Learn how to use advanced methods with square foot gardening to grow abundant organic fruit and year-round vegetables from small raised garden beds!
Whether you just want a fresh salad every day, or you would like to grow most of the fruits and vegetables that you eat year-round, square foot gardening can make it possible!
- Harvest 2-4 pounds (sometimes even 6 pounds!) of vegetables per square foot of garden bed per year.
- Design and grow your own mini fruit garden – including tiny 4-6 foot-high fruit trees.
- Harvest fresh vegetables 12 months a year using simple cold frames and row cover.
- Save hundreds of dollars on your grocery bill.
- Grow nutritious, organic food free from pesticides.
My name is Debra Graff, and I have gardened for over 30 years. I am passionate about growing most of my own fresh fruit and year-round vegetables, and I love teaching other people how they can do it, too. I have a degree in organic agriculture, taught vegetable gardening to local Master Gardeners, and was an adjunct assistant professor on organic gardening at a local community college.
Mel Bartholomew developed square foot gardening in the early 1980s. Square foot gardening is a method of growing vegetables in very small raised garden beds. It is easy to learn and use, and will work well in most locations and climates.
Square foot gardening can be incredibly productive, often producing 2-4 pounds of vegetables per square foot of bed per year. You do this by:
- creating deep fertile soil rich in organic matter,
- planting the vegetables close together in the garden beds,
- growing 2 or 3 crops per year in each bed,
- growing larger plants vertically on trellises, and
- extending the gardening season throughout the winter with the use of simple unheated cold frames.
You can create these raised garden beds in many sizes and shapes, but an easy-to-use size is 4 feet by 4 feet – a total of just 16 square feet. You can fit this size garden bed in the smallest backyard, and it is very easy to take care of. Sixteen square feet can produce 30-60 pounds of food in one year, with a value ranging from $30 to well over $100. I have occasionally raised nearly 100 pounds of vegetables in just one 4′ x 4′ bed in one year.
I have used many types of gardening methods over the years and, in my experience, square foot gardening is the easiest one to use and offers the most benefits. Read Why Use Square Foot Gardening? to learn more about why I now use this method after nearly 30 years of using other gardening methods.
Many gardeners, including myself, have made changes to the “official” square foot gardening method. I don’t always follow Mel’s original recommendations. If you would like to learn more about the official method, check out the website www.squarefootgardening.org or read Mel Bartholomew’s revised book: All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More In Less Space.
There are also a number of ways to grow mini fruit gardens and harvest fresh vegetables year-round with your square foot gardens. These methods work even in my zone 6b garden, and with other types of raised garden beds, too.
It is very easy to harvest fresh vegetables year-round by using floating row covers or simple, inexpensive cold frames. Although growing plants in a greenhouse in February is a real joy, it is not necessary. Cold frames are much easier and far less expensive to build – usually less than $50 for a 4′ x 4′ bed. Depending on your climate, you can grow 10-20 types of winter vegetables. My average winter temperature drops as low as -5F, and I have successfully grown most of them. To learn more, see Year-Round Gardening.
A single semi-dwarf fruit tree can grow 10-15 feet high (as tall as your house!), and take up 300-400 square feet in your yard. In that same size area, you can grow a variety of fruit in small raised garden beds, with all berry plants and fruit trees kept less than 6 feet high. I grow eight types of fruit – grapes, blueberries, apples, pears, and more – in less than 350 square feet of bed space. To learn more, see Mini Fruit Gardens.
Read my Blog to learn more about how to have a very productive square foot garden. I share what is happening in my garden throughout the year, along with ideas and techniques that I have learned over the years that will help you succeed with your own garden.
I hope you find this website useful, and that it helps you to have an affordable, enjoyable, and abundant garden. My gardening recommendations will be most helpful for gardens in zones 6-7 in eastern North America, as that is the area where I have the most experience. But you will also be able to apply much of this information in other zones and locations.
Please feel free to share this site with your friends, family, and neighbors.
Next page: Why Use Square Foot Gardening?