Epic vegetable gardening begins with planning and precision seed and plant spacing to make the most of every square foot of garden soil. While seasoned gardeners know exactly how to space seeds and plants, it’s not so easy if you are a vegetable garden beginner looking in confusion from the seed packet to the patch of soil beneath your feet! Vegetable garden layout is important: If the seeds are too close together, the harvest will be stunted; too far and you’re wasting space and inviting in weeds.
I know this because I’ve been there! In 2013, my husband Karl and I decided to start a family vegetable garden to teach our kids the value and excitement of home-grown veggies. Our first attempt was an eye-opening failure. As garden newbies, we grew as many weeds as veggies!
Frustrated but eager to figure this out, we began to research proper seed and plant spacing. We wanted to be able to better identify the weeds vs. the veggies as they grew, and to optimize our small backyard garden space. We soon discovered the world of Square Foot Gardening for garden layout and we were on our way to backyard vegetable gardening success.
What is Square Foot Gardening?
Square Foot Gardening is a proven seed spacing method invented in 1976 by Mel Bartholomew, a gardener and civil engineer who wanted to find a better, more efficient way to grow a vegetable garden. Mel literally wrote the book on the subject in 1981, which is now available as the All New Square Foot Gardening: 3rd Edition, earning legions of enthusiastic fans.
Traditional Square Foot Gardening typically involves digging a garden bed (3x3, 4x4 and 4x8-foot sizes are popular), and then creating a grid over it in square foot increments. Each of the square foot spaces are managed individually and contain multiples of a single type of plant. For Square Foot Garden spacing, the number of plants put into each square is based on the maturation size of each type of plant. This strategy for vegetable garden layout removes wasted space and the need for paths in the garden. Armed with the Square Foot Gardening techniques, we were on our way to backyard vegetable gardening success!
Traditional Square Foot Gardening typically involves digging a garden bed (3x3, 4x4 and 4x8-foot sizes are popular), and then creating a grid over it in square foot increments. Each of the square foot spaces are managed individually and contain multiples of a single type of plant. For Square Foot Garden spacing, the number of plants put into each square is based on the maturation size of each type of plant. This strategy for vegetable garden layout removes wasted space and the need for paths in the garden.
Armed with the Square Foot Gardening techniques, we were on our way to backyard vegetable gardening success!
Square Foot Gardening Spacing Made Even Easier
As our family experimented with Square Foot Gardening, Karl decided there must be an even simpler, easier way to grow the vegetable garden of our dreams. So we got to work making seed spacing templates based on all our textbook knowledge of square foot gardening. They worked even better than we ever expected. Those templates worked so well in fact that we ended up with over five times the harvest of our first year AND we discovered that our space optimization approach left almost no room for pesky weeds!
Friends, family, and neighbors kept asking to borrow our "magical" Square Foot Garden spacing templates. Not to mention, it was a total hit with the kids! We soon saw the opportunity to rework our templates and cook all that Square Foot Gardening knowledge into a simple, single color-coded unit for spacing vegetable seeds. The Seeding Square plant spacing tool was born.
Now we had a tool that grows A LOT of food in a small space, with minimal (easy to spot) weeds, and requires less water in the process.
The Seeding Square plant spacer also solves a few vegetable garden layout issues that we found as we experimented with Square Foot Gardening.
No more sticks or strings
Textbook Square Foot Gardening methods involve making the grids with wooden slats or strings, which generally need to be replaced after a season or two. They can look a little unsightly as they age.
With Seeding Square the impressions left in the soil act as the grid and are only needed when planting (to be able to see where to line up and stamp out the next Square foot of space). Once the garden is seeded/planted, the grid marks are no longer needed. This feature also allows gardeners to stamp out the same type of vegetable over and over if row gardening is desired, and to easily change up the garden design year after year.
Easily spot and pull weeds
Though weeds are fewer with Square Foot Gardening, it can still be hard to identify a weed vs a vegetable plant as the seedings appear … a definite frustration for new gardeners! With Seeding Square’s "laser beam" precision spacing, the weeds stick out like a sore thumb making them easy to spot and remove immediately.
Plant veggies just about anywhere
Many square foot gardeners use raised garden boxes for their vegetable gardens. However, the drawback of raised beds is that the soil depth is often not deep enough and may require extra water because it dries out faster. With Seeding Square you can plant anywhere you have at least one square foot of soil surface space.
Optimal seed depth for higher germination rates
With Square Foot Gardening, the method for poking the holes is to stick your finger in the dirt a certain number of times per square foot depending on the type of plant or seeds you are sowing. Seeding Square comes with a dibber wand with depth measurements on the side for easy, precise measuring. Just poke it in to the correct depth! The measuring lines ensure seeds are planted uniformly and at optimum depth for higher germination rates. The dibber has a seed spoon to get your seeds from the package to the soil without issue. There's also a funnel to assist with this part of the process, a definite bonus for young green thumbs and senior gardeners who may not have the fine motor skills needed for manipulating the smaller seeds.
Using a Seeding Square on planting day for seeds and seedlings, leaves every square inch of garden space maximized to its fullest potential by giving every plant the ideal amount of area it needs to thrive, without wasting ANY space.
Seeding Square is intended to make gardening efficient and simple to do for people of all ages and experience levels. Kids love poking the color-coded holes and scooping the seeds with the magnetic dibber. Parents love the fact that no wasted space means fewer weeds, less water and a low maintenance garden. Everyone loves the epic amount of garden-fresh vegetables that are pulled on harvest day. It makes the activity of planting a high-density vegetable garden something that a child can do.
The Ultimate Square Foot Gardening Planner
Each Seeding Square comes with an easy-to-use Square Foot Gardening planning kit (which you can also purchase separately). The pdf kit features a Seeding Square planting guide that lists all standard garden veggies in a plant-by-color chart that matches the orange, blue, yellow and red colour-coded holes on the Seeding Spacer tool.
The Seeding Square planting chart includes popular fruits and vegetables such as:
- Strawberries (1 per square foot - orange)
- Potatoes (1 per square foot - orange)
- Asparagus (1 per square foot - orange)
- Tomatoes, vine (1 per square foot - orange)
- Kale (1 per square foot - orange)
- Lettuce (4 per square foot - blue)
- Corn (4 per square foot - blue)
- Garlic (4 per square foot - blue)
- Beets (9 per square foot - yellow)
- Onions, bulb (9 per square foot - yellow)
- Peas (9 per square foot - yellow)
- Carrots (16 per square foot - red)
- Cucumbers (each cucumber requires at least 4 square feet)
If you want to plant flowers or a vegetable that isn't on the list, simply Google the spacing needed for whatever you want to plant, and use the colored holes that most closely match the suggested spacing.
Seeding Square Vegetable Companion Planting Guide
Our Square Foot Gardening planning kit also includes a companion planting guide, another easy colour-coded chart that shows you which vegetables grow well together, and which combinations should be avoided. For example, broccoli thrives near beans but won’t do well next to strawberries.
Seeding Square Herb Garden Planting Guide
Want to start a herb garden? We’ve also created a herb planting guide that includes all your favourites, from basil, chives, mint and thyme to arugula, cilantro and more. Read more about using the Seeding Square for an herb garden.
All these resources are designed to work together so you can grow the vegetable garden of your dreams, and get everyone in the family involved. You’ll know exactly how to space the seeds and plants for all the veggies and herbs you want to grow to get the most from your garden while keeping weeds at bay and saving water. Please keep in touch and let us know how you do: share your photos and comments in our Seeding Square community on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter and check out our videos on YouTube. #SeedingSquare
Ready to get planting?