Square Foot Gardening Forum
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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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Hello from Arizona! Toplef10Hello from Arizona! 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.

Hello from Arizona! I22gcj10Hello from Arizona! 14dhcg10

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Hello from Arizona!

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Hello from Arizona! Empty Hello from Arizona!

Post  Guest 6/13/2023, 10:53 am

Hi! I am excited about finding this forum. cheers I just bought the Square Foot Gardening book and am chomping at the bit to get started. I have been gardening with perennial flowers for about 19 years, but never tried anything edible except for herbs. They taste so good fresh from the garden. Nothing like fresh basil on a homemade pizza! I bet tomatoes will be just as delicious. I am intrigued by the square foot gardening method and am loving the book. Hoping to find help here as I get going and some day give help when I can. Thank you!
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Hello from Arizona! Empty Re: Hello from Arizona!

Post  sanderson 6/14/2023, 3:29 am

Hi Gimme,  Welcome to the Forum from Fresno, CA, your 5-degree-cooler cousin.  You will be able to garden year around.  I have been using this method since March 2013.

Gardening in the desert can be done with a few helpful tools:
1. Locate the bed(s) in an area that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight, preferably morning sun.
2. Locate the bed(s) where the monsoons won't affect it, on a well-draining area.
3. Be prepared to provide shade when it's over 95*F, especially against afternoon sun.
4.  Start small. One or 2 beds 4'x4' or 3'x5' will produce more than you can imaging.  Use trellises whenever possible to max out the square footage.
5.  Use bedding straw, or ready-to use E-Z Straw with Tack as mulch.  (Tractor Supply)
6. If you have burrowing animals such gophers, 1/4" hardware cloth affixed to the bottom of the bed will work.

A. Order the coarse or super coarse vermiculite online.  One 4 cu. ft bag is good for almost 24 square feet. https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t22121p100-need-vermiculite?highlight=vermiculite
B. Fluff the peat moss before measuring.  If expands about 50% so a 3 cu. ft. bag = 4.5 cu ft.
C. Start looking for real composts.  Learn to read the labels for non-compost additives such as peat moss, coir, perlite, sand, wood fines.  Be prepared to sift compost for wood pieces.  A frame with 1/4" hardware cloth, build to fit over a wheelbarrow or cart, or such, works well. If you have any questions about the composts you find, take a photo of the front and the back with the ingredients and we can comment.  Manure-based, food-based, green-waste based, cotton burr, worm castings (honorary compost).  

Here is a planting guide for the greater Maricopa County area. They could have made it a little easier to read but maybe you can print it out and draw some lines across to see what can be planted when.
https://extension.arizona.edu/sites/extension.arizona.edu/files/pubs/az1005-2018.pdf

https://extension.arizona.edu/maricopamg

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Hello from Arizona! Empty Great info!

Post  Guest 6/14/2023, 10:30 am

Thank you for all that info, sanderson. Appreciate it. I have that planting chart, but as you said, it's hard to look at, so I converted it to an excel spreadsheet. Much more useful that way. I think my biggest issue to solve is the soil for my bed. It is near impossible to find compost that doesn't look like it is really just a bunch of large wood pieces. I'm afraid if I sifted it I would have nothing left to work with. I will defininetly be researching all that here before I go looking some more. Otherwise it is very frustrating. Thanks again!
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Post  sanderson 6/14/2023, 2:20 pm

Gimme, I have heard from other Arizonians that pure composts are hard to find.

Try the "cash crop" nursery supply stores. Try PHX Hydro, Sea of Green and Treeland Nurseries for Malibu Bu's Blend. It cost me $22 with taxes in CA. I gave it a 5-Star review when I commented on their site. It is around 60% cow manure in their finished product so plant-based composts should be used to help keep the manure portion of compost down to 20%.

Dr. Earth's Organic All Purpose compost is about 1/4 wood and fibers. These can be used as mulch around flowers and bushes, or as browns in the home compost pile. The remaining real compost was okay. I gave it an overall rating of 2 Stars on their site. Some people have found it at HD, Lowes, etc. The good thing is it is plant based.

G&B Purely Compost is a compost that I can find locally. It has to be screened but it is relatively available.

Try S. Winds nursery for E B Stone Organic Compost. I still need to try it but I imagine I will have to sift it. At least it's affordable. Razz I found it at an independent nursery.

Worm castings. Cash crop nurseries and other independent nurseries should carry it

Good Luck. Very Happy

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Hello from Arizona! Empty Re: Hello from Arizona!

Post  Guest 6/14/2023, 5:18 pm

Cash Crop Nursery! If there ever was a great name, that's it.  🤣Thank you for all the suggestions. I wonder why it is so hard here in AZ? They sure do like to put a lot of wood in the mixes, more than actual compost products. Thanks for the leads!
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Post  Scorpio Rising 6/14/2023, 10:22 pm

I get a lot of my compost at TSC.  The other helpful supply is local coffee houses, they have gold in their old used coffee grounds!  And your own kitchen offings, of course!
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Post  sanderson 6/14/2023, 11:28 pm

SR, My Tractor Supply does not carry compost. Sad But, it does carry E-Z Straw with Tack so that is one item important in the SW.

Coffee grounds are great for the compost pile, but not as a compost. The microbes and time have to do their job, first.

Gimme, California turned into a compost desert when Nature's Care Really Good Compost and Ecoscraps Compost disappeared about 3 years ago.

I think I need to open an independent store - Cash Crop Nursery. cheers

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Post  Guest 6/15/2023, 11:10 am

Scorpio Rising, thank you. I will try getting to Tractor Supply today to look around (that's who TSC is, right?)(did I just show what a newbie I am?)  Hello from Arizona! 1280598131
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Hello from Arizona! Empty Compost

Post  Khsds2 6/23/2023, 8:44 am

Good morning GimmeShade! I too live in AZ. I read about your compost dilemma. I'm surprised you haven't had better luck with that. However, I HIGHLY recommend the Arizona Worm Farm! They sell compost, worm castings, etc. They are located at 8430 S. 19th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85041 | (602) 622-7663. I took a vermicomposting class there years ago - great people! Check them out. Their website is very informative also, listing the times they are open, etc.
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Post  Guest 6/23/2023, 10:15 am

Hello Khsds2, oh yeah, I've had had my eye on that worm farm for a couple of months now. I will be going there very soon with some 5 gallon buckets for DIY fill ups. I would have them deliver but to be frank, delivery costs to me are crazy. It's pretty much the same across the board with all the nurseries and landscape supply companies. I looked at one mix, and for a cubic yard the delivery cost alone would have been over $250. I'm a reasonable person and am willing to pay a fair price, but time, labor, fuel and truck wear and tear do not equal $250. when it's coming from 30 miles away. Sorry, enough ranting. Rolling Eyes  
The worm castings are definitely on my garden's menu. I have had terrible luck finding compost that isn't full of mystery ingredients. I have been to all the nurseries and the big box stores. Sadly only one nursery had different kinds of compost that I would consider, because the ingredients were not peat moss and processed forest product + whatever type of compost was bagged up. I don't think that is a much different mix from the brands of garden soils I have seen.
Have you ever bought bagged compost and if so, where do you buy it? This has really be way harder than I thought it would be. I can't make it. Too many four legged critters invade the neighborhood and get inside people's walls. I had thought the stories I've heard about roof rats were fake, but they are not, according to many neighbors who had to call exterminators.
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Hello from Arizona! Empty Compost

Post  Khsds2 6/23/2023, 11:28 am

I compost everything, so I haven't bought from any of the stores around here. Years ago Phoenix offered old garbage bins (those big green ones that you put out on garbage pick-up day) that they had turned into compost bins by cutting off the bottoms and drilling holes in the sides, along with a bag of compost starter, for $5. Since they still have the lid on them and they are heavy duty they work great. I haven't had anything invade it. But I highly recommend the compost from the Worm Farm if you can't compost.
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