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Square Foot Gardening

With spring around the corner its the perfect time to prepare for a bumper harvest.

Let's get excited. Spring is here, and for those of us in lockdown, we have a little more time to dedicate to the planning of our spring and summer vegie gardens.

I've started planning my vegie garden, so that I can start to germinate my tomatoes and other summer vegie crops indoors now, ready for planting out in late October/early November. Each year my list grows, but the available space in my garden does not, so planning is key to avoid disappointment - and I literally mean, I get sad when I can't fit all my plants in!
Square Foot Gardening 
Recently some otherwise overlooked gardening principles have gained popularity because of the pandemic and our need for smarter vegetable gardening. Square Foot Gardening was originally developed in 1976 by Mel Bartholomew and later became a best-selling book released in 1981. Bartholomews’ concept was to divide the garden in square feet, with a simple grid and plant equation to help you establish plants effectively – for example, one square foot can hold one tomato or one eggplant or 4 lettuce or 16 carrots. This concept was initially dismissed by gardening experts for its simplicity, but was embraced by gardeners of every level, especially beginners.
Square Meter Gardening
For metric gardeners, like in Australia, we no longer deal in feet (or we are not supposed to), but the concept is the same. It took Mel Bartholomew around 30 years to release "Square Meter Gardening" to the rest of the metric world, where he simply divided a meter into 9 even squares.
Lolo Houbein, a Dutch born Australian living in the Adelaide hills took a different spin on a similar concept, releasing her top-selling book "One Magic Square" back in 2008. Again, It is a square meter garden, with different planting plan concept to maximise your space for an array of crops. Again, stepping away from long lines of monoculture plantings to exploring more of a grid-like system in your own backyard. 
Bartholomews' method is all about perfect squares planted with an accurate amount of plants to avoid waste and overcrowding. Houbeins' book showcases that there is more than one way to plant a garden, and perfection is very much in the eye of the beholder. 
So what does Diggers think? 
They all have their merit, even straight-line cropping. However, on a personal note, I think the most important aspect of vegetable gardening is just getting out there and getting growing. Experience is what guides us in the garden, and although I have tried all methods outlined above, I honestly don't stick with just one. I use a combination depending on the crop, the season and how much I want to harvest. It’s not always perfect – sometimes I still have autumn crops in a spot I wanted for spring crops and the overlap just doesn’t work perfectly. The Motto – gardeners need to be adaptable.
What are the key points?
The key points to successful vegie production are: 
1. Location - Vegies need 6 hours of sunlight per day.
2. Embrace Companion Planting and Crop Rotation. These easy to implement gardening systems help to naturally improve soils, the health of your plants and also lowers pests and diseases.
3. Don’t forget to water – especially during hot, dry months. But when watering, water the roots and not the leaves.
4. Don’t sow everything at once. Some crops should be sowed in succession (like carrots and lettuce) to provide you with a new batch ready for harvesting every 2-3 weeks.
5. Sow and Grow what you like to eat. This is especially important where space is limited.

Browse our basic planting plans to get you started.

For more growing tips visit Vegie Patch Basics here.
To shop for seeds to sow now, click here.



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Herbs - more than a kitchen garden

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Jac Semmler tells you why spring is the time to get excited about growing heirloom tomatoes

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Bill Bampton explains how to create a food border by combining the ornamental potential of edibles with the edible potential of ornamentals

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Arabella Forge explains why you should eat more fruit and vegetables

Preserving your harvest

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Pumpkins Better Than Butternut

Evette Jungwirth ponders on producing the perfect pumpkin

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Cane fruit guru Phil Rowe answers your questions about berries

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Julian Blackhirst answers your questions about summer pruning and general care of fruit trees

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Our experts Julie, Tim and Evette answer your questions about growing tomatoes


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Bernadette Brady encourages you to start your own vegie garden

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