Q&A with The Mel Bartholomew Foundation for “Square Foot Gardening: Growing Perfect Vegetables”

By Shelley Pierce | April 1, 2018
Image by The Quarto Group
by Shelley Pierce
April 1, 2018

The Mel Bartholomew Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation based in New York. It was created to carry on work of Mel Bartholomew, originator of the Square Foot Gardening method and author of All New Square Foot Gardening. With more than 2.5 million copies of Square Foot Gardening books in print, Mel’s method of efficient, productive gardening has spread across the world. The Mel Bartholomew Foundation is dedicated to it mission of bringing fresh food into the lives of just about everyone on the planet.  In Square Foot Gardening: Growing Perfect Vegetables, readers are given the know-how to determine fruit and vegetable ripeness.  Read on to learn more and enter below to win one of two copies of this Quarto Group book!


1. The focus of this book is on vegetable ripeness. Some people may find this to be an unusual topic to devote a book to. Why was it important to dedicate a book to this issue?

Understanding when, exactly, a fruit or vegetable is ripe is essential to getting the best nutrient value from your food, and the best value for money for your grocery dollar, but there is a great deal of misunderstanding among both gardeners and producer shoppers about what ripe is, for different fruits and vegetables. This book was written to clear up that confusion.

2. How does this book help the reader to harvest or pick their produce at “the ripe moment”?

We provide concise directions for determining ripeness based on particular traits of a given fruit–from distinctive smells, to the right texture, to visual indicators like optimal color, shape, or size. Along with the pictures provided, the descriptions make for fool-proof ripeness detection.

3. What are some features in this book that readers will find interesting or helpful?

At-a-glance breakdowns of how much actual return on investment you’ll realize on anything you plant; simple, direct editorial voice that makes planning the right garden for your circumstances easy; fun and informative boxes.

4. Why is it best to ripen our vegetables the Square Foot Gardening (SFG) way?

You don’t necessarily have to grow the veggies using SFG … but the it’s the nature of SFG that, unlike in row gardens, the box is easy to scan from one vantage point. Most Square Foot Gardeners visit their boxes every day, which translates to the opportunity to harvest fruits and vegetables at just the right moment. That said, the information in the book is just as applicable to someone who may not have space to garden and buys all his or her produce.

5. Oops! I picked a vegetable or fruit too soon. Can your book help me after this blunder?

Many fruits and vegetables continue ripening off the plant (some even ripen best when picked early). The book contains tips for controlling picked produce ripening–including how to slow down or speed up the process.

Win one of two copies of “Square Foot Gardening: Growing Perfect Vegetables”!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, April 8, 2018 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

Which garden vegetable or fruit is difficult for you to determine ripeness with?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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  • Phillip Hatcher
    Comment added April 4, 2018Reply

    Watermelon always gives me fits. It’s so delicious when picked just at the right time, but pick too early or too late... How can you tell when it is ready but not past?

  • Roxana Zetino
    Comment added April 1, 2018Reply

    I hace troubles with citrus fruit because the available variaty doesn't change color when ripe so they are always green. It's always a bet to pick.

  • Maria Rose
    Comment added April 1, 2018Reply

    I usually follow the recommendations for root vegetables (potatoes,etc) and it works well. My problem is those veggies which have to be plucked like peppers especially when I am trying to get them to red state ( hot peppers like jalapeños ). I have to keep a daily eye on them so they don’t overripe.

  • DEBBIE RETTMANN
    Comment added April 1, 2018Reply

    I'd say the hardest ones for us, are the root vegetables!!! Beets, carrots, radishes, bunching onions-- we either pick too early, or a little late, it seems!!!

  • Jill Hanson
    Comment added April 1, 2018Reply

    Cantelope can be hard to determine if it is ripe.

  • Deborah Lynch
    Comment added April 1, 2018Reply

    I find that cucumbers tend to be the hardest for me. I'll look and say maybe one more day then all of a sudden it's too big and not as tasty. Such a bummer!

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