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December 27, 2006

Book Review: Square Foot Gardening

Filed under: review, books, food — suzanne henderson @ 1:47 am

Square Foot Gardening

[Square Foot Gardening] by [Mel Bartholomew] offers a “new” method for gardening - an approach that strays from the typical rows and rows of crops planted with much enthusiasm and lots of work during the growing season. This isn’t a new book, the copy I have was printed in 1981 and I’ve seen recent releases of 2005 (paperback) and a new book titled [All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!].

For the home gardener, novice or experienced, this is a great resource for a new way to look at the work and effort put into the garden. Instead of sowing lengthy rows of crops, using entire packages seeds, you plant just the number of plants needed. This helps limit the strenuous chores of tilling, weeding, thinning, harvesting, and using surplus produce. This ‘new’ method produces gardens that resemble a giant tic-tac-toe with each block being filled with vegetables, herbs, and flowers - the amount you need and (hopefully) no more.

Best aspects:

  • charts listing the space needs, growing seasons, and square foot yields for different crops
  • the simple notion of considering how much fresh produce you’ll eat or process and planting based on that number instead of just going out and sowing until the ground is full of (over) abundance
  • planting individual seeds help save on seed costs (assuming you store them properly, as noted) and reduces the need to come out and thin or pull out perfectly good plants that contribute to overcrowding of the typical garden
  • tiling and weeding reduced to a mere fraction compared to traditional gardening

My only, very minor, complaint is the failure to include planting for storage in terms of root cellar storage. I reread this book following a rereading of [Root Cellaring] and was disappointed to see that canning and freezing were the only storage methods addressed. Obviously, this is a minor complaint because the book is addressing growing food and needn’t include processing options. If your planning on growing foods ffor winter storage, you still need to consider your actual needs so you can still plant what you need and not go overboard (something that seems easy to do when considering the aspect of living off your winter stores for several months).

This is an excellent companion to [Root Cellaring] and a wonderful resource that I’ll be calling upon as soon as we have enough land or space to start our garden. The newer book supposedly includes new methods to make it even easier, but I think I’ll stick with this volume since it provides everything I need and I’m not really looking for more shortcuts.