Outlined in this classic book is the best foolproof way to begin vegetable gardening. It’s a simple system that works on the small scale of an introductory backyard garden for someone who has never gardened before. In brief, you do this:
* Make raised beds with a square frame of boards. Staple chicken wire on the bottom.
* Size it so you can reach every part of the inside without ever stepping in it.
* Fill it with potting soil, or as much compost mix as you have.
* Place it near your kitchen or somewhere that is easy to see and use.
* Plant your seeds/seedlings very close together but only a few of each type.
* On the north side you can erect a vertical net to gain extra “space.”
This works. Essentially, these beds are flat growing containers that use whatever soil under them for bonus nutrients, and the crowded foliage keeps out weeds. There are disadvantages to this system of course, but this is a good way to start. Our garden today is a larger version of this. Our frames are 6 feet square and 12 inches high, and we have lots of them.
The information above is really all you need to do this but if you’d like more details about this approach read All New Square Foot Gardening, a book that’s been around for 30 years and is still helpful. The author is a relentless self-promoter (his picture is on every other page), and “his method” is actually an ancient one with many other modern interpretations (such as biointensive gardening). But Mel Bartholomew makes the process and logic of this food garden coloring-book simple. With grammar-school repetition he’ll get you going, and soon it will all seem obvious and trivial.
Your garden doesn’t have to be all in one place. You no longer have to rototill or water one big garden area all at once. You can split up your SFG so that a box or two are located next to the kitchen door, while more boxes can be located elsewhere in the years. Small, individual garden boxes allow you much more flexibility in determining location. Now your garden can be located near where you walk and sit, or where you can view it from the house. It can even be located in a patio or pool setting, where you relax. Your SFG becomes a companion rather than a burden.