Gardening Methods: The Four Square Garden

gardening methodWe all want beautiful, healthy, productive gardens, but we all also know that planting the same crops in the same locations year after year isn’t the way to do it. In fact, it’s the opposite.

But there is a gardening method that results in a self-sustaining and even self-improving garden: the four square garden.

The Four Square Gardening Method

The history of the classic four-square garden goes back seven centuries, to the first English cottage gardens. The English cottage garden style was born not of abundance but in a society crippled by the Black Death of the 12th century. The plague so decimated the working peasantry that, to garner a work force for the landholding aristocracy, landlords offered land and cottages in exchange for crops. The gardens that sprouted up around these cottages became a hallmark of English culture for hundreds of years. (Click here to read more about the history of the four square garden.)

The “twist” that makes this traditional garden self-sustaining and self-improving is easy to understand and implement crop rotation,

. . . A four square garden simplifies the process of figuring out where to place your plants every year, since you are grouping plants based on plant family, while naturally building the soil to improve productivity.

. . .

Lettuce and other leafy greens, are grown in the bed marked “Nitrogen”.

Mark another bed “Potassium” for the root crops, to sow the carrots, beets, and onion family. Another bed will contain the “Phosphorus” loving crops, or anything that forms a fruit such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Finally, you will have “Soil Builders” which represent the legume family, including beans and peas, which release nitrogen back into the soil. At the end of the season, rotate the crops so the leafy greens will be planted where the legumes had grown, and the legumes where the root crops had grown, etc. (Click here to read the original article.)

By following this simple gardening method, you’ll end up with a beautiful traditional-looking garden that embraces the organic principles of caring for and improving your soil.

And you won’t have to go back to school to learn how to do it.

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