When asked to name the greatest advantage of All New Square Foot Gardening, most say it's tending their garden from aisles and never

These are the only tools you need for your All New Square hoot Garden. A trowel\ a pencil\ and a 5-gallon bucket—that's it.

stepping on their soil. Like many others, I always wondered why we were taught to loosen soil with rototillers, shovels, forks, and hoes, only to walk all over it again packing it down.

So why are the experts still teaching us to do this? I say, just stop walking on your growing soil—its that simple.

Keep It Loose

Lets think of some of the advantages of not packing your soil down. The plant roots need air and moisture, just like people. If you pack the soil down, it becomes more and more compressed (called compaction) and it becomes harder and harder for air to circulate through the soil making it more difficult for roots to grow. They may not die, but they certainly won t grow well. So why not provide them with nice, loose, friable soil like Mels Mix? This way, water can percolate down and air can circulate.

Growing and Harvesting

Three Tools

Another big advantage of SFG is that the number and cost of tools is reduced to almost nothing—you will only need three tools. Just think, you no longer need a rototiller! Eliminate that cost and you now have an extra $ 1,000 in your pocket. And you don t have to hire someone at $50 every year to plow for you. You don't even need a shovel or rake or any of those special digging tools that have been invented to dig up the tough soil. Gardening "experts" will tell you to go out and buy the best tools you can find because they will last longer, but they also cost more. With SFG, you no longer need any of those big, expensive, heavy-duty tools that take so much energy to maneuver—they're suddenly obsolete.

A Trowel, A Pencil, and Scissors

The first tool of the three tools you need is a trowel. I've found that the one-dollar variety is really the best buy. They're attractive, strong, and neat looking. They have all the features of a six dollar trowel. So instead of just one, now you can afford six—one for every SFG box! Why not buy an assortment of colors? You can have one in every box just sitting there waiting so that you don't have to go looking for a tool when you walk by and see a square that is ready for replanting. Of course, if you see an occasional weed, your big, strong weeding tools are your own thumb and forefinger!

The trowel is for transplanting, for mixing in an added trowel full of compost when you replant each square foot, and for loosening up and turning over the Mel's Mix in an individual square foot or even an entire 4x4. In the spring you won't believe how perfect the soil will be if you follow the Mel's Mix formula and start with a perfect soil.

The other two tools you'll need are a pencil (yes, that's a tool) for poking holes and lifting out young seedlings for transplant, and a pair of scissors for harvesting beet, lettuce, or Swiss chard leaves for supper, cutting off dead blossoms, and snipping off extra seedlings if more than one seed sprouts in a hole. Because SFG tools are so simple and inexpensive, I love to splurge and keep one of each at every 4x4. That way, I never have to look for a tool.

It would be fun to list all the tools that you no longer need if you have a SFG. In fact, you could probably just go into your garage or toolshed and see them all right there—poor, lonely tools. Maybe you have some old-fashioned single-row friends who just can't give up all


I like to buy children's pointed scissors in August when you can find back-to-school sales. Usually I can purchase them for about fifty cents-an affordable price that allows for several pair around the garden.

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Growing Soilless

Growing Soilless

This is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to growing organic, healthy vegetable, herbs and house plants without soil. Clearly illustrated with black and white line drawings, the book covers every aspect of home hydroponic gardening.

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