A look at ‘Square Foot Gardening’

Homeowner Judi Josephson
(left) and mother Judy DePeal (right) near flower beds at Josephson’s home in Perrysburg. (Photos: Enoch

PERRYSBURG – A tried and true method of gardening will be featured June 5 at Way Public Library.
"Square Foot Gardening" was introduced in a popular series of shows and books by Mel
Bartholomew and was all the rage in the 1980s.
A mother and daughter duo of master gardeners, Judy DePeal and Judi Josephson will present the basics of
the system at 2 p.m. at the library, 101 E Indiana Ave.
The women will introduce the basics of the system and include things to try.
They will also address the questions of those in attendance and the growing conditions in this area.
This free program is open to the public. No reservations are required, and refreshments will be served.

Those attending can bring worksheets and create gardens on pen and paper.
DePeal, the mother of Josephson, said, "People can plan using the system on the type of garden they
Both ladies tout the system as being economical, in its cost, as well as time and energy in tending to
the garden.
Rather than use a permanent grid, both ladies use a template to help them design their beds.
"The mobile template gives me more flexibility," Josephson said.
One feature in her garden is marigolds planted near tomato squares.
The pests are repelled by the marigolds, minimizing the damage to the tomatoes.

An example of square
foot gardening in the backyard of Judi Josephson.

Their information session at the library will conclude with a question-and-answer session where people
can talk about their individual needs.
Bartholomew introduced the system primarily for produce. However, both DePeal and Josephson have adapted
the system to include flowers, herbs and other items.
Josephson said she first became interested in gardening while living at home on the family farm where
there was at least half an acre behind the barn devoted to the garden. DePeal said she began gardening
at age 6.
The mother added she and her daughter’s place in Perrysburg have left them "planting in
concrete" – a reference to the heavy clay soil conditions.
By use of the raised beds in the square foot system, they are able to put the type of soil needed for
proper gardening into those beds and manage the garden without worrying about the soil conditions.
"We are not died-in-the wool, square-foot gardeners, but we have adapted it to what we want to grow.
We are not 100 percent but we use his (Bartholomew’s) methods because they really work.
"I tweak it for flowers and herbs, and I am now using the system for pots," Josephson said.
DePeal said that she also has tweaked it for the abundance of cut flowers she grows to give to friends
and family.
She said the raised beds are a virtual necessity for older gardeners.
"It is essential for the elderly," she said.
"It breaks it down and each square foot has its own properties," DePeal said.
"A lot of produce can be grown in a little area," Josephson added.