Gardening in the City
Square Foot Gardening is simple, fun, and provides an opportunity to involve people from multiple generations. It is a great way to connect with neighbors and with God. Sharing experiences through gardening builds relationships and grows community (and some yummy veggies).
Square Foot Gardening (SFG) is a raised bed gardening concept developed by Mel Bartholomew as an easier, more efficient way to garden; and is based on the concept that most plants only need 1 square foot of growing space. SFG produces a large harvest, using a small amount of space over an extended period of time.
I grew up on a farm; and as an adult, I have always wanted a garden of my own, but I live in Atlanta. I thought having a garden in Atlanta would be impossible, until I discovered Square Foot Gardening.
SFG is a raised bed gardening concept, developed by Mel Bartholomew as an easier, more efficient way to garden; and is based on the concept that most plants only need 1 square foot of growing space. SFG produces a large harvest, using a small amount of space, over an extended period of time. Below, you will find the supplies and steps you need to get started.
This project can get expensive, so look for free supplies. I was able to get wood, PVC pipe, and compost for free.
*Four pieces of 2x6 untreated wood
*Drill and screws
*Seeds or plants
*Mel’s Mix- 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss (You will have to calculate the amount you need to fill your size box.)
*String for the 1x1 squares
*Trellis Materials- A trellis can be made from a variety of materials. I used:
3 pieces of PVC pipe, 2 PVC pipe connector pieces, Nylon string or webbing,
1. Construct Your Box and Trellis
Your box can be any length, but should be at least 6 inches deep and no greater than 4 feet wide so you can reach the middle. Attach your boards end-to-end using 2 large screws on each side. Place your box on top of your weed guard. Create your grid by measuring and marking your square feet and then drilling small screws halfway into the wood. Then tie the string around the screws to create the grid.
The support beams of the trellis should be attached to the outside of the box or secured into the ground. I used PVC pipe to create a 6 feet tall frame, rebar to secure the trellis into the ground and string for the web.
The best part of this project is deciding what to plant. Mel Bartholomew’s book is a great resource for planning your garden, but a lot of information can also be found online. First, make a list of things you want to plant. Then, research the answers to the following questions for each plant:
- What is the time period for planting where you live? For a continual harvest you can plant once a week for the entire planting period of a vegetable.
- Can this plant be started from seeds outside or do the seeds need to be started inside? Keep in mind; you can also purchase mature plants for your garden.
- How long does it take this plant to mature?
- How many seeds/plants can grow within 1 square foot? Carrots can grow 16 per square foot, but watermelon needs 2 square feet to support 1 plant.
Once you have your planting calendar, it is time to purchase your seeds, fill your box with Mel’s Mix, and start planting.
Scripture is full of farming and gardening references. Jesus speaks of pruning, harvesting, growing, seeds, fruitfulness, etc. The tending, pruning, harvesting, and waiting for growth have been steady reminders of my walk with the Lord and have inspired new ways of understanding the Scriptures and communicating them to others.
I hope you enjoy this hobby as much as I have!
AJ works as an Education Director for the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta. She spends her time outdoors, traveling, reading and making kingdom disciples of the next generation. She blogs at www.ajayne.blogspot.com.