Square Foot Gardening with Children

May 25, 2011

Post image for Square Foot Gardening with Children

For those of you who are Planting a Rainbow or Growing a Vegetable Garden, we thought our post on how to create a square foot garden might be helpful. It has been terribly dry in the Texas Hill Country these last few years. The soil mixture recommended in the book All New Square Foot Gardening has been a life saver. How about a little square foot gardening with your children this summer . . .

In our “at school” section we GIVING AWAY: Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert.


After our field trip to the Natural Gardener, I was inspired! Then I got an interesting phone call from my father, “Mama said you might like it if I made you some of those square foot gardens.” My response, “Sure!”

So a few days later Daddy showed-up with the cut wood ready to assemble. MacGyver acted as photographer on the job. He stalked Grandpa like the worst kind of paparazzi, snapping no less that 50 photos. (photo by MacGyver)

All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!

I love gardening but I am NO expert! If you would like to create a square foot garden as a classroom project or homeschool project, I would recommend the All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. Expert or not, gardening is always a huge success with children.

Step 1: Cut four, 4ft 2 x 6 boards. My father can make ANYTHING; however, Home Depot offered to cut the wood for him. Having someone else do it is always the easiest! (photo by MacGyver)

Step 2: Assemble boards with screws. (photo by MacGyver)

Step 3: Protect outside of boards with linseed oil. (photo by MacGyver)

Step 4: Mix the “dirt”: 1/3 blended compost, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 coarse vermiculite. This mixture has proven to be awesome! The book suggest throwing everything on a big tarp and turning the tarp to mix. I didn’t have a tarp. But I have two kids and a dog!

Now the real fun begins!

Ready, set, mix!

How about a little dirt here.

How about a little dirt there.

How about a little dirt flying in the air!

Step 5: Fill the square foot garden frames with the dirt mixture. (And take a little rest!)

Okay, enough rest! Time for more play!

Step 6: Plant one plant in each square foot. No, we’re not growing wire! However, the neighborhood deer eat EVERYTHING we plant! And Shadow digs-up EVERYTHING we plant.

What a difference one month makes! We’re very impressed with our little homeschool gardening project!

We’ve been observing the tomato blossoms with great anticipation!

Now, we have tomatoes! Maybe we’ll even have enough to share!

What are you growing in your garden? Maybe we can trade!

(This post was originally posted just about a year. Our FREE printables and links are still available. Our book GIVEAWAY this week is Planting a Rainbow. We’re sharing a sensory activity with the book Growing Vegetable Soup in our “at school” section. And we have a free printable book: We Went to the Farmer’s Market in our “out in the world” section.)

Life with Jeannine

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

amandab June 7, 2010 at 6:53 pm

I’ll have to show my husband this. It’s the second time I’e read about suqare foot gardening, and it seems like a good idea, is it a recent gardening phenomena? I can’t say I’ve heard of anything like it before recent times …

Certainly looks like a fun way for the kids to get involved in gardening!

Kathy June 7, 2010 at 8:02 pm

This is a great idea, I’m going to steal it immediately! What great photos of your kids getting involved and having fun too. So many things they are learning through this process.

One question – how did you deal with the issue of kids handling the compost? Or did you use a totally organic one? All the composts / potting mixes I’ve got have big red warning labels about handling with gloves only and not allowing near children until it’s been watered in.

Marita June 7, 2010 at 10:11 pm

That is a fantastic idea. Our backyard is all pavers at the moment but I’m thinking we might be able to do something a little similar in large tubs. Definitely an idea I will save for future home which hopefully will have a backyard.

Belinda June 7, 2010 at 10:32 pm

I bet they’ll be the sweetest tomatoes you ever tasted! What a great garden

min June 8, 2010 at 12:38 am

Thanks for sharing this! I’m going to forward it to my husband! It looks so easy and fun. But did you have trouble finding vermiculite as some of the reviewers mentioned?

Becky June 8, 2010 at 6:13 am

Ohhh this is cool. I am not much of a gardener. I am frequently unable to keep plants alive, but my hubby has a real green thumb and would love to do this with the girls and I – I am going to show him your post!

Busy Brissy Mum June 8, 2010 at 6:14 am

Looks like you might have to do what I’m about to do and put little fences around your gardens. We have possums eating our things.

Gardening with kids brings so much joy. They can be involved in every step from the planting to the watering to the nuturing. So great! Love this blog post!! (And I think your dad is the best for making those great garden beds for you. How kind.)

katepickle June 8, 2010 at 7:36 pm

ah spring planting…. in the sunshine and look at that lush green grass… a be still my southern hemisphere middle of winter semi frozen heart! LOVE love love the dirt mixing photos!

Debi June 11, 2010 at 1:23 pm

So jealous that you had someone handy to create these! We’ve just started container gardening this spring & are loving it. The kids especially enjoy planting and watering and are eager to enjoy the fruits of our labor. How fun!

jenny @ let the children play June 11, 2010 at 5:04 pm

This would be such a good idea in a preschool with little outdoor space. Thanks for sharing it with us (and playing in the mulch looked like so much fun!)

Christie - Childhood 101 June 14, 2010 at 5:55 am

I love the mixing – two children and a dog – classic! Good luck with the vegetable growing – we have managed tomatoes, zucchini and brocolli but have not yet mastered much else!

maryanne July 23, 2010 at 7:38 am

I want to try this out, but I have to convince DH to let me cover up some of our grass in a sunny part of the lawn first! Our biggest food thief right now is one very fat chipmunk. We have blueberries, but he gets them before us nearly every time! We also have tomatoes and strawberries growing, but nothing ripe on those plants yet.

Nicole (Mama to 3 Blessings) September 9, 2010 at 10:08 am

hi! 1st time visiting your blog! Stopping by The Homeschool Village. Wish you had a follow me button so I could get your posts in my dashboard, I would SO follow your blog! We recently did a square foot garden in our homeschool group, we are learning about plants the next few weeks & using our garden as a hands on learning tool. Great post – sounds like a great family! Nice to meet you!

Deb Chitwood @ Living Montessori Now September 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I was always tempted to try square foot gardening but never got around to it. It’s great to see it in action. What an awesome homeschool project! Love the photos!

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