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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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Post  dstack 8/20/2013, 4:30 pm

Hi! I'm prepping my yard where I'll have my first ever SFG boxes. I'll be building three 8'x4' boxes built with 2'x8' boards with a plywood bottom. I've drafted up a plan which is ever changing. If you see any incompatibility problems please let me know. Thanks!
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Post  Mikesgardn 8/20/2013, 8:16 pm

That is ambitious! With plywood bottoms, these will be tabletop boxes?
I recommend starting smaller, unless you don't work full-time.
Mint is invasive, so it is best to grow it all by itself in a container. I also recommend wider aisles.
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Post  camprn 8/20/2013, 8:17 pm

I like my pathways wide enough for my lawn mower. Welcome to the SFG Forum!

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Post  Marc Iverson 8/20/2013, 9:13 pm

I've read in several places that fennel is a poor companion for most plants, which makes me wonder if you'd do better to put them in pots or their own separate bed.
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Post  camprn 8/20/2013, 9:44 pm

Mark that seems like sound reasoning to me, such a beautiful plant and they seem to grow rather large....... but for the life of me, I cannot fathom why people would eat something that tastes so horrible........ Wink  just kidding, I can't do aniset, arak, ouzo, sambuca or black licorice either, makes me gag.



Please post photos of your growing fennel!

http://www.annettemcfarlane.com/Stories/Fennel.pdf

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Post  sanderson 8/21/2013, 3:06 am

Dstack,  Welcome to the Forum!glad you\'re here 

I wish I could enlarge the diagram enough to see what you are planting.  You may want to have wider isles, at least 24".

Are these raised beds with plywood bottoms?  If you are going to set them on directly on the dirt, all you is weed block material.

Share your journey with photos.  We love photos of other gardens.
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Post  Goosegirl 8/21/2013, 5:59 am

Welcome dstack! 

welcome 

If you have the room, I would also recommend wider aisles/walkways.  When the plants hang over the sides of the boxes (and they will!) you will need enough room to move around without damaging them.

GG
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Post  dstack 8/21/2013, 6:49 am

Mikesgardn wrote:That is ambitious!  With plywood bottoms, these will be tabletop boxes?  
I recommend starting smaller, unless you don't work full-time.
Mint is invasive, so it is best to grow it all by itself in a container.  I also recommend wider aisles.
Yes, I'm quite ambitious in the garden. They won't be tabletop boxes. I have the plywood since I have a massive root knot nematode problem. Thanks for the suggestions. I'll consider that about the mint.
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Post  dstack 8/21/2013, 6:54 am

camprn wrote:I like my pathways wide enough for my lawn mower. Welcome to the SFG Forum!
I have the boxes in a part of the garden where I won't need to mow or even go near with the mower. It'll all be river rock in the walk ways. I might be able to expand the walkways to 19" or possibly 20".
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Post  dstack 8/21/2013, 7:01 am

sanderson wrote:Dstack,  Welcome to the Forum!glad you\'re here 

I wish I could enlarge the diagram enough to see what you are planting.  You may want to have wider isles, at least 24".

Are these raised beds with plywood bottoms?  If you are going to set them on directly on the dirt, all you is weed block material.

Share your journey with photos.  We love photos of other gardens.
Sorry about the small diagram. I would prefer to attach the spreadsheet, but couldn't. I'll try to upload a larger one. 

The beds will sit on river rock with rive rock aisles. The plywood is to protect the boxes from my root knot nematode problem. Thanks!
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Post  dstack 8/21/2013, 7:05 am

Goosegirl wrote:Welcome dstack! 

welcome 

If you have the room, I would also recommend wider aisles/walkways.  When the plants hang over the sides of the boxes (and they will!) you will need enough room to move around without damaging them.

GG
Unfortunately I don't have the space, but I may be able to make some of the walkways 19" or 20". I'll just have to keep things trimmed up where I need to walk through. Thanks!
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Post  dstack 8/21/2013, 7:07 am

camprn wrote:Mark that seems like sound reasoning to me, such a beautiful plant and they seem to grow rather large....... but for the life of me, I cannot fathom why people would eat something that tastes so horrible........ Wink  just kidding, I can't do aniset, arak, ouzo, sambuca or black licorice either, makes me gag.



Please post photos of your growing fennel!
I LOVE fennel! I can't get enough of it in my blender mixes (fruit & veggie smoothies).
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Post  dstack 8/21/2013, 7:12 am

Thanks everyone for making me feel welcome!  Most gardeners see cats as a threat, but around here they keep the squirrels from eating our papayas. But now I'm wondering how I'll keep them from getting in these boxes. I'm was first attracted to SFG because I've got such a bad infestation of root knot nematodes. And I'm afraid the cats might contaminate the boxes. YIKES!
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Post  llama momma 8/21/2013, 7:22 am

The aisle width really should be 3 ft. wide or more.  Mel B., the inventor of this system cautions against 2 ft. wide aisles, pages 34 and 46 in his 2006 edition of the book. With 2 ft aisles, it's hard to imagine cascading or bushy plants but those aisles can shrink down to 18 or 12 inches.  My boxes are spread out and I can't imagine less than 3ft to 4 ft apart.  Before you fill the boxes you may want to consider your comfort level and walk around them thinking about bending and harvesting.
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Post  dstack 8/21/2013, 8:32 am

llama momma wrote:The aisle width really should be 3 ft. wide or more.  Mel B., the inventor of this system cautions against 2 ft. wide aisles, pages 34 and 46 in his 2006 edition of the book. With 2 ft aisles, it's hard to imagine cascading or bushy plants but those aisles can shrink down to 18 or 12 inches.  My boxes are spread out and I can't imagine less than 3ft to 4 ft apart.  Before you fill the boxes you may want to consider your comfort level and walk around them thinking about bending and harvesting.
Ok, you've convinced me!  Smile  I won't be able to fit all three boxes in the same part of the garden, but at the alternative place I have in mind will have full sun all year around unlike the third box in the original plan. I'll need to order more river rock. 

Thanks for the info!
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Post  dstack 8/21/2013, 8:38 am

I was hoping to use cypress, but I'm going to have to go with yellowpine...untreated, of course. I'll seal it with linseed oil like Mel recommends. The cost was over $200 for cypress verses $60 for the yellowpine. In five years or so I'll just build new boxes. 

Are there toxic chemicals in plywood? Maybe I don't want to know.
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Post  camprn 8/21/2013, 9:06 am

dstack wrote:I was hoping to use cypress, but I'm going to have to go with yellowpine...untreated, of course. I'll seal it with linseed oil like Mel recommends. The cost was over $200 for cypress verses $60 for the yellowpine. In five years or so I'll just build new boxes. 

Are there toxic chemicals in plywood? Maybe I don't want to know.
I used plain pine boards and you're right about the 5 year lifespan. As to the plywood, I'm with you, I just ended up using it, but it is know to be manufactured with formaldehyde and who knows what else.

I would echo the recommendations for you to consider wider pathways. I have some narrow passages between some of my boxes and now I have to be very careful going between the mature pepper plants and tomato plants. The small space makes it difficult to get in there for pruning and watering and harvesting.

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Post  dstack 8/21/2013, 10:39 am

I've modified this for more walk through space. Thanks to everyone for the tips!SFG Newbie Stacks10
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Post  dstack 8/21/2013, 10:43 am

Now I can re-work the plan. Before I had 16 square feet that would be shaded in the winter. Not so anymore! Very Happy
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Post  grownsunshine 8/21/2013, 11:29 am

In your plans, you might add how many of each plant you're planning to put in each square. People will have good feedback on that too.

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Post  sanderson 8/21/2013, 12:42 pm

Dstack, You won't regret the wider isles! Whether you kneel on a pad, sit on a stool or bend over, you will need the dimensions. Glad it worked out shade-wise, also.

Use UNBOILED linseed oil.

Plywood - I had my husband buy plywood for some of the portable units 2 months before needed. It was stored outdoors to allow some of the chemicals to flash. Six months would have been better, but who can wait 6 months once you have the SFG bug??? Don't forget to drill holes per Mel's instructions. Then use weed block to keep the MM from washing out the bottom.

Can't wait to see the photos of your progress!
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Post  dstack 8/21/2013, 1:02 pm

sanderson wrote:Dstack,  You won't regret the wider isles!  Whether you kneel on a pad, sit on a stool or bend over, you will need the dimensions.  Glad it worked out shade-wise, also.

Use UNBOILED linseed oil.

Plywood - I had my husband buy plywood for some of the portable units 2 months before needed.  It was stored outdoors to allow some of the chemicals to flash.  Six months would have been better, but who can wait 6 months once you have the SFG bug???  Don't forget to drill holes per Mel's instructions.  Then use weed block to keep the MM from washing out the bottom.

Can't wait to see the photos of your progress!
Now I'll have to look to see if it was boiled or unboiled that I bought.  What's the difference? 

I don't have 6 months to wait, so I'm wondering if I could just lay a layer of plastic sheeting. I have a lot left over that I bought for solarizing soil. Of course I would have holes where the drainage holes are, and I know it'll degrade after a while but at least it will give the chemicals to leech out a bit. Good idea on the weed block...
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Post  dstack 8/21/2013, 1:04 pm

grownsunshine wrote:In your plans, you might add how many of each plant you're planning to put in each square. People will have good feedback on that too.

Welcome to the forum!
I've been looking for a good online source for that. Do you know? Someone lent me Mel's book and I caught the bug, and perhaps I'll just buy the book.
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Post  camprn 8/21/2013, 1:06 pm

phht, don't have to wait 6 months........ unless the plywood was manufactured last week. I typically don't use the weed block (extra expense) in my all wooden above ground boxes. I use a 1/2"drill bit to make the off set drain holes every 4" -6" of so, I have not lost much, if any mix out these drain holes.

The other alternative, is to make the entire box out of lumber and leave the plywood out of the equation. What a Face 

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Post  sanderson 8/21/2013, 2:24 pm

Boiled = poisonous

Unboiled or raw = food grade

I though about using a plastic liner with holes aligned.  Then I thought about water seeping between the plywood and plastic, standing water in the space, and figured it would just speed up the rotting or de-laminating the plywood.  Buried plastic can last a long, long time to break down.  No sunlight to break it down.

Since your boxes will be slightly elevated on the rocks or pebbles, you could consider using rigid 1/4" mesh hardware cloth for a relatively smooth bottom over the rocks or pebbles.  Then set your wood frames on the hardware cloth.  Last, install weed block having it extend up 1-2" up the sides on the insides.

There are so many different ways to set up a garden that it can make your head spin.

Caution:  I used 2" rocks under small 1 x 3' boxes.  It was hard to level the boxes and I am visually sensitive to leveling.  (Drives DH crazy!)  One inch would be easier to smooth, set things on, etc.  Are you putting weed block under your rocks?  Not a bad idea??

Cats:  Bird netting is the most confounding thing to work with.  So spread it over seeded or seedling areas and pin down in corners to deter the cats until the bed is crowded enough with plants.  Or construct chicken wire cages over an area.  You can then place tulle material over the cages to keep out the dreaded white moth / green caterpillar that can ravage brasicas, chard, etc.  If your area has those?  Or build the cats their own 2 x 2' box in a shaded/protected area and put sand in it!!  Place a couple of pots of catnip or catmint to screen for privacy.  Hey, my one cat has her own garden!  She has never used the boxes except to pee once.  Hey, you gave me an emergency box in the laundry room so I just thought this was another one for me. She's pretty sensitive to learning what is okay and what is not.  "NO" is all it takes.

You sure got a lot of recommendations from another Newbie of 6 months.  I DO listen to my "elders" on this Forum!  Very Happy
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