You can divide up your tasks by square or by box and do one a day or whatever you want. I appreciate your science based gardening/horticultural information that you share.Thank you. Not to mention the minimum wage $10 per hour and probably 4 hours or so minimum required for me to assemble such a project. The system is simple enough for anyone to create and it produces consistently. Even if I do it myself for free which ofc I would, I am still using those productive hours of mine that I could be using for other purposes. I did a quick search and the www seems to have conflicting reports on that. Luckily there were no wooden structures nearby. I do think, … With Square Foot Gardening, you don’t have to deal with pH problems, nematodes, rocks, etc. Does square foot gardening really work? You will … Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of … I believe in certain cases, it would be useful if not most cases. A full sheet of 5/8 costs $22 here, which means a 4′ x4′ x 9″ bed would only cost $8.80. I priced out 2×4 lumber in the area(I live in Florida) and it was $4.50 for a 8 foot piece. Using square foot gardening, you can comfortably grow two cucumber plants per square foot. I’m tickled and proud that 95% of the materials in my garden were free! You don’t need a ‘plastic’ box for this type of gardening. Hi Robert, I just stumbled on your site doing some research for our vegetable gardens. A square foot garden takes only one-fifth the space and work of a conventional single-row garden … Tentatively, however, I feel it reasonable so far for me to assume my pvc bed will save a whole heck of a lot of water for me vs. wood. I totally agree that one does not need to buy a product like this to have good raised beds. You Are Eating Poisonous Fruits & Vegetables Even If They’re Organic! Regular pine also lasts much longer than 2 years. Learn how your comment data is processed. More people where I am prefer the pvc fencing over the cedar – happily or sadly, I am not judging. Once the summer sun is doing its thing, the square foot gardening is done. I am curious about your statement about plastic leaching chemicals into plants. No soil improvements. In fact, I later dug beneath my old SFG beds and stacked in chunks of wood as water reservoirs in a hugelkultur-inspired fashion … but that’s another story altogether. That’s Square Foot Gardening in a nutshell. Also, when I built my beds 9 years ago, I was actually concerned about the lumber I was using. There are so many advantages to building a square foot garden: maximizing your harvest is just one of them. In case you aren’t familiar, square foot gardening is just that–you break your space into 1’x1′ grids and … Drops to $2.80 for 92″ length, which might do as well. The Grow Network is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for our team to earn fees for recommending our favorite products! Minimal Weeding– This really is one of the most important things for me. It will probably surprise the manufacturers of this product that plant roots will just grow under their little plastic strips! Error message: "The request cannot be completed because you have exceeded your, Copyright © 2021 Garden Myths | If you’ve got a limited amount of space, like well-planned systems, and you’ve got some resources, Square Foot Gardening is a great method. It’s still money and a resource that could be used for proactive things if desired. At best the untreated wood beds would have lasted 2 years. Relevance. If I had a house nearby I would have definitely been in panic mode. I use a combination of methods ranging from row gardening to biointensive beds to water gardening to food forestry, etc. Lasts 8-10 years and can then be replaced. You can’t let a week slip past or you’ll be having a Square Foot funeral. In the end, you can’t squeeze water from stone as they say. is usually reflected in the price and all those activities can not be good for the environment since they all require machines and petroleum. Any system that has been encouraging people to grow their own food for the past 40 years should be applauded. Very logical and yet common sensical without hysteria. Necessitating me to buy more what? Yup, it does. Is there concern over that? Square Foot Gardening Mistakes – our favorite method of managing a garden in a small suburban landscape. I easily get 5 years out of it, but only if I buy better quality wood. Some of us would rather bake a cake for someone, than to buy one. Another great plant for square foot gardening is the cucumber. Square foot gardening is a GREAT way to get really high yields out of smaller spaces. It’s a remarkably well-engineered, self-contained way to garden. That’s for a 4-foot x 4-foot growing space. This grid can be made of stretched string, PVC, 1 x 2 lumber, or whatever else you have lying around. Should You Compost Dog Waste or Cat Waste? In contrast the wood beds dried out in a few hours after hurricane monsoons here. (NOTE: Even if you do think your compost pile got hot enough, watch out, as lots of seeds usually manage to slip through the cracks.). The drawbacks (while real) all have fairly simple … To indulge in square foot gardening, all you need to do is divide your gardening bed into ‘imaginary’ 1 foot squares. Square foot gardening also works best in a raised bed that’s no more than 4 feet wide (so you can reach the middle easily), though it can be whatever length you like. But what are the special techniques that bring … You might not have weeds to pull—but you’ll be spending some time watering during the summer. But I’m guessing it does effect it. I also used compost, most of which I made myself for the soil. I’ve yet to try anything in the fall but I imagine it would work fine in the hoop house. If you are only raising the bed a few inches, raised beds add no real value except aesthetics and a bit less bending. David The Good is a Grow Network Change Maker, a gardening expert, and the author of five books you can find on Amazon: Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting, Grow or Die: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening, Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening, Create Your Own Florida Food Forest, and Push the Zone: The Good Guide to Growing Tropical Plants Beyond the Tropics. It really does work, and it takes a lot of the guesswork out of gardening. That said, it’s not where most of the food comes from on my homestead. That’s Square Foot Gardening in a nutshell. You don’t need a square box. Even the plastic water bottles people buy do this. I just started to laugh. Yet writers like Steve Solomon, Ruth Stout, John Jeavons, Toby Hemenway, Carol Deppe, Edward Smith, Dick Raymond, and yours truly all have different methods that work for them. He’s an organic gardener and a philanthropist, and just seems to be an all-around sharp guy with a good heart. Does square-foot gardening work? That I am less sure about. 8 years … Miracle-Gro Orchid Plant Food Mist – Huge Fertilizer Ripoff, Ginkgo Biloba Tree Myths – The Maidenhair Tree, LED Grow Lights - Getting the Right Color Spectrum, 18 LED Grow Light Myths You Should Know About, The Magical Power of Banana Peels in The Garden - Or Not, Eggshells - How Not to Use Them in the Garden, Sunlight Calculator - Another Product You Don't Need. fluffernut. To get to a height of 9 inches or so, I would require at least 2 and a half pieces per side. I think that in many cases the author is a writer, and not a gardener. Natural Weed Killers – Do Organic Herbicides Work? Instead, you use a perfect mix (“Mel’s Mix”) of soil created from 1 part compost, 1 part vermiculite, and 1 part peat moss. Even on a slope, you can make flat beds – like rice paddies on a hill side. Square Foot Gardening: What Is It and Does It Work? Granted, you’d earn it back in homegrown organic produce over time—which is why I bit the bullet and built beds for my wife—but it’s still a big outlay. It’s also weed-free, unless you start with homemade compost that wasn’t “cooked” enough in a hot compost pile. This method was invented by Mel Bartholomew, an American TV presenter, … In the spring, we built and planted a so-called square-foot garden here in Calgary, faithfully following the instructions in an updated version of Mel Bartholomew's 1970s book, Square Foot Gardening. The soil tended to dry out faster than I expected and stress my plants out. This saves $1.30 – $1.70 per bed. Finally, you have to build the boxes. Would that $40 not be better served just donating to an environmental cause? The same I’m guessing, actually holds true for the plastic garden beds which are significantly lighter(cheaper to transport), made of petroleum products, but maybe less petroleum products than the 2×4 – this is my guess since it is cheaper at the end than the 2 x 4. We may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, should you purchase an item after clicking one of our links. Mel Bartholomew is really fun to read—the book is worth buying just to hear what a truly excited and enthusiastic gardener sounds like. Thanks for supporting TGN! Mix the Perfect Soil Cocktail. Do you have a source you can provide that explains how this happens? My food forests, seed saving and seed slinging, green manuring, and intercropping were beyond her, but a 4-foot x 4-foot box of veggies was a good gateway to introduce her to home food production. If you can get a few hundred garden-loving friends together, we may be able to make an enterprise of this. I can’t say the change means it’s all doom and gloom. Square Foot Gardening. As you pull out spent crops, put in a handful of compost in the holes left behind and then plant again. I have been an advocate of vegetable gardening for 20 years and doing raised beds for the past 9. So it’s pretty much the garden equivalent of having your cake and eating it too. Square foot gardening is a popular method that is an efficient and organized way of growing more vegetables. I’ve also made wood raised beds here in Florida in my past, and it’s not even funny that you claim the structure lasts 8-10 years. I initially build mind because I was having some back issues at the time, so I built mine tall and installed a rail I could sit on while weeding and harvesting. Most chemicals will not be absorbed. The late Mel Bartholomew brought gardening to a whole new crowd, and it really looks like a fun way to grow. Square Foot Gardening promises little or no weeding, consistent results, and lots of organic veggies from a tiny space. The standard Square Foot bed also doesn’t allow you to grow much in the way of large root crops or crawlers like melons. The classic Square Foot bed is a 4-foot x 4-foot square constructed of anything from lumber to bricks to cinder blocks. As I stated, I really appreciate your website and insights and agree with most if not all – haven’t read all yet, so can’t say. Happy gardening! Or you can build the bed on top of concrete, believe it or not. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll eventually outgrow the box and concentrate on building your own soil rather than bringing it in from outside. I also found that the 6-inch-deep thing didn’t work out very well here in Florida. Square foot gardening is the practice of dividing a growing area into smaller square sections. Plastic may last longer, but environmentally it is less desirable. I discovered your site recently and love your articles. You then plant the correct number of seeds or plants into each square foot area. Potting Up – Which Pot Size is Correct for Potting On? I wound up using pressure treated lumber but was concerned about that leaching chemicals into plants as well. You might be interested in this post Raised Beds – Pros and Cons. Everybody is entitled to have and express their own opinions,but not their own facts.That is why science is so awesome,because it is still the truth,even when people refuse to believe it. A main drawback of this system is the initial setup cost. I can’t say which is better. The premise is to build a gardening box (in square … Another consideration is, if my sister was a single mother, I think she would be more apt to buy the plastic beds instead of building one herself from wood and having to buy all her tools, etc to build it. It’s like … science gardening. If you want to start gardening but feel overwhelmed or don’t think you have the space to do it, I encourage you to explore the square foot gardening method. Keep producing that, and your gardens will keep growing for you. Her backyard slopes downward into a creek. Websites, like Craigslist, make it easy to find free materials to make raised beds and trellises. More untreated wood to build more? To indulge in square foot gardening, all you need to do is divide your gardening bed into ‘imaginary’ 1 foot squares. Learn from our mistakes before you tackle your garden! Square foot gardening wraps up all the loose ends of conventional gardening and ties them up into a neat little box of veggies. If you wanted to feed your entire family with Square Foot beds, you’d be out some serious cash. Then the manufacturer asks them to create an environmental problem by producing a plastic box. If you don’t have a lot of available space, square foot gardening is a great choice. Albeit the wood beds were outside and my patio is screened in, and other factors, hence, I state guessing. Mel Bartholomew said, “If your garden box doesn’t have a grid, it’s not a Square Foot Garden.” … Home Depot sells junk. And wouldn’t you want to encourage a woman like that to try to garden? Amy’s viewpoint: First off, a square foot garden is simply a raised box or bed that is divided into squares.The beds can be 2 feet by 2 feet or 4 x 12, but the most common is a bed that is 4 … What is really sad about this product is that the gardener is probably growing vegetables because they believe in fresh produce and in organically grown food. 21 Common Indoor Plant Myths – That Save You Time and Money. But on a serious note, there are two things I have tried to mitigate the cost and lengthen the life of my raised beds. I basically stacked two 2x10s on top of eachother for the sides and made them 4’x8′. The goal of this is to assist the planning and creating of a small but intensively planted garden. One is to use plywood for the sides. It really does work, and it takes a lot of the guesswork out of gardening. From what I have read there has been negative and positive remarks about it. An “official” Square Foot Gardening bed isn’t in contact with your native soil at all. It is easy to understand, and the small bed space is very manageable. Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society. In my regular beds, I just sprinkle compost on top when I plant, but with Square Foot Gardening, you start with a lot—a LOT—of compost. Square Foot Gardening is in my arsenal—but it doesn’t play a major role in my garden plans. My point is – everything has a price. A decent circular saw alone costs what? Does it work? Bartholomew also strongly recommends putting a permanent grid over the top, dividing the bed into easily manageable 1-foot squares. Why Can’t You Trust Gardening Information on the Internet & How to Bloom Houseplants? I admit this is just my guess. Also, I spend the summer watching for construction sites that often throw away ridiculous amounts of perfectly good materials because they are charging it off to people who are to dumb to realize what they are paying for. If you want a raised bed, just bang some 2 x 8 wood boards together. SFG (Square Foot Gardening) incorporates raised beds or boxes. The basic principle is that you are giving each type of plant the spacing they require, without wasting any space. Since most SFG is done in … Plant Communication – Can Plants Talk to Other Plants? Just stating how it is. He’s encouraging, uplifting, thoughtful, and a fun writer. ALL my pine/white wood beds were half gone from termites and carpenter ants by the FIRST YEAR, and rotten on the bottom where it met the soil line come the spring after I made it. For example, my sister recently expressed a wish to make a garden at her house. You then plant the correct number of seeds or plants into each square foot area. A healthy square foot gardening … Mel goes on to say, "The square foot system lets you make the most of your garden space to conserve the amount of water, soil conditioners, and labor needed to produce a maximum amount of food in that space. Traditionally, ofc, 2 by 4 lumber has almost always been the best value for buck. Your garden usually starts with a 4×4 raised garden … And the building of beds and mixing of “soil” takes some time. I haven’t decided what to do about my sister’s backyard yet, but the plastic beds, so far, seem like the best option – at least to ME. The idea of square foot gardening has become popular over the last few years and some of the underlying concepts of the this gardening technique make sense. If you’re not gardening now, you need to start. Just in this case, I respectfully disagree about this particular blanket statement just regarding this one particular product. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting, Grow or Die: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening, Push the Zone: The Good Guide to Growing Tropical Plants Beyond the Tropics. Bartholomew also provides plans for melon and bean trellises, so you can grow vertically and get more use from the space. What a silly idea!!! But the cost of taking the lumber out of the pine tree and transporting it, etc. upFlorida- Frugality is also an excellent thing for gardening! If you like this post, please share ....... Error type: "Forbidden". Great article, David! With a Square Foot garden, you can drop a garden right over grass or weeds without even pulling stuff up. AT LEAST, in MY case. … You don’t need little plastic strips to divide the surface into precise square foot sections. You have to build beds from something and then fill them with perfect soil. Square Foot Gardening, despite its advantages, also has some drawbacks. Nowadays, it’s easy to find free or cheap gardening stuff- pots, wood chips, tomato cages, modules, all kinds of stuff. This system requires more watering than systems that employ wider spacing. so they copy a lot of material from other places. Square foot gardening … A lot of my love and recycled materials is where it’s at. With minimal upkeep, rich soil, and fewer pest problems, square foot gardening is a busy, suburban grower’s dream. We … So, I see the benefits of the square foot gardening method being that your garden is contained and easy to manage. This is not including the cost to the environment in terms of the forest area designated to grow this lumber, transportation, lumbering equipment etc., which in economic terms I believe is almost always and generally reflected in the $4.50 per piece price tag. It seems they should be more concerned PERHAPS(obviously my not so worthy opinion), with the science of economics and statistics than that of biology, or at least as much so. I love Sundays because I get one day every single week to hang out with Farmer and the kids, and recharge for the next 6 days. You will get good results with little weeding. Farmer doesn’t go to work, and we don’t do any yard or garden work outside. I’ve had the bed for only a month, and adjusting my watering so can’t say for sure, but I feel I will more than likely water my bed for less than 5 minutes a week during growing seasons here. It’s not nothing. Brown paper grocery bags seem like they would be better for the environment but the world has gone to plastic grocery bags. We have 8 raised beds based on the square foot gardening method. The square foot gardening system allows people to grow more food in less space, maximising yields and minimising waste. You can build raised beds and place them in the sunniest … Benefits of Square Foot Gardening “Mel’s Mix” is a spongy, airy, rich medium … Unlike some methods, Square Foot Gardening was redesigned to be a completely organic system. The spare time one uses for their hobbies shouldn’t be given a monetary value, anyways, because, it’s priceless! Double-digging could create the same space for $0.00, provided you had a little compost or manure lying around. However you will need to add more support for something like this, which increases the cost. But does it work? I was at an industry gardening show recently and spotted a plastic box for square foot gardening. Square foot gardening is wonderful for the beginning gardener. Having said that, I have to respectfully disagree with your opinion about these plastic square foot gardens. I like the simplicity of digging mounded and borderless beds rather than having to make beds from wood. I would use untreated wood. Do plants absorb the chemicals? Square foot gardening has a time-honored, well-tested place in the gardening world, with many noticeable benefits to gardening and lifestyle. This is useful for crop rotation, replanting, seeding, and spacing. Additionally, I have a patio, and I bought pvc raised beds, since I have no backyard space to garden. All your “fertilizer” is produced by you. Why not just use flat ground? I do not know why, but seems obvious there must be reasons. Can’t say for sure it’s because it’s pvc. Powered by. Lv 7. Having a visual delineation of your plants is definitely helpful, but this part of the Square Foot design is where gardeners often diverge from the plans in Bartholomew’s book. I could work let’s say and that would be minimum worth $10 or so per hour – $40. It’s a remarkably well-engineered, self-contained way to garden. Not to mention, at least where I live, I think the plastic beds would raise the value of the home where a termite infested wood weathered garden, probably not so. Should Hydrogen Peroxide Be Used in the Garden? On the other hand, I see a 3 pack of these plastic raised beds on Amazon for $136.94. But we did make a few mistakes along the way. The economy of the thing tells me, more than likely the 2 x 4 is probably more environmentally safer and economically less harmful to my pocketbook. low levels of leaching and any leaching that does happen does not travel far. This means you do not have to bring in anything new after the initial purchases of peat and vermiculite. I find the raised beds to be much easier to maintain. Answer Save. Square Foot Gardening differs from most other gardening systems in that you don’t use your native earth. Around here wide boards are actually cheaper than 2 x 4 when you look at total wood. And if it takes a 4-foot x 4-foot box with good instructions and a smiling mentor—sure, you can start with Square Foot Gardening. “Mel’s Mix” is a spongy, airy, rich medium for your plants. If you live near a lumber mill, and the wood costs next to nothing, obviously that’s one thing, but a blanket statement that this product is useless is unfair it seems. For filling your new boxes, Mel Bartholomew, Square Foot Gardening … Perhaps where you live it certainly does. For those who have worked to make their soil just right for gardening, you … Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. What would you recommend using to construct a raised bed? The book recommends putting a barrier down at the bottom of the newly constructed bed. Plastic is not good for the environment, it does not compost, and most plastic leaches chemicals into the surrounding area ie your vegetables. If you want to grow beans, cabbages, salad greens, peppers, onions, and other smaller plants, Square Foot beds are very convenient and supportive. Many gardening books are full of incorrect information. I eventually took the bottoms out of mine once I was sure the weeds beneath were dead. Even though I don’t follow most of his advice, I’m a fan of Mel Bartholomew. Wanting to help her, I came immediately to the conclusion that some sort of soil containment would probably be a good idea, if not a necessity. If you’ve got a limited amount of space, like well-planned systems, and you’ve got some resources, Square Foot Gardening is a great method. It may be perfect for a townhome’s backyard, but it’s less attractive when you have a lot of land available or where irrigation is less available. I don’t think it hurts that the method was thought up by an engineer (generally very smart people). We both work in town during the week and cannot keep it watered well enough to not stress it through the day. You’ve built the frame for a raised garden bed; now you need to fill it with … Weed block and cardboard both work. Square foot gardening is a solid gardening method for any home gardener, especially beginners and people who are short on space. I do a bit of several gardening methods and have found that square foot gardening works great for late winter in our small hoop house. It’s 3.5 inches. It really is a wonderful way to supply your own food.

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