When planting a traditional garden with conventional rows, approximately 100 square feet per crop per individual are necessary to provide fresh food for a season. An additional 100 square feet per person is required if additional crops are to be preserved. As an alternative, using a raised bed with small-scale divisions can yield an abundance of food per individual. A 4-foot x 4-foot raised bed organized on the scale of 1-foot x 1-foot divisions provides a reduction in space to 16 square feet for fresh foods. An additional 4-foot x 4-foot raised bed organized on the scale of 1-foot x 1-foot divisions can provide a total of 32 square feet if preserving for later use per individual. The idea of small-scale gardening revolves around the practice of intensive gardening in a reduced space.
Small-Scale Gardening consists of a few simple steps:
- Build a raised bed
- Fill with appropriate growing medium
- Plot the grid to the intended scale
- Select, organize, and plant at the proper time
- Maintain (fertilize & irrigate)
- Enjoy fresh foods or preserve the harvest
- Begin with the construction of a 4-foot x 4-foot raised bed. For more information on raised beds, see HGIC 1257, Raised Beds. For alternate-sized beds, plan accordingly.
- Line the bottom of the raised bed with cardboard for weed control and fill with growing medium. Consider using a commercial planting mix or see information in HGIC 1257, Raised Beds regarding soil mixture. Lasagna gardening is another option.
- Mark the grid by measuring at 1, 2, and 3-foot intervals along the frame in one direction and then again in a perpendicular direction. If the bed is longer than a 4-foot x 4-foot, plan accordingly. Pushpins or nails can be placed at each measurement to allow for stretching & fastening string in the appropriate lines. Make sure lines are tight. The use of a lattice structure is also an option.
- Diagram & organize plantings by type and proper planting time. For more information on planting dates for a particular area in South Carolina, see HGIC 1256, Planning a Garden. If planting a vegetable that climbs, place a trellis at the north side of the raised bed and orient those crops in that location.
- Once properly organized, begin to plant.
- Fertilize plants according to a soil test report as needed. For more information on soil testing, see HGIC 1652, Soil Testing. Irrigate as needed, and use a rain gauge to monitor rainfall.
- Approximate times to maturity and harvest can be found in Table 4 of HGIC 1256, Planning a Garden. As plantings ripen, it is time to pick, clean, prepare, and enjoy fresh foods or to preserve the harvest.
- Experiment with the arrangement and number of plantings in future growing seasons.
Sample Planting Guide
|flat leaf parsley||chives||cinnamon basil||catnip|
|Russian tarragon||Thai basil||sage||dill|
|French tarragon||peppermint||hot & spicy oregano||bee balm|
A 4-foot x 4-foot raised bed can be easily organized to plant 16 different herbs, with each herb occupying a 1 square foot space.
LayLa Burgess, ©2018 HGIC, Clemson Extension