DECIDE WHAT TO PLANT
What you decide to grow is up to you. But if you are gardening with very young children, you may want to consider fast growers and/or chunky seeds like radish, bush beans, or teddy bear sunflowers. For even faster results transplant marigold, bush or patio tomato, basil, parsley, etc.
Just take care to consider the spacings of the plant when full grown. Gardenweb has a good spacings guide, but I’ve found with some of them, our Florida climate will cause surprises with things growing bigger. My parsley ended up overtaking 4 squares!
The University of Florida IFAS Extension does a nice handout for planting also. The chart near the end tells you which month to plant in, the row spacing and plant spacing. From that you can determine your square foot spacings.
A SIMPLE SUNNY PLAN
The first plan is very simple.
You need a small bag of flower/vegetable organic fertilizer, a packet of Burpee bush beans, a packet of teddy bear sunflowers, 4 marigold transplants, and 8 tomato cages. (Cost is about $25.)
Make sure you get bush beans and not pole beans. Bush beans will grow to about 2 ft tall and will do fine in a tomato cage. Longer vines will require taller support!
First, plant 1 sunflower seed inside the center of each of the middle four squares.
Next put the tomato cages all around the bed but skip the corners. If you put cardboard down at the bottom of your bed, you may need to stab the cages firmly and quickly through the cardboard. You can also use a long screwdriver to poke holes for the legs to slip though. Set the cages so the first circle is near or at the level of the soil mix.
Then help the child plant up to 4 bush bean seeds inside each tomato cage circle. (Hint: If child is very young, plant only 3 seeds and have them match it to the “legs” of the tomato cage for placement.) The cages will help keep your bean plants upright.
Next, transplant one marigold into each of the corner squares. While holding the marigold in your hand to catch it, turn the pot upside down and have child smack the bottom of the pot firmly. The plant should just slip out of it’s plastic pot. Julia thinks it is fun to “spank the pots.”
Don’t fertilize your seeds yet. They are too young and tender and you run the risk of hurting them with too strong a fertilizer. Wait until the plants are better established. With the marigolds, since they are transplants rather than seeds, you can fertilize now. Use a plastic picnic spoon to sprinkle a little bit of the fertilizer around it when it is in the ground. Follow the directions on your bag.
Your garden will look something like this:
Last, water all your plants and let them grow. Then sunflowers and beans should start peeping out in a about a week.
Once you get the hang of a simple plan, it is easy to change it around. Remember to keep your taller plants on the north side of the bed so they do not shade the other plants.
If you wanted to grow herbs from transplants, you could try something like this arrangement:
It’s nice to give the Basil a tomato cage for support.
If you don’t like a certain herb, swap out it out for something else. For example — don’t plant thyme. In that square foot you could put in green onions ends from the grocery store. If you’ve use the tops in cooking, save the ends that have small roots and just push them into the ground. They will regrow. For little hands, that’s an easy thing to replant.
Better Homes and Gardens has a few plans that easily translate to a 4 x 4 ft SFG. I’ve put them below but take a look at their garden slideshow for more ideas!
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