Square Foot Gardening
16/01/2014 Square Foot Gardening Guide
Square Foot gardening is a system which was developed by an American engineer called Mel Bartholomew, and it is a great way to fit lots of vegetables into a small space.
It is also great for schools because it makes it much easier to build maths and English activities into the garden. Children can compare the output from different squares and they can take full part in the planning. Older children can do lots of maths comparisons between crops and space using both measuring and calculation skills. For example:
- Children can work in teams looking after a certain square. They can try to plan which crops to grow in their square and work out how many to plant in the space.
- Children can count how many vegetables are harvested from a square over the months it is in use.
- Children can also look at the length of time a plant is in the ground. Some squares could have more than one quick growing crop during the same time that another square has only one slow growing crop.
- Children can find out the prices of vegetables in the shops and see which square yields the highest price - this gets them to think beyond volume of yield and work out the value of a plant.
- Most importantly children can compare the taste of foods from different squares and decide which was the tastiest square!
Obviously you can use square metre gardening instead if you wish, and just divide it into 25cm squares instead of one foot squares. This will make maths calculations easier than using the 4x4ft squares used in the system.
Food For Life publish this handy guide to square foot gardening for schools which you can download for free.
If you're interested in this idea you can watch this half hour video about square foot gardening which goes through lots of the ideas you need when planning a square foot garden. It also explains how marking beds out into grids allows our brains to think and plan more creatively about planting in blocks and to visualise the space and how we could use it.
The system is well worth a look and if you have limited space it is a godsend as it crams in way more produce than many other systems. Of course if you have rectangular beds already built in your garden you can use those, just break them up into squares.
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