The Square Foot Gardening Method

Gardening in your yard (even a rooftop), school, and community can be an educational and rewarding experience. This lecture introduces the Square Foot Gardening (SFG) method and the SFG Foundation, and it describes how the SFG method is applicable to individuals, schools, community gardens, senior centers and more. 

The Square Foot Gardening Method

The Square Foot Gardening (SFG) method saves gardeners time, effort, tools, space and water. It is being used by schools across the nation, and by international humanitarian groups around the world, making inroads against poverty and hunger. When compared to single row gardening, the SFG method is estimated to cost 50% less, use 20% of the space, 10% of the water, 5% of the seeds, and 2% of the work of traditional row gardening. Additional benefits are: virtually no weeds, no digging or rototilling, and no heavy tools are necessary.

While there are many more details, tips and applications in the SFG books, the basics are very simple. In addition, the SFG website offers in-depth information about this revolutionary gardening method, including tips on building SFG boxes, making the Square Foot Gardening soil known as Mel’s Mix (completely organic), and how to plant using the SFG method. Visit for more information.

Simple Steps for SFG Method

Anyone can be a successful gardener using the Square Foot Gardening method. Once a spot is chosen that has good drainage and receives 6 - 8 hours of direct sun per day, there are three simple steps:

Step 1: Build a box. You can use many materials to build your 4’ X 4’ box such as: UNTREATED Cedar, pine or fir. If treating wood only treat the outside of the box so there is no direct contact with Mel’s Mix. You can even use brick, cement blocks, vinyl or recycled plastic to build your box.

Step 2: Fill with SFG “Mel’s Mix (TM).” This tested organic formula is easy to make at home. (Note: These ingredients will be in equal volumes not by weight, see chart.):

  • 1/3 Coarse Grade Vermiculite (Mel’s preferred medium)
  • 1/3 Sphagnum Peat Moss (You can also use Coconut Coir or replace with straight organic compost)
  • 1/3 Blended Organic Compost (Mel recommends 5 different composts)

Step 3: Add a grid and start planting! Grids can be made inexpensively from venetian blinds, wood lath, or even natural bamboo stakes. An example of what one 4’ X 4’ Square Foot Garden can yield in one Spring season: 1 head of cabbage, 1 head of broccoli, 1 head of cauliflower, 4 heads of romaine lettuce, 4 heads of red leaf lettuce, 32 scallions, 5 lbs of sugar peas, 8 bunches of Swiss chard, 9 bunches of spinach, 9 turnips, 16 short carrots, 16 beets, 16 long carrots, and 32 radishes. Download the 4 by 4 gardening chart below!

Start a Square Foot Garden in your Pod Community and become a Certified Square Foot Gardening Instructor. Square Foot Gardening is not a’s a lifestyle! 

Complete and Continue