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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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Hi from Roswell, GA Toplef10Hi from Roswell, GA 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.

Hi from Roswell, GA I22gcj10Hi from Roswell, GA 14dhcg10

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Hi from Roswell, GA

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Hi from Roswell, GA Empty Hi from Roswell, GA

Post  mmrussell30 3/29/2022, 11:16 pm

Hi, my name is Misty and I moved to Georgia in 2020 and bought a house last year that happened to have 3 raised planter beds.  I have never grown anything in my life, but am determined to learn how to grow vegetables. While perusing a used book store for local gardening books, I came across the original SFG book. After devouring it, I ordered and read the 3rd edition to make sure I knew the latest and greatest.  As I try to plan, the issue I keep running into is that the very thing that drew me to learn about gardening is the part I'm struggling to figure out...how to deal with the original beds  Shocked

There are 3 of them, but they are 7' x 9' and about a foot deep with a path between each.  They are pretty substantially integrated into the landscape and one long side of each isn't super accessible as they essentially back up to a fence.  I'm trying to figure out how the heck I convert "reachable" portions of the beds to SFG or if that is just impossible.

We saw a few previously planted vegetables and flowers last summer, but they have quite a bit of blown in weeds at this point, as well and I'm not sure what to do with the soil/debris already in there.  There is weed stop fabric several inches below the surface, so I'm wondering if I just pull that out along with everything on top of it, lay down new fabric, and build the Mel's mix on on top.

Any advice would be much appreciated  Smile. I'm very happy to be here and can hopefully get started soon!
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Hi from Roswell, GA Empty Re: Hi from Roswell, GA

Post  markqz 3/30/2022, 12:14 am

Hello Misty, and Welcome! It seems like you're off to a great start!

Do you have pictures of these beds? What are they made of? Are they filled to the brim? How deep are they? What is the average air speed velocity of a laden swallow?

Ok, you can ignore that last question -- I get carried away.

My first thought would be to split the boxes so they become more SFG-like. But it depends how they're constructed. I'm sure people will be along with some great ideas and suggestions.

Happy Gardening!
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Hi from Roswell, GA Empty Re: Hi from Roswell, GA

Post  sanderson 3/30/2022, 7:15 am

Hi Misty, Welcome to the Forum. glad you\'re here It's good that you have the 3rd Edition in hand.

As Mark mentioned, do you have photos? That will really help. I'm picturing 3 beds with the 9' lengths against the fence. You will have to divide the beds so you can access all of the squares without walking or leaning on the beds. You can do that with two 7' boards in each bed creating a 3' isle in the middle walking towards the fence. Each bed is now 7' x 3' which is a good size for reaching everything. That will give you six (6) beds of 7' x 3', or 126 square feet. For the grids, I recommend two grids per bed so they won't snap in two when you remove them for end of season cleaning and heavy amending with more blended composts.

How thick are the boards, 3/4" or 1 1/2". How much empty space is there to the top of the beds? You only need to a) remove enough dirt to give you 7--8" for 6-7" of Mel's Mix with an inch left over for mulch during the summer or, b) add another layer of boards on top to give the same head space.

A layer of weed fabric over the dirt and Mel's Mix on top will let you start off without any weeds or weed seeds.

It will take a little over five (5) 4 cu. ft. bags of coarse or super coarse vermiculite for the 6 new beds. One 4 cu. ft. bag for every 24 squares. The same volume of different real composts blended together. And 2/3 the volume of plain compressed peat moss which will fluff up. If the cost is too much this year, just do 2 or 4 of the new-sized beds and the rest next spring.

Waiting for your photos! Very Happy

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Hi from Roswell, GA Empty Re: Hi from Roswell, GA

Post  mmrussell30 3/30/2022, 1:37 pm

Thank you so much @sanderson and @markqz! I'm attaching a few pics that I hope are helpful. You can see my yard is sloped and the beds sort of stair step down it.  The long edges are against a steep trail of large rocks next to the fence. Hopefully this is helpful!

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Post  markqz 3/30/2022, 4:25 pm

I'm thinking that each one could be split into two SFGs, with size 3x4, though not perfect squares. You would dig down in a bed, removing soil until there was 8 inches or so from top. Dig all the way to the base soil in a 2 foot strip in the middle, put in some appropriately sized boards to hold the soil, and then back-fill the strip to make a pathway. Divide each side (shown on left) to make a 3x4 grid, though they won't be perfect squares.

I might only convert one bed at a time, since it's a bit of work and it's your first time gardening. That's my random thought. Maybe there will be some better ideas.

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Hi from Roswell, GA Empty Re: Hi from Roswell, GA

Post  sanderson 3/30/2022, 5:52 pm

The photos really help.  Yes, the beds are really integrated into the landscaping, but they are sturdy and will be great foundations.  Hopefully the sections of tree trunks can be rolled out of the area so you can access the uphill parts of the beds.  Now you have an open field to work!

You are not the first person to inherit oversized beds that have to be walked on to reach every square.  I wish I had  I'm looking at 3 King size beds with headboards up against the fence/rock path way.  You are going to create 6 twin size beds by creating isles using 2" x 8" lumber to frame them.  Head boards still against the fence.  One twin will be higher than the other twin but each twin will be so much more manageable.   Very Happy

Excavating dirt can be hard work and you have to have somewhere to put it.  I'm voting for building up instead of excavating.  Plus you want the beds to be above the lawn with weeds that has be mowed. Throwing weed and grass seeds into the beds. Shocked

I wish I had my computer with my photos so I could show you how others solved the over-sized beds they inherited.

ADD: Mark, thank you for that edited photo! That's the direction I was trying to explain with 20,000 words. A photo is invaluable.

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Hi from Roswell, GA Empty Thank you!!

Post  mmrussell30 3/30/2022, 7:00 pm

You are both fantastic....really appreciate the feedback! I'm going to get started on the planning. On a positive note, if I do excavate, I also inherited some spots in the yard that could use some filling Smile
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Post  mmrussell30 3/30/2022, 7:05 pm

and yes, I can absolutely move the tree stumps to get more room to work...very excited to get started!
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Post  sanderson 4/9/2022, 2:02 pm

How are you doing with your beds? Any update photos?

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Hi from Roswell, GA Empty Re: Hi from Roswell, GA

Post  AtlantaMarie 4/15/2022, 5:53 am

Hi Misty.  I'm a little late to the party, but it looks like you've been well taken care of.  

I live over in Buford, so about 45 minutes from you.  Glad you've found us!
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