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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Sustainable Square Foot Gardening: How to Boost Your Health and the Health of Our Planet…from a Box!

Apr 29, 2011 02:19PM ● By Amie Guyette Hall

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates

Picture a piece of graph paper, only 4 squares across and 4 squares down. Now picture each of those squares measuring 12 inches, or one foot each. This 4’ X 4’ square will become your powerhouse to health. Join people of all ages, from all stages of life, across the globe as you discover the ease and joy of Square Foot Gardening! No work, no weeds, no kidding!

  All you need is a little motivation and interest in taking a teeny, tiny step toward a healthier, happier you. Square Foot Gardening is an easy way to save money, eat well and feel energized. You will become more connected to where your food comes from, how old your food is and how far it has traveled. As a result, your body will be thanking you, and you’ll be thanking yourself for learning about the freshest, simplest, most economical and environmentally friendly way to optimize your health!

  Simply put, it is an easy and successful gardening method where you build a box – fill it with perfect, weed free soil, called Mel’s Mix, place a grid on top and then plant a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers in each square. You plant one, 4, 9 or 16 seeds in each square foot depending on how large the plant grows. The seeds you plant will be the plants you grow, harvest and eat. There is no thinning out or waste of seeds.

  Just like the human body, in order to thrive and grow your Square Foot Garden it needs plenty of water. Water comes from rain or by hand. To water your Square Foot Garden by hand, take a cupful of sun warmed water and gently pour this on the base of the plant. As you nurture what you grow, the food you grow and eat will nurture you. Your box becomes a patchwork quilt of nutrient dense food, full of vital life force. Square Foot Gardening teaches built-in sustainability, as one square is harvested a trowel full of compost is added. The seeds you select to plant next, teach crop rotation. Planting can begin in early spring and continue into early fall. This is usually done two to three times during the growing season. Build enclosure for continued year round growing.

  Picture your Square Foot Garden as a patchwork quilt – perhaps a crazy quilt! Include the colors of the rainbow! You can grow as many as 16 different crops at one time – what does that look like to you? Start with ABC - arugula, beans, and carrots and keep going from there. When we plant and grow a variety of vegetables, we are more likely to prepare and eat them. Kale and bok choy are two sources of dark leafy greens which are a key nutrient most missing from the Standard American Diet (SAD). These plants hydrate us and help rid the body of toxins. Sweet root vegetables like carrots and beets help us to focus and lessen sugar cravings.

  We ask students, “What impact does having a garden at school or home have on our world?” Their answers include that we use less fuel, it reduces our carbon footprint, and that we aren’t using plastics or other packaging that might not be recycled and go into the landfills.

  Growing and consuming nutrient dense foods that have been grown from organic non-GMO or GE seed, without pesticides and herbicides using this easy sustainable method is something everyone can do – at home, at school and in any community location.

  Small steps, easy steps that will boost your health and the health of our planet. Happy Square Foot Gardening!

Square Foot Gardening was created by Mel Bartholomew in 1981. Books include The All New Square Foot Gardening Book, The Square Foot Gardening Cookbook, and The Square Foot Gardening Lesson Plan Book for Teachers. For additional information, and to “Boost Your Health from a Box” readers may access a FREE recorded teleclass at

Amie Guyette Hall is Holistic Health Coach based in Fairfield. Her business, From Your Inside Out, offers individual and group programs connecting children and families to their food. If you, your school or group, organization or company is interested in learning more about upcoming Square Foot Gardening workshops, events and demos contact Amie at 203.256.0426 or visit

SFG Ideas:
Humanitarian Efforts
Public/Home Schools
Eagle Scout Projects
Young Women Projects
Senior Centers
Community Gardens
Home Gardens

The Ten Basics of Square Foot Gardening

– Arrange your garden in squares, not rows. Lay it out in 4’ by 4’ areas.
BOXES – Build boxes to hold a new soil mix above ground – only 6 inches deep.
AISLES – Space boxes 3’ apart to form walking aisles.
SOIL – Fill boxes with special soil mix: 1/3 compost (made from many different ingredients), 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 coarse vermiculite. Existing soil doesn’t matter.
GRID – Make a square foot grid for the top of each box to organize the garden for planting.
CARE – Never walk on the growing soil. Tend your garden from the aisles. Few, if any, weeds sprout and are easily pulled with fingers. Soil stays loose and friable. Easy to protect from weather.
SELECT – Plant a different flower, vegetable, or herb crop in each square foot, using spacing of 1, 4, 9 or 16 plants per square foot. Crop rotation happens naturally.
PLANT – Conserve seeds. Plant only a pinch (2 or 3 seeds) per hole. Place transplants in a slight saucer-shaped depression. Plant only what you will use during each season. No waste.
WATER – Ideally water by hand from a bucket of sun-warmed water (hose or drip system okay).
HARVEST – When you finish harvesting a square foot, add compost to replenish nutrients and replant with a new and different crop.

Pick an area that gets 6-9 hours of sunshine daily.

Stay clear of trees/shrubs where roots/shade may interfere.

Have it close to the house for convenience and protection.

Existing soil is not really important. You won’t be using it.

Area must not puddle after a heavy rain.

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