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The 12 Square Feet Classroom

2010 September 7

Late summer has become my favorite time of year because of my small 4 x 3 foot backyard garden. This year, I harvested patty pan squash, hot peppers, and three kinds of tomatoes. There is no competition for me when it comes to my own homegrown foods versus the store varieties. It takes some effort o maintain this garden but it is worth it for me.

My garden planning starts in May. Each year the biology department at my school sells tiny little seedlings that are grown in the greenhouse over the winter. The weather in Chicago doesn’t allow me to plant these seedlings outside for another month, so I find a sunny window, water the seeds, and wait. Come June, I get a bag of mushroom compost and plant my little garden. I watch and wait throughout June, July, and the beginning of August…and then finally it’s time! The tomatoes turn red and the squash turn yellow and I get the pleasure of the harvest.

This backyard garden makes me feel like a kid. I experiment with the plants to find out what species work in my garden. I investigate different types of soil to use. I check in on the garden each day, to watch the plants grow, then flower, and finally produce fruit. It is my outdoor classroom, a place where I feel empowered. My garden keeps me engaged all summer long and allows me to combine my indoor computer research with learning in an outdoor classroom.

The backyard garden doesn’t just benefit me…my backyard garden, no matter how large or how small, teaches my family responsibility, discipline, and patience. It provides me a sense of accomplishment and independence. Finally, it teaches me about the natural environment…even it is only on 12 square feet of land.

About the author: Erin Jones is an Intern at EPA Region 5 in Chicago, IL

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    September 7, 2010

    Your post, I hope, should make our great grand children create their “Natural garden” in “Space home” for the future. Look there : Their homes sterile, babies cries in its, kids enjoys with its job, teens are commanders of the journey, the parents are policy makers and grandpa – ma will cries to report to the people on the earth about they journey. Each person has a character and has a responsibility, and its home are full audios. Hi-Tech and Dynamic……

  2. September 22, 2010

    Excellent post, thank you for sharing this information, there are not many sites that will give informative information like this for free.



  3. Jerry Morgan permalink
    November 5, 2010

    Gardens can be so incredibly healing! I have a raised bed at my town home that i use to grow my own tomatoes, beans and blue bell flowers for my wife. I am learning all the time from my garden about life principles.

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