Traditionally planting is done in long thin rows. If you fertilize and water a bed with a few long thin rows, you get a great crop of weeds and less than a maximum yield of the fruits and vegetables you want per square foot of soil.
There has to be a more logical way, based on 3 dimensional thinking.
An innovative book, Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew logically examines the space and nutritional needs of various plants, enabling you to lay them out scientifically rather than randomly, per the graphic above. The end result is higher yields, fewer weeds, less watering, less environmental impact, and less work.
This year, I'll be replacing a chunk of my front lawn with a series of 4x4 foot beds, filled with vegetables and flowers laid out via a Square Foot Gardening plan.
Not only will I have more fresh foods for the table, I'll have less grass to maintain, so I'm canceling my 'mow and blow' service and buying a push mower.
As I continue to strive for better personal sustainability and self sufficiency, Square Foot Gardening is one piece of the puzzle that adds to my efficiency.