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The last lath? Toplef10The last lath? 1zd3ho10

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.

The last lath? I22gcj10The last lath? 14dhcg10

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Post  markqz 1/11/2020, 3:41 pm

I'm wondering if anyone knows the reason behind Mel's using wood laths as dividers rather than twine or some other material?

I'm thinking that the laths may actually provide a hiding place for little rolly-polies or other arthropods. I've started removing them from SFG #1. But if there's some strong reason to use the laths, I could always put them back.

Thanks!
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Post  OhioGardener 1/11/2020, 3:55 pm

I don't use "permanent" dividers, Mark, but have a folding grid that I lay on the soil for planting and then remove to use in another bed. I use this technique due to the drip irrigation system I have in place, and it would be very difficult to maintain along with the mulch with the grid on top of the soil.  But, that is unique to me....

Meanwhile, here is Mel's answer to that question in 2011:



Jon.......PA June 8, 2013 at 5:15 am -
Sorry Mel, I am using heavy nylon twine for dividers and figure I have gained 4 ” in both directions, more room for those radishes and carrots!! If it doesn’t work ill go to the 1X2s next year, but so far so good!
Jon in PA

Mel Bartholomew June 19, 2013 at 11:49 am -
Dear Jon,
Sorry Jon that you’ve taken a turn for the worse and are using nylon twine for dividers. Your theory of having an extra 4 inches in both directions isn’t quite correct, but if you’re happy with them so be it. Please do not tell people though that this is the recommended or accepted method of having grids. I hope you will be able to change it so you can enter our contest this summer for the best garden on your block. Here’s just one of the reasons, when we lay out a grid of course it’s just an idea, a line in the soil, or as you’ve put it a string running from side to side. I guess you had to drive some nails in to attach it. I love to tell the story of those nails, they are going to get rusty one day and you will be running your hand over the side of your garden box, notice the veins on the bottom of your hand. Some day that rusty nail is going to scrape your wrist and you’re going to bleed, so you have to call 911. Get a tennis shot and wear a bandage. When you are in the hospital you’re going to say, “Boy I wish I’d followed Mel’s advice and put in regular 2” wide permanent rigid grids”.
The other reason of course, and I’m sure you’ve read this, is that no matter what kind of twine or string you use, it is eventually going to break, get dirty, sag, and it just doesn’t look good. Those are just some of the reasons. Now to talk about the 4 inches you think you have gained. You have actually only gained that at the surface. Remember the spacing at 1, 4, 9 or 16 plants in each square foot was determined by the seed companies saying, “These plants of this variety should be spaced 3 inches, 4 inches, 6 inches, or 12 inches apart.” That’s how we got the spacing that is measured not from the edge of the wood or plastic grid, but from the border line that now is your twine. That would also be the imaginary line down the center of our wider grid. Now let’s say we are going to put in leaf lettuce at 6 inches apart, 4 per square foot. If you do the “zip zap” then you have 4 sub squares in your 12 inch by 12 inch square and you are going to plant your lettuce in the middle of all those sub squares. In essence they would be three inches from the outer edge line under you wide grid, but also three inches from the inner center line. Those distances are determined by how big the top of the plant gets to be. That is how the seed companies determine how far apart they should be planted so they do not grow into each other. Basically we’re saying a leaf lettuce plant grows with a diameter of 6 inches wide and 3 inches in all directions from the plant center, where you are going to plant the seeds. If you lay a 2 inch wide grid on the ground, could that plant be planted, instead of 3 inches in from the edge, 2 inches from the 2” grid edge which would still leave it 3 inches from the center line? I wish I had paper and pencil to show you. The answer is yes.

Read full article here:  http://www.melbartholomew.com/got-a-question/

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Post  markqz 1/11/2020, 4:54 pm

@OhioGardener wrote:I don't use "permanent" dividers, Mark, but have a folding grid that I lay on the soil for planting and then remove to use in another bed. I use this technique due to the drip irrigation system I have in place, and it would be very difficult to maintain along with the mulch with the grid on top of the soil.  But, that is unique to me....

Meanwhile, here is Mel's answer to that question in 2011:

That's a good solution for your irrigation set up!

Thanks for the reference. Mel seems greatly concerned about the use of nails and someone getting tetanus. But I'm using the same screws I used for the laths, so no concerns there.

I followed the thread, and down below Mel admits that it might be all right to use clothesline. He's concerned about the attractiveness of the final product. He doesn't address the concern that laths are not always easy to find. Lowes still has them, but apparently Home Depot doesn't sell them anymore. If HD isn't selling them, it's a good bet Lowes will follow. I once worked in a wood-product factory. Laths were basically the wood left over after trimming wood planks down to a usable size. If you can't sell a product that is essentially free, then it probably means the market has dried up.

The only blue clothesline I see online has wire in it. I would see that as being as great a hazard as nails. Clothesline with wire is really hard to work with. It occurs to me that weed whacker whip comes in bright attractive colors and is made of long lasting vinyl. So it might fit the bill in terms of durability and attractiveness. Just use the screws with washers, and when you tighten the screw down it will lock the end of the whip in place.

So, back to my original concern. I've got sow bugs and earwigs. They tend to congregate under any structure that will hide them. You can even trap earwigs by laying out strips of wood or sections of hose. Maybe in other parts of the country they're not such a problem?

Thanks!
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Post  sanderson 1/12/2020, 5:03 pm

Mark,  Sow bugs and earwigs will hide under wide molding but not so much under 3/4" molding.  When I plant, I sprinkle a little Sluggo PLUS around the perimeter to protect the young seedlings.  I have also used pieces of corrugated cardboard for them to hide under and sprinkle a bit of S-PLUS under it.

As a Certified Instructor and Moderator, I have tried to follow the tenants of ANSFG.  I started out with wood screen molding (1/4" x 3/4"W x 96"L) loosely connected with small nuts and bolts, that could fold up.  I take them out, along with the drip irrigation system,  when cleaning the beds and amending with more compost.  Then replace them immediately!  

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Alexandria-Moulding-WM-142-1-4-in-x-3-4-in-x-96-in-Pine-Screen-Moulding-0W142-20096C/205902096

Planting bush beans:

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The molding now comes in white plastic.  Photo taken at night with the white Christmas lights for lighting.

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