By Louie Graves
In trying to describe the Square Foot Gardening concept to Nashville Rotarians April 4, Rita Rector used the Western Sizzlin’ meeting room as an example.
She said: A 4’x4’ square raised-bed garden can produce as much food as a row garden the size of this room.
Rector meets with groups and clubs to promote the gardening concept and says that the square garden saves 98% of the work of a conventional garden.
The right location is important, she told Rotarians. The garden needs 6-8 hours of sunlight each day.
She said that a weed barrier should be placed on the ground inside a 4×4 box frame. Grass, ground or gravel can be under the barrier, and the sides of the box need to be at least six to eight inches high.
A growing medium of peat moss, blended compost and vermiculite is next, and the medium should be at least six inches deep. That depth is enough for practically any vegetable, she said, excepting long carrots. “There are several other varieties of carrots which can be grown, however,” she pointed out.
She suggested that the gardener could maintain a composting effort in order to get the best growing medium year-after-year.
A wooden frame grid is next, creating 16 separated square foot spaces for planting. The space is sufficient for planting 100 vegetables, especially when a trellis is used for climbing vegetables. When planting seeds, it is especially important to label the spaces.
She told Rotarians that the square garden concept saved 95% of seeds; 90% of the water, and produced good food at half the cost of traditional gardening.
Only three tools are needed for the square foot garden – a hand trowel, a pencil and a pair of scissors. The pencil is for poking seed holes at appropriate intervals in the growing medium in the squares, and the scissors are for clipping extra vegetable shoots that result from too many seeds. “You don’t need a tiller or a hoe.”
Rector wants to spread the message about square foot gardening. Persons interested in learning more may contact her at 870-287-4573. She said that a square foot gardening organization could even build and install a square foot garden for persons who were unable.
Rotary president Carol Murray presided at Wednesday’s meeting. Guests included Jenny Chandler, spouse of Rotarian James Chandler; UA Extension County Agent Jean Ince and Samantha Kroll, the new County Agent for Agri.
The club president got volunteers to help with planting five trees on the old hospital campus.