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All New Square Foot Gardening

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  4,959 ratings  ·  676 reviews
Do you know what the best feature is in All New Square Foot Gardening? Sure, there are ten new features in this all-new, updated book. Sure, it's even simpler than it was before. Of course, you don't have to worry about fertilizer or poor soil ever again because you'll be growing above the ground. However, the best feature is that anyone, anywhere can enjoy a square foot g ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 14th 2006 by Cool Springs Press (first published February 1st 1981)
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All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel BartholomewLasagna Gardening by Patricia LanzaWestern Garden Book by Kathleen Norris BrenzelCarrots Love Tomatoes by Louise RiotteFour-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
Gardening Books
1st out of 288 books — 102 voters
The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla EmeryThe Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John SeymourThe Backyard Homestead by Carleen MadiganAll New Square Foot Gardening by Mel BartholomewPut 'em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton
4th out of 151 books — 84 voters

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Community Reviews

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UniquelyMoi ~ 1-Click RockChick

Includes Photos of Our Own Garden

Mel Bartholomew is famous for his Square Foot Gardens, and in All New Square Foot Gardening, he gives us the tools we need to have the garden of our dreams. Pictures, easy to follow illustrated instructions, tips and tricks... regardless of the level of your gardening expertise, this is a must have book!

We live in the High Desert of Southern California where the soil is either sandy or like clay. We haven't had much success with our gardens in the past, but th
I guess whatever works for people is great, and it seems like he has a lot of converts...but I sure wasn't crazy about Mel's method and even less so about his delivery. It is like listening to a used car salesman - and immediately after saying that while I was reading, I read the next paragraph, where he compared his book to a brand new shiny Cadillac. Sheesh.

He essentially advocates container gardening, cloaked in the guise of shallow 6" raised beds. The beds are self-contained, filled with a
Debra Cleaver
Aug 03, 2007 Debra Cleaver rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gardeners!
Shelves: reference-books
this is my favorite gardening book. what can i say? there's a man with a neck beard on the cover. his name is mel. mel is more or less my favorite person on the planet. he retired from his job as an engineer at 42 and then turned to gardening. when you set an engineer loose in a backyard gardening, you get precision gardening. basically, he figured out how closely you can plant things so that you get the maximum yield per square foot. each individual plant produces less, but the overall yield is ...more
If I were rating this gardening method, I would give it five stars. No question. But alas, I'm rating the book, and I kind of hate it. The information in it is awesome, but the delivery feels less like a book and more like an infomercial...a really, really long infomercial. Seriously, the whole thing just sounds like a sales pitch. Look, Mel, your method is amazing. It's wildly popular and successful. You don't need to sell it anymore. We are all coming to this book because we are (for the most ...more
Want to grow a veggie or flower garden but don't think you can? Think again. No excuses of not enough space, no yard or no ability. This is the book for any person with any skill level with just a patio or a yard, for the professional or for the handicap in a wheel chair. School children and 3rd world countries have used this technique with great success. I read this book in 1 afternoon and then my 13 year old son and husband built my boxes in 1 more afternoon. I'm taking pictures along the way ...more
May 22, 2009 Jared rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people with really lousy soil
Mel Bartholomew is a huge advocate of box gardening. Box gardening is a great idea, especially when you have alkaline clay like we have in our backyard. Constructing the boxes is a snap -- okay, more like a whine, because it takes a drill. He doesn't emphasize enough, though, that the gardens take a huge amount of water, because the wood seems to wick the water away from the dirt.

Stuff seems to grow well in Mel's Mix, if you plant it in the right part of the season. Last year we planted quite la
I agree with the review just before mine in almost every respect. What I personally found most insensitive in the book was his plan to bring his method of farming to so-called "developing nations". The way he talked about it was so patronizing that if only I had read that first (it's at nearly the end of the book) I would have never read any further. He dismisses other cultures' diets in a single sentence and, as the previous reviewer notes, acts like the only reason people anywhere are starving ...more
Such an anal approach to gardening that you can't help but succeed at it. I love an anal approach (that's what she said) so I was all over this.
Honestly, if you can get past the bragging and boasting about how great Mel thinks he is, and how the SFG method TAKES! UP! LESS! SPACE! and how it's revolutionary and how everyone else is doing it wrong, it might be an okay book. But gosh, I think on every page of the forty I read, he mentioned something about how this garden takes up less space. WE GET IT, MEL, it's why we picked up the book! I couldn't take it anymore. I just wanted to read about gardening. You can learn all you need to know ...more
My garden roughly follows Mel's plans, so this was clearly an influential book as I built my first garden. However! According to Mel, I don't have a square foot garden because I don't use a physical grid. And I plant a little haphazardly. I mean, it's a great system in a lot of ways, but you don't have to follow the rules. This kind of garden drill sergeant business is not for me, so I just focus on the information in the book that is useful to me and carry on.

There is a lack of detail on some
Mike (the Paladin)
I'm going to have to buy this I suppose...I have the library copy. I grew up on a farm and now that I'm, not so young, I have a bit of time to grow things.

Time, but my body is shot, my knees won't bend and my shoulders are week. Neither do i have a lot of money. Still I enjoy a little bit of gardening. Right now there is what had been a flower bed in front of our's now my basic vegetable bed. Some tomatoes, some bush beans, some onions. A few.

So, I finally got this book (I had to wait
I'm starting a new square foot garden this year. I am thrilled at the prospect of no weeds, less watering, and lots of produce! I already have little radishes, romaine, spinach, and some wild flowers popping up!

I'm sure I'll refer to this book all summer. For the first time I am really ready to have a fall garden too. I always say I'll plant a second crop, but by the end of summer and all the weeds I'm tired of gardening. I think this may be the easiest and most enjoyable way to garden!
I purchased my 1981 edition of SQUARE FOOT GARDENING in the early 1980's when I was fairly new to gardening. At the time I had limited space and my husband had built me some raised beds. I was able to invest both time and money and grew some fairly decent vegetables. What I learned is that smaller plants such as lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes and onions did well provided that you use good soil to avoid disease problems. It is also important for you to rotate crops.

Another plus was that it w
Neil Snyder
I grew with a traditional row garden and enjoyed eating the fruit and vegetables that came out of it. I also observed that we had to wait to get our first couple tomatoes when essentially all of the tomato plants began giving ripe fruit. Then it was time to begin canning. About a week later, we all of the canned tomatoes we wanted. We ate the three or four tomatoes a week on salads or in chilli, but after the canning was done, quite a few tomatoes went to waste simply because there were too many ...more
I'm not a beginner gardener... I've had 3 summer veggie gardens. I'm also not anywhere near experienced-gardener level and have become frustrated with the methods taught by my botanist husband who combines a rather unique mix of environmental long-term planning, old-timey row gardening, and plant pathology, not to mention a limited amount of time to assist me. The result was always extremely weedy, hard-to-navigate gardens that produce extremely unpredictable yields. I decided that neither of us ...more
Jan 24, 2008 Amber rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: small yard owners
In my small yard a good principle. I apply to the Ronco school of gardening--you know set it and forget it. That's right, I plant my seeds, let the sprinklers and sun do their thing and pray that I'll get more that 4 tomatoes.
I may like the book even better once I actually get a chance to use it the technique. I will probably buy it for reference since it had some good information. It had really good content and ideas, but there were a few details that rubbed me the wrong way.

A major thing that was irritating about reading through it: It read like a commercial. He was constantly patting himself on the back and saying how great the method was, different and better and easier than the way everybody else has always done

I first heard about this gardening method either watching the church's annual general report or seeing a link to it on the website. It was highlighted in a story about teaching poor people in third world countries or in big cities with tiny plots of growing space to start gardens. The church would go in to teach and most of the time they used this method. I was intrigued so I bought the book.

We always had a garden growing up and all I remember is LOTS AND LOTS OF WEEDING and never having
As a farm boy who never really wanted to farm, I do spend a great deal of time being nostalgic about my bucolic days in the country. At any rate, even though I refuse to have anything to do with cows (with the exception of eating them), I do at times return to the soil and grow a mess of vegetables.

Unfortunately, living in a gentrified urban area means that our small garden plot suffers from the usual ills of a former-ghetto environment -- do shards of glass count as clay, sand, or loam? Which i
The idea that I like is that it reminded me that I want to grow more things vertically this year to get the most out of my kitchen garden. I also love that it encourages you to get away from the mindset of planting in rows and following the seed packets word for word in terms of spacing. From experience, raised beds are excellent for starting a garden from scratch. I created and tended two 8'x4' raised beds when I lived in our former house that didn't have a backyard garden (we were in a townhou ...more
Mark Hartzer
For some reason, I had never heard of square foot gardening. An excellent idea which I plan to implement this coming Spring. Docked 1 star for a seriously incorrect way of determining if corn is ripe. Puncturing the kernel leads to disease. Midwesterners know that all you need to do is pinch the end of the ear. If it's still pointy, the ear is not yet finished developing. However, if it is blunt and fat, the ear is fully filled out and ready to harvest.
This is a very good book for anyone who wants to grow a market garden, even if there is little open ground to do so. By creating squares divided into specific grids, the author provides an easy guideline for would-be gardeners, who want results without too much work. For me, I found his chapters nicely laid out with tidbits on pests, water, soil, and structures.

While I don't use too much square footing as I have plenty garden space, I've seen it in action at a neighborhood open garden, where ea
Michelle Romary
He makes everything so complicated; my anxiety over doing everything perfectly almost prevented me from planting anything. Still, some good images & tips.
Incredibly annoying home-shopping-channel-esque tone made it difficult to get through this book. However, the actual material was very useful. If I rate to reflect the knowledge gained from the book, it would be a four or a five. If I rate the writing style I would give it a one. Sheesh, Mel, I already bought the book, why do you have to sell me the method at the beginning of every section? Highly obnoxious! Still, we are adhering pretty strictly to this book's guidance in setting up our garden ...more
This is a great book. Much easier to read and follow than the last one. I have two square foot gardens and the soil ready to go. I plan on growing some of my own greens and herbs this year. If it works great then I will build more for next year! This book makes gardening easy. The boxes cost me about $22 each and the soil, because I chose to do the easy pre-mix was more money, but I plan on starting my own compost so that next year the compost will be free and the vermiculite and peat moss will ...more
Not a bad read - just not a great one either. The author (who is certainly very smart and innovative) is also very self-congratulatory and it gets very old/annoying very fast. Also - how's this for irony: reading this book actually convinced me to NOT do square foot gardening. I still learned some good gardening basics (and a few new advanced methods). I don't regret reading this book at all. My approach is going to be to try and blend the best of both worlds - square foot gardening and single r ...more
Imagine gardening without turning over the soil, breaking up clods of earth and removing stones, testing the soil, fertilizing, or long hours of watering. Imagine growing 16 plants in a 4-foot square box in just 6 inches of soil, and plants that require just a cup or two of water once a week. Imagine a weed-free garden with no effort at all. Imagine a garden that fits into the smallest sunny spot of the yard, or even onto an apartment building roof. Doesn’t that sound like a garden minus most of ...more
The method advocated seems solid. The idea of a small garden that is as efficient as possible is great and has clearly created a culture of urban and other hyper local gardening. For this the book deserves 5 stars.


There are some serious problems with the book.
1). As a "how to" book it is devastatingly short on step by step instructions! (Eg. I now believe in composting, but have no real idea how to do it. For this I will turn to Pinterest or the Interwubs). This goes for many sections of
Plenty of reviewers have already described this book's major flaw: it spends far too much time trying to sell readers on how wonderful and revolutionary square foot gardening is.

Do yourself a favor and skip the first two chapters. Once you're past that tedious and unnecessary sales pitch, the book contains quite a lot of great gardening instruction, even for those who decide not to follow Bartholomew's basic approach. (Oh, you'll still have to wade through plenty of passages about how advanced
I really like this book. It is an invaluable resource every year when planting my garden. It is missing a few plants which I like to include, but contains at leat 95% of what I like to plant. The square foot gardening method in combination with companion planting has worked out very well for me. I recommend this for any gardeners regardless of how little or how much space you have to work with.
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