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Gardening By the Square Foot....Saving Water, Money & Time

It's June, and gardeners are already beginning to enjoy the fruits of their labor with fresh fruit and veggies from their own gardens. We wanted to explore ways to practice water conservation when gardening. One of the most effective ways is gardening by the square foot. Listed below are 9 very convincing reasons why even the most experienced gardener should consider this simple approach.

1. Saves Space: Square foot gardening boxes grow 100% of veggies grown the traditional way in only 20% of the space.

2. Saves Water: Instead of shocking young plants with icy hose water, you water square foot garden plants with ladles of sun-warmed water from buckets or rain barrels. In the end, you use about 10% of the water you’d spray on a traditional garden.

3. Saves Money on Gardening Tools: Since you never walk upon and pack down square foot gardening soil, you don’t need hoes, spades, or rakes to break it up. All you need is a hand trowel to mix the soil and a pair of scissors to cut greens.

4. No Walking: You can place square foot gardening boxes anywhere there’s sun — outside your back door, on patios, and on decks. The closer the boxes are to your kitchen, the more you’ll tend and harvest produce.

5. No Bending and Reaching: Square foot gardening boxes typically are 4-by-4-foot square because Bartholomew figured adults can comfortably reach 2 feet. Gardeners can walk around their boxes, tending veggies without ever overreaching. If bending is a problem, build boxes on legs or rest them on a card table.

6. No Weeding: Most weeds come from seeds or spores buried in soil. Square foot gardening soil, however, uses a 6-inch-deep mixture of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 coarse vermiculite, and 1/3 blended compost made with at least five different sources — leaves, manure, food scraps, coffee grinds, and eggshells. If a wayward seed does blow into a planting box, you can easily pluck it from loose soil.

7. Uses Fewer Seeds: Traditional gardeners sprinkle seeds around, and then thin seedlings. Square foot gardeners plant seeds and seedlings according to a precise plant-spacing formula: 1 tomato seedling per sq. ft, 16 onions, 8 peas, 4 celery, and so on. The formula eliminates guesswork and stretches a pack of seeds much further.

8. Raises Little Gardeners: Kids love to play in dirt and watch things grow. Square foot gardening lets them do both, without the tedious chore of weeding. As a bonus, kids are more likely to eat vegetables they’ve grown themselves.

9. Raises Rolling Crops: After you harvest 1 square foot of veggies, throw in a handful of compost and plant a different crop in the bare square. That way, you’ll have a steady supply of greens throughout fall or until the first frost, whichever comes first.

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Gardening Infographic