Square foot gardening the Growing in Harmony way!
Square foot gardening is a really great way of making the most of a small area, as the name suggests each type of plant is given a square foot which gives enough space for one, four, nine, or sixteen plants depending on the vegetable. For example one cabbage plant would take up one of the square feet, whereas sixteen spring onions could fit in the same space.
Square foot gardening was created by Mel Bartholomew who created a special soil mix to ensure plants had all the nutrients they need with minimal need to renew the soil year on year. You can find out more about Mel, the origins of square foot grdening and how to do it properly here https://squarefootgardening.org/
In our square foot bed, as you might imagine if you know us, we haven't quite followed the rules! Our not quite square, not quite foot sized sections have been filled with different soils and nutrients to provide plants with the NPK mix they need. NPK stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium and most plants need a good balance of these nutrients to thrive.
We placed our bed on a surface of woodchips which will decompose and add to the other fertilisers over time. We then continued with a layer of subsoil followed by a layer of nettles and comfrey just cut and laid on top of the subsoil. The nettles will provide the crops we plant with nitrogen as they decompose and the comfrey is high in potassium while also having a great NPK ratio overall. Our next layer was home made compost, which also has a great NPK ratio and will feed our plants well. To this we added wood ash which will give our plants phosphorus and then finished off with some bought compost. Because our fertilisers are natural, they will release their nutrients more slowly so our raised bed should feed our plants without us having to add feed for quite a while.
Below you can see the bed being filled at different stages
And once we had the soil ready all that was left was the planting!