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Square Foot Gardening

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					           ‘Square Foot’ Garden                 Avoid using creosote as it may possibly dam-     As soon as each crop is finished, replace it
                                                age plants, soil dwelling creatures, and hu-     with a different one. This will help you to
If you haven’t got much space to grow           mans.                                            rotate crops, but you still need to plan a
vegetables at home or at school why not try                                                      formal crop rotation.
‘square foot’ gardening?                        Improve the soil inside the bed with garden
                                                compost mixed with some well-rotted              Crop Rotation
The ‘square foot’ garden is an American         manure. Make sure that the soil is weed
method of growing as many vegetables as         free and remove as many stones as possible.      As with any organic garden you need to ro-
you can in, as small a space as possible, us-                                                    tate the crops around the space. This is es-
ing a plot 120cm x 120cm (4ft x 4ft).           Divide the 120cm x 120cm area into sixteen       sential to ensure pest and disease control
                                                30cm (1ft) squares. This can be marked by        and prevent the same nutrients been taken
This space is all you need to grow a wide       nailing long shoe laces or string across the     from the soil all the time.
variety of crops. If you have more space you    box. See below.
could double the area.
However, the 120cm x 120cm (4ft x 4ft) is                                                            See Crop Rotation - HDRA factsheet
enough to get you started.

Creating a ‘square foot’ garden.                                                                 Planting methods and bed management.
Measure out a plot 120cm x 120cm. Edge                                                           Instead of sowing long rows of seeds and
the area with wooden boards.                                                                     then thinning out, the square foot garden
                                                                                                 uses a different method - ‘ station sowing’.
For more detailed instructions on developing                                                     •    Make holes of the right depth for the
a square foot garden why not visit the HDRA                                                           seed, at the spacing needed by the
Organic Network for Schools website.                                                                  plant (check the packet)
www.schoolsorganic.net                          Decide which crops you are going to grow.        •    Drop the seeds into the hole, then fill
                                                Each square is planted with a different crop,         with fine soil. For most plants 1-2
                                                using close spacing. When planning, this              seeds are enough, but for carrots and
Wood– brand new wood can be expensive.          make sure that the tallest plants are at the          parsnips use 4-5 seeds to ensure
Ask wood merchants for off-cuts and other       back of the bed, with sizes decreasing                some seeds germinate.
waste timber, or look for second-hand wood.     towards the front. The bed should face south     •    If more than one seed germinates,
                                                for maximum sunlight. Three examples of               simply snip off the weaker seedlings
Use untreated wood if you can and replace it    layouts are shown on the back of this leaflet.        with a pair of scissors. This means you
as necessary. Otherwise any preservative                                                              don’t disturb the roots of the other
used should be based on natural ingredients                                                           plants.
or one that acts as a water repellent.

                                                 Square foot gardening—A Student’s Guide
                                   Examples of crops in a ‘square foot’ garden
General                                                       Summer
     1
    2 x 3’’
                      2
                    rows
                                     3
                                   Tomato
                                                   4
                                                 Tomato
                                                                    1
                                                                   2x
                                                                                      2
                                                                               2 x Raddichio
                                                                                                       3
                                                                                                   4 x Herbs
                                                                                                                    4
                                                                                                               2 x Lettuce
                                                                                                                                 Square foot
 Sugar Peas     - Sugar Rae                                    Strawberries    1 x Hamburg       sweet majo- ‘Catalogna’
                                                                   2x
                                                               Pot Marigold
                                                                                  Parsley
                                                                               1 x Little Gem
                                                                                   lettuce
                                                                                                ram, parsley, 2 x Lettuce
                                                                                                winter savory,
                                                                                                  celery, leaf
                                                                                                                ‘Lollo Bi-
                                                                                                                  anco’
                                                                                                                                  gardening
      5               6           7                  8                                              parsley
  16x Leeks       4x Dwarf   4x Leaf Beet        4x Herbs
                                                                     5              6                 7               8
    ‘King       French Beans
                                                               8 x Buckler—    9 x Callaloo       Florence       5 x Celeriac
   Richard’        ‘Golden
                                                               leaved sorrel (leaf amaranth)       fennel
                    Sands’
                                                                4 x Lettuce
      9              10              11             12          ‘Catalogna’
  4x Lettuce    16 x Carrots     4x Lettuce     9x Cabbage
                                                                     9              10               11              12
                ‘Amsterdam                      Mini Savoy
                                                                 4 x Baby        4 x Baby        4 x French        Tomato
                  Forcing’
                                                                Sweetcorn       Sweetcorn           bean         ‘Gardener’s
                                                                 ‘Minipop’       ‘Minipop’        ‘Golden          Delight’
     13              14               15            16                                             sands’
   4 x Pot      16 x Beetroot     Onion mix        4x
   Marigold       ‘Boltardy’     ‘Paris silver- Nasturtium            13           14                 15             16
                                                                Limnanthes         6x             4 x Runner         4x
                                    skin’        ‘Alaska’
                                  ‘Purplette’                  douglasii and     Kohl rabi           bean          French
                                                                       a                        ‘Painted Lady’     beans
                                ‘White Lisbon’
                                                                 Little Gem                                      ‘Blue Lake’
                                                                   lettuce
 Spring
      1               2               3              4
     2x         4 x Hamburg      Leaf Lettuce   16 x Garlic                        Glossary
 Strawberries      Parsley
     2x         12 x Radish
 Pot Marigold      ‘French                                        Germination—when the plant starts to
                 Breakfast’                                        grow they develop a stem and roots.
       5              6               7             8             Manure—animal waste                                             A student’s guide to
  8 x Buck-      9 x Spring      16 x Carrots     Potato          Nutrients—minerals that plants need
 ler—leaved
    sorrel
                 Cabbage           ‘Nante’        ‘Swift’          to survive that are found in the soil.                       growing in a square foot
                                                                  Preservative—a chemical used to
   4 x Little
 Gem Lettuce                                                       protect wood.                                                        garden.
      9              10              11             12            Thinning out– taking out some
 16 x Carrots    Radish and        Potato          16 x            seedlings to give others more space.
   ‘Nantes’        Cress           ‘Swift’        Turnip          Water repellent—doesn’t let water in
                                                ‘Snowball’
                                                                   through the surface.                                               DUCHY ORIGINALS HDRA
     13             14               15           16                                                                                  Organic Gardens for Schools
     2x          rows Pea       Spring onion 9 x Summer
   ‘Douce        Provence’        mixture      cabbage
          ‘Square Foot’ Gardening                Dig out and remove any weeds and stones          Crop Rotation
                                                 from the area. Improve the soil inside the
Finding the space in school grounds to grow      bed with garden compost or some well-            As with any organic garden, crop rotation is
vegetables is not always easy. This, together    rotted manure.                                   crucial in a ‘ square foot’ garden. It helps
with the inexperience of some teachers and                                                        with pest and disease control, and prevents
many                                             Sub-divide the 120cm x 120cm (4ft x 4ft)         nutrient depletion. It may appear that having
students, can make growing vegetables seem       area into sixteen 30cm (1ft) squares. This       distinct areas for each crop would make ro-
like a daunting task. However, it is these       can be marked by nailing long shoe laces or      tation easier, because simply replacing
factors that make ‘ square foot’ gardening       string across the box. See below.                crops with another after they have finished is
ideal.                                                                                            a natural crop rotation. However, it is not
                                                                                                  always that simple. Square foot gardeners
The ‘ square foot’ garden is an American                                                          need to plan a crop rotation carefully. This
method of growing as many vegetables as                                                           is further complicated by the fact that tall
you can in as small a space as possible. The                                                      plants need to be near the rear of the bed.
area is 120cm x 120cm (4ft x 4ft).
                                                                                                       See Crop Rotation - HDRA factsheet
This space is all you need to grow a range of
crops. If you have more space you could                                                           Planting methods and bed management.
double the area. However, the 120cm x
120cm (4ft x 4ft) is ample to get you started.                                                    Rather than planting long rows of seeds and
                                                                                                  then thinning out, square foot gardens re-
Creating a ‘square foot’ garden.                                                                  quire a different technique. The suggested
                                                 Decide which crops are going to be grown in      method is ‘ station sowing’.
Measure out a plot 120cm x 120cm (4ft x 4ft).    your ‘ square foot’ garden. Each square is
Edge it with wooden boards.                      planted with a different crop, using close       1.    Make holes of the required depth for
                                                 spacing. When planning this ensure that                the seed at the spacing needed by the
Brand new wood can be expensive. A               the tallest plants are at the rear of the bed,         mature plant.
cheaper option is to ask wood merchants for      with sizes decreasing progressively to the
off-cuts and other waste timber, or use sec-     front of the bed, which should face south for    2.    Drop the seeds into the holes then fill
ond-hand wood.                                   maximum sunlight. Three examples of                    with fine soil.
                                                 layouts are shown on the back of this leaflet.
Try to obtain untreated wood and replace                                                          3.    For most plants 1-2 seeds are enough,
when it rots. Otherwise, any preservative        As soon as each crop is finished, replace it           but for carrots and parsnips use 4-5
used should be based on natural ingredients,     with a different one. This helps with the crop         seeds to ensure uniform germination.
or one that is just a water repellent. Try to    rotation, but planning for rotation is still
avoid creosote. It can be harmful to people,     essential.                                       4.    If too many seeds germinate, simply
soil-dwelling creatures and plants. It can                                                              snip off those not required, with a pair
leach into the soil after the wood has been      Square foot gardening—A Teacher’s Guide                of scissors, to avoid disturbing the
treated.                                                                                                roots of the remaining plants.
                                      Examples of crops in a ‘square foot’ garden
General                                                      Summer
     1
    2 x 3’’
                     2
                   rows
                                    3
                                  Tomato
                                                  4
                                                Tomato
                                                                  1
                                                                 2x
                                                                                    2
                                                                             2 x Raddichio
                                                                                                     3
                                                                                                 4 x Herbs
                                                                                                                  4
                                                                                                             2 x Lettuce
                                                                                                                               Square foot
 Sugar Peas    - Sugar Rae
                                                             Strawberries
                                                                 2x
                                                             Pot Marigold
                                                                             1 x Hamburg
                                                                                Parsley
                                                                             1 x Little Gem
                                                                                 lettuce
                                                                                               sweet majo- ‘Catalogna’
                                                                                              ram, parsley, 2 x Lettuce
                                                                                              winter savory,
                                                                                                celery, leaf
                                                                                                              ‘Lollo Bi-
                                                                                                                anco’
                                                                                                                                gardening
     5               6           7                  8                                             parsley
 16x Leeks       4x Dwarf   4x Leaf Beet        4x Herbs
   ‘King       French Beans                                        5              6                 7               8
  Richard’        ‘Golden                                    8 x Buckler—    9 x Callaloo       Florence       5 x Celeriac
                   Sands’                                    leaved sorrel (leaf amaranth)       fennel
                                                              4 x Lettuce
     9              10              11             12         ‘Catalogna’
 4x Lettuce    16 x Carrots     4x Lettuce     9x Cabbage
               ‘Amsterdam                      Mini Savoy          9              10               11              12
                 Forcing’                                      4 x Baby        4 x Baby        4 x French        Tomato
                                                              Sweetcorn       Sweetcorn           bean         ‘Gardener’s
                                                               ‘Minipop’       ‘Minipop’        ‘Golden          Delight’
    13              14               15            16                                            sands’
  4 x Pot      16 x Beetroot     Onion mix        4x
  Marigold       ‘Boltardy’     ‘Paris silver- Nasturtium           13           14                 15             16
                                   skin’        ‘Alaska’      Limnanthes         6x             4 x Runner         4x
                                 ‘Purplette’                 douglasii and     Kohl rabi           bean          French
                               ‘White Lisbon’                        a                        ‘Painted Lady’     beans
                                                               Little Gem                                      ‘Blue Lake’
Spring                                                           lettuce

     1               2               3              4
    2x         4 x Hamburg      Leaf Lettuce   16 x Garlic      Further Reading
Strawberries      Parsley
    2x         12 x Radish
Pot Marigold      ‘French                                     ‘ Square foot’ Gardening -
                Breakfast’                                        HDRA newsletter issue 153
      5              6               7             8                                                                            A teacher’s guide to
 8 x Buck-      9 x Spring      16 x Carrots     Potato       ‘ The square foot marches on’ -
ler—leaved
   sorrel
                Cabbage           ‘Nante’        ‘Swift’          The Organic Way issue 159                                   growing in a square foot
  4 x Little
Gem Lettuce                                                   ‘ Square Foot Gardening’ -                                              garden.
     9              10              11             12             Mel Bartholemew Rodale Press
16 x Carrots    Radish and        Potato          16 x
  ‘Nantes’        Cress           ‘Swift’        Turnip       ‘ Beds’ -
                                               ‘Snowball’
                                                                  Pauline Pears HDRA/Search Press, 1992                             DUCHY ORIGINALS HDRA
    13             14               15           16                                                                                 Organic Gardens for Schools
    2x          rows Pea       Spring onion 9 x Summer
  ‘Douce        Provence’        mixture      cabbage

				
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