Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Post  Gratefulbull on 12/4/2019, 9:53 am

I am starting a SFG in existing raised beds. I have four 16' by 4' beds. (zone 7a) I have purchased some perlite, peat moss and cow manure compost.  It's snowing now, so I haven't yet mixed what I have.  I plan to get some bulk compost so that I don't use just one kind.  
I do plan to cover the lot with wood chips from an arborist if they ever get delivered. 
I plan to use the "Back to Eden" method --- Lots to learn!
Should I even be doing this this time of year? 
Thank you.

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Join date : 2019-11-26
Location : Zone 7a Marsing, Idaho

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Post  OhioGardener on 12/4/2019, 10:03 am

@Gratefulbull wrote:Should I even be doing this this time of year?
Welcome to the forums from Ohio! We're in Zone 6, so winter starts a little earlier for us, and seems to go on forever once it starts. But, all of the gardens are ready for a long winter's nap.

Short answer, YES!  Never too early to start, nor too late. Getting the beds ready, and letting them settle in for the winter will have them ready for spring planting. If you can get some good mulch such as straw or hay to cover the beds for the winter it will be even better.


Never plant without a bucket of compost at your side.

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Post  Gratefulbull on 12/4/2019, 10:47 am

Thank you for the reply.  Straw will be my alternative, but the wood chips are free.  
Right now it's hard to find anything since garden centers are holding Christmas merchandise in most big box stores.  I live in a desert climate five miles from a very small town. WE are actually still moving in, but I'm chomping at the bit to get the garden started. I plan to get chickens, too. I came from a suburb in California that was zone 14 - now I have lots of land but a very short growing season (and a husband who wants to kill all vegitation because he hates weeds).

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Post  countrynaturals on 12/4/2019, 11:21 am

happy hi  from Redding, CA. Here, we all do the SFG gardening method, but many of us who have the space, also do BTE, and fall is the perfect time to start. Wood chips are awesome.

A few of us also have chickens. If you do a search (upper left corner of the screen) you'll find a great thread about chickens. I have my compost pile in the chicken area. The hens keep it turned for me, so I can "harvest" on a regular basis, with no effort at all. good job!

I share your frustration with garden centers in the "off" season. Thank goodness for the internet. reading 

When you get ready to start, take lots of "before" pics and keep a detailed journal. It's really fun to look back after a few years and see how it all began. study

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Post  sanderson on 12/4/2019, 6:11 pm

Hi GratefulBull, Welcome to the Forum from central California! glad you\'re here This is a great time to plan and prep for your spring garden. If you get your beds filled, great. If not, you can do it first thing when the snow melts. The more sources of compost, the better the coverage of nutrients. If you haven't, please read the 2nd or 3rd Edition of All New Square Foot Gardening.

Regarding wood chips, I think they are great over cardboard or weed fabric in the isles to keep the weeds down. They are also great for the BTE method outside the boxes. Think of "bed hogs" like summer squash that each need 9 sq. ft. Very Happy One member had a long windrow of compost 3' wide and covered with black plastic. He cut X's for the squash plants. I think he may have had a drip line down the row under the plastic. I'm a devotee of SFG but even I have an otherwise useless strip of dirt 1' x 50' that I amended with compost and topped with wood chips. Wink

Please update us as you begin your journey. We love photos!

PS: I strongly recommend that you return the perlite and spring for coarse vermiculite. Perlite floats to the top and does not work as well as vermiculite. It is so worth it. There are several online sites if you can't find coarse vermiculite locally.


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Post  AtlantaMarie on 12/5/2019, 8:48 am

Hi GratefulBull. Welcome from Atlanta, GA!

I second Sanderson's comments about putting the wood chips over weed cloth... Learn from my mistake, lol! It's a lot easier to pull them off of that vs. having to sift them out when you're ready to replant or do maintenance.

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