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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Hi from Lapeer Michigan Toplef10Hi from Lapeer Michigan 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 Lapeer Michigan I22gcj10Hi from Lapeer Michigan 14dhcg10

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Hi from Lapeer Michigan

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Hi from Lapeer Michigan Empty Hi from Lapeer Michigan

Post  DonP 6/17/2024, 5:10 pm

Hi, I've lived here since '98 and finally bit the bullet and removed a couple trees to open an area for full sun raised beds.

I grew up gardening (about an acre) and frankly the older I get, the more I miss the fresh vegies.

My current plans are 2 beds, 24'x4'x2'.  Using Galvanized roofing / pressure treated lumber DIY beds.

I'm now scratching my head re: Mels Mix for such large beds.  The Vermiculite alone will be extraordinarily expensive.  I'm still reading, but if I fill the beds completely with MM, I'll need a bit over 14 yards of mix.  that is 128 cu ft of Vermiculite (at $15/cuft, oh my!).  Perhaps I should just fill the bottom 1' with a top soil?

Still reading, I bought the SFG book and am reading/reading/reading.

Thanks all for the great forum, I'm learning/learning/learning.

Don

ps:  Planning on building/filling the beds this year and doing first planting in the spring.
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Hi from Lapeer Michigan Empty Re: Hi from Lapeer Michigan

Post  OhioGardener 6/17/2024, 5:56 pm

Welcome to the forums from Ohio!  You will find a wealth of information here, and many very helpful members ready to share their experiences.

DonP wrote:My current plans are 2 beds, 24'x4'x2'.  Using Galvanized roofing / pressure treated lumber DIY beds.

Suggest you consider making more shorter beds rather than one 24' long, such as three 8' beds instead of one 24' one. You will find walking the length of a 24' bed to get to the other side very tiring, if not frustrating.

If I fill the beds completely with MM, I'll need a bit over 14 yards of mix.  that is 128 cu ft of Vermiculite (at $15/cuft, oh my!).  Perhaps I should just fill the bottom 1' with a top soil?


It is recommended to only have 6" of MM in the bed, with the bottom of the bed filled with something like topsoil or sand. My beds are all 18" high, and I filled the first foot with top soil before topping off with MM.

Reducing the MM from 2' down to 6" would reduce the amount of MM needed down to 96 cf ft (32 cu ft each of compost, vermiculite, and peat).

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Hi from Lapeer Michigan Empty Reason I will do long beds

Post  DonP 6/17/2024, 7:33 pm

Ohio Gardener,

Thanks for the great reply.  6" is much more doable from a cost for MM perspective.

The reason I plan on longer beds, is twofold.  First I'm limited on either end (one end due to slope and the other end due to shade).  So to maximize planting area I was just going to do 2 long beds instead of 4 shorter beds. Secondly,  I'd lose 6' of length if I split them, since I need to drive the lawn mower between the beds.  I'm planning on just placing the beds on my existing lawn on that side of my yard.  I'll spade over the sod under the beds.

Thanks again,
Don
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Post  OhioGardener 6/17/2024, 7:54 pm

DonP wrote: I'm planning on just placing the beds on my existing lawn on that side of my yard.  I'll spade over the sod under the beds.

There is no reason to spade over the sod under the beds, just mow it short, and then place cardboard (available free from local furniture stores) over the grass before placing the beds on it. The cardboard will smother the grass and any weeds, and then the cardboard will decompose over time.  Some also prefer to put weed fabric down before the beds to prevent future weed growth, but I have not found that necessary with deep beds.

We have a tremendous problem with gophers, so I put 1/2" hardware cloth down under the beds to keep them from burrowing up into them.

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Post  DonP 6/17/2024, 9:48 pm

OhioGardener wrote:

We have a tremendous problem with gophers, so I put 1/2" hardware cloth down under the beds to keep them from burrowing up into them.

I was wondering about that, but not for gophers.  We have moles. I wonder if 1/2" is too big for them.  I was thinking about 1/4" for the moles.

Thanks,
Don
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Post  markqz 6/18/2024, 1:28 pm

Part of the charm of the SFG method is that it is less labor intensive. Having to walk 28 feet to get to the other side of a bed will become old quick. Especially if you forget your spade as often as I do Wink

192 squares is a lot for a first garden. I feel like losing some squares might be worth it. I guess you could always put a wooden board foot walk over some squares, if it becomes an issue. You could also use a smaller gap between beds, and then use a wheedwhacker to maintain those parts.

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Post  DonP 6/18/2024, 4:30 pm

markqz wrote:Part of the charm of the SFG method is that it is less labor intensive. Having to walk 28 feet to get to the other side of a bed will become old quick. Especially if you forget your spade as often as I do Wink

192 squares is a lot for a first garden. I feel  like losing some squares might be worth it. I guess you could always put a wooden board foot walk over some squares, if it becomes an issue. You could also use a  smaller gap between beds, and then use a wheedwhacker to maintain those parts.

I own a really really good weed whacker and I try to use it as little as possible Wink .  The 100+ yards of ditch along my road and the culverts get done too infrequently already.  I'm really not concerned about walking around a bit.  But I do truly appreciate the input.

Don
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Post  Scorpio Rising 6/18/2024, 10:54 pm

Hi Don, and welcome to the forum!  I, too, think that is a lot of square footage to start out with.  I personally would sacrifice the 6’ of loss with breaking the bed up into 2 pieces.  You can always re-group.  Especially if you delay the 2nd bed.

I always recommend starting small.  Especially since you are starting in a summer garden.  

If you have the space, make the spaces mow-able.  I am in Ohio, and I put open-bottomed boxes onto grass with 2 layers of cardboard.  This disintegrated by the 3rd year.
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Post  sanderson 6/27/2024, 5:59 pm

Hi Don, Welcome to the Forum from California.  glad you\'re here I'm late to the party but you have already received some good feedback from members.

The thing about SFG is the amount of produce that can actually be grown compared to row/traditional gardens.  You mentioned you are reading the book (Which Edition??) and we can only attest to the amount one can grow using 6-7" Mel's Mix and grids for spacing.

1.  If you are placing the beds on the lawn, just scalp with the mower and cover with cardboard.  Amazon boxes seem to be plentiful. Very Happy  If you have a noxious grass like Bermuda or Torpedo grass, nothing short of killing the grass under the beds and 6" out as a dead zone perimeter will work.  Yes, glyphosate on a calm day (usually at dawn) to prevent drift.  Did I actually say that?  Rolling Eyes
2.  Long beds are discouraged.  By having separate beds, you are setting up the garden for more tall trellises on more north ends of multiple beds for vining plants like beans, peas, cucumbers, winter squash, indeterminate tomatoes, cantaloupe, cow peas, small-medium pumpkins.  Growing vertical is a major tenant of SFG.
3.  Beds made from 2"x8" lumber are tall enough for 6-7" of MM, plus mulch and watering systems and planting grids.
4.  For troublesome or aging backs, taller beds can be made.  But, fill all but the top 8" with sandy loam top soil or washed sand.  I know it seems impossible to grow heavy feeders in only 6-7" of Mel's Mix but this is a tried and true method.
5.  Order coarse vermiculite online.  Watch for sales or free shipping from A M Leonard, Greenhouse Megastore, Farm Tek, Uline, Palmetto, PVP Ind..  If you order through Amazon, make sure it is one of these stores simply selling through Amazon as a secondary way.
6.  Fluff the peat moss before measuring.  A 2 cu ft compressed bale fluffs about 50% or makes 3 cu. ft.  Get it wet.  It's easy to source locally.  
7.  Start looking for pure composts without any fillers such as more peat, coir, sand, perlite, topsoil, bottle caps and rocks.  Be prepared to sift bagged or bulk compost of non-composted wood or other material.  A wood frame with 1/4" hardware cloth works well.  Try to limit manure-based compost to 20% of the total blended composts.  Worm castings are an honorary compost but should be limited to 5-10% of the total blended compost.  Some places are hard to find quality compost.  It's better to have 3 quality than 5 junky just to achieve the recommended 5 composts.
8. We set up my beds to fit our lawn mower.  Then had to buy a new mower and it was like 3/4" wider.  silly me
9.  I can't emphasize enough that the Mel's Mix needs to be wet when first put in the beds.  And, maintained moist forever.  It is a real bear to try to wet a full bed of dry MM.  The peat moss is hydrophobic.  The books mention misting the ingredients while mixing to keep down the dust and particles.  But they don't emphasize . . .  wet the darn MM as it is being mixed or put into the beds in shallow layers.  MM drains so well that you can plant or sow a wet be the next day.  Mulch like E-Z Straw with Tack from Tractor Supply can help slow surface evaporation and keep the MM cool and dry in the hot summer.

This is the time to ask questions.
3rd Edition.
Hi from Lapeer Michigan Book_322

2nd Edition.
Hi from Lapeer Michigan Book_212

Original (or 1st Edition) of ALL NEW SFG.
Hi from Lapeer Michigan Book_o11

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Post  Scorpio Rising 6/30/2024, 8:57 am

Great post, sanderson!
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Post  sanderson 7/2/2024, 1:06 pm

SR, thank you.

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Hi from Lapeer Michigan Empty SR thank you

Post  DonP 7/10/2024, 5:30 pm

SR,

3rd edition.  I've thought a lot about it and shorter is likely better!  Thank you all for repeatedly hitting me on the nose with the rolled up newspaper!

I've been busy with work, tearing out a deck and replacing with a patio/hot tub combo.  So haven't had time to work on the SFG.

Thanks again, I'm still here but life gets in the way of the fun sometimes!

Don
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Post  Scorpio Rising 7/10/2024, 5:56 pm

DonP wrote:SR,

3rd edition.  I've thought a lot about it and shorter is likely better!  Thank you all for repeatedly hitting me on the nose with the rolled up newspaper!

I've been busy with work, tearing out a deck and replacing with a patio/hot tub combo.  So haven't had time to work on the SFG.

Thanks again, I'm still here but life gets in the way of the fun sometimes!

Don
Ha ha!  I haven’t read the whole thing, either.  Looks like a good winter read after the garden goes to sleep!  Life does have a way of doing that!
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Post  OhioGardener 7/10/2024, 6:26 pm

Scorpio Rising wrote:
DonP wrote:
Thanks again, I'm still here but life gets in the way of the fun sometimes!

 Life does have a way of doing that!

“Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans.”  ~ John Lennon   Very Happy

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Post  DonP 7/11/2024, 6:00 pm

Thank you all, 

After losing my wife to cancer after 32 years of wedded bliss, I've come to conclusion that Tomorrow Is Not Guaranteed.  TING

Please all, hug your significant other and never wait to thank them for every act of love.


Don

TING
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Post  sanderson 7/11/2024, 6:07 pm

DonP Sad I'm sorry for your loss after 32 years of a happy marriage.

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Post  Scorpio Rising 7/13/2024, 1:05 pm

I am very sorry for you and your family, Don.
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Hi from Lapeer Michigan Empty im sorry for your loss Don

Post  Muttoast 7/17/2024, 12:38 pm

first post
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Post  sanderson 7/17/2024, 2:30 pm

Muttoast, Welcome to the Forum from Fresno, Zone 9B.

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Post  Scorpio Rising 7/18/2024, 10:49 am

:welcome:Hi, Muttoast!  Ohio, here!  Enjoying this cooler weather for a minute…
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