Creating an Organic Square Foot Garden


So you want to start a garden? Awesome! But how do you get from concept to actual garden? Insert me! Intermediate gardener with a passion for organic produce.  I have experimented with container growing in the past and I have always had a zest for plants and gardening.   However, this is my second year working with my 4 x 4 raised beds.  The first year was very successful and I learned a lot along the way.  This year is going to be even better and I can’t wait to share all that I learn with you!!

So how did I get from A to Z? The first step was deciding what type of garden to create.  In ground or raised beds?  I went with a raised beds because you can control the soil and for me it was really important to have one percent organic soil.  I purchased the beds at home depot and they came in very simple pieces that basically just snapped together.  I highly recommend this approach, rather then building a bed yourself.  It is worth the cost and saves you valuable time and stress! But if you decide to go the other route, make sure your wood is untreated.  Very important as you don’t want those chemicals seeping into your organic veggies.

Now lets talk dirt.  There are two ways to go.  Buy your soil in bulk, or buy it in bags.  This choice depends on the size of your garden, and your allotted budget.  It will get expensive buying by the bag so I went the bulk route for the initial fill.  I did a little research locally  and was able to find a place that provided a topsoil/compost organic mix.  Now this involved a bit of work but I cannot stress enough how important your soil is to the success of your garden! It is worth every penny and ounce of sweat put into it.  If you try to go cheap on your soil, you will see the results, or basically lack of!

Now if you plan to buy in bulk, you will probably be able to find a place that will deliver for an added fee.  I was lucky and had access to a family friend’s truck so I was able to pick it up on my own.  (See photo above).  When you go to pick up bulk soil, be prepared to have your vehicle weighed before the dirt is place in the bed of the truck.  The large dirt pile that they mix with a digger is then used to fill the soil into the truck bed.  Finally, the truck is weighed again to factor the cost of the soil.  There is a calculator on their website (refer to links section) that will give you an idea of how much soil you will need to fill your beds.  You will need to know the depth of your beds as well-mine being 7 inches.

If you choose to go the bag route, be sure to buy compost to mix in with your soil.  When choosing a bagged soil, you want to pick garden soil, not topsoil.  The garden soil will be a mix of all the essential ingredients your garden needs such as peat moss and vermiculite.  I recommend a mix of 70 percent garden soil, and 30 percent compost for the initial fill.  You can dump the bags directly into the beds and mix the materials together with a shovel.  I purchased the organic garden soil at Lowes, and the organic compost at Home Depot.

Because this was my second year with my beds, I was able to use the soil already in my beds and simply supplement some fresh bagged garden soil and compost.  To prepare my beds this year, I used a shovel to thoroughly mix the soil already in place.  Take your time with this and get all the way to the bottom, turning and mixing the soil well to allow for proper aeration and drainage.  Then take your bags of garden soil and compost and create a mix in a wheelbarrow.  I actually did a 50/50 mix.  Dump half a bag garden soil in a wheel barrow, and half a bag of compost  and blend well.  Then add to beds and mix in well with shovel.  It is important to prepare your soil well before putting any seeds or seedling in.  I spent probably about a week weeding the beds, preparing the soil, and also adding in compost from my own kitchen.  More on compost later!

Local Friends-check out for your organic topsoil/compost mix! They also sell herbs and veggies!


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