Letter Re: Limitations of Square Foot Gardening

I like Square Foot Gardening. It’s a great way to get started for newbies, with its recipe approach. I think it’s great for busy individuals.

But it has several severe TEOTWAWKI limitations; the author assumes access to building materials for raised beds, hard-to-find vermiculite and peat moss shipped from thousands of miles away.

I live in a large (one million plus people) city and had to call all over town for vermiculite, and then I had to buy it in small bags. I can’t imagine the difficulties of obtaining this limited material in a grid-down situation.

And forget about getting peat moss once local supplies are exhausted, as the majority is found in Canada.

Square Foot Gardening generally assumes annual plants, which die every year and must be re-planted. Though there’s nothing which prevents low-maintenance perennials (which stay alive for years).

Once you graduate from the Square Foot school, check out permaculture. A permaculture garden is self-supporting; you can’t leave a Square Foot Garden for weeks and expect food at the end, but a properly-designed permaculture garden can take care of itself.

The concepts are rich but because of that, they are also very technical. Browsing web sites will leave you confused and frustrated.

The very best resource I’ve found which helps navigate the permaculture world is the book “Gaia’s Garden.” Christians, don’t let the title put you off (I had at first refused to read it for that reason). There are also some YouTube videos which should show you the potential of this method.

So, start with a small Square Foot bed to get your feet wet. Then check out “Gaia’s Garden” from your library. See how much you can grow! – C.D.V.