Typical Family Would Need

For easy multiplying, round off the adults' measurements of 16,32, and 48 to 15,30, and 50 square feet per person. For children, you can round off the 9,18, and 27 to 10,20, and 30 square feet. To figure the area in square feet compared to boxes, try this. A family of two adults plus one teenager plus one child needs:

(2 + 1) X 50 = 150 square feet + 1 X 20 = 20 square feet Total: 170 square feet

All That in One Box

How could you pick a salad a day from this little garden? More than you can imagine. So as an illustration, I've listed below examples of what you can harvest from just one 4x4 box with one seasons crop:

one head of cabbage one head of broccoli one head of cauliflower four heads of romaine lettuce four heads of red lettuce four heads leaf lettuce four heads of salad lettuce five pounds sugar peas eight bunches of Swiss chard nine bunches spinach sixteen small, ball carrots sixteen beets, plus four bunches beet greens sixteen long carrots thirty two radishes

Start Snail

Once you decide on the final size and layout of your garden, keep in mind you done have to build the entire garden right at the start. Try a three-phase plan instead.

If you build and plant just one-third of your ultimate garden boxes and grow for one season—for example, the spring season— you can then see how much you 11 harvest and see if you've correctly judged the amount you really need. Then you can go into phase two, or the summer crop, and build more boxes according to your layout or master plan. At the end of the summer crop, move on to phase three, building more boxes if you still need them, to prepare for planting a fall crop.

Yes, it's okay to lay out the whole area and to design it for the u

ultimate, depending on how big your family is and how much you think you want to harvest. Just don't do everything the first season. IVe seen so many people start out too ambitiously, and they become overwhelmed because they underestimate how much they can actually grow in such a small area. Their gardens are actually larger than they need so there is more to take care of—and all while they're learning a new system. Take it easy and start small.

If you have a single-row garden and don't really want to give it up yet, I suggest taking one small corner of your old-fashioned garden and planting it in just one or two 4x4 boxes, mix the correct soil {don't just shovel your existing soil into the boxes no matter how good you think it is), put down the grid, and try planting this way Next year, I'll bet you'll probably be ready to convert your entire garden into a SFG.

Overall Size of the Boxes

Once you decide on the overall size and number of boxes, the next step is to determine the dimension of the aisles. We'll cover this in more detail later, but for now you can figure on a 3-foot aisle between all 4-foot boxes. You could also decide now if you want to join several boxes together end to end to create a rectangular box of 4X8, or 4X12. This wil save a lot of yard space but you may not like the look or you may find walking around a long box inconvenient. I would never make a box longer than 16 feet or you'll end up trying to cross it in the middle and then—whoops!—there you are, stepping in your garden. I hope no one saw you! If you are going to be putting some boxes against a fence or wall and can't walk all around to reach in, those boxes should be only 2 feet wide. Everyone wants to make them 3 feet wide (I will never know why) but then they always come back and complain it was too wide because they couldn't reach in that far.

Don't Forget the Aisles

The whole idea of Square Foot Gardening is to walk around your garden boxes and reach in to tend your plants. This way, the soil never gets packed down and you eliminate digging it up to loosen it again. In fact, the only tool you really need once you fill your boxes with Mel's Mix is a small hand trowel. (It doesn't have to be the strong, expensive kind from Sweden. The one dollar variety works just fine and can last a lifetime.)

So how wide should your aisles be? It depends a lot on how much room you have and what kind of a look you want for your garden. If you're going to have many boxes—remember, we suggest you begin using only a small number because you can always add more later— you may want to have, for example, a center aisle that is 4 feet wide

K^ardening has always seemed too overwhelm ing. Now with your method, I can t wait to start.

—Alejiendra from Venezuela

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