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Square Foot Gardening

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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

I love to garden. But growing a garden is hard work. Just think of all of the digging, and the tilling, and the pulling. Just talking about it makes my back sore.

But if you ask Mel Bartholomew, creator of Square Foot Gardening, it doesn't have to be that way. Mel guarantees 100 percent of your normal harvest using only 20 percent of the space and 20 percent of the water! And the best part: no digging, tilling or pulling weeds.

According to Mel, straight row gardens waste a lot of space with their stretched out rows and gaping aisles. The gardener can't get to the crops without stepping on the soil and packing it hard. Worst of all, there's no end to the weeds that sprout one after another.

The solution is to plant a square foot garden. It begins with a box at least 6 inches deep and small enough that one can reach into the middle of it from all sides. The box can be raised to waist level to avoid having to bend over or for those in wheelchairs. The box is filled with one-third compost, one-third peat moss and one-third coarse vermiculite. It's the perfect soil: one without weeds, but rich with nutrients. Next, a grid is placed over the box that divides the soil into square foot sections where the different crops will grow. After harvesting one of the squares, the gardener simply mixes in a trowel of compost and the square is ready for a different crop. It's more efficient than planting in rows and a trellis can still be used for growing vining plants like tomatoes and squash.

Mel has traveled the world teaching people about square foot gardening. He even teaches welfare missionaries who then go out and teach the method in developing countries. Mel runs a display garden that is open to the public in Eden, east of Ogden. On June 21 Mel will teach a class on the square foot gardening method. You can sign up on his Web site at The class is free — so long as you promise to pass the good word on to another person.

For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.

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