How to Plan a Home Vegetable Garden Using the Square Foot Gardening Method

Planning a home vegetable garden can be tricky. Gardening is a science, after all! This article discusses the steps involved in planning a Square Foot Garden, which differ in several important ways from the steps involved in planning a row-based garden.

The first step is to select the vegetables you would like to grow, considering how much space you have available in your vegetable garden. Multiply the length of your garden bed by the width to calculate the available planting squares. The “available squares” must not be less than the squares required by the vegetables you select to grow. To calculate the planting squares required by each vegetable, use the “thin to” spacing requirements on the back of the seed pack and convert as follows:

  • 9 squares: “thin to” specification of 24 inches or greater; the plant is placed in the middle of a 9 square block
  • 2 squares: “thin to” specification of at least 12 inches, but less than 24 inches; the plant is placed in the middle of a 2 square block
  • 1 square: “thin to” specification less than 12 inches

When considering the total planting squares required, first calculate how many seeds of each vegetable you will need to plant, based on your harvest goals. For plants requiring more than one square, multiply the number of seeds by the squares required to calculate total planting squares. For plants requiring one square, determine how many seeds can be planted in the square based on the “thin to” requirement: 12 inches = 1 seed, 6 inches = 4 seeds, 4 inches = 9 seeds, 3 inches = 16 seeds. Then calculate the total number of planting squares required for these plants in order to reach your harvest goals. Add the two planting square calculations together, and this is the amount of space you will require in order to meet your harvest goals. Adjust as necessary to match the space you have available.

After selecting the vegetables to plant, the next step is to determine where to plant each vegetable in your garden. If a garden existed in the same location last year, remember to avoid planting a vegetable from the same family of vegetables in the same location in a three year cycle. Doing so will increase the risk that your garden will become infected with pests or disease. Placement of vegetables in a vegetable garden requires balancing a number of different factors:

  • Water Requirements: If you have more than one bed, group vegetables together based on water requirements and assign a targeted water level to each bed.
  • Plant Spacing: Plant the vegetables according to the plants per square calculations. Crowding vegetables can cause several problems, including loss of plants due to disease and lack of pollination.
  • Support Requirements: Some vegetables require a trellis. In the northern hemisphere, place trellises on the north and east sides of the bed to ensure the trellises do not cast shadows on the rest of the vegetables in the garden. In the southern hemisphere, place trellises on the south and east sides. Reserve these locations for vegetables that require a trellis.
  • Sunlight Requirements: Take note of the sunlight patterns in your garden. Areas that receive less sun should be reserved for plants with a Partial Sun requirement.
  • Height: In the northern hemisphere, place taller plants to the north and east sides of the bed to avoid casting shadows on the rest of the vegetables in the garden. In the southern hemisphere, place taller plants on the south and east sides.
  • Good / Bad Companion Relationships: Some vegetables are believed to have a positive impact on the growth or development of other plants (“good companions”), while others seem to cause harm (“bad companions”). Plant good companions close together, and keep bad companions far apart – ideally in separate beds.

The last step is to determine when to plant each seed. It can be difficult to determine exact dates, especially when seed packs use instructions like “plant in early spring”. The key point here is to understand the frost sensitivity of each plant. Plant each vegetable on the appropriate date based on expected weather patterns. Planting too late is just as bad as planting too early – since some vegetables do not tolerate hot summer weather.

Planning a vegetable garden can be time consuming, but if done incorrectly, can cause your garden to suffer. Therefore, it is worth the time you put into it. For those that do not enjoy planning, consider using a garden planner application. A good garden planner will generate a garden plan for you, taking into consideration all of the requirements discussed in this article. If you prefer to create your own garden plan, there are a couple of tools that can help with your vegetable garden planning process:

  • Graphing paper can be a valuable tool for planning the placement of plants. Place the graphing paper inside a plastic sheet protector and use a dry-erase marker to try different planting scenarios.
  • A spreadsheet can also be used for modeling your garden layout. Each cell in the spreadsheet represents a planting square in your garden.

How Driftwood Can Create Stunning Features In Your Home And Garden

For many people, their garden is an integral part of their home, almost another room. People spend lots of time in their garden and want it to look as beautiful as possible.

It is for this reason that Garden Centres as well as selling plants, trees and seeds, sell additional items such as garden gnomes, shapes carved out of wood or ground from stone, which act as ornaments to give gardens that homely feeling.

For those lucky enough to live close to a coast where driftwood is washed up, there is alweays the chance that a stroll along the beach could turn up a garden ornament to beat anything you can buy at a garden centre.

Formed by mother nature and the swells of the oceans, every piece of driftwood is unique in every way. Often having spent many years bobbing around in the oceans and being washed up and washed out again many times, driftwood (which is always a hardy hard wood as opposed to a soft wood) is hard wearing and unaffected by whatever weather mother nature can throw at it. Extreme temperatures, high winds or rain won’t damage it or weaken it.

Larger pieces of driftwood can often stand unaided and be used as the main feature in a garden area. Smaller pieces can be mounted onto stone or something similar and stand proud displaying their beauty to all.

For most people, driftwood being used as a feature indoors or outside ticks all the boxes to do with current trends. It is effectively recycled, which appeals to everyone’s green side, it is naturally formed without the intervention of man, it is hardy and can last for years without any attention, and importantly, with every piece being 100 per cent unique, you can be sure that your next door neighbour hasn’t got one too.

Standing alone driftwood can look stunning beautiful in its own right. But it can be made to look even more amazing with a little thought. Back lighting would make your driftwood feature stand out once it has got dark.

Smaller driftwood sculptures can be hung from the wall suspended from the ceiling or laid on a mantlepiece to add a little nature inside the home.

If you have an artistic side, you can make something out of a piece of driftwood. It doesn’t have to particularly technical, you could simply carve out a seat from the base of a trunk and use it as a garden chair.

The uses that can be applied to a piece of driftwood is only limited by the imagination of the individual.

You can find lampshades, candle sticks, chairs, beds, door handles, bowls and plates, mirror frames, picture frames, horses, garden gates and many many other items all made from driftwood. A quick look at Google Images gives you an idea of the many hundreds of uses that people have put driftwood too.

Next time you’re walking along a beach, keep your eye out. You never know you could find yourself the next piece of art for your home.

Planters Accent Your Home and Garden

The right planter in the right setting brings style, function and beauty to any indoor room or outdoor location. Planters can be used as a unique focal point or a graceful accent in any garden, patio, porch or room. The secret is finding the perfect planter – one that reflects the owner’s personality and surroundings while maintaining lasting durability. 

Planters come in a large variety of shapes, sizes, designs, materials and price points, which makes some planters a better choice than others. In today’s market, the unlimited assortment can also create unlimited indecision. Knowing a few useful tips can simplify the decision-making process and help consumers purchase plantersthat will bring years of pleasure. 

Considerations Before Purchasing A Planter   

o Location (shade, sun, extreme weather)                                                                                        

o Maneuverability                                                                                                             

o Size, Shape, Style, Color, Finish, Texture                                                            

o Drainage Hole and/or Self-Watering Options                                                                     

o Durability & Longevity                                                                                                     

o Artistic/Decorative Impact                                                                                               

o Reflect Personality of Owner/Home/Surroundings                                                                                                  

o Materials (Learn the advantages and disadvantages of planter materials such as clay, terracotta, concrete, metal, wood, resin, fiberglass, etc.)                                                                                                                

o Storage Concerns

A great way to get started is to purchase a matching set of various sized planters ranging from three, five or seven in total. Five containers used in a corner of a patio will help define your entertainment space. This grouped planter display can provide privacy and help tie in your overall outdoor living area. Don’t be afraid of using bright and vivid containers such as oranges, iridescent blues and reds. These colors can help liven up outdoor spaces.

Combining plants is a fun part of container gardening. Try mixing and matching different plants such as annuals, tropicals, perennials, trees, shrubs, vines and vegetables. Before planting, arrange the new plants in or around your container while they are still in their small pots to see how they fit best. A good rule of thumb is to plant the tallest upright foliage plant in the center. Next, plant the shorter and more compact flowering plant to the side of the center, near the edge of the planter. Leave enough space between these plants to allow for growth. Finally, place plants with trailing or semi-trailing growth habits around the planters’ outer edges leaving enough space for adequate spreading and trailing.

A word of caution: Also remove new plants from their nursery pots with care. Never remove them by pulling on their tender stems. Gently loosen or untangle the bottom inch of each plant’s roots before carefully spreading them out in your planter. This helps give young plants a better start. Additional potting mix can be added to ensure the soil covers the roots of each plant. When your planting is finished, the soil should be at least an inch below the rim of the container.

Gardening with planters is a great way for beginning and experienced gardeners to dig into the botanical world. And best of all, you can take your planter garden with you when you move.