Mel Bartholomew’s book, Square Foot Gardening, was a big hit back in the 80s and this “All New” edition builds on the principals he laid out. As the author himself says “The original can be considered the Model T of Square Foot Gardening. This new one…like the latest Cadillac!” In this new book, Bartholomew introduces the reader to all the improvements he has made over the last couple of decades in the original basic square foot gardening method that allows a gardener to produce more vegetables and flowers in less space. Less garden space may mean less work, and what gardener wouldn’t like that?
Improvements in the basic method are offered in regard to garden location, raised beds, soil improvement, soil depth, fertilizing, garden boxes, width of aisles, use of grids, and planting methods. The basic idea is raised beds filled with a special soil mix and organized with a grid. Individual chapters are devoted to planning the garden, building the boxes, making Mel’s soil mix, planting, growing and harvesting, vertical gardening, extending the seasons, and gardens that fill special needs. Directions are given for building the boxes, grids, and other devices, all enhanced with numerous photographs. Inserts provide money and time saving methods as well as gardening tips. An appendix includes a glossary, planting charts, planting grids, and plant profiles that provide very useful information about growing popular selected vegetables and flowers.
The square foot gardening method is not for everybody. It can be expensive to start, difficult to water, and susceptible to problems associated with overcrowding. For those with limited space and time, however, it can make gardening possible and enjoyable. Bartholomew did not invent the various techniques he describes but he did put them together in a unique way and marketed them so that they are bringing the opportunity of gardening to a whole new crowd. That is a good thing, but he reminds the reader too often of his contributions to gardening. In spite of his boasting, however, Bartholomew has something good to offer and that makes the book a valuable resource for many people wanting to garden in a small space.