There is a trend these days to eat more fresh, leafy veggies and healthier foods with less processing, preservatives and packaging.

That’s a great goal, and we have incorporated this trend in my home. We love the idea of eating foods that look like they do in nature — whole, recognizable and still full of the nutrients they’re supposed to have.

Eating this way requires frequent trips to the store, since no processing or preservatives means a shorter shelf life. But, I don’t mind it because eating healthier is worth the added time and effort.

There also is a trend for small-scale gardening, rather than the usual garden of long rows across a large plot of land. Square-foot gardening is the new way to have personal access to fresh, home-grown ingredients, especially for those living in confined spaces and yards within neighborhoods, for small families, older gardeners, disabled people and even children. It also is ideal for areas with poor soil conditions. This method is gaining popularity and these small-scale gardens are popping up all over our area. There are many books and Internet articles available to learn more about it, but here’s a few tips on square-foot gardening to spark your interest:

  • Determine the size for the area you want to plant.
  • Build raised boxes at a workable size with a grid every square foot.
  • Leave a walkway between boxes for easy access.
  • Create a good blend of soil/compost/peat to support your crops.
  • Pick seeds/plants with mature size in mind for each grid.
  • As with any new plant, water more often initially.
  • Harvest crops as they reach maturity.
  • Revitalize soil and replant in empty grids.

According to the Square Foot Gardening Foundation, “Compared to single row gardening, you get 100 percent of the harvest with only 50 percent of the cost, 20 percent of the space, ten percent of the water, five percent of the seeds and two percent of the work.”

With those statistics, square-foot gardening might just be worth looking into. But before making any decisions, take the time to get the specifics and a more detailed set of instructions to see whether square-foot gardening is right for you.

Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at


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