From the Kitchen

Maximizing Your Garden With Square Foot Gardening

I love to grow vegetables in my garden. I have 2 little 4×5 foot garden beds I made about 4 years ago and they’ve been providing me with fresh veggies each Summer. Last year I gave up one of the beds for a raspberry patch, leaving me with only one bed to grow vegetables. So I decided to try square foot gardening this year, to help maximize the small space I have to grow the most vegetables.

Square Foot Gardening


  • garden bed, filled with a mix of soil and compost
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • twine – something that will last through rain or shine
  • tape
  • staple gun – you can use stakes if you don’t have a wood frame for a garden bed
  • vegetable seeds or starter plants – I use a mix of both


  • Measure out your garden bed by feet. My bed is 4 feet by 5 feet.
  • Take your ruler and pencil and mark off each foot across each side of the bed.
  • Pull the twine across your bed, going from one mark to the opposite side of the bed to the second mark, matching them up. Using your tape, tape it down to the frame. Do this for each line across, horizontally and vertically.
  • With your staple gun, try your best to get the staple right on the twine. It took me 2-3 tries each time. Once all of your twine is stapled down, remove as much of the tape as you can.

Now it’s ready for planting.

I created a similar garden bed on paper, so I could see where and how I was going to plant the vegetables I wanted. Look on the back of your seed packets or look online at how each plant is supposed to be planted. Square Foot Gardening was created to help put more plants into an area, not in a row format, but in a square format. I can get more vegetables in this small garden bed than I thought was possible. Here’s what I’m going to grow:

My favorite vegetable to grow are peas, and they can be planted earlier. I like to soak them overnight before I plant. We planted them first, and are now waiting for this Utah weather to warm up enough to not frost, then everything else will get planted. I’m hoping next week after Mother’s day is going to be a good week.

We’ll keep you updated on the progress of our square foot garden. I’ll let you know if it worked and if it’s something we’ll try again next year!


  1. This is a very useful idea! i have a small backyard and i don’t have much planting room in my garden. I will definitely try this out because i enjoy having a variety of plants and vegetables throughout the year, thank you!

  2. I am so inspired by this post! My husband Tim & I have been talking about starting a garden all year. One of these days, we’re just going to have to DO IT…! ;)

  3. I LOVE square foot gardening!! It is amazing how little you need to weed, because everything is planted so close together. Also, if you make sure to dig down a nice size whole for your plants, just pour water in the depression and you can be sure the water is going to the plant roots and not to help weeds grow! I love that you had the patience to mark off everything with string. I bring a 12″ ruler out and kind of judge the wholes. Yours looks so neat :) Enjoy the garden!

  4. Thank you for this post. I am getting ready to start my plant boxes and this was very helpful! Good luck with your gardening!

  5. I hope you’ll update us regularly! I can’t wait to see how this turns out for you, I’ve been dying to try it, but we always seem to wimp out at the last minute and container garden instead.

  6. My dad did square foot gardening back in the 80’s when it was a new and rather “out there” idea. Needless to say I swear by it. It’s so much easier to manage and really maximizes everything; time, weeing, fertilizing, space, yield… you name it. We typically start seeds indoors in peat pots and then transfer them to the garden.

    Good luck! I’m excited to see your harvest!

  7. I am not an expert gardener, but when I planted cantaloupe, it took up TONS of room and I only got one cantaloupe. I hope you have better luck than me.

  8. Yvonne – Yes, I just got a gardening book and read through it, not realizing that certain plants have best friends!! I need to spend more time reading it and plan better for next year.

    I chose to put my peas next to my tomatoes, as my peas will be done sooner and then I can rip them out and it will give the tomatoes more room to grow for the end. I hope that works. We’ll see. It always seems to be a trial and error. I’ll get it perfect one of these years!

  9. It will be fun to see how your garden grows! I knew a lady who was an expert gardener. She planted marigolds around the perimeters of her garden, said it discouraged certain pests. It made it look pretty too! Hope your garden gives you plenty of its bountiful goodness this fall.

  10. Just a thought for next year’s planting season. Carrots love tomatoes. You might want to consider putting them next to each other. However, potatoes hate tomatoes, so I would put them the furthest away from each other.

  11. We were going to do square foot gardening with a big group from the neighborhood….but it fell through. I am excited to watch how yours does…since I wasn’t sure how exactly it was to work. (now I get the point of the squares!!!! =) have fun….hope this utah weather does stay nice…looks like it should be for the rest of the week.

  12. Heidi – Good question. I calculated how much each seed/plant needed for growth and placed dots on my piece of paper for each plant. Here’s how many of each seed/plant I’m using:

    1 cantelope 14 inches
    2 tomatoes 14-15 inches each
    15 peas lined in 3 rows for each square (8 squares total)
    4 potatoes 12 inches each (one in each square)
    9 bush beans 4 inches apart
    4 small rows of carrots 1/2 in x 2 inches apart (in on square)
    4 cloves of garlic 6 inches apart (they are in a diamond shape to maximize space)
    9 onions 3-4 inches apart

    I’ll show it all as I plant the rest of the vegetables and how it grows throughout the summer.

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