Square foot gardening was made popular by Mel Bartholomew in 1981 in a PBS television series. The concept continues to gain popularity almost 30 years later. We went to a local master gardener's home near Brandon to get a lesson in growing more in less space.
Pam Soderholm is known for her gardening and is an active member of the Master Gardeners Club. Being married to the President and CEO of Avera Heart Hospital, Jon Soderholm, she also knows a thing or two about heart healthy eating. That's why she is such a proponent of growing your own produce.
Pam says, "The square foot gardening concept is for people who have limited space, limited time and want a good product."
Pam makes her own grid, but says you can buy them at Menards or Home Depot.
Pam says, "Mine is actually 5' by 12', but they recommend 4' beds because most people can reach 2 feet. You never want to step in those beds and once you set them up there is very little work until the harvest."
For soil, she mixes her own: equal parts peat moss, vermiculite and compost, but she recommends at least 3 to 5 different kinds of compost.
Pam says, "The nice thing about this soil you can use it year after year. It's not like dirt that compacts down, this stays light and powdery. There is no tilling, it's virtually weed free (if you don't step in the squares) and it's very productive."
You only need three tools to do this kind of garden. A trawl to dig a whole for bigger plants, like tomatoes, a pencil to poke holes for little seeds and a scissor to cut open the packages and to harvest your lettuce and peas.
Pam advises you to plant radishes, carrots, lettuce and onions around the edges of the garden so they're easier to get to. You'll harvest those first and if you put up a trellis make sure it's on the north side so it doesn't shade the rest of the garden.
Pam says, "Then plant zucchini, pumpkin, and cucumbers so they crawl up the trellis. It can be as tall as you want and as wide as the bed. It gives you a lot of vertical growing space."
And when fall comes and your 16 squares are harvested, pull up your pepper plants and the like, cover with a tarp to keep the leaves out and do it all again in the spring. It's easy, inexpensive and inexplicably good for you.
Check out the AHH Plant Sale:
Friday May 21
Avera Heart Hospital Lobby
4500 W. 69th Street
Benefiting the Prairie Heart Guest House
Featuring: Beautiful annuals and perennials, unique garden items, one-of-a-kind raffles, Memorial Day gift ideas and more.
Classes from 10am-1pm on container gardening, cooking with herbs, transplanting and pruning