Hi there! If you’re thinking of how you could come up with a plan for the layout of your tomato garden, you’re at the right place. You’re probably wondering how much space you could dedicate to this gardening project. So, if you’re bothered that you’ve got a really small space or you do not want to take care of a large garden, I’ve got the perfect solution. A square foot garden is all you need.
What’s this about?
If this is your first time hearing of this practice, here are the details. A square foot garden, as the name implies, is a little garden that is made up of several one-foot cells. You could have a 4 by 4 square foot garden, 9 by 9 square foot garden, and so on. These small squares will house the seeds that will be planted. The purpose of this intensive gardening technique created by Mel Bartholomew is to ensure that plants would be grown in an orderly manner.
How to Build a Square Foot Garden (SFG)
For this scenario, I’ll be guiding you on how you could build a standard 4 by 4 square foot garden. Here’s what you’ll be needing:
- Board pieces: These could be gotten from any lumber store near you. Ideally, four 4-foot long 2×6 boards will do because the garden has to have a minimum height of 6 inches. However, certain vegetables like carrots would require about 12 inches. Please ensure that only untreated lumber must be selected to prevent wood chemicals from affecting your soil.
- Exterior wood screws: For a 2 x 6 board, a box of 6-inch screws would do. You can also make use of 4-inch screws depending on what’s available.
- Power drill
On one end of each wood, mark out three points to equally divide its 2-inch length into four sections.
These marked points should be 1-inch away from the edge of the wood.
Using the power drill, make holes onto the marked ends of the wood.
Prop up each wood against each other, end to end, to form the square layout you require.
Grab your external wood screws and drill them into the wood, joining each pair of wood using the holes that were previously made.
Now that you’ve drilled the ends together, making a perfect square, trim the area you wish to plant tomatoes on within your garden.
Place the square frame there and line its base with newspapers or recycled cardboards. This will prevent weeds from growing in your newly raised garden bed, and it will decompose over time into the soil.
Now let’s finalize this by adding the 4×4 grids. To do this, simply divide each side into four equal places and make use of either some nails and strings or small long pieces of wood to make the demarcations very obvious.
So there you have it. Your newly made square foot garden is ready for some soil mix and seedlings.
Planting Tomatoes in the SFG
Planting tomatoes in SFGs is the same as planting them in rows. They generally prefer loamy and sandy soils for optimum growth. However, if it’s only clay soils that you’ve got handy, you can improve its texture by adding some peat moss and sawdust to it. Another option is to till the clay soil.
Also, a mixture of equal parts compost, vermiculite, and peat moss will do.
Afterward, plant an adequate number of seeds in each square (maybe 1, 4, 9, or 16).
Care for your plant as you normally would. Ensure they have enough exposure to sunlight, water them regularly and trim thin plants.
Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of SFG
Planting a square foot garden seems like the obvious easy choice but let’s look deeply into its pros and cons so you can decide if it’s the gardening practice for you.
It’s easy to maintain: In comparison to planting rows of tomato gardens, an SFG is quite easy to maintain. It requires less pruning, watering, and harvesting.
It’s very productive: With the little gardening space, it is very surprising that the plants have a high chance of survival. This gardening technique almost always ensures maximum yield for the harvest of tomatoes.
It requires less weeding: Because a lot of seeds are planted in a small space, the plants compete intensively for growth usually leaving weeds no room to survive. Also, since the weed barrier was placed before planting, there are even lesser chances of them growing within the garden.
It’s easy and quick to set up: An SFG only takes a few minutes to set up once you have all the available tools and materials. As a beginner, you’d definitely have no problem setting this up.
It’s highly cost-effective: The best thing about this is that with just $20 you could build yourself a nice square foot garden.
It requires frequent watering: Because the soil bed is raised higher than normal, the soil tends to lose moisture quickly. Therefore, you might have to water the plants more often most especially during the summer.
Square foot gardens are highly recommended for homeowners that have a limited amount of space and would love to grow their own tomatoes. It requires less time and effort and its harvest is always bountiful.
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