Square Foot Gardening Planner Guide
Creating a square foot gardening planner gives you both a visual and an easy-to-use template for the ultimate garden success! I am a huge proponent of planning before planting. The visual guide details the plants in every bed and garden design options. This method helps me plan out my garden and keep track of my plants, watering schedule and harvest time.
What Is Square Foot Gardening?
Square foot gardening is a method by which the garden bed is broken into 1′ x 1′ squares, and the appropriate number of plants are assigned to each square foot. Plants have different space requirements. For example, you can plant 16 carrots in 1 square foot and they will each have the capability to grow to their full size and thrive. Cabbage, however, can only fit 1 into a 1 square foot space. This allows for each bed to be broken down into 1′ x 1′ squares and is a great way to maximize your space. By utilizing raised or in-ground beds and maximizing every square foot of your space, you’ll be able to grow more efficiently and with less guessing.
Why use a Square Foot Garden Planner?
The main benefit of using a Square Foot Garden Planner is that it helps create a well-laid-out garden where each plant is grown in the optimal space. It breaks down the sometimes complicated spacing suggestions for plants into easy-to-understand, equal segments to avoid confusion. It also gives you a great visual to see how everything will work together (and look).
How to Use A Square Foot Gardening Planner Guide
A planner guide usually has a couple sheets. The first sheet is a visual guide for plants, so it’s easy to see the space needed for each plant. The second is for planning your garden, with dates. When to plant, how often to water, and how long until harvest. Keeping these two pages together makes referencing easy, and helps to better plan which plants should go together, depending on spacing needs, watering requirements and harvest time. A little bit of planning goes a long way.
Some people like the tactile method using actual graphing paper and a notebook. Others make use of the modern digital planning options available. There are many ways to set up your own planner guide, and the best way to find out which one works best for you is by trial and error.
Benefits of Square Foot Gardening Guide
The planner guide is excellent for beginners looking for an easy way to understand what’s going on. The visual aspect can be beneficial for people who need some inspiration for their gardens!
There are many different size garden beds to plan for, which is why the graph paper or the digital bed size creator functions are helpful. The area you want to cover is the most important aspect, so make sure you consider before deciding to go with in-ground or raised beds. (The good news with Square Foot Gardening is that no matter what size or shape you decide to go with, you can fit the principals of the planning to whichever bed you choose!)
A planning page is a great way to help you move forward with your garden design by figuring out how many plants you’ll need, how many beds you’ll need, and what size of bulbs or variety of seed you’ll need. Square Foot Gardening Foundation has some wonderful vegetable planting cheat sheets available for basic information, a fantastic book, and the benefit of decades of research and a community of gardeners working together to perfect the process. There are also many other websites that have similar information and planting guides depending on what type of gardening you want to do.
How to Get Started with Square Foot Gardening
The best way to get the most of your time and energy is to figure out what kind of garden you want. Are you looking to plant a food garden to supplement your kitchen table? Is a cut flower garden the main goal? Deciding what will be planted is the first step. Once that is done, the planning can begin in earnest.
Once the plants have been chosen, determining where the garden bed will be is next. Different plants have different light requirements. This will help determine your location. Typically with vegetable gardens full sun (6 hours or more) is best, but make sure to check your hardiness zone and go by what will help the plant thrive in your local area. (A great way to find this out and get some great tips is to reach out to your local co-op or local gardening enthusiasts for some practical growing tips in your climate!)
Once the plants and the location are selected, the size and shape of the garden bed is next. As the name suggests, the square foot gardening method typically uses square or rectangle beds to make the most use of the space. The method can be used in whatever size or shape garden bed you have to work with, however.
Part One: Build Your Bed
Time to start with building your garden boxes, or preparing the ground for planting. There are many options for building raised beds, and we have several partners we absolutely love that provide pre-made, easy to assemble raised beds. My particular favorite is “Garden in Minutes” due to their great raised beds and their square foot gardening watering system that makes it SO easy to care for your very own square foot garden!
If an in-ground bed will be used, make sure to till up the earth well and remove any existing plants, grass and weeds. Putting in edging is also a good idea because it helps to keep weeds and grasses from creeping into the garden bed and stealing nutrients from your beloved plants!
Part Two: Plant Your Beds
After you’ve planned, found your perfect spot and prepared the beds, you can start planting! (This is the fun part!) Now that we know what we will be planting, where it will go, and have done all the work to prepare the garden, all that is left is to plant and maintain. With different germination times and growth rates, not everything will sprout at the same time, or stay the same size. But with vigilance and proper planning, the fun part of watching the plants grow and helping them along the way can start!
Part Three: Water and Maintenance
After planting all of your square foot garden, you’ll want to water them as dictated by the needs of each plant. It is best to water them at soil level, to avoid getting water droplets on the leaves themselves. This can lead to sunburn or develop fungus. If a square foot gardening watering system (like the one provided by “Garden in Minutes”) is not available for use, water in the early morning, before the sun comes out, to give time for the water to evaporate off the leaves before the sun starts bearing down.
Make sure to thin seedlings as suggested by each plant. Check for disease and pests regularly as the seedlings are growing to prevent anything from spreading to the rest of the garden. As the plants grow, so will your confidence! Don’t forget to reference the Square Foot Gardening Planner Guide you created throughout the process and take notes for next year!
The best part about square foot gardening is that you don’t have to be a plant expert or know exactly what’s going to grow best in your region! The only way to fail is if you quit!
You may not get the same results as some of the other gardeners out there, but everyone has their own unique garden, and with this guide, you’ll be able to be as prepared as possible! Reaching out to your local gardening community will not only provide you with some wonderful local growing tips, but also helpful hints on what to do if something unexpected arises! Plus, gardeners make the BEST friends!
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Wishing you all the best,