We here in Central Texas are fortunate for many reasons - award-winning BBQ, beautiful weather, the Texas Hill Country, did we mention BBQ? But one of our favorite benefits of Central Texas living is the unique opportunity for two ideal planting seasons. And lucky for us, we are currently in the peak of our late Summer, early Fall planting season!
If you’re new to gardening, don’t panic. You still have plenty of time to get started on your own veggie and herb garden, and we’re here to help.
Square foot gardening is an easy introduction to gardening and can produce bountiful results. It was introduced in 1981 by Mel Bartholomew and quickly became popular because it is so space efficient. Unlike row gardening, it eliminates unused space between plants and can be set up in 3 easy steps.
1. Build a box.
It’s as easy as it sounds. The box can be any size, just no wider than 4 feet, as the average adult can only reach about 2 feet across. If you’re gardening with children, your box should be no wider than 3 feet wide as a general rule.
We recommend cedar fencing, but any untreated 6” wide lumber will work. At TreeHouse, we also sell kits with pre-cut FSC certified wood to get you started.
Once your box is built, place it in a spot that gets 6-8 hours of sunshine per day and line the bottom with any weed blocking material - even cardboard works!
2. Fill your box with soil.
TreeHouse carries a soil mix made specifically for veggies and herbs ideal for raised bed gardening. The Ground Up’s Veggie & Herb mix is a blend of handcrafted vegan compost, dark-aged pine bark, expanded shale, large-grain angular sand, coconut fiber, vermiculite, special reserve greensand, vermicopost, microbial foods & essential minerals.
It is custom designed for growing edible gardens in contained environments and is perfectly balanced for planting all types of vegetables and herbs.
3. Make a grid and start planting!
Once your garden box is filled with soil, divide your box into square feet with string or a wooden grid. Depending on what you’re choosing to plant, you’ll need to plan out where you’re planting each seed or starter. Match up the recommended spacing for your plant with our grid below to determine how many plants you can put in each square foot. For example, if your plant requires 12” spacing, you can have one plant per square foot. If your plant requires 4” spacing, you can have 9 plants per square foot.
What do I plant? Should I start with seeds or transplants? It depends on the plant and the gardener. Do you want to nurture a plant from the start and have a wider variety of veggies/herbs? Then start from seed! Good plants to seed right now: Beets, borage, caraway, chamomile, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley, summer savory.
Start from transplants for hassle-free propagation - someone else did the work for you! Transplants for late September: All perennial herb plants, plus cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley. Veggies: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, chard, collards, endive, kale, lettuce, mustard.
I have a lot of shade in my garden, what should I plant? We carry a shade friendly wildflower mix from Native American Seed, a brand committed to providing native habitat for local wildlife and pollinators. The seed mix will give you a shaded patch of flowers buzzing with life!
And don’t feel limited to your back or front yard. Get creative! A raised bed square foot garden can be placed on a patio or even a balcony.
I am trying to kill or repel pests but don’t want to use toxic chemicals, especially on my edible garden. What should I use? Ecosmart carries a variety of products to kill various bugs. Most of their products exclusively use essential oils (Clove or rosemary oil for example) and are highly effective. For those looking to strictly repel, cedar chips offer a great all-natural option. You can even dilute the chips in water in a spray bottle for an indoor home repellent.
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or brand new to the soil, we hope you’ll take advantage of the season as we kick off Fall here in Austin. Stop by TreeHouse to equip yourself with everything you need for a bountiful harvest.