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Post  kbonardi on 10/11/2011, 1:03 pm

I'm working to turn a vacant lot into a community garden in my neighborhood, and we're at the point where we're trying to determine the details on the individual plots.

In brief, we want plots to be big enough to make a real impact in how much fresh food a family gets but small enough that we can offer as many as possible... so I'm here to solicit your advice on two things:

- Would one 4 x 6 plot be an adequate size for helping to feed, say, a family of four? Is that a manageable size for a new gardener?

- If we allow people to construct trellises at one end of their plot, is it likely a nearby plot will get shade instead of sun?

Thanks so much -- now I go back to obsessively reading the forums for info! sunny


Last edited by kbonardi on 10/11/2011, 1:04 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo!)
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Post  boffer on 10/11/2011, 1:34 pm

Hi, and welcome to the one and only official forum for Square Foot Gardening.

24 sf is going to be on the small side for a family. Mel recommends specific sizes for adults and children, depending on one's objectives, on pages 41 and 42 of the ALL NEW SFG book. It's certainly not too much work. Once the boxes are made and filled with Mel's Mix, there really isn't much to do.

Yes, the trellises are going to create shade. How much, will be determined by height, width, type of plant, path width, and position of sun in the sky. If your plot gets sun all day long, my guess is that the shading won't be a problem; at least it's worth trying.

My personal recommendation is that you don't try to save space by making walkways narrower. I would do a minimum of four feet. There will be a lot more foot traffic than in a personal garden, and although it's hard to visualize when you're staring at a box full of MM, when that box is full of mature veggies, they will spill over into the walkways and get trampled if the walkway is too narrow.

Good luck with your endeavor
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Post  Chopper on 10/11/2011, 1:54 pm

Is there any way I could talk you into revealing the location so I can take a look at it on google maps?

I have nothing to add to what boffer said. He covered it all. If you are trying to get the most bang for your buck, most lengths of wood come in 8' lengths. That would be three pieces per plot for a 4X8 plot. I believe the book said that for one adult to get all of their veggie needs it would take 50 squares and that is about right. A lot of people do not have veggie demands that match USDA recommendations so this would work for the average hobby gardener and would be plenty of vegetables.

Regarding the trellises, you could have a rule limiting height. Most plants it they get too big simply go down the other side.
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Post  janezee on 10/11/2011, 2:24 pm

@kbonardi wrote:I'm working to turn a vacant lot into a community garden in my neighborhood, and we're at the point where we're trying to determine the details on the individual plots.

In brief, we want plots to be big enough to make a real impact in how much fresh food a family gets but small enough that we can offer as many as possible... so I'm here to solicit your advice on two things:

- Would one 4 x 6 plot be an adequate size for helping to feed, say, a family of four? Is that a manageable size for a new gardener?

- If we allow people to construct trellises at one end of their plot, is it likely a nearby plot will get shade instead of sun?

Thanks so much -- now I go back to obsessively reading the forums for info! sunny

This is so cool!!!
I'd have to agree with Chopper on the 4x8 beds. I had no waste when I built mine this spring. And I'm guessing you don't have a lot of room, so I'd go with 3' walkways. I think my community garden in Seattle had 2.5', and it was adequate if you were careful. Most everyone had a larger plot than than that (5x10, I'm thinking) though, and made tiny paths down theirs.
Regarding trellises, I'd think that a height limit would be necessary, as boffer says. I'm thinking that 6' in the middle, as for pole beans, and 4-5' for northern edge would be the max. Also, a rule that you have to keep your veg off the paths.
In addition, (I'm just brainstorming here) you could have a separate plot just for zucchini and squash that would be the "food bank" for the whole garden. Far to the north, trellised, and with sunflowers, too, sunny for the kid in all of us.
Lists of suggested vegetables that are space savers, classes or instruction sheets on string-trellising tomatoes and other vining crops, (basically vertical gardening) and rotation crops would help the new plot owners alot.
Oh, BTW, welcome! You'll find a lot of information here, and really, you need the book for the most concise info. Most libraries have it.
bounce You're gonna have SO much fun with this!
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Post  Chopper on 10/11/2011, 2:30 pm

@Chopper wrote: If you are trying to get the most bang for your buck, most lengths of wood come in 8' lengths. That would be three pieces per plot for a 4X8 plot.

Duh! I meant to say that would be two pieces per plot. LOL.
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Post  kbonardi on 10/11/2011, 2:31 pm

Oh, definitely -- it's 462 Halsey Street in Brooklyn. It's something like 53' x 100' in total (but some of that is really shady and we also need room for compost bins and a community gathering area).

I kind of suspected the best we can hope to do is to augment (rather than completely supply) the average adult's veg requirements.
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Post  boffer on 10/11/2011, 2:45 pm

@Chopper wrote:
@Chopper wrote: If you are trying to get the most bang for your buck, most lengths of wood come in 8' lengths. That would be three pieces per plot for a 4X8 plot.
Duh! I meant to say that would be two pieces per plot. LOL.

thinking boo boo alert! I think...lol
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Post  janezee on 10/11/2011, 2:56 pm

@Chopper wrote:
@Chopper wrote: If you are trying to get the most bang for your buck, most lengths of wood come in 8' lengths. That would be three pieces per plot for a 4X8 plot.

Duh! I meant to say that would be two pieces per plot. LOL.

whaaaaaa?
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Post  Chopper on 10/11/2011, 3:01 pm

Wow. You really have your work cut out for you being on the north side of the block and with buildings on either side. That said, A little tree trimming, and it is a nice space.

How many families do you hope to accommodate? For the more the merrier, the 4X6 does make more sense.

Please send pictures as the project progresses. I would love to pitch in if I was closer than 3000 miles away.
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Post  sfg4uKim on 10/11/2011, 8:06 pm

Maybe a 2' 'strip' around the perimeter would help maximize space and allow those who only need a few squares to also participate.

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