Tired of weeding, watering, and thinning? I've come across this amazing method for growing your vegetables called "square foot gardening," originating from a man named Mel Bartholomew. Find his book!
When I first heard about it, I was still a "row gardener." For years we planted long rows of carrots, beans, corn, onions, swiss chard, beets--just about everything. Yet it was always so discouraging to have so much space to weed, and much water was wasted on the paths between rows. Then we watched Mel Bartholomew's movie Square Foot Gardening. It changed the way we grow our veggies! Here's a condensed description of how this awesome method works:
The basic idea behind the method is to plant everything close together, in a square plot of ground bordered by four, four-foot two-by-fours. You then divide this four-by-four foot plot of ground into sixteen squares, each measuring one square foot. In each of these squares, plant one kind of vegetable. Depending on the size of the vegetable, you may do four "rows" of four seeds in each square, or simply one seed in the middle of the square. But do not just scatter the seed, because then you will have to thin later on, which often disrupts the roots of the other plants. Be organized in the way in which you plant.
Water once daily, preferably in the morning. If you give them a good soak, the soil tends to stay moist throughout most of the day.
In the first week or, in some cases, two weeks, you will have to pull a few small weeds. But as soon as the seeds grow firm roots and begin to really sprout up, they will be too concentrated to allow room for any weeds to grow! That's the magical part about this method. After the plants are truly growing, I only have to pull one or two small weeds each week during the rest of the summer! Growing the plants so close together causes them to benefit each other by choking out weeds, sharing the water they receive daily, and exchanging nutrients in the soil. Harvesting is the fun part, because you have a four-by-four foot box that is thick with lush, healthy vegetables just waiting to be enjoyed!
If you want to learn more details about this amazing method, I highly reccomend Mr. Bartholomew's very helpful book, Square Foot Gardening.