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Square Foot Gardening: the basis of the Planty Garden

Mel Bartholomew was the man behind Square Foot Gardening: a new way to grow vegetables. His method is at the heart of the way Planty Gardening works.

The fact that I have a nice vegetable garden - and made a website and a book about it - I owe largely to him.

Who was Mel Bartholomew?

Mel was a structural engineer. He retired early and got even more deeply into his favorite hobby: gardening.
Mel Bartholomew - de uitvinder van Square Foot Gardening
Mel Bartholomew

Why start a new gardening method?

Mel was soon asked to start a local community garden.

His time there got him thinking. He wondered about a number of things:
  • Why do you add fertilizer and dig up the entire plot if you only use 25% for planting vegetables?
  • Why do you sow whole bags of seed if you have to remove most of the seedlings later?
  • Why is it that you spend most of your time in a vegetable garden fighting weeds?
  • Why do you sow in rows?
  • Why do you sow more than you can eat?
He described his observations in his first book. It's a really fun read. And it explains why he came up with a different way of gardening.

For over 40 years

Mel's first book came out in 1981. It was called Square Foot Gardening:
Het originele boek van Square Foot Gardening
Mel's first book
He gave lectures throughout the US and had a weekly show on public television. He developed a program for school gardens, elementary schools in particular.

At the same time, he kept developing and improving his method. In 2006 he published a new book: All New Square Foot Gardening:
Moderne versie van Square Foot Gardening
This is the book that did it for me

In memoriam

Mel passed away when he was 85 years old. Despite his illness, he was active until the end. He leaves a remarkable legacy behind.

His books inspired countless people over the past four decades. Today his approach is used worldwide with great success. Just think: all the gardens with square patches out there wouldn't exist without Mel.

Mel was happy that I wanted to work with his approach in the Netherlands and make a website about it. He trained me as an SFG teacher and was always ready to give me advice. When I got my SFG certificate he was proud that - at the time - I was the youngest teacher ever. I was 15 then.

Mel's dream

I'm proud to have known Mel. He actually made the world a little better in his lifetime and left it better than he found it.
Square Foot Gardening project in Sri Lanka
SFG project in Sri Lanka
Mel put his heart into fighting hunger.

He did this without too much fanfare, but by bringing his way of gardening to the people who he thought needed it most: in developing countries, institutions, etc.

I was in contact with him about this and want to do my best to continue that part of his legacy.

More about Mel's work

I could go on and on about Mel and SFG, but I'll let you explore his work yourself.

If you want to know more about his projects, there's an SFG website:

And this is his blog where he posted from 2011 to 2013: Mel's blog.

Prefer a video? Here you go:
Thank you Mel, for your amazing legacy.

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