The new Square Foot Garden
If you're gardening using the method first described by Mel Bartholomew in his 1981 bestseller, "Square Foot Gardening," you're still using his timeless formula of more garden in a smaller space with less work. But Bartholomew calls that book the Model T, whereas his revised "All New Square Foot Gardening," published in 2006, is "the latest Cadillac." More than a routine tune-up, the revised version is a significant overhaul designed to make gardening even easier. The new square-foot garden is still a 4-by-4-foot grid divided into 12-inch squares, but the planting area is "up, not down"—a raised bed in which the gardener grows vegetables and flowers in as little as 6 inches of prepared soil. Once the bed is filled with Bartholomew's recommended soil recipe—a blend of peat moss, vermiculite and compost—no fertilizer is necessary, he says. The new book is slicker then the original, with color photographs and graphics, sprinkled liberally with side notes like "Penny Pinchers" and "Kid's Corner." It includes growing guidelines for 25 popular fruits and vegetables, from corn and beans to strawberries and melons. The instructions include botanical, cultivation and harvesting information. Though diseases and pests are listed for each plant, there is no specific information on control or prevention of problems. Whether or not you follow Bartholomew's gardening advice to the letter, there's plenty worth pondering in his books, old or new.