Seed to Salad:
Designing Quilt Block Salad Gardens
Often we grow vegetables in rows, grouping like vegetables together. There are many
good reasons to do so and it can make a large garden easy to care for. However, why
not add an art element to your gardening project by creating patterns out of the vege‐
tables you’re growing. The tapestry of lettuces—shades of green and red, lobed, oak
leaf, and frilly—make a great palette for designing a garden as beautiful as it is tasty.
When working with youth in small plots (typically 3’ x 3’) it’s difficult to achieve a
grand picture like a detailed herd of horses. It is easy, however, to create a simple
geometric pattern like those used in quilts.
• Large easel pad with gridlines
• Pencils, colored pencils, and large erasers
• Photographs or clip art of quilt blocks, color printed
• 8.5 x 11 photos of salad garden plants available for your gardens, color printed
• Masking tape
Preparation A few things to prepare before design day…
Samples of Quilt Blocks and Geometric Patterns
If you are working with older youth, feel free to use the included clip art page as an
example of a quilt block and geometric pattern. Ask youth to analyze the quilt blocks.
You’re looking for recognition that geometric shapes are put together to create pat‐
terns or simple pictures. You’re also looking for youth to recognize that the shapes
used are big (large circles rather than polka dots). In the garden, the larger the shape,
the easier it is to see and the clearer your pattern will look.
Younger youth might benefit from a 3‐D approach to introducing this concept. Some
pre‐K and kindergarten classrooms have great puzzles that teach shapes. If you’re
working in a school you may be able to borrow one of these. If not, consider cutting
some large shapes out of scrap cardboard (squares, circles, triangles, diamonds). Be‐
fore passing out the paper to design, allow youth to manipulate the large shapes or
puzzle pieces to create patterns and designs.
Coding Plants Available for the Gardens
If at all possible it’s best to know what seeds will be available before you begin de‐
signing. Depending on your program you may have to make this decision before the
program starts. In after school programs run at the Ithaca Children’s Garden we need
to decide on and order seed before we even meet the youth that will be in the pro‐
gram. If this is the case with your group make sure to ask for feedback from your cur‐
rent group to help inform your purchases next year.