May 6, 2013

Square-foot gardens offer advantages

PLATTSBURGH — With sunny spring weather here at last, many gardeners eagerly await the prime time to dig into the dirt.

For those with limited experience, space and time, a square-foot garden could be the perfect fit, according to Jolene Wallace, master gardener and horticulture program assistant for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County.

“It’s easy to take care of, and it produces really well,” Wallace said.

The gardens are similar to raised beds. 

“They’re up off the ground, and a 4-foot by 4-foot (garden) can grow enough produce over the season to feed a small family,” she said. “If you have only a little space, it works really well.”

Wallace recommends rough-cut cedar for the garden’s 4-foot by 4-foot box frame because the wood lasts longer, but any type of untreated lumber can be used.

The garden boxes can be placed on a patio or in a yard — any place that they will receive full sun.

“Almost all (vegetables) require full sun, which would be six to eight hours a day,” Wallace said.

“Sometimes people think, ‘I get a lot of sun,’ but until they really start paying attention to how much sun they actually get, most of the time, they think they have more than they do.” 

Blanket a grassy growing area with newspapers before placing the frame, Wallace advises.

“That newspaper will smother the grass so you’re not going to have the grass growing up through your garden … and when the plants grow, that newspaper will be decomposed enough that if you have something that has really deep roots, it’ll grow right through into the soil underneath it.” 

Fill the frame in with a good potting mix. 

“Potting mix has a whole different texture; it’s not heavy, and it drains really well,” she said.

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