It’s been almost 30 years since gardening guru Mel Bartholomew first published his best-selling book “Square Foot Gardening.” But he hasn’t been sitting on his laurels. In 2005 he came out with the “All New Square Foot Gardening” (Cool Springs Press, $19.95), and last year he published his companion book “All New Square Foot Gardening Cookbook” (Cools Springs Press, $19.95). His 135 fresh-from-the-garden recipes are quick, easy to prepare and look to be quite tasty. Included in each section are tips on harvesting and storing the fresh produce you grow.
Using Bartholomew’s raised-bed intensive method of gardening, gardeners can harvest hundreds of pounds vegetables in a minimum of space, laboring only 10-15 minutes a week, once the garden bed or beds have been set up and planted.
To see the creative ways other gardeners have integrated square-foot gardens into their landscapes, go to www.squarefootgardening.com.
Bartholomew stresses that when purchasing compost, buy several different brands and mix them together. He combines manure-based composts, reed sedge or Michigan peat composts along with composts made from yard waste and worm castings. Homemade compost is also on the list.
According to Bartholomew, mixing all these formulas together assures the square-foot soil mix is enriched with soil microbes, lots of humic acid and natural fertilizer containing all the macro and micro elements plants need. Using this mix, he says, meets all plants need for nutrients so there is no need to fertilize.
Of great value in the “Square Foot” gardening book are the formulas for deciphering how many bags of the stuff to buy. Those on a tight budget can look for money-saving options on the Web site.
Square-foot gardening is not just for growing veggies. Herbs and flowers flourish in them, too. I want to put a flower border along both sides of my front walk but I don’t have a lot of time to care for them, so I’m going to use the square-foot gardening method and build long, narrow 2- by 12-foot gardening boxes that will flank each side of the walk.
You may think it’s a little early to plan the garden, but many garden centers put potting soils and amendments on sale early in the season to entice folks to into their stores, so now is the time to get started.