Ed Eargle, a Master Gardener in La Grange, Texas, is known in the local Master Gardener community for his Square-Foot Garden. Ed presented on the topic of Square Foot Gardening at the October 2019 General Meeting of the Bluebonnet Master Gardeners Association in Brenham. Ed follows the method developed by Mel Bartholomew and made popular through Bartholomew’s book All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space first published in 1981. This technique reduces the amount of digging required to plant the garden and minimized wasting seed. Plus, more can be grown in less space.
The general concept is to create a garden laid out in a grid with the dimensions of each grid space one square foot. Only a certain number of plants are planted in a one square-foot area. The number of plants per one square-foot depends on the plant and its size.
Ed uses a raised bed Square Foot Garden, primarily to grow lettuces because he said “I do not like the stuff in the store.” He explained how to build a 4’x4’ raised bed box with 16 one-foot grid boxes inside.
For the growing material Ed follows Bartholomew’s recommendations and mixes up a batch of “Mel’s Mix”. Mel’s Mix is fertile, has low compaction and few weeds. There are few weeds because no soil or “dirt” is used.
The recipe for Mel’s Mix is:
1/3 Course Vermiculite
1/3 Blended Compost (from many different sources)
1/3 Peet Moss
Ed cautioned to be aware of the compost sources used and not to use hay or straw in the garden unless you know for sure that chemicals that may harm your garden were not used on that hay or straw. This is good advice regardless of the gardening method.
Once the garden is prepared and ready for planting, its time to understanding plant spacing. Ed explanted that in the Square-Foot Garden, spacing is 1, 4, 9 or 16 plants per square foot. Larger plants, like tomato, broccoli, cabbage or peppers, are planted one plant to single square foot in the grid. Small plants, like carrot, radish & onion, are planted 16 plants to a square foot in the grid. The Square Foot Gardening method properly spaces plants at the time of planting so there is no need to “thin” the seedlings later. This saves seed, time and work.
Here is Mel’s recommendation on spacing per square foot:
|1 Plant/Sq-Ft||4 Plants/Sq-Ft||9 Plants/Sq-Ft||16 Plants/Sq-Ft|
|Broccoli||Leaf Lettuce||Bush Beans||Carrot|
To grow plants vertically in the Square-Foot Garden, Ed attachs a trellis for plants like tomato and cucumber. He said to put trellised plants on the north side of the box so as to prevent too much shading of the other boxes in the grid with smaller plants.
Ed Eargle is a retired history teacher. He earned his Master Gardener certification in 2002 and is a fequent speaker at garden club meetings and other events on the topic of Square Foot Gardening. To learn more about Square Foot Gardening, visit Mel Bartholomew’s website.
The Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association’s 2019 week long summer camp for kids is accepting registrations now. The Kids Kamp will be held in all four BMGA counties for kids ages 10 to 13 years of age:
Washington County: June 3 – 7, 2019
Colorado County: June 10- 14, 2019
Fayette County: June 17-21, 2019
Austin:June 24-June 28, 2019
The kids will learn about worm composting, soil & gardening, nutrition & kitchen management, food preservation and good bugs and bad bugs in the garden. They will also make garden related crafts and healthy snacks.
Christy Schweikhardt, a Master Gardener who facilitated the soil & gardening segments of Kids Kamp for two years, said, “We fill the Kids Kamp with hands-on activities that are both fun and educational. The kids who participated in the past two Kids Kamps were entergeitc and eager to learn, even over summer break. For the volunteer Master Gardeners who particpate in running the Kids Kamp, it is rewarding to help AgriLife Extension Service and the State of Texas foster fact-based gardening and food knowelge in a future generation of Texas gardeners.”
At only $25.00 for the week, this may be the best bargin in summer fun.
Washington County 2019 Lunch-N-Learn Series. These gardening presentations are Free to the public. Light refreshments are provided or bring your own lunch.
Compost has benefits in our gardens and landscapes. Most people try what they think is composting but often end up with trash piles. This training is meant to help explain the correct way to home compost as well as the added benefits of its usages in the garden. It will include practical applications of composting for the home gardener with the science behind it all, which in turn, benefits us all and the environment we all live in.
The Master Gardener Specialist-Composter Training program is designed to train and certify Master Gardeners to become part of a state corps of Composter experts and educators. To become a certified Master Gardener Specialist-Composter, the Master Gardener is required to attend and complete the Master Gardener Specialist Training-Composter to fulfill training requirements and subsequently meet service requirements described below. Training activities during the course will empower Master Gardeners to complete these service requirements.
A Master Gardener Specialist–Composter is responsible for increasing awareness and for providing in composting for home gardeners.
The Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association hosts the Lunch & Learn.
Wiggle your way to healthier plants with worms, the hardest working gardeners around! These tireless eater transform organic trash into a soil rich in nutrients. Worm composting is small enough to keep on a balcony, patio or on a porch, so its ideal if you don’t have much outside space
Don’t miss these special educational webinars focusing on Small Acreage Horticultural Crops.
NOTE: The password for all webinar meetings is “online” (without quotes)
All webinars are held between noon and 1 pm. To participate in a webinar, click on the appropriate link on the date of the webinar at 11:30 am to test the connection and make sure audio and video are working properly. Webinars will start promptly at noon.
All webinars will be presented by Dr. Joe Masabni.
BMGA – 1 Hours of CEU Credit