How did I find out about square foot gardening? In a roundabout way.
I was looking at posts on a survivalist web forum, and one of the posters said she never thought she'd have the room on her small property to be a gardener -- then she found square foot gardening.
At this point, I became curious. I didn't have any experience, but gardening in small spaces appealed to me. Mel Bartholomew had a program on Public Television for many years concerning this subject. I wonder how I missed that?
So I went to the bookstore, and found the newest version of Barthomolew's book, All New Square Foot Gardening. It seems that, originally, Mel created a system of intensive gardening, but he incorporated the soil in the boxes with the existing dirt space.
That changed with his most recent system of square foot gardening.
Currently, boxes on the ground have layers of weed blocker under them. The boxes are filled with "Mel's Mix", Mr. Bartholomew's custom soil that you mix yourself using vermiculite, compost, and peat moss. None of your property's soil gets into the soil mix. That's the difference between old and new.
But virtually everything else is the same.
In this 271 page book, you'll learn everything you need to know about the SFG system. The author is thorough, patient, and though he's an engineer by training, he never assumes that you know how to do the simplest things. For instance, he gives you lots of pictures and detailed instructions on how to build your boxes. The thoroughness of his work is impressive here.
When he starts talking about various vegetables, their suitability for the SFG system, and how many squares you should plant to feed two people, he's on less steady ground. These are areas of knowledge you will build over time, based on your own observations, abilities, and the unique climate where you live.
But there is plenty here to inspire the most clueless, dumbfounded, purple-thumbed novice gardener. Some of the things that would frustrate the dickens out of a new gardener don't exist in the square foot gardening system. How beautiful.
After more than a year's experience, I still consult this book frequently. It is a wonderful buy for its price.