Today was an awesome day for the expansion of AIRE’s summer activities and the fulfillment of our mission “To Gather the People and Plant the Fields.” We are expanding our repertoire to include implementation of the “Square Foot Gardening” method as explained in the book by Mel Bartholomew. Today we facilitate this workshop for the summer “camp” program hosted by the Mesa Vista School District near Ojo Caliente, New Mexico.
We built a 4 foot by 4 foot box out of 2″ by 6″ lumber and sealed it with linseed oil. Then we made the soil according to Bartholomew which is 1/3 bagged compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 perlite, all obtained from the store. We mixed up the components in a tarp and filled our box with soil. We then used the templates we made out of cardboard to show the kids where to plant the seeds for each square foot. Different crops require different spacing. The 16-celled square foot seen above is for radishes and carrots. We used a 4-celled template for beans and lettuce. This little garden has many radishes, carrots, lettuce, and a couple of cells in beans and corn. The camp is over in one month so we chose the fastest growing crops in hopes that the students can get a little taste before the camp ends. Special thanks to Monique Garcia, Victor Jaramillo, and others for watering the garden while we are not around.
One of the great things about Bartholomew’s book is all the tables that tell you about the different timings and spacings of the crops. It is a really handy and engaging reference. I like that once you build a raised bed and fill it with soil, Bartholomew tells you about making your own compost so you can replace the compost in your raised bed for the coming years and continue to garden in this method. The only criticism I have of the book is that Bartholomew promotes his method by being critical of other methods, namely the method I like to use on the acequias which could be called a furrowed row-style of planting and irrigating.
I think of agriculture like religion and art. All of the methods are valid in their own right. We can be critical of others’ methods, but we have to be careful not to cross the line as every method has something to offer. I feel the same way about religion. All methods are valid unless they promote a particular religion by putting down another. The best way to go, in my opinion, is promote your own style of doing things without criticizing another…