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Is Square Foot Gardening a Good System?

It’s popular, but is it the best method for you?

Fine Gardening – Issue 163
I am not here to bash square foot gardening (SFG). Any system that has been encouraging people to grow their own food for the past 40 years should be applauded. I do think, however, that we need some perspective on the realities of growing fresh produce using this much-celebrated method. The concept of growing more vegetables in less space didn’t begin with SFG. Many attribute the basic tenets with the French, who planted a so-called “intensive garden” near Paris in the 1890s. Many years later (in 1981), hobby gardener Mel Bartholomew popularized the phrase “square foot gardening” in a book (photo, below) and his subsequent PBS television series. Using many of the same concepts of intensive gardening, SFG encourages people to build a square garden bed and, using a grid, divide it into 1-foot squares that are each planted with a different type of veggie. The method quickly became—and still…

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