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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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» What are you eating from your garden today?
by OhioGardener Today at 10:44 am

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» Starbucks for coffee grounds!
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» N&C Midwest: January & February 2023
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» How do I source Mels Mix for 190 cu ft????
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» Johnson Su composting Bioreactor instructions for home, not the farm.
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by plantoid 1/27/2023, 7:09 am

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» Dani's Brand New SFG For 2023
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» Seed Exchange - January 2023
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Post  SQFTBIX 1/31/2012, 1:10 pm

Dug up 72 sq feet of ground last Saturday as it was beautiful in Baltimore. Getting ready to build a 4 ft X 18ft raised garden bed. Read where if you dig deep(double dig) and build upon that - the plants roots grow down and you get stronger plants. We shall see. I am going to grow 18 tomato plants and give the bulk of them away to our church's food pantry. They never seem to have enough fresh fruits and veggies for the poor. I started two plants of Cabbage and Broccoli this past Saturday and they are up already. Thought it took a week but I guess not. I love my little hothouse - 7 years and counting. I used Jiffy seed starting mix from Wally Mart - sure worked great and couldn't beat the price.

My wife and I were at Big Lots and I found a 3 Tier garden house with solar lights for $30.00. Set it up Sunday and boy do the lights work great. Can't wait to get the seedlings in there to prep for their planting into the garden.

Sure is nice to have the time to devote to the garden. I certainly missed that last year. I do believe this is a year where the garden can really save you money given the predictions for this years prices. Hope everyone else is doing fine.
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Post  littlesapphire 1/31/2012, 1:52 pm

I just checked out that solar green house you talked about on the Big Lots website. That looks awesome! And for $30?! I may have to pop down there sometime this week and look. I meandered through there last weekend and came out with some great garden stuff.

So you raised garden beds? Have you done that in that in the past, too? If so, how has it worked for you? I only did two lousy years of traditional row gardening before switching to SFG, and I can't really compare the two because I had no idea what I was doing those first two years, lol.

I'm considering planting early because of how mild this winter has been so far, but I'm also kind of afraid to take a chance.
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Post  plantoid 1/31/2012, 2:31 pm

That sounds hard work digging your way to China for even that small plot in just one day .

It's taken me four months to double dig down to 18 inches deep and manure all the way back up to the top of the main lawn area of only 200 sq ft.. took five 4x5 x 1.5 trailers loads of well rotted horse manure to do it as well.

That's why I like the simplicity of using the All new Square Foot Gardening , I never realized how light it was to garden /grow things in Mel's Mix.
If you want a deeper square just add a couple of extender frames to the square foot you want to plant in , fill with Mel's Mix and away you go ..it's so much easier & far less effort.
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Post  SQFTBIX 1/31/2012, 3:07 pm

It didn't take that long actually. I watch a show with Loe L'ampl (can't remember the name actually) and they showed how to do it and not ruin your back. Looks funny but I wasn't the least bit sore Sunday morning. I do use raised beds all around. But I have been disappointed in the output. I have read countless research that has shown that veggies suffer if they hit hard ground below them. Maybe I haven't built my beds high enough but I only use repurposed materials. Research shows - from what I have read, that plants need 2 feet or more down. Just thought I would give it a try and it was one heck of a good exercise program. The best part of gardening is in the experimentation of doing things outside the box. Very Happy
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Post  midatlanticgardening 1/31/2012, 10:32 pm

OK SQFTBX, what is the secret to not killing your back? I'm a horticulturist by trade and I need to know that secret and so does my staff! Please share! bounce
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Post  SQFTBIX 2/1/2012, 12:46 pm

Well, the scret is to use your legs as the fulcrum instead of trying to use your back. The man on the show demonstrated how to do it. He would do very deep knee bends with the legs split apart. First, of course, he would spear the bed with his flat ended shovel. Then he would do a hybrid deep knee bend where his left leg would be in front facing the plot and his right leg would be at almost 90 degrees from the left leg. You make a quasi right angle with your legs. He would then bend at the knees, scoop the dirt and raise up with his legs. It's hard to describe it correctly though. But, if done correctly, you utilize the legs thigh muscles and isolate the lower back from the majority of the stress.

I did it (skeptically mind you!) and figured I'd feel it a ton the next day. Other than my old thighs feeling it a bit, I was good though. I'm sold on it as I do remember in my younger days the pains I had when I dug gardens in my parents back yard. I didn't get that winded although I took breaks given I'm 55 and have been very sedentary due to an injury in November.
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Post  plantoid 2/1/2012, 5:46 pm

SQFTBIX wrote:It didn't take that long actually. I watch a show with Loe L'ampl (can't remember the name actually) and they showed how to do it and not ruin your back. Looks funny but I wasn't the least bit sore Sunday morning. I do use raised beds all around. But I have been disappointed in the output. I have read countless research that has shown that veggies suffer if they hit hard ground below them. Maybe I haven't built my beds high enough but I only use repurposed materials. Research shows - from what I have read, that plants need 2 feet or more down. Just thought I would give it a try and it was one heck of a good exercise program. The best part of gardening is in the experimentation of doing things outside the box. Very Happy

it seems as something is wrong somewhere , do you have Mel's book 2006 eition as shown on the header on the home page ?
Follow that to the letter and I'm betting you'll not bother going back to mining soils for the vast majority of your crops
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Post  Chopper 2/1/2012, 5:47 pm

Either way. You are not preaching to the choir here. Digging? What for? LOL. Sounds like a version of French Intensive. Maybe Mel Should call his book Mix Intensive and people would think they are working hard enough to not feel guilty about doing 1/5 of the work of their neighbors for a better yield. Smile My plants could have gone deep if they wanted to because of where I put the boxes, but they didn't. I think they did not bother because they did not have to go in search of nutrients.

I highly suggest you READ and STUDY the ANSFG book. It is an eye opener.
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Post  midatlanticgardening 2/1/2012, 9:36 pm

Thanks SQFTBIX! I understand the premise but I'll definitely have to try it out to get the feel for it. Good luck with your garden this year!
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Post  SQFTBIX 2/17/2012, 4:00 pm

Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I have used the Sq Ft method "just like in the book" and followed it to a tee with success. I ran across Mel way back when he had the TV show and have books and such as resources. I understand the premise but decided that since I was opening a new area to gardening, what could it hurt to dig, spread manure and other nutrients in the area to insure they had what they needed deep down? When assembled, the beds will be about 20" deep to the ground level. Now I am sure the tomatoes will have nutrients deep enough to promote strong root growth. I am also assured that the grass and weeds that were there are now dead as I turned them root side up and there has been a hard frost or two since that has destroyed them. When I did it Mels way, invariably, the weeds seemed to come up about 2-3 months after they were buried. Of course, there will still be weeds but they are thwarted for awhile. Just needed the exercise and a little peace of mind. As I have said, experimentation is what keeps your gardening spirit alive. Cool
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Post  RoOsTeR 2/17/2012, 5:21 pm

One of the benefits of using the SFG method as Mel describes in his book, roots don't need to go any deeper than 6". They have all the nutrients they need readily available within the 6" Very Happy

You can even place bottoms on your boxes to keep out weeds and grasses! Cool Making progress! 53366

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Post  bakermtb 2/17/2012, 6:49 pm

SQFTBIX:

To save some work, get the book and follow it. I had 6" of MM soil and had 8' high corn last year. Mel Mix is great stuff.
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Post  plantoid 2/17/2012, 7:22 pm

SQFTBIX wrote:Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I have used the Sq Ft method "just like in the book" and followed it to a tee with success. I ran across Mel way back when he had the TV show and have books and such as resources. I understand the premise but decided that since I was opening a new area to gardening, what could it hurt to dig, spread manure and other nutrients in the area to insure they had what they needed deep down? When assembled, the beds will be about 20" deep to the ground level. Now I am sure the tomatoes will have nutrients deep enough to promote strong root growth. I am also assured that the grass and weeds that were there are now dead as I turned them root side up and there has been a hard frost or two since that has destroyed them. When I did it Mels way, invariably, the weeds seemed to come up about 2-3 months after they were buried. Of course, there will still be weeds but they are thwarted for awhile. Just needed the exercise and a little peace of mind. As I have said, experimentation is what keeps your gardening spirit alive. Cool



It's good that you have read the book , I too had it but unfortunately it was Mel's original book that still played with soil .

It wasn't till I found this site and became aware that like most things , things change .

Mel has binned his old book and produced a new one called the " All New Square Foot Gardening " , book it carry's the 2006 edition notice .

Mel has moved over to a soil-less growth medium , herein afterwards to be called Mel's mix or " MM ".

Made correctly there is no need whatsoever to bother in mining soil ever again for the vast majority of veg & small fruit crops.



tip

Those sods of earth / turf that you turned over and let the frost at will still have prennial pernicious weeds ( ones that are difficult to get rid of that come again year after year ) in them if there were any there in the first place .. deep digging will not remove them nor will frosts ..

That's one of the big reasons I'm doing squarefoot gardening we have an abundance of a thing called mares tail or Horse tail it's an ancient weed that helped make coal , it grows to around 15 feet below the ground and loves acid soil , plus I'm lazy and cant be bothered dig 600 square feet when a hundred and twenty of ANSFG will get me a far better result for a fraction of the effort and time ..


Last edited by plantoid on 2/17/2012, 7:42 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Post  plantoid 2/17/2012, 7:34 pm

If you want decent roots on the tomatoes go for the trench method as tomatoes are greedy feeders withtheir roots being just under the surface .. they don't do too well with deep roots in deep soil for some reason.



If you don't know what I'm on about .. grow the tom plant till it is about 15 inches long . strip off the bottom 8 or 9 inches of leaves ( don't leave them on the bed but take them well away because of diseases that affect tomatoes ) , scrape a shallow 4 inch deep trench 12 inch long in the MM and lay the root ball & stripped stem at one end in the trench then cover with MM , leaving four or five inches of leafed plant out of the MM .

Then water it in . Put the stake ( If you're going to use them ) in away from the root area and the area where the main new root will form.

All along the stripped off plant length hundreds of new feeder roots will quickly develop and the plant will rapidly pass the growth point of when you planted it .

Start feeding the toms when the first truss of flowers have set and stop the plant by nipping out the top when the fourth or fith truss has set ..you will get some real fantastic tomatoes
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Post  SQFTBIX 2/22/2012, 1:44 pm

I am going to experiment with the new tomato area. I too, have the new book of Mels and again, I have used his methods for over 30 years with success - at least I think it's been 30 years. I am going to plant some tomatos straight in the soil, some using the trench method that I have used in the past and I am going to make one area that I haven't dug up a typical SQ. Ft garden without disturbing the soil. I will put down weed barrier and a layer of old newspapers about 2 ft deep. Then, I will see if any one method works better than the others. Again, for me at least, half the fun is in experimentation. Cool
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Post  plantoid 2/22/2012, 6:03 pm

Take a shed load of pictures as you do it and post them onsite... they each speak a thousand words and are interesting ( even if slightly out of focus Wink )
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Post  Kelejan 2/23/2012, 3:43 pm

I am certainly looking forward to seeing the results.Very Happy
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