it were full of soil?). Beyond sturdiness, choose one based on your aesthetic tastes and your desired features (ventilation for bigger piles, easy-entry feature for turning and fluffing, etc.).
  2. Watering hose or can for keeping your piles moist.
  3. Chopping tool to break down the ingredients for easier composting, such as a lawn mower (easiest, especially if it has an attached bag for the clippings), garden shears, a machete or a shredder. Remember, the more finely your ingredients are chopped, the more quickly they will compost…but don’t forget to layer, turn and/or ventilate your pile to keep the bad organisms out!
  4. Pitchfork or manure fork for turning and fluffing.
  5. Compost thermometer so you know when your pile is ready to be turned, when any problems arise and when your compost is ready. Choose a thermometer with a longer probe that allows you to reach deeper into the pile.
Depending on the type of piles you have, you may also need the following:
  1. Activators jump-start your compost by adding the right amount of microorganisms for perfect composting. They should be used if you lack healthy soil or compost to add to your piles.
  2. Nylon tarp or black plastic for “open air” composting to reduce evaporation and keep rain out. If you use a plastic tarp, go with heat-absorbing black rather than heat-repelling white which could cool your pile below the desirable range.

Potential Composting Problems, What Could Go Wrong?

Good compost doesn’t always arrive without its share of difficulties along the way. Assuming you followed all of our advice above (pile is protected from the elements, right pile size, right ratio of browns to greens, right amount of soil, compost or activator, ingredients broken down into small pieces), there are still some things that can go wrong.  Here’s what to look out for and how to address each problem:
  • The temperature is not right – it either needs more moisture (add water) or more air (turn and fluff, bringing inside material to the outside). If the temperature drops steadily and the pile has the right amount of air and water, your compost may be done!
  • It smells bad – your pile shouldn’t smell bad while it’s decomposing, only for a few days after kitchen scraps are added. If it starts emitting a rank odor, you need to make some adjustments:
    • It's too wet (again, wetter than a wrung-out sponge) – add dry browns
    • It needs air – turn pile inside-out and fluff
    • It smells like ammonia – add browns, turn pile inside-out and fluff
    • Be sure you’ve got a healthy proportion of browns to greens (ratio of between 8 to 1 and 5 to 1)
Bottom Line:

Long story short, finished compost from both hot and cold piles will be extremely beneficial for your garden… there is no safer, healthier or cheaper way to get your garden to thrive. Whichever pile you choose, you’ll be happy with the outcome.

If you’re new to composting and aren’t in the mood to over-achieve, start making your own compost with a cold pile - also known as "easy composting" - and supplement your needs with pre-made compost.  Graduate to hot pile composting when you feel ready.

In your garden journal, write if you decided to use store bough compost, or if you made your own. 
  • Did you use the hot pile method, or the cold pile method? 
  • What kinds of things did you add to your compost pile? 
  • Did you use an activator? 
  • Take some before and after pictures of the things you put into your compost pile and later, add some pictures of the final product.

Journal Ideas!

  • Are you planning on using compost in your garden?
  • Are you going to make it or buy it?
  • What brand did you purchase?
  • Are you using a hot pile or cold pile?
  • Do you have a compost bin?
  • Did you make it or buy it?
  • What material(s) is it made out of?

Custom Garden Guide

... Coming Soon...

Glossary of Terms

When I first started learning about gardening, it seemed like there were a lot of terms being thrown around that I didn't know.  Here, I'll keep a working list of terms I use throughout the blog that you may not know. If you have any other terms you'd like me to add, please feel free to let me know!



Annuals:  An annual plant is a plant that germinates, fruits, flowers and dies in one growing season. 


Bolt or BoltingBolting is a term that basically means "getting ready to flower," or even "flowering prematurely." 



Hardening Off:  The process of gradually introducing seedlings sown indoors to sunlight and outside weather.

Hardiness Zone: is a geographically defined area in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone.

Hardiness:  describes the  plant's ability to survive diverse growing conditions.  It is usually limited to climactic adversity, and thus a plant's ability to tolerate cold, heat, drought, wind, flooding or even disease.  The hardiness of plants is often a result of their natural growing zone or hardiness zoneHardiness of a plant is usually divided into three categories: tender, half-hardy, and hardy. Tender plants are those killed by freezing temperatures, while hardy plants survive freezing—at least down to certain temperatures, depending on the plant.

Heat Zone:  The 12 zones of the map indicate the average number of days each year that a given region experiences "heat days"-temperatures over 86°F; the point at which the plant begins to suffer physiological damage.  Zone 1 consists of areas with less than 1 heat day per year, and Zone 12 areas experience more than 210 heat days




Perennial:  A perennial plant is one that survives for more than two years.  The term specifically refers to winter hardy herbaceous plants.  (For more click here)


Sow or Sowing: The process of planting seeds. 

Transplant:  or replanting is the technique of moving a plant from one location to another. Most often this takes the form of starting a plant from seed in optimal conditions, such as in a greenhouse or protected nursery bed then replanting it in another, usually outdoor, growing location.

True Leaves:  When seedlings sprout, often there are two-sets of leaves that form first. They look almost four-leaf clover like. A few days later a third single leaf will emerge that doesn’t look like the first two. That’s the first true leaf.  Once four true leaves emerge that is usually when you can start fertilizing, transplanting, thinning or doing whatever else you are going to do.


What Should You Grow?

...Coming Soon...

The Square Foot Gardening Method

On this website I talk a lot about "square foot gardening."  Many people who aren't familiar with gardening don't know that there is a method apart from traditional gardening.  Before I started my garden, when I thought if "gardening" I thought of clearing away some dirt in my yard, digging trenches and putting seeds in them.  If anything grew, great!  However, I didn't plan on anything growing in our tough desert soil.  It wasn't until I went to the Las Vegas Springs Preserve for the first time that I realized I could grow food in Las Vegas... I could grow lots of food that I never thought would grow here!

After spending some time with one of the preserves' master gardeners, I found that because our native soil is similar to hardened clay, growing in the ground would be a lot of work.  He taught me about the use of raised beds and the square foot gardening method.

The Method

Square foot gardening is a method used to plant small but intensely planted gardens.  Popularized by Mel Bartholomew in the 1980's, the practice combines traditional organic gardening methods such as: a strong focus on compost, implementing a raised garden bed, vertical growing, with attention to a small, clearly defined area.  This method is well suited for gardeners who live in areas with poor soil, beginners or those with disabilities.

Each open-bottomed, raised bed is sectioned off into a grid of "square foot" sections.  Each square is then planted with a different kind of plant, the number of which is determined by the plant's size.  Gardeners are encouraged to fill the squares and grow vertically (using trellises) to obtain maximum productivity

For example I could plant green beans which are grown vertically.  In that same square I might plant spinach- which stays low to the ground, and needs shade (provided by the beans). Then, I might line the borders of the square with marigolds or other edible flowers which provide nutrients to the soil, create visual interest and act as natural pesticides.  For the purposes of this blog however, I'm going to stick with teaching about one plant type per square.

Benefits of the Square Foot Garden Method

  • Less Work: Traditional gardening requires heavy tools to loosen the soil, whereas in this method, the soil is never compacted. Harvests are increased due to the rich soil mixture, well-spaced plants, and lack of weeds.
  • Water Savings:  The soil mixture that is advised has water-holding capacities, so that the garden needs water less frequently, and in much smaller quantities than when using other gardening methods.  The raised bed also allowes for good drainage, while retaining sufficient amounts of water for the plant's survival.
  • No Weeding: Close planting causes the vegetables form a living mulch, and shade out many weed seeds before they have a chance to germinate
  • Organic:Natural insect repellent methods like companion planting become very efficient in a close space and so pesticides are not necessary. The large variety of crops in a small space also prevents plant diseases from spreading easily
  • Accessibility: The logic behind using smaller beds is that they are easily adapted, and the gardener can easily reach the entire area, without stepping on and compacting the soil. It is also recommended that 2-3 feet of space be left on either side of the box so the gardener can easily reach the inside of the bed, standing or kneeling.
  • Covers & Cages: Because beds are small, it is very easy to add things like shade cloth, and winterizing cloths or cold boxes to protect the soil and plants year round.
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