Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How to Make a Square-Foot Garden

Adapted from training materials from F2F volunteer, Arlen Albrecht

In poor urban communities near Guatemala City, families live in small houses on very limited plots of land. In more rural areas such as Chiquimulilla (southern Guatemala), families face high rates of malnutrition. Square-foot gardens are a useful way for families with limited space to grow fresh vegetables. Square-foot gardens can also be built using local materials and resources, and fresh vegetables can contribute to improving household nutrition and food security. In December 2015, F2F volunteer Arlen Albrecht traveled to Guatemala to train urban and rural community members in building square-foot gardens. Below are his notes on how to make a square-foot garden.

Square-foot garden
7 Easy Steps to Build a Square-Foot Garden

  1. Location – Build the square-foot garden in close proximity to the house for easy access and maintenance. Choose a spot that gets at least 6-8 hours of sun each day and has good drainage.
  2. Size – start with a 1 meter x 1 meter garden. Create a border using wood, bricks, rocks, or other local materials. The size of the garden can be expanded in the future.
  3. Compost – Fill the square-foot garden with compost. In Guatemala, the following organic compost recipe was used:
    • Dry (brown) material (i.e., corn stalks, dry grass, leaves, straw, dried legumes, dried potatoes and tomatoes, etc.)
    • Green material (i.e., banana peels, rotten fruit, vegetable peelings)
    • 1, 4, 9. 16 grid
    • Cow Manure (i.e., fresh or partially composted)
  4. Grid – Use branches, sticks, or wood to create a grid. The grid helps to:
    • Align plants
    • Group plants by type
    • Maintain order
    • Improve general maintenance for growing
  5. Fencing – Build a fence around the garden to protect it from chickens, rabbits, pigs, or other animals. Use local materials such as branches, large coffee sacks, or bamboo.
  6. Planting and Spacing – Plant seeds using the 1, 4, 9, 16 method. (See more information on this method here).
  7. Water, Maintain, and Harvest!

F2F volunteer, Arlen Albrecht, conducting a training on building a square-foot garden


  1. Great article with excellent idea! I appreciate your post.
    thank you for giving us this useful information.!!