Sneak Peek at Certified SFG Teacher Program

*We want to try something new for my blog each week.  We are getting so busy with new ideas for 2012 and are very rushed right now.  We are going to post just three subjects in my weekly blog rather than all nine at once on a Friday.  Let us know what you think – would love to hear from you!

If you are new to SFG and especially new to gardening, you have come to the right place. Why not start with the easiest, simplest, most productive method known? Read below and if you are already a SFG, study all these advantages and pass them on to others.

I’d like to do something a little different this week, and that is to show you some of the material that we use when we’re training someone to become a certified SFG teacher.  We start with a PowerPoint and I’m going to show you some of the slides.  It will give you a pretty good introduction to Square Foot Gardening along with some of my personal comments.

SFG Teachers Slide 1

The first photo above shows me in my favorite rocking chair next to a 4’x16’ classic vinyl box that is stepped up every four feet.  I’ll show you more views in a later blog but this one is the most outstanding garden box that we’ve ever built.  This was at our display gardens at Thanksgiving Point in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The wording shown is what’s important to you as a beginner.  Can you imagine a beautiful garden where there are absolutely no weeds, no digging, no tilling…and I’m not kidding!  The All New SFG system truly is for all people.  In fact, let’s look and see!

SFG Teachers Slide 2

Here are some very young grandchildren with a very mature woman.  Some of our boxes can easily have a plywood bottom (holes drilled for drainage) and they can sit up on a table for sit-down gardening, or on a wall, for stand up gardening. Just think of the joy and wonderment of gardening that is shared between such diverse ages in this photo.  I know because that is my Mother and 2 of my Grandchildren many years ago.     The SFG System truly is adaptable from age 4 to 94.

SFG Teachers Slide 3

Starting with very young children, I’ve taught in some Head Start schools and the first thing is to teach them how to count.  Notice this is a 3’x3’ box because children can’t reach in as far as an adult, who use a 4’x4’ box.  At school we like to have this demo box with a plywood bottom just so we don’t make a mess in the school room.  It can be on the ground so they can kneel around, or it can be up on a table that they can walk around.  The fun thing I like to do is ask, “Who can count?” and of course many hands go up.  I’d pick one child and a corner of the box to start and ask that child to count the number of squares.  Away they go until they reach the other side of the box, and hopefully they end up with NINE!

Then I take another child, who is just aching to be chosen, and start them off from a different corner.  Well you wouldn’t believe the excitement that that child has, and all of the others, when they also come up with NINE!  You can see the fun here of nine kids starting at a different location and they all end up (hopefully) with the same answer.  It is a very learning and exciting experience.

For older kids, we can do some math by measuring, arithmetic, adding, multiplying, there is no end to it!

SFG Teachers Slide 4

We’ve had many letters from children who say, “I used to hate radishes or lettuce, but now that I grow them…I LOVE THEM!”  In this photograph you can see the pride and excitement of this child in something they have now grown, but can’t wait to eat!  It’s also an excellent time to show the children the basics of cooking for those vegetables that need it.

SFG Teachers Slide 5

This is one of our school gardens in Calif.  I’ll bet some of you will notice that the grid is made out of string, which was from the very first book.  Now of course the ALL NEW SFG book says, from our years of experience, string is no good.  It sags, gets dirty, breaks, never replaced, and pretty soon you don’t have a grid. You know how we say, if your garden doesn’t have a grid, it isn’t ( I like to use ain’t) a SFG  So we recommend that all grids be of some rigid material like wood or plastic, are permanent, and stay in the garden at all times.  Click here to see a SFG grid in vinyl and wood.

We found from our experience with schools that the best thing to do is to assign each student their own Square Foot.  Now think of all of the advantages if you were a teacher – or better yet a child – you now have to decide what you want to plant.  Remember, every square foot is planted with a different crop.  So now the teacher can go through a seed catalog with those wonderful pictures and descriptions they all have, and if possible each child could pick out just what they want to grow.  It would be quite an order, wouldn’t it?

Of course the teacher would tell them from our Teacher’s Lesson Plan for Kids that – different from single row gardening – we don’t plant the whole packet of seeds and then have to thin 95% of them out.  What a waste of time and money!  We plant just a pinch of seeds in each final location for that variety.  You will learn in the 10 basics section that seed and plant spacing, depending on the variety of plant, is either 1, 4, 9, or 16 plants per square foot.  More about that later.

If everyone  get a different package of seeds, why then the teacher could explain another of one of Mel’s thrift lessons, in addition to not planting all the seeds at once, only a pinch in each space, then she could ask them how to store the leftovers for next year.  Do you know?  Cold and Dry.  You ask where?  In the refrigerator, dummy.

Some of the lessons the children learn from their Sq Ft Garden are that plants are just like people, or maybe it’s visa versa.  We’re all different, but we have to learn to live next to each other.  We all have to learn to get along and yet we all need attention so we can grow as best as possible.  Some of us won’t get as tall as the others, and some of us won’t get as…well, you get the picture.  Some of us won’t be real pretty at first, but later we will blossom into a beautiful plant or person. So we learn patience.  There are many other lessons and examples that a good teacher can show the children.

What do you think of our ability to teach so many different things from a SFG? Any teachers out there that like this idea?  If you do, send me a message and let me know what you think.