How to Make a Square-Foot Garden

This post is adapted from Partners of the Americas’ Agriculture and Food Security blog.

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Have you considered growing your own vegetable garden, but don’t think you have the space?  Square-foot gardens are a useful way for city-dwellers and suburbanites alike to grow fresh, organic vegetables on a budget. The gardens take up as little as 1 meter by 1 meter and can be built using local materials and resources. Partners’ Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Arlen Albrecht recently traveled to Guatemala to train urban and rural community members in building square-foot gardens, contributing to their household nutrition and food security. And today, we’re sharing his instructions with you.

7 Easy Steps to Build a Square-Foot Garden

  1. Location – Build the square-foot garden in close proximity to the house for easy access and maintenance. Choose a spot that gets at least 6-8 hours of sun each day and has good drainage.
  2. Size – start with a 1 meter by 1 meter garden. Create a border using wood, bricks, rocks, or other local materials. The size of the garden can be expanded in the future.
  3. Compost – Fill the square-foot garden with compost. In Guatemala, the following organic compost recipe was used:
    • Dry (brown) material (i.e., corn stalks, dry grass, leaves, straw, dried legumes, dried potatoes and tomatoes, etc.)
    • Green material (i.e., banana peels, rotten fruit, vegetable peelings)
    • Cow Manure (i.e., fresh or partially composted)

  1. Grid – Use branches, sticks, or wood to create a grid over the compost. The grid helps to:
    • Align plants
    • Group plants by type
    •  Maintain order
    • Improve general maintenance for growing 
  2. Fencing - Build a fence around the garden to protect it from chickens, rabbits, pigs, or other animals. Use local materials such as branches, large coffee sacks, or bamboo.

  1. Planting and Spacing – Plant seeds using the 1, 4, 9, or 16 method (learn more).
  2. Water, Maintain, Harvest, and Enjoy!

 
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