Go Organic: Square foot gardeningBy James Ashford
March 18, 2011
I’m always keen to get more people growing their own fruit and vegetables. Organically, of course.
And I think there is some evidence that more people are taking it up.
Sales of vegetable seeds now exceed those for flowers, and allotments have long waiting lists.
The two biggest obstacles most new gardeners face are space and time.
People living in modern houses often have tiny gardens and the vegetables have to compete for space with patios for parents and lawns for kids.
You can grow quite a lot of plants in containers. Tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and the salad crops do very well but containers need constant watering and in a long hot summer it can become quite a chore.
If you are lucky enough to have space to play with you may well find yourself stretched to find the time to maintain it.
Once a vegetable garden is well established maintaining it becomes easier, but in those first few years a lot of hard graft is required to get it into shape.
One solution to both problems is square foot gardening.
It has come to us from America and is an excellent introduction to vegetable growing for those of us with little time or space to spare.
The idea is to take a square yard of ground and divide it into nine square feet, rather like a noughts and crosses board.
Each square foot is used to grow a different type of vegetable so that you get a good selection of delicious nosh.
This will give you a space which is small enough to manage but big enough to give you something worthwhile to eat.
You could grow a single courgette in one square, a few beetroot in another, some cabbage in the third and so on.
Lettuce, French and runner beans, peas, sweetcorn, carrots and shallots can all be grown this way. As you harvest each plant, replace it with another.
Choose varieties which are naturally small and harvest them young when they taste their best.
And because the plot is tiny it can be managed with very little time or effort.