Square Foot Gardening

Square Foot Gardening

Square foot gardening is a method of intensive gardening utilizing raised beds and a grid system to maximize production. Many people have had great success with this method especially if they have limited space and poor soil. There are three basic components that make the method work.

  • The Box– Build or buy 4’ x 4’ boxes from 2×8 Line the bottom with weed fabric.
  • The Mix– Create a soil mix of 1/3 Peat Moss, 1/3 Vermiculite, and 1/3 Blended Compost
  • The Grid– Divide the box into 16 squares with wood lath or venetian blinds

Although the initial startup costs are higher, the long term costs are very reasonable compared to traditional gardening methods, and you will enjoy the following advantages:

  • Existing soil doesn’t matter
  • Requires 80% less space
  • Takes 90% less water
  • Uses 95% less seeds
  • No fertilizers
  • No pesticides
  • No thinning
  • All hard work removed
  • Great family project
  • Start in any season
  • Kids learn to love gardening
  • 5 times the harvest

Below is a recipe for Mel’s Mix** If you don’t desire to mix the soil your-self you can use pre mixed raised bed garden soil.


(Formulated for a 4’ x 4’ x 6” area)

  • 4 bag Soil Enhancer (20 qt.)
  • 1 bag Steer Manure (20 qt.)
  • 1 bag Poultry Compost (1.5 cu ft)
  • 2 bags Mushroom Compost (1 cu ft)
  • 1 bag Soil Activator- 40 lb. (1/4 bag per box)
  • 1 bag Peat Moss – 3.8 cu. ft.
  • 2 bags Vermiculite – 4 cu. ft.


Multiply the width and length of your boxes and divide it by 2 to figure out how much volume your six-inch deep box will hold.

(4×4)/2 = 8 cubic feet (4×8)/2 = 16 cubic feet (4×12)/2 = 24 cubic feet (4×16)/2 = 32 cubic feet


The general rules for adults are:

One 4×4 ft square will supply one person a salad every day of growing season. One more 4×4 ft square will supply that person with veggies for supper.

One more 4×4 ft square will supply all you need for preserving, sharing, or special crops.

**The best reference book for additional information is “All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!” by Mel Bartholomew -Cool Springs Press (2006)

Revised 3/14/2014