Crop Multiplication -- Out Teach

Crop Multiplication -- Out Teach

Background for Teachers:

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Square foot gardening is a popular method of gardening that divides a rectangular planting bed into individual square feet and recommends planting seeds in various arrays to get the maximum number of crops into a small space. This method is perfect for school gardens because it allows students to practice area and multiplication skills in a real-world application. This lesson could be done as a hypothetical referencing what could be planted, or you could follow the lesson with an actual planting session if possible. If you intend to follow up with planting, consult a regional planting calendar to time the lesson appropriately. If the rectangular bed is empty, you may wish to have students use string to outline the square feet in the bed, but this is optional.

Key Vocabulary:

• Length

• Width

• Area

• Square feet

• Array

Guiding Question:

How can we calculate crop numbers in an area by using square feet gardening?


Point out a rectangular space in the garden roughly 4x8 ft. if possible and ask students if they know how many carrots can be grown in that space. Let them guess and then inform them that the answer is 512 (divide this number for smaller spaces if needed).

Inform the students that this can be figured out by dividing up the space into smaller squares called square feet. Let them know that they will be practicing using square feet gardening to figure out how much of other crops can be grown in a space.


Divide students into teams and give each team a hand out of the square feet gardening recommendations.

Give students the length and width of the vegetable beds and have them determine the area.

Optional: have students lay out string to show the square feet on the vegetable bed. This can be helpful for students who need extra visualization.

Instruct students to draw a rectangle with the square foot grid on it and label each square with the vegetable and number they would like to plant.

For example:

• Carrots - 16

• Carrots- 16

• Carrots - 16

• Carrots - 16

• Onions - 9

• Onions - 9

• Beans- 4

• Beans- 4

Guiding Questions:

How much of that vegetable would you have in (x amount) of square feet?

Why do you think the numbers are different for different crops?


Call students to gather in a seating area with a loud call signal.

Have students share examples of their garden bed layouts.

Draw a rectangular grid example on the board and begin asking questions about the numbers of vegetables planted. For example: if you draw the table above, you could ask how many carrots could I plant in 2 square feet? What about 12 square feet?

Reverse the order of the questions by giving students the area of a space and asking how much of a specific vegetable could be planted.


Assign a dollar value to different crops and have students individually calculate the value of total crops.


• $2 per carrot planted in 6 square feet

• $3 per tomato planted in 16 square feet

• $4 per beet planted in 12 square feet


Exit Ticket: What has the most value: $3 per cucumber in 6 square feet or $2 per onion in 6 square feet?

Extensions and Connections:

This lesson can be preceded with a lesson on area and perimeter, measuring the vegetable beds.

Follow this lesson by actually planting the vegetable beds according to a square foot gardening layout.

Career Connections

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Have your students watch this video for inspiration about pursuing STEM careers, and read this profile to learn more about Dr. Chavonda Jacob-Young's story.


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