Square Foot Gardening – Opening the Garden

Dirt, GLORIOUS Dirt.

Digging in the dirt is so therapeutic.

I spent the better part of Thursday afternoon playing in the dirt.  And I wasn’t the only one getting DIRT-y!

(There’s an outfit below that you’re not gonna want to miss.)

First, I picked off all the dead leaves to find some parsley growing underneath.  I have no doubt this parsley will take over the pot this summer.

Then there was the mint.  Completely hidden under the dead leaf layer.  If I’m not careful, this stuff will take over the entire garden.  I plan to move the pot with the mint away from the square foot planters to keep any “airborne” transplants away!

Next I found a few of these little critters working their magic in the dirt as I pulled off the layer of straw that lay atop the planters through the winter.  The boys were quite enthralled with these guys.

And I had to pull up quite a few onions.  Poor little things.  They tried their hardest to survive the winter, but they didn’t make it.  I commend them for their valient efforts!

And lastly in the planters was this EXTENSIVE root system.  I’m thinking it was from the snap peas from last year.  I pulled.  And pulled. And pulled.  And it just kept coming!  Shook off the dirt and tossed aside.

And with that, the square foot planters are ready.  I will add a little more manure and dirt to fill in a few spaces.  Then we’ll plant.  First up, spinach and lettuce!

The New Garden Space

This is where we’ll expand our garden.  It’s the LAST spot of full sun space in our yard.  So we’ll utilize it.  The plan is to remove the grass, till the dirt that is there and then add some of Mel’s soil mix to the top.  Our dirt is VERY “clay-ey,” so we’ll need to give it a decent layer of “growing soil” so the plants can thrive.  I’m thinking this space will be for squash of all types.

Steve digging out some grass patches.

And Ryan trying doing the same. Like father, like son.

A grass patch, ready for a new home.

And our other VERY SERIOUS little helper.

Yes. He dressed himself. Yes. I let him out of the house like that. No need to judge him. Or me, for that matter!

What’s missing from his outfit?  Steve’s gray ski hat…which he had on for the first half of the day.  But took off when it warmed up!

The Tiller

While the guys were busy getting rid of the grass, our neighbor shows up with this bad boy.

Ah. Much better!

This getting rid of the grass task doesn’t seem quite as daunting.  Steve tilled the top layer, raked off the grass pieces, then tilled the dirt. In just 30 minutes. (We originally thought this could take days!)

So the new garden patch is ready for a new layer of dirt.  And some wire fencing.  We’ve got rabbits, chipmunks and a resident groundhog to keep out!

I’ll be spending part of the weekend doing a load of “mud laundry,” and scrubbing mud tracks off the kitchen floor.

If you’re interested in learning more about Square Foot gardening, I recommend getting a copy of Mel Bartholemew’s Square Foot Gardening book.

How’s your garden coming along?!?  Do share.  Link up or leave a description in the comments!


  1. says

    I was outside yesterday cleaning up our garden. The yuckiest job though was moving my compost bins to another spot so that I can expand my garden. It’s funny, my 4 yo wanted to help, but ran away to play on the swings when I started that job…it was a gooey mess, but in a few months will be a pot of gold!!

  2. says

    I found 3 sad looking lettuce plants under the leaves when I cleaned out the garden this week. I figured I would move the lettuce to another square and pulled the plants. Two days later they had popped up again looking really yummy. Of course, it has since snowed and is freezing cold out there. I won’t check on them again until it thaws up again and we get our bags of compost and such for mulch.

  3. says

    I’ve been in the flower bed this week ~ no garden yet ~ but I hope to get one going soon. Best wishes with yours. Have a great day.

  4. says

    Nice! I am container growing veggies this year since I can’t put anything in the ground. I put my seedlings in about two weeks ago and have very nice spouts for green beans and lettuce coming up already. My cilantro and parsley just popped up a couple days ago. And I got a tomato plant. Considering the projections for not many tomatoes this season a small tomato plant is a worthy investment to me!

  5. Beth from AL says

    Thank you so much for the inspiration! My husband and I spent the past week researching the SFG method. What a perfect solution for our small space–and black thumbs! We just finished making our boxes yesterday. (Yes, I got to use power tools!!) We are about to head out and create our Mel’s Mix to scoop in the boxes.

  6. says

    We’ve been busy in our garden this past week or so, the weather warmed up lots here in central Texas, I already have lettuce in and broccoli, and I’ve been adding new herb plants too. I love seeing what everyone else is growing in their gardens. Will you be doing a linky party often?

  7. says

    I remember having gardens as a kid. It was fun to watch the small seeds turn into various vegetables.
    We’ve never lived anywheres we could have a garden. But in San Diego I had a patio large enough for some container plants. This time of year I would have purchase some beautiful floral hanging plants to enjoy through out the spring and summer.
    And yes, the soil feel fantastic on the hands.

  8. says

    Between your posts last year and actually seeing that I could GROW an edible plant made me so excited to try out Square Foot Gardening! Daddy’s out getting the supplies now! Thanks for all your inspiration! It lasted a whole year!!!!

  9. says

    I’m so excited to get my garden in!! We’re getting an estimate on a fence this week and I’m looking into a neighborhood friendly compost bin!! I haven’t posted much on my blog yet, but I’ll start and link up!!! So excited for gardening…I really have spring fever!!!

    I’m looking into buying some heirloom tomato plants (first time looking into this). I want to do lots of canning this year and I’m really hoping to utilize the entire garden!!!!

  10. Kimberly W. says

    I am in the process of planning my first square foot garden this year. Thanks to you. Your posts last year about your square foot garden has inspired me. I already have a few seeds planted indoors and they are beginning to sprout. I can’t wait to plant them when all danger of frost is gone in my area (I’m just outside Toronto, Canada).

    Thanks for the inspiration and I look forward to reading all about your garden this summer!

  11. says

    We’re borrowing a corner of my in-laws’ garden, and helping them out with theirs as…well, health issues prevent them from really keeping up a garden of any size.

    Last week we went and had a burn pile over a patch where my husband’s great-uncle will plant lettuce. The whole family (including DS1 13, DS2 11 and DD 7) got into the act of planting two long rows of green onions. We’ve got some little indoor growing/starter kits to help w/the homeschool before they get transplanted outside. They also usually put in tomatoes, corn, watermelon and if I remember correctly they have some grape vines.

    There’s also loads of wild berry bushes.

  12. Remembrances says

    I have owned the Square Foot Gardening book for years and LOVE it! I have a raised garden bed, an Earthbox that I got at a thrift store and several large containers – so far I have tomatoes, serrano peppers, pumpkins, cucumbers, cilantro, basil, garlic and potatoes growing. I also am blessed to be able to grow herbs year around here and have rosemary, garlic chives, lemon balm, mint, catnip and mint in containers. Thank you for your great newsletter!

  13. says

    You were a great inspiration during your last garden! We checked out Mel’s book and set forth on our own square foot garden! We are so excited.
    Hope I did the picture link right :o)

  14. Tanya C. says

    Thanks for the inspiration. I loved watching your garden progress last year so much I’m doing one of my own this year. We just finished building the boxes and will be planting over the next week or so (we both work and the kids are in school so we have to fit it in around everything)

  15. Elizabeth W says

    We just love this time of year! We have a Large ground garden that feeds 3 households (we live in Central Alabama and its My in laws, the Grandma and Aunt, and our growing family that all live within a half mile of each other) 2 weeks ago we started our garden and man if I can’t even remember what all we started! Its this Preggo brain I guess! Yesterday, I started cleaning out my strawberrys and they look great! My 3 year old and I started our Herb container garden at the first of the week with cilantro, baisel,chives and onions and a few flowers for her! I really want to grow some blueberry bushes. They are way to expensive to buy around here at $6+ a pint! Do you have any tips or have a link for that? If I grow it at my house, it has to be able to survive without much help from me! Ha! Thanks for your wonderful post!

  16. says

    Our soil is very clay-y also. I talked to a guy at Home Depot that said to mix in either sand or top soil that has a lot of sand in it. The top soil with lots of sand was only $1.50 or so for a 40 lb. bag. He said the sand will help to break down the clay. We bought a bunch of bags, tilled it into the soil, and it really helped.

  17. says

    Last year I had my first garden ever. We started a regular garden and then I found your site and started a square foot garden too! We plan on doing both again this year. I can’t wait to get started!

  18. Nic says

    hehehe I love how your son was dressed… I remember those days well. You’ll be yearning for them later when he asks for bizillion dollar tennis shoes and jeans. =P Been playing outside as I can for a good month or so now and can’t WAIT to get seriously going in the garden. The grocery store had herb starters out today and that’s always a good sign.

  19. Lesley says

    We got the Square Foot Gardening Book last year…. and your book this past month. I LOVE both!!! We started with three boxes last year and plan to add three more this year. I am so excited about the free and fresh veggies to come. We live in northern NY… and actually had snow covered ground all morning… so I have a bit more until I can get my seeds going without worrying too much. I hope to get a little better about planting times, harvesting dates, and frost dates. I would strongly reccommend anyone that gets the square foot book to really do the weed paper under the boxes and use the “mel’s mix”. I honestly did ZERO weeding last year for a summer long harvest of fresh veggies!!! What a time and back saver! Good luck… I am so excited to see the updates! :)

  20. Becky P. says

    I was so excited about starting my first sfg yesterday but was discuraged once I visited Lowes. They mentioned only being able to use Cedar since I wanted untreated wood & all they had was fence post. Do you have any suggestions on which wood you recommend? I heard about linoil that was plant based.

    • says

      @Becky P.,

      Huh?!? I’m not a wood expert, but I remember getting untreated wood from Lowes last year. I didn’t think it was cedar though?!? But this was last year.

      I’m not sure what to tell you…perhaps call around to other hardware stores in your area!?!


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