Grow your garden by going back to square one

30 Jan 2013 @ 10.12 am
| Entertainment

Grow your own on a small scale. Photograph: Susan Brown
charlotte-holgate-headshot-fixedNo room for a vegetable plot? Think again. Charlotte Holgate from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Dig In project tells us about a revolutionary way of growing crops in a small space


One of the major mistakes that people make when they start gardening is to take on too much at once. It’s all very exciting when you’re planning what to grow and buying your seeds, but after a back breaking weekend of digging up your whole back garden and sowing all those seeds then people’s energy often fades.

A solution came along when Mel Bartholomew, while working on a community allotment in the 1970s, came up with a radical idea: Start small.

Mel’s idea was square foot gardening, creating a garden in a 4ft-by-4ft space divided into 16 smaller sections each dedicated to their own crop. The principles are simple: only plant a few seeds per square, sometimes only one. When your crop is harvested, top up with a little compost when the next seeds or plugs are planted and you can improve the soil as you go along.

No need for barrows full of manure, digging over large areas, frantic sowing of seeds then thinning out a few weeks later.

Things like crop rotation and companion planting all happen naturally as you go along with the square foot garden method. Weeding is a doddle when you are thinking in terms of such a small area. And if you get bitten by the bug, you can always add more squares!

Grow your garden square by square
Grow your garden square by square

Dig in project aims to create a network of community-led edible gardens around York in Guildhall, Heworth, Hull Road, Clifton and Westfield wards. We want to reach out to people with gardening experience and skills to share, but also total garden novices who want to learn how to make things grow.

We’re planning to feature some square metre gardens at a few of our community garden sites and hope that people or families might come forward to look after a square!

We are holding an “introduction to square metre gardening” event on Saturday, February 2 from 10.30am until 12 noon hosted at Door 84 Youth Club on Lowther Street, just opposite our community garden in The Groves, Guildhall. The event is open to those who might wish to get involved in one of our community gardens, but also to people who might like to use the idea on their own community site or school – or even in their garden at home!”

Anyone who would like to come along should call 01904 659570 to book a place or email me at [email protected].