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Square-Foot Gardening: Minimal Space, Maximum Results

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Urban gardeners and others with limited space are gardening by the square foot.

raised bed and vegetables and obelisk

Discover how much fresh produce you can grow in a small amount of space. Here are some tips to make the most of every inch of ground.

The best way to maximize your harvest is to give vegetables a happy home. That means well-drained soil with 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. A raised bed is a great solution because it avoids potential drainage problems and warms up faster in spring, allowing for an earlier start.

wheelbarrow and soil

Fill the bed with a rich, light soil mix. A general all-purpose recipe includes 1 part perlite and 2 parts each of topsoil, peat moss, and compost. Mix it well and remember to fertilize plants -- either with a water-soluble fertilizer twice a month or a slow-release granular fertilizer once or twice a season. Or buy a prepackaged mix such as Sta-Green Flower and Vegetable Garden Soil (#132959), which contains a slow-release fertilizer.

planting with trowel

Once the bed is filled with a soil mix, fill it with plants. When you have a rich, fluffy soil mix that is never compacted by foot traffic, you can space plants closer together than plant tag recommendations. Use a trellis or obelisk to utilize vertical growing space. And let trailing plants spill over the sides to save space for companions in the planting bed.

raised bed with vegetables and obelisk

You can maximize space in a variety of ways. A classic practice for vegetable growers is to sow radishes and carrots together. Once the radishes are harvested (in as little as 30 days), carrots have more space to grow and mature.

You can also plant by the season. For instance, start with onions and peas in spring, replace them with beans and eggplants in summer, and finish off with lettuce and spinach in fall.