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Lettuce growing in a one foot by one foot raised bed garden box.

Let’s get gardening. Build a square foot garden with your children using material you have on hand. In this project, children will use STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) principles as they measure, build, and grow this project.

Teach your children how to plant seeds using a simple technique involving gluing seeds to a napkin. This seed mat technique teaches division skills and will help small hands plant seeds at the proper depth and spacing to ensure they won’t be too crowded.

Materials Needed

  • One fence board, 6-foot cedar or pressure treated
  • 20 nails, 1 1/4-inch length
  • One dinner napkin or full-sized paper towel
  • One glue stick
  • One packet of leaf lettuce seed
  • Gloves and safety glasses
  • Hammer
  • 2 gallons of potting soil

Steps to Build

First, build the garden box from an old fence board or scrap lumber. Cut the fence board into seven sections. Here are the dimensions*.

  • Starting from the flat end, cut two pieces that are 12 1/8 inches long that will be the two long sides of the box.
  • Cut the remaining board into sections that measure 11 3/4 inches long. These sections will be the two short sides of the box and the bottom boards.
  • The dog-eared section should measure 11 3/4 inches long and should be cut in half lengthwise. The dog-ears should be placed in opposite corners of the box when building it to provide drainage on each end.

To create the seed mat from the napkin or paper towel, divide the napkin into four sections with a marker. Place a dab of glue in the center of each section. Stick three to four lettuce seeds in each dab of glue.

Now it’s time to plant. Fill the garden box with soil. Lay the seed mat on top of the soil and cover the mat with 1/2 inch of soil. Set your box in a sunny spot and water it. Continue to water the garden box when dry. In six weeks, you will have lettuce to harvest for a home-grown salad.

*Square foot box design by Denise Heubach, retired urban regional Extension agent.


Content below reflects the text in graphics in the video:

  • Create a square foot garden with supplies you have on hand.
  • Cut a six-foot fence board into seven equal pieces.
  • Nail the pieces together to create a square foot garden box.
  • Create a seed mat using a napkin, glue stick, and lettuce seed.
  • Fill box with potting soil and lay seed mat on top, cover with ½-inch soil.
  • Set your garden box in a sunny spot and water well to see what will grow.
  • Get outside and enjoy your garden!
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