Local food security - principles of Squarefoot gardening

The principles of squarefoot gardening, and why we will teach them

Square-foot gardening is a gardening method developed by Mel Bartholomew in the 1980s. It is a simple and efficient way of growing plants in a small space using raised beds divided into square-foot sections.

The principles of square-foot gardening are as follows:

  1. Raised Beds: Square Foot Gardens are built in raised beds, which are typically 4 feet by 4 feet or 4 feet by 8 feet in size. Raised beds provide better drainage, aeration, and soil structure, making it easier for plants to grow.
  2. Grid System: Each raised bed is divided into a grid of equal square-foot sections. This grid helps with plant placement, organization, and makes it easier to manage the garden space.
  3. Intensive Planting: Square Foot Gardening utilizes intensive planting techniques, meaning that plants are placed closer together compared to traditional row gardening. This maximizes space utilization and minimizes weed growth.
  4. Companion Planting: The concept of companion planting is emphasized in square-foot gardening. Certain plants have natural affinities for each other, benefiting from their proximity. Companion planting helps with pest control, pollination, and overall plant health.
  5. Soil Mix: A customized soil mix is used in square-foot gardening, typically composed of equal parts of compost, vermiculite, and peat moss. This mix provides a fertile, well-drained, and nutrient-rich environment for plants to thrive.
  6. Succession Planting: Continuous planting is encouraged in square-foot gardening. As one crop is harvested, another is immediately planted in the same square foot section, maximizing the use of available space and ensuring a continuous supply of fresh produce.

Now, let's discuss why teaching square-foot gardening at school can be beneficial:

  1. Space Efficiency: Square Foot Gardening is ideal for schools with limited space. It allows for productive gardens in small areas, making it feasible even in urban or confined school settings.
  2. Hands-on Learning: Gardening offers students the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning experiences. They can observe the plant life cycle, understand the importance of soil health, learn about companion planting, and witness the rewards of their efforts as they harvest their own produce.
  3. Environmental Awareness: Teaching square-foot gardening promotes environmental awareness and sustainability. Students can learn about composting, water conservation, and the benefits of growing food locally, reducing their ecological footprint.
  4. Healthy Eating Habits: Growing their own food can encourage students to develop healthy eating habits. They can learn about the nutritional value of fresh produce, try new fruits and vegetables, and gain a better understanding of where their food comes from.
  5. Teamwork and Responsibility: Gardening fosters teamwork and teaches students the importance of responsibility. They can work together to plan, plant, maintain, and harvest their garden, learning valuable life skills along the way.
  6. Connecting with Nature: Square Foot Gardening provides an opportunity for students to connect with nature and develop a deeper appreciation for the environment. It can instil a sense of wonder, curiosity, and respect for the natural world.

Overall, teaching square-foot gardening at school can provide a multidisciplinary learning experience that integrates science, math, environmental studies, and health education. It empowers students to become active participants in their own food production, fostering a sense of self-sufficiency and promoting sustainable practices.