Five Thoughts on Square Foot Gardening for Beginners

Whoot whoot! I finally have my veggie garden getting up and growing!

I might have mentioned already that my husband didn’t share my enthusiasm for another try on my wildest projects of growing most of our own produce. He remembers all too well the gazillion of times that I was taking on a veggie garden and then neglecting it, even if there was good stuff to harvest. The good thing is that I do almost everything in pots, so it’s fairly easy to clean up. And this year I can add to the list…

blog60 - square foot gardening

a real square foot garden! One of my closest friends (she just grew into that role as we met each other – or husbands are childhood friends and now we all live in the same street. Or children are, by mere coincidence, only ten days apart!) had heard me tell about the principles of squarefoot gardening and when she saw an offer a few weeks later, they just bought it for me. And came to hand it over as a very early birthday present.

So my husband couldn’t sputter anymore and luckily he didn’t. He chose me a spot close to the house (watering the plants in mind, clever as he is), removed the grass around that he couldn’t reach with his mower anyway, and created an extra spot for some more pots that way.

I love the ideas of square foot- and container gardening. From my experience, it has some serious pros, especially for the beginning gardener, so I’ll share with you my


Five Thoughts on Square Foot Gardening for Beginners


1. You don’t need lots of space and tons of supplies. My first try at growing food took place in a very small garden of a rental house. It was 1,50 meter by 5 meters, ending in a point. And my husband put in a lawn (that’s a story on its own). I had a small line of 80 cm by 2m available where I could experiment. And each and every day I was surprised about how much that space could give me. I bought some plastic pots, an uncle made me a large crate of old scrap wood, I bought some soil and some seeds. That’s it. You can start as small as you like and work from there.

2. You don’t need to care about the soil of your garden or being sad of not having one. I have always used all-round potting soil, even for sowing. And it works just fine. Maybe it’s not perfection, but as a beginning gardener, you shouldn’t care about perfection. Everything that works is pure win. I must admit that the potting soil my husband brought me this year wasn’t the best for my seeds. Many of them didn’t come up, and I guess it’s because the soil was to ‘rough’ and lumpy, with pieces of half-gone wood in it.

3. If you don’t have the patience for seedlings or a place to protect them from the cold or the snails or husbands that don’t know about plants and think it’s just weeds, throwing the whole thing in the compost bin… it might be a good idea to start with little plants that someone else has started for you. Ask more experienced gardeners, or people who by accident are in the possession of 250 tomato plants. Or buy them. It’s not the cheapest solution, but it takes care of the hardest part. And you could build up gradually as your experience grows.

4. If you consider at least a little the climate you live in, you can have success with almost any crop. Here in Belgium there’s little chance I’ll successfully grow melons without a greenhouse (and even then… they need lots of sunlight). But tomatoes work just fine if you put them in a sunny spot. Don’t listen to people who claim you cannot grow zucchini in a pot without having an extra big one and watering them ALL THE TIME. It has been one of my easiest things to grow, even if it was in a normal plastic container, only 35 cm wide and I have not always been the best at watering. By the way: one plant produces a lot of zucchini, even in a pot. If you’re overly enthusiastic and put in four plants, you’ll end up with VERY MANY zucchini. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Other easy crops are snow peas, spring onions and rocket. They say radishes are great too, but I never grew a decent one. Which is OK, because I don’t like them anyway.

5. Plant things you would want to eat. It’s a sad thing to have tons of green beans while not liking them. And if you have to make hard choices: grow the things that are the most expensive in the grocery store. It will be an extra boost to your motivation knowing that your hard work saved you some money. You could even brag about it. A little.

Author: Elvira

Woman, wife, mother. Trying to slow down and take the time to listen.

5 thoughts on “Five Thoughts on Square Foot Gardening for Beginners”

  1. My husband and I did this when we were living in Virginia. We really enjoyed it, and loved seeing our veggies grow, but our dogs saw it as their personal snack bar and helped themselves to veggies on the vine. I can still picture my late dog Snoops licking her lips as she ate the last ripe tomato. Sigh.

    Alas, lesson learned. Even a small picket fence couldn’t keep them out, so our new gardens will be *outside* our fenced backyard. 🙂

  2. I have a square foot garden in my driveway under my kitchen window. I sowed seeds a few weeks ago and I already have radishes, marigolds, green beans, and lettuce sprouting. What do you use for pest control?

  3. I only use special grains against slugs, but that’s about it. I can’t recall having ever had anything else than slugs feasting on my basil…

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