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Farmer Field Schools: The Sack Garden

At Plant With Purpose, we aim to equip rural farmers with sustainable agriculture skills. These skills help them become resilient against hunger and environmental problems. One challenge in Tanzania is the lack of space for farming activities on many people’s property. A solution is the creation of sack gardens. Here’s how these gardens in large sacks are made.

Preparing the soil for a sack garden

Preparing the soil for a sack garden

First, prepare the soil

The first step to a sack garden is to get the planting soil ready. You’ll need to plow and soften the soil before adding it to the sack. Prepare the soil by raking it in and then pressing it with a hoe or shovel.

In Plant With Purpose’s farmer field schools, members learn how to create and use organic compost soils. This quality soil helps repurpose nutrients and ultimately results in better crop growth.

The space left by the stick serves as a waterway

The space left by the stick serves as a waterway

Next, introduce a large stick to the center of the sack

Before adding the soil into the sack, find a large stick, roughly the thickness of a forearm into the center of the sack. Make sure to hold it in place as the soil is added to the bag.

Now add the soil.

Be sure to introduce the soil layer after layer. Go slowly, attempting to build layers of rich soil evenly.

Keeping the large stick in the center should mean that the soil is forming around it in the shape of a doughnut.

Filling the gap with a porous material allows water to infiltrate

Filling the gap with a porous material allows water to infiltrate

Remove the stick and replace with gravel

Here’s where the stick part will now make more sense. Remove it and you’ll then have a large open gap in the center of the soil that goes through to the bottom.

Fill that hole in with gravel or larger, harder earth material. Let those chunks and pieces occupy that space. This more porous center will allow water to permeate towards the bottom of the sack when you water the crops that grow.

Cut incisions in a honeycomb pattern

Cut incisions in a honeycomb pattern

Make incisions in the sack

Using a knife, you can now cut X’s into the side of the bag. Try to cut them in an alternating honeycomb pattern, allowing at least a few inches distance in between each opening.

An X shape should also make it easier to peel back a layer and see the side wall of the soil.

A sack garden provides more planting area

A sack garden provides more planting area

Now you can plant into the soil

Each of these X incisions are spaces where you can ultimately introduce seeds, although it’s typically best to introduce your produce when it is a small sprout.

As the produce matures, they will eventually grow outward, making the sack garden appear more and more vegetated. Typically, this is a good way to grow herbs or leafy greens.

Plant With Purpose exists to help equip people affected by environmental issues. You can be a part of this movement. Become a Purpose Partner and you’ll help rural farmers gain skills and knowledge in sustainable agriculture.

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