Gardening in squares

Spring is in the air and so is gardening, but for those people living in apartments or who don’t have yard space, the gardening season doesn’t have to leave them relegated to buying fresh produce from the farmer’s market or dreaming of dirt in another yard.

Square foot and container gardens use less space and let a person enjoy fresh vegetables right from their own home. They are the perfect garden for those who live in town and have a small yard or for those who don’t have the time to manage a big row garden.

NDSU Extension agents will show participants how to create and care for a square foot or container garden. Nutritionists will also discuss the proper care of fresh vegetables and tell about their superior nutritional value. The gardening class will take place on Thursday at the North Central Research Extension Center, 5400 Highway 83 South, in Minot, from 6 to 8 p.m. The class is free, but people are encouraged to register to make sure there are enough materials for attendees.

Paige Brummund, NDSU Extension agent, said there will also be a class offered May 5 at 1 p.m. at the Trinity Diabetes Education Center, as well as a class at Minot Air Force Base May 7 at 5 p.m. for anyone authorized to be on the base.

People attending the gardening class will learn about why growing vegetables is beneficial and the practicality of it, how to build and design a square foot or container garden, and where to place specific plants, according to Brummund. Fertilizing, watering, and maintaining the garden will also be discussed, as well as how many plants can be planted in the square foot area.

The gardening class is targeted primarily toward people living in apartments, Brummund said, since they don’t have a lot of room. “It’s a great class for people with limited space, or for those wanting smaller gardens who don’t want to be on their hands and knees,” she added. Square foot gardens can be raised off the ground.

There aren’t many limitations on what can be planted in a square foot garden. Tomatoes, onions, beets, beans, peas, spinach, or flowers can all be grown in a square foot garden, Brummund said. A small squash or a pumpkin can also be grown in a square foot garden. “You can grow anything in a square foot garden that you can in a conventional garden,” she added. However, corn is not recommended for this type of garden since it takes up too much room.

Brummund said a lot of people like growing tomatoes, and beets and different varieties of lettuce have also been popular. “Kids like carrots or cherry tomatoes or peas, things they can eat right away,” she added.

This is the fourth year that classes about square foot gardening has been offered and Brummund said she has heard good feedback from people and has had good turnout for class attendance. “With new housing developments and new people moving here, this class helps put people in touch with what grows here,” she added. “Square foot gardening is a simple way to get fresh vegetables right out your back door.”

Square foot gardens require less weeding, take up less space in the yard, can be raised off the ground so that a person doesn’t have to be on his or her hands and knees, and don’t need as much water. Brummund said you’re not wasting as much water with a square foot garden as you would with a conventional garden since the square foot garden is a smaller area.

“Square foot gardens can be used for landscaping and can be made from all sorts of materials,” Brummund continued. They can be made out of stone or cedar wood or essentially anything. She added that a non-rotting or pressure-treated wood would be the ideal wood, but the most popular material is cedar wood.

To register for the gardening class, people can call 857-6444 or register online at (