Contributed by Tabitha Townley
Does social-distancing, quarantine, and self-isolation have you at home more with time to spare? Have you missed fresh vegetables at the local grocery store? If you’ve considered gardening since Covid-19 surfaced, I’ve got a beginner garden project for you.
I first learned about square foot gardening 4 years ago after I planted my first garden here in Seymour. I have a mixture of red clay, caliche, and random pasture rocks. It literally bent our tiller blades when we started our first bed. That year I constantly amended the soil with organic materials, manure, vermiculite, peat moss and anything else I read was good. It got expensive and honestly didn’t really improve the soil as much as I had hoped. After a summer of pulling more weeds than produce I started researching my options. I discovered the square foot gardening method founded by Mel Bartholomew (www.melbartholomew.com). It caught my attention because your existing soil doesn’t matter. Yes! Teach me!
What is square foot gardening?
The basic concept is to build a 4’X4’ raised bed and fill it with soil. Put it in a location with 6-8 hours of sun and divide it into one-square foot sections. Once prepared, fill it with good soil and add a different crop to each square foot.
Where do I start?
First, start thinking about where to locate your garden. It needs a ton of sunlight and a water source close. Gather up your tools. You’ll need a hammer, drill, staple gun and a saw.
Visit Snyder’s Steel and Hardware http://snydersstore.com/ for your materials. You’ll need two 2X6X8 boards ($6.05), a box of wood screws ($4.79), a box of panel nails ($3.29), some string ($3.79), and some landscape fabric ($24.99).
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Shop at The Feed and Seed Barn https://www.facebook.com/pages/Feed-Seed- /1664606623756822 for soil, vegetables, herbs, and/or flowers.
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How to assemble the box
1. Cut your two 2X6X8 boards in half and screw them together to make your box.
2. Measure and cut your landscape fabric and staple it to the bottom of the box.
3. Put your box in a sunny location and fill your box with soil. I like to put a layer of cardboard under my beds for extra weed control (thanks amazon!)
4. Hammer a panel nail every 1 foot around the box.
5. Tie string to the panel nails to create a square foot grid.
Fill your garden bed
The feed and seed barn has CocoLoco garden soil for $19 and each one covers 2 cubic feet. They have a wide variety of 4 inch pots of vegetables, herbs, and flowers for $2 each. The Dollar General also has a nice selection of seeds for 4 for $1. Here is a great planting guide to give you an idea of how much can be planted in each square.
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Can I involve my kids?
Absolutely! All Seymour ISD students are currently homeschooled. Along with the distance learning the school district has provided, gardening can be a real-life learning opportunity. Here are a few ideas I have used with my own children:
Math-perimeter, area, how to figure cubic feet, how to use a ruler/yard stick.
Science- pollination, the life cycle of a seed, photosynthesis, types of soil
Literature- Jack and the Beanstalk, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Secret Garden, The Little House on the Prairie Series
History- Any books about pilgrims, pioneers, Native Americans
Social Studies-USDA regulations, FDA regulations, map making, food and farm inventions, exploring what people in other countries and cultures grow and eat.
Nutrition- vitamins, minerals, disease prevention
Please visit our local library https://www.baylorcountylibrary.org/ and pick up some books and learn together!
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There are many benefits to having a square foot garden. The best part, in my opinion, is growing your own food. Almost zero maintenance is also high on the list. Most of the gardens produce high yields because of the quality of soil, proper drainage, aeration, and nutrition. Share with your neighbors, friends, and family. Have fun slowing down, trying something new, learning something new, and getting your hands dirty. Learn as you grow.