This post is adapted from Partners of the Americas’ Agriculture and Food Security blog.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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
- 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.
- Planting and Spacing – Plant seeds using the 1, 4, 9, or 16 method (learn more).
- Water, Maintain, Harvest, and Enjoy!