The Benefits of Square Foot Gardening in a Greenhouse

In the pursuit of a sustainable and healthier lifestyle, I started home gardening to grow my own own fresh and organic produce. Among the various gardening methods available, one stands out as an efficient and rewarding approach: the square foot garden! I buil a greenhouse around it to get the maximum benefit of my square foot garden. In this post, I will share my personal experience of cultivating organic salads in my greenhouse and highlight the benefits of growing your food this way.

Square foot gardening
Let me first explain what Square Foot Gardening actually is. This method of intensive gardening that maximizes space and optimizes plant growth is founded and developed by Mel Bartholomew, who originally was a construction engineer. It involves dividing a garden bed into square foot sections (30 x 30 cm), using a grid. Each square is then carefully planted with a specific number of plants, depending on their size and spacing requirements. This approach minimizes wasted space and allows for efficient use of resources. By focusing on small, manageable areas, it promotes better organization, crop rotation, weed control, and higher yields. It’s a space-saving, time-saving, and highly productive way of growing a variety of plants in a small area.

Year round fresh salads for lunch
One of the key advantages of having a square foot garden in a greenhouse is the ability to grow your own organic salads year-round. I admit, it’s hard to keep your plate filled during the coldest time of the year in an unheated greenhouse, but it is doable. With full control over the growing conditions, I have created an oasis of vibrant greens, bursting with flavor and nutrition. Free from harmful pesticides and chemicals, these homegrown salads offer unparalleled freshness and taste, elevating my culinary experiences to new heights. This sustainable method of cultivating a bountiful harvest while having a minimal impact to the environment allows me to reduce my environmental footprint too.

Drought, the biggest risk in a greenhouse
Because it never rains in a greenhouse, the biggest risk is that your yield will die due to the high temperatures rapidly evaporating all moisture from the soil. To prevent this I don’t rely on manual watering. I have implemented an automatic (solar-powered) watering system that aligns with the power of the sun (and the temperature inside the greenhouse). This ingenious system charges a battery with a solar panel. Once the battery is full, the pump turns on for watering until the battery runs out. The battery starts charging again and the process keeps repeating. The intensity of the sun determines how often the plants are watered. this method of watering is a sparse way to water the plants without a lot of excess water spilled. The system pumps the water from a rain barrel, I replenish with tap water in dry periods without sufficient rain. This minimizes the use of high quality food grade treated tapwater.

Burned leaves, another big risk in the greenhouse!
In the scorching summer months, when the sun’s rays are at their peak, a shadow screen proves invaluable. This protective shield prevents burn and sun damage to delicate plants, shielding them from excessive heat and providing essential shade. Even though my roof is tempered glass, this is insufficient to protect the plants from the bright sun. In late spring, I start using shade screen under the roof. When the sun gets brighter in early summer, I also line the walls with shade screen. When the sun intensity decreases, I gradually remove the cloth from the greenhouse. With this simple yet effective measure, I can maintain optimal growing conditions for my salads throughout the summer period, ensuring their health and vitality.

Gardening day and night!
As daylight wanes during the evening hours, I’ve installed LED flood lights in the roof of my greenhouse. This thoughtful addition ensures that I always have sufficient light to work in the greenhouse, even after a long day at the office when darkness descends. With these energy-efficient lights illuminating my gardening space, I can tend to my plants, sow seeds, and carry out essential tasks, regardless of the time of day. This extension of daylight hours grants me the freedom to nurture my garden and indulge in the therapeutic aspects of gardening, even during busy weekdays.

Better than Yoga!
Beyond the tangible benefits of fresh produce and extended gardening hours, my greenhouse brings me immense joy and serves as a sanctuary to unwind from the demands of a hectic day. Stepping into this lush oasis enveloped in the nurturing warmth of the greenhouse creates an instant sense of tranquility. The scent of earth, the symphony of rustling leaves, and the vibrant colors of my plants all combine to create a serene haven where I can reconnect with nature, find solace, and recharge my spirit. I think I will spend a separate blog post on this topic in nearby future.

To conclude…
A square foot garden in a greenhouse offers a wealth of benefits for both the body and the soul. The ability to grow organic food year-round, is not only environmentally conscious but also immensely rewarding. The greenhouse becomes a sanctuary, a place to unwind, find solace, and reconnect with the natural world. As we cultivate our own produce and nurture our gardens, we embark on a journey of self-sufficiency, well-being, and an enhanced appreciation for the wonders of nature. So, embrace the joy of homegrown foods and let a greenhouse become your own – year round – personal oasis of freshness, delight, and tranquility.