the known aspects of square-foot
1) A deep-cultivation of the soil with a process called "double-digging",
with a spade and fork. This makes a delicious, soft bed for the roots of a plant to reach
2) Fertilization with ideally prepared compost.
3) Closer spacing of plants than usually seen in most gardens, yet not so close to
affect ideal growth.
4) Growing of grain crops that produce not only food to eat, but also much needed
bio-mass to feed the soil (after the grains straw has been composted).
5) Growing open-pollinated varieties of plants to save seeds from.
6) Using permanent, raised growing beds, rather than row-planting.
7) Companion planting.
8) Using all of these aspects together, for they all are needed to make the system
Many more aspects are yet awaiting discovery, particularly those at a regional level.
Regional discoveries will include: learning about which plant varieties are best suited
for our relatively short growing season; learning about growing, threshing, and cleaning
grains on a small-scale; making ideal compost to increase the soils humus content
and decrease the reliance on imported fertilizers; how to save seeds from year to year;
and how to make a living from the garden!
There is a history to all of this, most notably from China. For 4,000 years, the
Chinese practiced a growing-bed style of agriculture. They were able to produce one
persons entire yearly diet on 5,000 square feet of land, or approximately 1/8 of an
acre. Why has this approach not been adopted in our Western World? One reason may be that
the great expanse of wilderness that lay before the European immigrants when they arrived
kept the conservation of land to a low priority. The traditional rows of vegetables, each
with a barren pathway beside it, is simply a waste of precious space, water, and
The Ecology Action organization, located in California, has been relearning these
historical square-foot techniques since 1972. The culmination of their labor
has produced an important book that details their findings. It is entitled How to
Grow More Vegetables* than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine.
The book is a solid, sturdy description of what is necessary to grow ones own food
in a sustainable and resource conserving way, and advice on how to do it. Their address is
Regarding seed saving, a noble act, please consider investigating membership with Seeds
of Diversity Canada. They are a non-profit organization that publishes a Seed Listing with
which members lists and trade thousands of different seeds with other members. Fun! Also,
a book which greatly clarifies the processes necessary to save seeds is Susan
Ashworths book entitled,
Seed to Seed.
The following are resources I feel deserve attention:
1) WWOOF Canada is a non-profit organization dedicated to getting folks who want to
experience working and living on an organic farm, together with organic farmers. They
provide members with a directory of farms all across Canada and abroad that will allow you
to drop in during the year and work for room and board. Two-thumbs up!
2) Lee Valley Tools and Garden Tools. Quality products. Big on diversity. Canadian
owned. Free catalogue.
3) Berry Hill. Country living and farm supply company. Canadian owned. Free catalogue.
4) Stocking Up. The book. A glorious text to learn the great art of preserving
food. Comprehensive. From Rodale Press.
5798 Ridgewood Road, Willits, CA 95490 USA
Seeds of Diversity Canada
P.O. Box 36, Station Q, Toronto, ON M4T 2Z7
Seed to Seed, by Suzanne Ashworth
ISBN 0-9613977-7-2 (Soft cover)
How to Grow More Vegetables* than you ever thought possible on less land that you
can imagine, by John Jeavons ISBN 0-89815-767-6 (Paper bound)
D WWOOF Canada
Carlson Road, RR#2, S-18 C-9,
Nelson, BC V1L 5P5
Lee Valley Garden Tools
1090 Morrison Drive, Ottawa, ON
Berry Hills Ltd.
75 Burwell Rd., St. Thomas, ON
by Carol Hupper Stoner
Rodale Press, 33 E. Minor St. Emmaus, PA 18049 USA