Garden Lifestyle

All New Square Foot Gardening

Mel Bartholomew’s new book updates his square foot gardening techniques for the next generation of vegetable gardeners.

Mel Bartholomew's All New Square Foot Gardening guide includes 10 major improvements to his original square foot gardening method.
Photo/Illustration: Cool Springs Press


Would you like to grow 100 percent of your harvest in only 20 percent of the garden space?

Then you need to plant a square foot garden

Square foot gardening, made popular by Mel Bartholomew in the 1980s, is making a big comeback in a small way-a small garden way, that is.

The best-selling author, gardener and engineer, began promoting his ideas for small-space gardening that convinced millions of gardeners to try his simple methods. The key to gardening success is reducing the size of the garden and planting in square foot sections.

In his new book, All New Square Foot Gardening (Cool Springs Press 2013), Bartholomew expands on his original ideas about square foot gardening that include 10 major improvements designed to make vegetable gardens more productive and easier to manage, while reducing the costs of gardening, too.

One of the improvements promotes a change in location. The author explains that a boxed garden takes up less space, so it can be placed closer to the house. A great tip is to place several boxes throughout the yard for more flexibility in what you plant and where.

Perhaps you’ll want to build a smaller planting box that can be a tabletop or portable garden.

Bartholomew has a gardener’s sense of humor when he talks about “a novel idea, don’t waste seeds.” In this section he provides some new thoughts on planting just a pinch of seeds in each planting square and then thinning by using scissors to clip off all but the strongest plant.

The new edition includes everything a gardener needs to get started with a square foot gardening system. Bartholomew has fine-tuned the way to build at 4 x 4 square foot garden box and how to lay out the grids to help envision the garden.

He encourages gardeners to think inside the box and grow in only 6 inches of soil, without the need for fertilizer. There’s no need to improve the existing soil, if you start with a perfect soil mix from the beginning using only three ingredients, he explains.

In addition to a complete guide to building and planting square foot gardens, the book features sections on how to extend the gardening season, how to adapt to special gardens and gardeners, and an appendix filled with information on what to grow and how to grow it.

I wish I would have had Bartholomew’s new book in hand when I started my first vegetable garden. So many more fresh vegetables, with so much less hard work.


My free review copy of “All New Square Foot Gardening” was provided by Cool Springs Press.

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