The Calais resident travels to City Market every month during the growing season to teach the popular square foot gardening class, showing people how to build beds and pathways, create perfect soil, plant in grids, trellis, practice succession planting, and keep a garden notebook to reflect on each unique season. I caught the square foot gardening bug myself when I attended one of Peter’s classes a few years ago. What makes square foot gardening really unique is its preciseness in how many seeds of different vegetable and flower varieties you can plant in each square foot for optimum yields. People who have kept gardens will be familiar with the emphasis on creating high-quality soil (you receive instructions for how to mix your own perfect soil and maintain it year after year), raised beds (especially useful in urban areas that may have compromised soil), and planting vegetables in rotations, but the concept of planting very densely in a small space is new to most people. Drawing your own grids and planning a garden begins to feel like child’s play, a fun, interactive way to really get a handle on gardening and not let it daunt you. While we didn’t end up building a square foot garden that year, I return to the principles again and again, thinking about packing seeds in closely, in well-defined areas, and popping in flowers like marigolds here and there to delight my visual sense, as well.
If you don’t have the tools to make your own box, you could check out this premade square foot garden box as well. We made a bit of a mistake at HD-we allowed the store employee to pick our boards for us (they were heavy!). Since we knew the exact lengths we needed, we had the HD employee to cut the wood right there. We lay the boards on a flat surface (patio) and screwed the corner brackets on the insides.
Finally, we drilled screws into the tops at 12″ intervals to divide the gardens into squares. A note on plywood (I do realize this is a little late for the summer growing season, LOL, but maybe it will help out someone else next season): as the name implies, this item is a composite of several layers of wood. I’m a first time gardener…I’m planning a couple of boxes just like these sice they are going right against my fence.
But, for reference, I think I might live in the windiest place in Utah, and my garden grows just fine. It’s not unusual for people to linger after the class to pepper Peter with questions, or to return to take the class again to soak in the material more deeply and look for more advanced techniques to improve on what they are already doing. With two children under the age of five, I was curious about how to incorporate more gardening into our lives without adding too much additional stress. For elders and children, and everyone in between, it’s a neat way to think about gardening and guarantees success in small spaces.

It’s a great class for new and seasoned gardeners who want to get started gardening or think about it in a new way.
For the bottom, you can use any material that you can put holes in or already has holes in it so the water stays in the soil but doesn’t pool and flood the roots. Drill holes in the wood for the screws.  Make sure the holes are drilled into both pieces of wood in the places you want them. This was much easier than with vinyl boxes because the wood is sturdier and won’t pop apart.
I just put in some raised beds this year using prebuilt boxes from my local recycling center. So putting it on in the fall and letting it sit all winter, then tilling it in early spring will be your best bet. We are ready to place plants into our small plot and I just saw on yours and another website that pressure treated is not good. My main suggestions are to check out the plant spacing and companion planting information as you decide where to put things. I drilled a hole big enough for my router blade, then put down a jig to guide my router and finished boring out the hole. For woodboxes, make them by putting a screw in the top every foot, then connect with kite string.
I put gravel around mine, and that covers the small part at the bottom between the rail and the ground. Like many urban gardeners, I have a limited area in my backyard to garden, and Peter’s promise of bountiful yields of organic vegetables and colorful flowers in small spaces captured my imagination. No content on this site, including text and photos, may be reused in any fashion without written permission.
Since we were building against a fence, we made them only two feet deep (as far as it’s comfortable to reach). We used two brackets per corner, and secured one in each corner, squared it up, then screwed in the rest. We started with a layer of compost (some chicken, some steer) then added peat moss and mixed it up. They cost me $1.50 each for a 3.5 X 4 foot box that are about 2 feet tall made of pine boards!

Second, your drainage may not be sufficient, depending on the slope and how well the soil beneath it drains. You could at least treat the outside, or treat the inside and add some layer between the box and soil (cardboard, plastic, etc.). I didn’t think to stain them, but I bet that will help the wood last longer, love your oops color! They are a natural source of nitrogen to fertilize your garden, and I love the way they smell!
Another option would be to use a jig saw, a table saw (it would take two cuts), a skill saw, or even a simple hack saw. They were kinda a pain to pick up since I had to get a friend with a truck to transport them for me, but for some huge boxes premade it was worth it. I would love to plant, Roma tomatoes, Serrano peppers, cucumbers, onions, watermelon, green beans, strawberries, herbs… Thank you!! If you want to do less work and you’re willing to risk grass growing in your garden, this is what I would do.
Raised garden beds, including square foot gardening, puts plants up higher and uses a soil that is less compact, so the plants are more likely to be negatively impacted by the wind.
Then we added perlite (a cheaper option than vermiculite), mixed again, and then more compost on the top, along with the coffee grounds. Would I be able to just till up the top of the soil, grass and all, and then mix in the manure (and maybe some purchased topsoil) and plant in that? It seemed that it was easier to get shorter boards that were straight–the 16 footers all seemed problematic. And, should I prepare the soil this way in the fall, or wait until spring, a few weeks before I would plant? I’m implementing companion planting so in just one square there may be 1 plant and like 6 herb plants lol.

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