COPPERAS COVE — Browning Community Garden Club members took their green thumbs to the Cove House emergency homeless shelter on Tuesday to plant vegetables and flowers in several square-foot gardens.

The shelter built the gardens last year, and the club wanted to get involved by expanding and maintaining it, said Debbie Burrows, club community project chairperson for District 5.

“We started planting earlier in the year with the cool weather plants, such as broccoli, cabbage and spinach,” she said. “Now we are planting warmer weather plants like beans, cucumbers, squash and tomatoes, as well as flowers.”

Square-foot gardening is an economical and efficient way to grow vegetables, said Mary Claire Huslage, Cove House volunteer coordinator.

“It gives you the most amount of produce for the smallest amount of area,” she said. “Every square foot could be a different kind of vegetable.”

The steps are simple. First, place cardboard or landscape fabric as a base for weed control, then nail together four pieces of wooden board into a square frame. Fill it with soil, use string to create a 16-square grid over the dirt, then plant the seeds.

“You can have 16 types of vegetables growing at once,” Huslage said. “It helps with water consumption, because some of the bigger vegetables can be placed in the center to shade the ones on the outside, and it helps to keep the water in the dirt.”

Square-foot gardening allows growers to remove fully grown plants without disturbing other developing produce, Burrows said

“Once the vegetables are picked from within the square foot, then we can begin to plant again for the next season,” she said.


Molly Burch, club member, said the method makes it easier to access and care for gardens. 

“It’s an easy way to make a small work space to grow vegetables or flowers.”

The garden will benefit the dozens

of people Cove House shelters and

the hundreds who visit the food bank, Huslage said.

“They are going to be eating better and healthier, which can help when you are living through a stressful time of being homeless.”

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