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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
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height of square foot beds

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ETNRedClay
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Post  kauairosina 1/16/2014, 9:17 pm

I gave my friend the book and she is very excited.  However, she insists that she will do 18 inch high beds instead of 6 or 12 because she has clay soil underneath.  I am telling her that is way overkill.  Anyone have a response?

Aloha,
Kauairosina in Hawaii Rolling Eyes
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Post  Marc Iverson 1/16/2014, 9:51 pm

The SFG notes that six inches is fine for most crops. What does she want to grow that needs 18 inches? Clay is poor soil, but it's not like it's poisonous.

Also, Mel's Mix isn't cheap. If she tries to get deeper boxes to get better soil, but the expense of the extra soil makes her cut back on the quality of the soil mix she puts inside them, she could be sabotaging herself. It would be better to have six inches of top-quality Mel's Mix soil than 18 inches of less than ideal soil.
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Post  sceleste54 1/16/2014, 10:24 pm

My beds are just under 24 inches.. I have had better results with the deeper depth than when I tried with 12 inches. Our summers are pretty hot here and I think the deeper depth allows the roots to stay cooler. The my beds  are FULL of earthworms too..Smile
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Post  sanderson 1/17/2014, 1:23 am

Are we talking about 6" of pure Mel's Mix, or MM mixed in with native soil?  My boxes are either 10 1/2" tall or 7 1/2" tall, with 6" of MM, topped with 1" of mulch.  Some of the boxes are set on concrete!!  Just. Don't. Need. More. Than. 6" of MM.  (Except for parsnips, carrots, potatoes or any other long root veggie)

PS: Is the person using the old SFG method, or the All New Square Foot Gardening method?
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Post  dstack 1/17/2014, 8:53 am

Yes, that is overkill, and will be expensive to fill. Mine are 8" deep but only have between 6 1/2" to 7" of MM once it settled. The three beds also have plywood bottoms, and I'm growing carrots. Once they reach the bottom they'll just have to bend at the bottom. The two varieties that I have are pretty short and may not even have to do that. Danvers grow 7" at best and Parisienne grow more like a large radish, even though it's a carrot. They're very popular in France.
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Post  sanderson 1/17/2014, 1:34 pm

Dstack,  I received a free packet of Parisienne carrots with an order from Baker Seeds.  The greens are looking very healthy.  Are they also good tasting? DH made some top hats for me yesterday for parsnips and Straight 8 carrots.
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Post  kauairosina 1/17/2014, 2:10 pm

Sanderson asked the above question in my question about heights for sfg.  What kind of difference is there between the new and the old sfg?  I did the old sfg many years ago and do not know what the difference is.
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Post  sanderson 1/17/2014, 2:31 pm

The old method:  mix 2" of fluffed peat moss, 2" of vermiculite and 2" of compost [ which = 6" of Mel's Mix ]  with 6" of dirt.

The New Method:  6" of Mel's Mix, Period.  No dirt.  Hence the boxes are shorter, except for long root crops such as carrots, parsnips).  For long root crops, you can add a Top Hat.  The boxes can be set over any dirt, or on concrete like driveways and pavers, or built as Table Tops.  For boxes on the native dirt, folks place weed fabric, brown cardboard, or layers of news papers for native soil weed control.  For burrowing critters, they place 1/4" metal mesh on the soil first.

Strong recommendation:  Get hold of the 2nd edition of "All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew.  I think you will be amazed.   Shocked
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height of square foot beds Empty thank you Sanderson for explanation

Post  kauairosina 1/17/2014, 2:35 pm

I'm not sure how to reply but many Mahalos, as we say here in Hawaii.  I do have the new book and it is what has created my enthusiasm, although I first balked at having to purchase so much stuff.  I have warned my friend not to add dirt.  We'll see how effective this is.
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Post  sanderson 1/17/2014, 3:04 pm

Rosina, Have you shown your friend the garden photos posted in the Gallery above? A person either believes something works or they don't.

The expense is the first year. If you make your own compost, it is inexpensive from there on. Only problem is, a lot of folks keep adding more boxes because they love it! The mix is great for drought areas (top with mulch), rainy areas because it drains, for pots (adjust the spacing accordingly).
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Post  dstack 1/17/2014, 9:47 pm

sanderson wrote:Dstack,  I received a free packet of Parisienne carrots with an order from Baker Seeds.  The greens are looking very healthy.  Are they also good tasting?  DH made some top hats for me yesterday for parsnips and Straight 8 carrots.
Baker Creek is my very favorite seed company for several reasons. I love that they are so committed to educating the public about GMOs. Do you have their seed catalog? It's very informative and highly recommend it. You can request a free one at: Baker Creek Catalog Request

They've sent me a free package of heirloom seeds each time I've ordered, and I also received those Parisienne carrot seeds as a freebie. I just harvested the first Parisienne today, and it tasted like a typical carrot with a slight bitterness, but not bad at all.
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Post  Goosegirl 1/18/2014, 7:38 am

Sanderson & Dstack:  Carrots tend to get sweeter if left in the ground for a few frosts.  Dstack, that info might not help you with sweetening them up, since you may not get much in the way of frost down your way, but Sanderson, you should be able to grow them at a time that you can leave them inground for a few frosty days.  I had very little success with the Parisiennes due to intense downpours early that season which washed most of my carrot seeds away (before the boxes!) but the few that stayed and sprouted, they were very good!

GG

PS - LOVE Baker Creek as well. Nearly all my seeds come from them, except tomatoes, which I get from TomatoFest, another great heirloom seed company - and they always send a free sample pack as well!
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Post  ETNRedClay 1/19/2014, 2:25 am

kauairosina wrote:I gave my friend the book and she is very excited.  However, she insists that she will do 18 inch high beds instead of 6 or 12 because she has clay soil underneath.  I am telling her that is way overkill.  Anyone have a response?

Aloha,
Kauairosina in Hawaii Rolling Eyes

My first year SFG beds are on steep slopes, so (3 boards high x 6"=) 18" on the downhill side, 12" on the uphill side.  And although it is a VERY expensive pain to fill them the first time, I got gigantic root vegetables that went way down and my peppers and beans had deep root systems as well.  Not to mention my worms aerated the entire bed down to the COMPACTED gravel and clay slope the beds sit on.  With out triple digit heats 2 summers ago, I wasn't taking a chance on shallow beds on steep slopes.  But we ended up having a remarkably cool and wet summer, so go figure.
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Post  Sweetmama 1/21/2014, 6:08 pm

Has anyone elevated sfg beds? If so did you fill the bottom part with rock or what? Did having the mel's mix  elevated cause it to dry out quicker? Thinking of making my new beds about 24" high (shorter distance to bend).   Dear hubby thinks soil will dry out faster and present a problem.  Any thoughts?

Sweet mama
 thanks
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Post  dstack 1/21/2014, 7:22 pm

Yes, I have mine raised on cinder blocks...

height of square foot beds Ready_11

I've not tried SFG-ing on the ground, so I don't have that to compare this to, but I can say that when we don't get rain the top layer of the beds dry out quickly, and I do at least a light watering almost every day.
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Post  sanderson 1/21/2014, 7:39 pm

I have wood boxes with plywood bottoms on top of cement pavers. With mulch on top of the Mel's Mix, they hold water quite well. You could build a well-supported Table Top with plywood bottom on cinder block columns (Search box for Table Top). Then you would only need 6" of Mel's Mix plus mulch. And no filler material below. Do you have the new ANSFG?
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Post  llama momma 1/22/2014, 6:01 am

Sweetmama

My waist high 8" deep table top of strawberries sits on cinder blocks covered with thick straw.  Two years ago I had temperatures around 100 degrees and higher.  At those temps I also place thin burlap over the critter cages for shade and watered every day.  62 out of 64 plants survived.  

Side note- the table top served two duties when my barn cats quickly discovered  the grass underneath the tabletop was a very cool shady place to hang out and lay against the cool cinder blocks.  I added a bowl of water and the little space became quite the popular summer hang out.
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Post  sanderson 1/22/2014, 2:31 pm

LM,  can you post a photo so new comers can see what your raised beds look like?
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Post  llama momma 1/22/2014, 2:45 pm

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Post  dstack 1/22/2014, 4:25 pm

llama momma wrote:Sure - The 1st picture shows the whole set up, the 4th one shows the bed with  added straw.

https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t13734-2012-pictures-of-birth-of-new-strawberry-bed-through-1st-renovation?highlight=strawberries+renovation
After reading several pages of your thread I'm inspired to try strawberries in one of my beds sometime. I read about your bird problems, but what about ants? That was my biggest problem (before I caught the SFG bug Wink ).  Or did you use anything to repel them?

An odd thing about buying strawberry plants here is that many nurseries, like Lowes, HD, and Kmart, here in zone 10 (S. Florida) sell plants that do NOT do well here. I made an impulse purchase of three or four plants in 2011, and wondered why they didn't do well... until I did the research. I guess these stores anticipate a lot of uninformed customers.  

In fact, this past Christmas someone gave us a little Goat Willow, or Pussy Willow, tree which every source I've read says only grows in zones 4-8. Of course the family member with good intentions bought this at a local store. LOL ...I'll see how long I can keep it alive in the shade and LOTS of water.
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Post  llama momma 1/22/2014, 5:02 pm

Stores will be happy to make a second sale off of you. And beautiful catalogs can make you crazy just from the volume of choices. I think your locally owned non-franchise nurseries are a very nice source for suitable varieties if you just want transplants. Remember that your extension service has free advice available online and by phone too. If you get those strawberries best wishes, and enjoy.
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Post  sanderson 1/22/2014, 5:07 pm

Dstack,  What variety do HD, etc. sell?  Sequoia and Quinot did okay for me.  I've added Ozark this year.

What about a Table Top to protect from ants?  I use Baby Powder to kill and repel ants.  I just poof it out of the bottle sideways so it's not thick.  If you have a TT, you can set the 4 legs on pavers or bricks and poof the BP around the legs.  I use it to keep the ants from getting out on the hanging hummingbird feeder.  I swear by PB.

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height of square foot beds Empty OK Sanderson - 'splain yerself

Post  kauairosina 1/22/2014, 5:35 pm

I finally figured that TT is tabletop, after I started  writing this.  
But was is PB?  I am so stoked that you have remedies for ants; they are really swarming this year.
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Post  plantoid 1/22/2014, 5:47 pm

I think it is meant to be " BP"  a.k.a.  baby powder as it follows on from the previous sentence
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Post  sanderson 1/22/2014, 9:32 pm

Baby powder.  The cleaning ladies told me about it a couple years ago.  Every heat wave or cold snap, the Argentine ants would come trouping indoors, probably through cracks in the foundation, etc.

Since I started gardening with MM, the ants did not come in this summer and this winter.  I used it around my boxes but they just find alternate routes.  But the hummingbird feeder has only one torturous route.   Evil or Very Mad
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