Complete Guide to Square Foot Gardening: Soil, Planner, and Calculator

Square foot gardening, also known as cubic yard gardening, is a method of planting and growing crops in a raised 4 feet by 4 feet bed garden.

The general idea behind square foot gardening is to have a small area that will produce an abundant amount of vegetables.

It’s based on the old saying, “One square foot planted properly will produce 16 of cabbage” – and that’s something that is definitely worth testing.

Square foot gardening
Source: baigné par le soleil (Flickr)

The square footage used for square foot gardening is 1 square foot of space, where the length can be divided into four equal parts. The square footage starts at 0, so you do not count the part closest to you when planting or sowing your crops.

Benefits of square foot gardening

This method is excellent for people with small yards and gardeners who want to grow vegetables and fruits in a limited area.

People living in an apartment or condos can also use square foot gardens to grow vegetables.

The square footage Garden beds are so compact that they make accessible even to the elderly and disabled gardeners who find other methods too difficult.

It’s very easy to get started with square foot gardening because you don’t need big amounts of space. You only need 1 square foot of land!

That means you could start your own square foot garden even on your tiny balcony or patio, which is not possible with traditional raised bed gardens.

How you should plan the square foot gardening

One square foot of land is 1 square foot, just like 1 square mile is a square mile.

There are no fractions in square footage, so you only plant the crops that will fit into a single square foot of space.

Source: Amber Cox (Flickr)

To have a successful square foot garden, you need to understand how much food each crop will produce and roughly how long each one takes to grow.

How deep is a square foot gardening bed should be

The square foot gardening bed should be a minimum of 8 inches. That will allow you to have good soil drainage and prevent water pooling in the square footage Garden bed.

Materials needed for the square foot gardening bed

The square footage gardening method uses square foot garden beds made from wood, metal, plastic, or even treated lumber.

The most common material is wood, and you can use square foot gardening planks for that.

You can also plant square foot gardens in raised boxes made from wood, but those tend to take up more space than square planting.

How to set up a gardening bed

Source: mrmole (Flickr)

First, you need to decide what material your square footage garden bed will be made from. (wood is the most recommended)

After that, put together the wood and measure how much square footage you need for each square foot gardening vegetable.

The square footage garden beds can be square, and they can also be long and flat like a raised bed.

There is no fixed rule on how the square foot garden bed should look like, but it needs to have 1 square foot of space to fit your square footage vegetables into it.

Once you know what your square footage garden bed is going to look like, get the soil ready.

What is the best soil mix for a square foot garden

The best classic soil mix for a square foot garden is made from 3 parts equally:

  1. 1/3 peat moss
  2. 1/3 vermiculite
  3. 1/3 ready compost

You need to measure it by volume, not by weight.

You can use a 5-gallon bucket to mix the soil ingredients equally in a wheelbarrow.

Try to wear a mask to protect yourself from breathing some dust coming off the dry ingredients.

List of plants you can grow in a square foot garden

Here are a few examples of what you grow in 1 square foot garden

  1. Broccoli
  2. Potatoes
  3. Lettuce
  4. Tomatoes
  5. Cucumbers
  6. Carrots
  7. Beets
  8. Bok Choy
  9. Kale
  10. Summer Squash
  11. Onions
  12. Radishes

The square footage vegetable list can go on and on. You can almost grow all your vegetables in it.

What do you need to know about square foot gardening planner

A square foot gardening planner, also known as a square foot gardening calculator, is a tool that can help you plan your square foot harvest for any square footage vegetable.

It’s free and easy to use.

You start by entering all the information about each crop inside of the planner. For example, how long each one takes to grow a particular crop.

What they like and dislike in terms of sunlight and water.

After you enter all the information about each square footage vegetable inside the square foot gardening planner, you will receive a printout with all the square footage vegetables that fit into those square foot garden beds.

This will help you plan your square foot harvest.

How to use a square foot gardening planner

Step 1: Find a quiet place where nobody is going to disturb you for a while, your bedroom usually works just fine.

Step 2: Open a square foot gardening planner on your laptop or desktop computer.

Step 3: Read the disclaimer before using the square foot gardening planner – this is important, so please do it.

Step 4: In order to start planning your square foot harvest, click on the square foot garden planner.

Step 5: Enter all the square footage vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, or beans that you want to plant into a square foot gardening planter.

Step 6: Decide how much time each square footage vegetable needs to grow – this is very important information because it’s going to determine if your square foot garden harvest will be a success or not.

Step 7: After you enter all of the square footage vegetables and their growing times into a square foot gardening planter.

Click calculate and print.

Congratulations – now you have a printout with exactly what crops fit into those square foot garden beds!


Square foot gardening is a great way for small-space gardens as well as commercial square footage gardening.

It’s a good way for beginners to start square foot gardening without much experience.

Square foot gardening planner can help you plan your square foot harvest and make sure that every square footage vegetable grows properly and successfully.

Now that you know what square foot gardening is, how it works, and how to prepare the soil in it, go ahead and plan your square foot harvest.