Hey friend, do you know how to build a square foot garden? Assuming you can’t, are you interested in learning it? If yes, then you have come to the right place and at the right time. With the prices of foodstuffs increasing now and then, thanks to our economy, having your garden can save you a lot of cash.
Now here is a quick summary of how you can build a square foot garden. Choose your location, plan, build the boxes, position the boxes, get some mixes into them, place the grid, choose ideal spacing, plant your crop, water and wait for maturity to start harvesting. These are the simple steps which you need to follow. I also discussed each step listed here in details. You can read further to get the right information you seek to get your garden started.
Alright, we have just touched a few things you need to know. There’s still more you can learn. So read on to get more information about building a square foot garden.
Here’s an infographic to look the required steps at a glance: Details are given below as well.
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How To Build A Square Foot Garden: The Easy Steps To Follow
Alright, let’s talk about the various steps required to construct a perfect square foot garden. By perfect, I mean doing it neatly and according to the required specifications.
So, if you are interested in making this happen, then join me. Let’s get down to business right away.
Step #1 – Choose the ideal location
I understand the urge to get your garden started without hesitation. I do! But still, I will advise you don’t start until you have the location sorted out.
The ideal location since you are growing a vegetable will be a piece of land or space that receives an ample supply of sunlight. At least, about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight is fair enough.
The garden should also be close to your home, not far away. It’s a small garden, and the last thing you want is to spend time and money moving from home to where your garden is.
The location should also be free of shrubs and trees that can prevent sunlight from getting to your crop. Next is regarding moisture. Ensure the land isn’t prone to excess moisture, as this can be a huge setback. It can negatively affect productivity.
Step #2 – Plan your garden
Planning is critical in everything one does. When you plan well, you can achieve your targeted goals without stress. So get started with your plan. But ensure to think in squares, say 4 by 4-foot squares.
Now for those interested in building more than one square foot garden, I employ you to consider including aisles. The idea is to be able to perform the needed maintenance on your crops without destroying them.
Step #3 – Build the garden boxes
Alright, enough of the planning; now is the time to get the boxes ready. But please, and please, make sure you are not using any treated wood, check properly.
The problem with treated wood is that they contain chemicals that can get into the soil and crop. Remember, it’s something you are going to eat. So, you have to be extremely careful.
With this in mind, you can visit any lumber yard to get your preferred wood. Cut to 2 by 6 or 1 by 6 foot, whatever size you prefer. You can ask them to cut it to size for you. Most of them do so for free or a meager amount.
Once you get to your destination, arrange the woods to form boxes. Then secure the corners of the boxes with deck screws. Check properly to ensure there are no loose ends.
Step #4 – position the boxes
Your first move should be to weed the ground properly. Then carry the boxes and place them where you think is ideal. Most gardeners prefer placing cardboard underneath the boxes.
The main reason for putting pieces of cardboard underneath the newly formed boxes is to kill grasses. They will also help to take care of weeds in the long run.
Step #5 – Get some mixture in the boxes
So now that you have your boxes made and positioned, the next step would be to fill them up with soil mixture. The mixture is what will help to nourish and cause your crops to grow. So it’s equally an important aspect of your square foot garden you shouldn’t neglect.
I would suggest you get 1/3 of peat moss, compost, and vermiculite. And make sure the mix is of organic varieties too. However, if you have compost you made and wish to use, then you are free to use that.
But peat moss and vermiculite are still important even if you wish to use personally made compost. These mixes will help to keep the soil well aerated and retain moisture too.
Step #6 – Place the grid
The next step is to create your grid. It’s what will form that one-foot square in the frame you made. And when placed and secured correctly, the grid can make managing the garden a breeze. It makes the garden organized and attractive, I must say.
You can use any material you deem fit to create your grid. Some examples include plastic strings, nylon rope, or wood. Anything is useful when it comes to creating grids.
Once appropriately placed on top of the frame, use rivets or crews to secure the grids. Ensure this is done at every point where the strip intersects and to attach the grid to the frame.
Step #7 – Plan and decide the spacing of the crop
What crop’s mature size is would determine the number of crops to plant per square foot. You can plant 1, 4, 9, or even 16. But in a nutshell, you need to consider using the right spacing for higher yield.
You will see the recommended spacing on the seed packet. Just check properly. If you find a recommended spacing of 12 inches apart, then you have to grow 1 plant per grid box.
But if the spacing for that crop is 6 inches, then you can go with 4. That’s what you should consider.
Step #8 – Start planting
It’s time to start planting. At this point, ensure the seed is close by and make a hole in any of the boxes with your finger. Then place the seed and cover with soil.
Warning: Ensure you don’t burry the seeds in the ground completely. Doing so will make it difficult for water and air to penetrate.
Step #9: Get some water for your plant
Plants need water to grow. So, you have to ensure they receive a good amount of water and ensure that you do some watering after planting. I would recommend you use slightly warm water. It warms the soil and can help to promote the growth of your crops. I will also encourage you to water with hand since the garden is small.
Step #10 – Harvest your plants
It’s time for harvest, a time you have been looking forward to for days. The good thing about growing vegetables is that one can harvest for days continuously.
But make sure that the crop is mature before you start harvesting anyway.
Step #11 – Prepare the garden
Once you are done harvesting the crops and have removed them from the garden, then you can start preparing your garden for the next plant.
Just dig out the roots of the precious plant from the soil and get the debris off as well. Next, add your compost and plant your new seeds. That’s it.
Cost Of Building A Square Foot Garden
Alright, so you want to know how much it would cost to create your square foot garden. That’s a wise decision if you ask me. The price can be affected by certain factors that I am going to elaborate on shortly.
But believe me, the cost isn’t something that will give you a scare. Square foot gardens are quite budget-friendly, unless you want to create two or more in the available space. But, the reason they cost less is because of the size.
Maintenance also costs less because you are not paying for labor or using expensive machines to prepare the soil, plant, or harvest your crops.
So, let’s go over the factors that can affect the cost of building a square foot garden.
1. Materials you intend using
You are going to spend money to purchase materials for your garden. Some of them include untreated lumber, twisted nylon lines, wood screws, and so on.
However, if you have some of the materials you need, you can continue with them. And this will significantly reduce your expenses.
You can get sheet plywood from your friends or neighbors who just completed their home improvement project. Look around, and you will find some sheet of plywood laying around.
2. Type of crop you wish to grow
The crop you want to plant will affect the total cost of your square foot garden building project. For example, 10 packs of strawberry plants cost around $3.98.
On the other hand, a single pack (1 pack) of ambrosia cantaloupe costs $1.57.
So, you can see the difference in price between these two plants. That’s why I said the plant you are settling for would determine your budget for the gardening project too.
But I will advise that you focus on growing plants that you need. Don’t mind the cost.
Like I said earlier, you need to use 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 peat moss as your garden soil mix.
But again, my advice to anyone looking to start a garden is to seek ways to cut down costs.
So, if you have already made compost, then consider using that. The only thing you need to consider is adding peat moss and vermiculite to your compost because of the benefits they offer.
The peat moss and vermiculite will help the soil to retain moisture and encourage better aeration. So make sure you add them to the mix.
However, most people are comfortable using the Miracle Grow garden soil. It’s quite expensive but a good soil mix for growing crops anyway. So, if you can afford it, then make a move.
Breakdown Of The Building Cost Of Square Foot Garden
Alright, let me quickly give you the breakdown cost of starting a square foot garden. My calculation covers everything, from getting the materials to planting out.
Cost #1 – 1 sheet of plywood (untreated)
The cost is $0.00. You don’t have to spend a penny to acquire the plywood. Like I earlier said, you can visit your neighbors that should complete their home improvement project.
If you are lucky, you will find some leftover plywood which you can use for your project.
Cost #2 – Lumber (untreated)
Get 2x6x8 pieces of lumber. The cost is around $7.38 dollars. And remember, you need to get the untreated one. The treated one contains chemicals that can contaminate your planting area, which is not a good thing.
Again, you can ask for the lumber to be cut to size at the local store before moving them to your final destination. Most local stores provide such services at little to no cost.
Cost #3 – wood screws (#8 x 3 inch)
The cost of this deck screw is $2.94. Ensure you get the said length so that your box will be firm.
The screws are used to connect the corners of the lumbar. But first, ensure you have your lumbar cut to the required length before you start joining them with the longer screws.
Cost #4 – wood screws (#6 x 1 inch)
These screws cost just $0.98. They aren’t that expensive. You need them for anchoring the nylon line to form a grid system. This system is basically for the typical 1 by 1 planting plot the garden would have.
Now, remember, I spoke about using cardboard underneath the fastened lumbar. Well, let me add that you can use plywood for the same purpose. The idea is to build a bottom for your container.
These sets of screws are quite useful for this task. You can use them to fasten the plywood to your 2×6’s.
Cost #5 – Twisted nylon line (1 pack)
The braided nylon line cost $4.43. However, there are other materials you can use if you don’t like to use the braided nylon line anyway.
But most people are comfortable using this. So, you can consider doing the same thing. These lines are used to make a grid on top of the container. The pattern is the same everywhere (1×1 square foot).
Cost #6 – soil mix
Like I said, the soil mix to add to your garden is 1/3 peat most, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 compost. In the absence of these soil mixes, you can opt for the Miracle Grow.
The Miracle Grow cost $13.54 and is considered one of the finest soil mixes to grow crops.
Cost #7 – buying plants for the garden
Now is the time to choose the type of plant you wish to grow in your garden. The price of each plant does differ. But as I said, don’t consider cost but the value of the plant or flower.
Here is a list of plants to consider
- Strawberry plants
- Tomato, Early & Often Hybrid
- Ambrosia Cantaloupe (exotic melon)
So, these are some of the plants you can grow in your garden. The list goes on and on! You can visit any seed company in your area or check online for a reputable seed company to order your seed of choice.
What Does Square Foot Gardening Mean?
You have been hearing people talk about square foot gardening. Wait a minute; what could that be? Is it a garden that is a square foot wide or what? Well, allow me to clear your doubts and set you on the right path.
The square foot gardening is a simple garden anyone can set-up. When I say simple, I mean it doesn’t take much time or effort to get the garden ready.
The square foot gardening involves building a small-sized but orderly kitchen garden. And really, the size is small, but it can give you some high yield.
Who Invented This Square Foot Garden System?
Honestly, this gardening idea is unique. It was also created way back in the 1980s.
All accolades will go to Mel Bartholomew. He is the pioneer and inventor of this great gardening idea. Mel was a retired engineer and a well-known efficiency expert.
The square foot gardening idea came into practice precisely in 1981. And at that time, the method became a hit. The idea was to introduce to people a better way to grow a vegetable in a limited space.
What’s The Concept Of The Square Foot Garden?
Well, the concept of this gardening idea is quite simple. I already mentioned that it’s a breeze to create such gardens, so you do not need to worry.
Now here is the concept. First, you have to choose your space. Remember, it’s a garden, so make sure it’s not somewhere you dispose of dirt or used engine oil.
The soil should also be conducive to planting. Now with everyone set, start by creating a small-sized garden bed. The size can be 4 by 4 or 4 by 8 in feet.
So, after creating this bed, your next move should be to divide it. Share them into grids measuring 1-foot squares. Then get your vegetable seeds ready for planting and start planting. Remember, you can plant seeds or seedlings, including any vegetable of interest.
Is Building A Square Foot Garden Worth It?
Let me guess; you are probably thinking if investing your time and energy in creating a square foot garden is worth it. I get it. If I were in your shoes, I would have had the same thought.
A lot of people have this notion that farming is labor and capital intensive. And frankly speaking, it’s the truth.
So, if you want to know if building a square foot garden is a waste of time, I will tell you it’s not.
Here Are The Reasons For Building A Square Foot Garden Is Worth It A Thousand Times.
Your square foot garden can give you a high yield. Isn’t that something you have always wanted? This garden type involves intensive planting. And as a result, you will likely harvest more crops in a limited space.
I will also like to add that this type of gardening doesn’t require much space. You can use the available space in your yard comfortably and get good returns. Isn’t that lovely?
You will have home-grown vegetables, which you can harvest whenever you please. With this kind of thing, you will have plants to harvest anytime and save money.
Being in good health is essential. So, since you grew the crops, you can decide if you want to go completely organic or the other way around.
The fast set-up of a square foot garden is incredible. No, it does not take much time to get this type of garden up and running. So, if you are nursing the idea of starting a new garden, then you are on the right path.
You can also use the new method of making use of a raised bed that’s filled with a soilless mix. It’s an incredible way to grow garden crops, particularly a square foot garden.
A Good Idea For First-Time Gardeners
I will like to say starting a square foot garden is a wise decision for the first time or wannabe gardeners. You will learn a lot of things from this small garden which you can apply to a bigger one.
You can also place the raised bed where you want, either on a pavement or over grasses. So, literarily, you can start building, filling, and planting in a few hours when dealing with a square foot garden.
No, it takes less effort to get such gardens set and functioning. One of the reasons is the preparation it involves. You don’t need to prepare the paths, just the planting area. That’s it.
Now let’s talk about maintenance. It’s one of the things that make these types of gardens a wise choice. The idea is you are dealing with a smaller space, and so everything is simple – these include the planting, maintaining the garden, and harvesting your crops.
Weed is not always a problem for those who use the soilless mix. Even if you didn’t, weed maintenance would still be easy given the size of the garden.
So, these are the reasons or things that make the square foot garden worth it. So, if you are thinking of building one, please don’t hesitate. Continue with your plans. You should also continue reading this article for more ideas.
The Challenges With Building A Square Foot Garden
In as much as I would love to encourage those interested in building a square foot garden to continue with their plans, I will like to make known some drawbacks that they must consider.
However, one of the challenges that a square foot garden has is watering. You have to water the plans now and then. The problem is that raised beds tend to dry out faster. And you don’t want that to happen because it can be challenging to re-wet the soil.
So, during the scorching heat of summary periods, you have to water your crops regularly. That said, an easy solution to such problems is to use torn newspapers or organic mulch to mulch the soil. Mulching helps to conserve moisture, so it is a wise choice.
Another thing you can consider to solve the watering problem is to install soaker hoses or consider using a drip irrigation system.
The second challenge I would like to point out is regarding the investment needed. If you are thinking of creating a raised bed and filling it up with soilless mix, then you had better be ready to splash the cash. But if you intend to spend less, then consider building in-ground beds. It cost less money to get this up compared to using a soilless mix.
The third challenge I will like to point out is about maintenance. Since the crops are planted so densely, weed might be a pain in the neck. The only advice I will offer here is to remove weeds before they mature. You can do it twice weekly or as often as you can.
So now you know how to build a square foot garden. Like I said before, it’s an easy task. This sort of garden doesn’t need much space. You can also expand yours if you please. But the point is running this type of garden has numerous advantages. So start your garden today. Follow the steps highlighted in this post, and you will be fine with the whole process.