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How deep does the soil need to be?

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How deep does the soil need to be?

Post  offtheporch on 4/2/2012, 7:28 pm

I just built two 4x4 squares and filled them. The MM is about 4 inches deep. Since the sides are 9 inches high (I used lumber that I had) I could add more MM. Do you think it is advisable to make the soil deeper (will be planting vegetables). Thanks for any help, this is all new to me.
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Re: How deep does the soil need to be?

Post  sfg4uKim on 4/2/2012, 8:19 pm

Hi and welcome to the Forum.

Have you had the opportunity to read the All New Square Foot Gardening book (2006) by Mel Bartholomew? You can get it at the library if you don't want to purchase one. It will give you all the basic info you need - such as the depth that Mel's Mix needs to be - which is 6".

Hope that helps.

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Re: How deep does the soil need to be?

Post  offtheporch on 4/3/2012, 3:21 pm

Actually, I do have the book, but got lazy and didn't want to have to re-read all the pages to see the answer. Sorry...and thanks for responding. Guess I'll go mix up more MM and finish what I started...maybe even re-read the book. Duh.

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Re: How deep does the soil need to be?

Post  sfg4uKim on 4/3/2012, 4:05 pm

LOL I used to wish that I could learn things by osmosis. Maybe if you just sleep with it under your pillow . . . Very Happy

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Re: How deep does the soil need to be?

Post  plantoid on 4/3/2012, 4:17 pm

@offtheporch wrote:Actually, I do have the book, but got lazy and didn't want to have to re-read all the pages to see the answer. Sorry...and thanks for responding. Guess I'll go mix up more MM and finish what I started...maybe even re-read the book. Duh.




Welcome to the site ,

The more you read the book the more you'll realize that Mel has a secret high tech wi-fi line into it and keeps adding abit more new stuff each time you read. Wink

Re :- The bit about depth .

The volume is important to hold a decent amount of water & nutirents to support healthy plants in the planned bed , reducing the depth will reduce that vital volume .
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Re: How deep does the soil need to be?

Post  offtheporch on 4/3/2012, 5:08 pm

See plantoid, really what I was counting on was advice like that to make me realize that all that hard work needs to be done just right. It makes a difference.

And Kim, I too would enjoy learning by osmosis. ESP, or even common sense, doesn't always cut it.
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Re: How deep does the soil need to be?

Post  fiddleman on 4/3/2012, 7:10 pm

@plantoid wrote:



Re :- The bit about depth .

The volume is important to hold a decent amount of water & nutirents to support healthy plants in the planned bed , reducing the depth will reduce that vital volume .


So if you're saying you need closer to 9 inches in depth versus the suggested 6 inch depth I have to disagree with you here. If I am misunderstanding your reply, I apologize.

The volume is important if you get too much below 3 inches, it is too easy to cook the roots in the heat of the summer (assuming you don't mulch the beds.) There is plenty of nutrients in the bed even in 3 inches of Mel's mix except for all but the very heaviest feeding plants.

Otherwise, the garden does just FINE with 5 1/2 inches of Mel's Mix (rain compacted 6 inches goes down to 5 - 5 1/2 inches). Holds a ton of water...well not a ton, but a lot, and with 1/3 compost there is MORE than adequate nutrients. So, if you want to spend more to fill up a garden beyond the recommended 6 inches, it won't hurt anything, but I personally will vouch that Mel knew what he was talking about when he proscribed the 6 inch deep beds.

Anecdotal evidence from my own experience is 3 inches will work fine for everything but root vegetables - carrots and the like. I have the pictures to prove it, made the first beds out of 2x4's and they did fine.

So if you want to spend the extra money making the beds deeper, more power to you, but in my mind I would spend the extra bucks making another small bed and grow more great stuff!!!
Very Happy

There's my 2 cents!
Mark
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Re: How deep does the soil need to be?

Post  jillwilliams1 on 5/21/2012, 11:29 am

This is my first attempt with SFG and I've been concerned about so little depth of soil...I started out with around 5 inches of soil...I guess I miscalculated how much MM components to purchase....but was out of money at that point....after rainfall and watering...I have about 4 inches! my plants seem really small for their age compared to when I grow them in regular plowed soil.....is this really going to work? I'm concerned that I'll have stunted plants with little to no produce.....
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Re: How deep does the soil need to be?

Post  walshevak on 5/21/2012, 11:37 am

Can you post some pictures and include the dates you planted so we can judge if more nutrients or water are needed? 5 inches should be enough for most things.

Kay

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Re: How deep does the soil need to be?

Post  Unmutual on 5/21/2012, 11:38 am

I've successfully grown tomatoes and peppers in 4" of MM.

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Re: How deep does the soil need to be?

Post  elliephant on 5/21/2012, 11:40 am


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Re: How deep does the soil need to be?

Post  jillwilliams1 on 5/21/2012, 12:15 pm

thanks for the encouraging posts/pics....
had a little trouble uploading pics here, but made an album instead....
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/gallery/Personal-album-of-jillwilliams1/Personal-album-of-jillwilliams1-cat_u8015.htm

my tomatoes and peppers were started inside on March 15th and did well (you'll see a pic of them too)
I planted them in my SGF on the last weekend in April.....then we did have a sudden cold snap (about 40˚ 2nd night after planting)

everything else was started by seed the first week of May....

everything was starting to slow and look pale 2 weeks ago, after getting advice on the forum, I added Miracle Grow to my beds and have seen dramatic improvement...my compost quality must have been poor...these pics show green plants now, but my beans are still yellowish.

my tomatoes and peppers seem very leggy and poor.....
maybe i just need to be patient since they didn't have enough food on the onset.
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