Square Foot Gardening Forum
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New to the PNW

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New to the PNW

Post  debclements on 4/10/2012, 7:02 pm

Greetings! We moved to Southern Oregon in November from the MidWest so I'm learning the "rules" for Zone 8 as opposed to Zone 5.

I am very new to SFG and wanted input from some of you seasoned gardeners. I have always had a home with a row garden, but now we choose to live in our 5th Wheel so SFG seems like it would work well.

My question(s):

1) Do any of you have the moveable SFG boxes and how difficult are they to move once filled? I'm thinking the weight would be considerable? This is more of a curiosity question rather than a possible scenario.

2) Have any of you made your boxes out of the white vinyl? Pros and cons over wood?

3) Approx cost to make Mel's Mix as this seems to be the key to success in SFG?

4) And lastly, are any of you in the Medford/Ashland area and if so, could you direct me to the suppliers of the ingredients for Mel's Mix?

Thanks in advance!


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Re: New to the PNW

Post  gwennifer on 4/10/2012, 7:17 pm

Hello and welcome to the forum!

I made my bed out of the white vinyl fencing. I was counting on the pro being that it wouldn't ever rot. I don't have a wood bed to compare it to, but my one regret is not making it two rails deep instead of just one. Not because the veggies haven't been fine in the lesser depth, but because it's easy to spill Mel's Mix out the sides when it's filled to the top, and I wish I had a couple inches to spare.

Very recently a fellow PNW'er named boffer posted a moveable SFG cart he made using concrete mixing tubs. See this thread (page 4) for pics: http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t10982p45-cheap-plastic-2x3-boxes#111541

Hope that helps a bit. Some others will be along to add their two cents as well I'm sure.

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Re: New to the PNW

Post  Daniel9999 on 4/10/2012, 11:43 pm

Hello and welcome the PNW forum! cheers

Its really hard to estimate how much its gonna cost you as a lot will depend on how much vermiculite goes for in your area and how much you wanna spend on purchased compost.

Vermiculite prices can vary widely from location to location.

Compost price can also vary depending on what you get.

Bagged Composts can go anywhere from 4 dollars or less for a bag of cheap Chicken Manure to 10 dollars or more for "premium" composts by the likes of Dr Earth or Gardeners and Bloome.

Heck you might be able to score really cheap compost by the yard from a Municipal,Garden Center, Farm or other source..... or even be able to find completely free compost in your area by searching FreeCycle and Craiglist.

You will have to do some shopping around to see what you can find price wise in your area....... but I personally think half the fun of gardening is browsing all gardening supplies places and checking out all the neat stuff. Very Happy

Just remember that when you do go shopping around that one of the best things about living in Oregon is we that we have NO SALES TAXES ON ANYTHING!!!!

Ok Now for Medford Oregon Garden Supply Stores............

Grange Co-Op

2531 South Pacific Highway
Medford, OR 97501-8760
Phone: (541) 772-4730
Spring/Summer Hours ( 4/1 – 9/30):
Monday-Saturday: 8am-7pm

Sunday: 9am-5pm



IN and OUT Gardens (a hydroponics store that might have vermiculite...although I don't see it listed on the web...but they even if they don't they have a ton of other good stuff)

1574 Sky Park Drive
Medford, Oregon
Phone: (541) 858-3333
Fax: (541) 773-1924

Store Hours: Monday - Sunday 10am - 6pm



Environmental Green Products (These guys have big 4 cubic foot bags of Perlite....... which you can substitute for vermiculite if you cant find it)

44543 South Pacific Highway

Phoenix, OR 97535

Phone: 541 301 2632

Fax: 541 535 1139
We are open:
Monday thru Friday: 9.00 a.m.-5.30 p.m.
Saturday: 10.00 a.m.-4.00 p.m.


That is just a few of them...don't wanna make my post too long...lol

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Re: New to the PNW

Post  debclements on 4/11/2012, 7:31 pm

Thanks for all the good info - I will be looking at white vinyl and the ingredients for Mel's Mix this weekend!!

Thanks again!


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Re: New to the PNW

Post  Daniel9999 on 4/13/2012, 12:58 am

Tell us how you do.

I hope it works out great.

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Re: New to the PNW

Post  Furbalsmom on 4/13/2012, 1:04 pm

Deb, glad to have another Oregonian join the group.

What a change for you, moving from the MidWest to Southern Oregon and deciding to reside in a fifth wheel. I applaud you and can sort of appreciate the changes. From of native Virginia, my DH was transferred to Omaha, NE, then to Eugene, OR. Upon retiring, we moved from 1700 sq ft house to 500 sq ft fifth wheel for about 10 months before moving back into a house on the Souther Oregon Coast.

You might consider Table Tops as sort of moveable, but a 4X4 ft bed, six inches deep filled with wet or moist Mel's Mix is going to weigh about 250 or 300 lbs. So, yes, four adult males could move them from one place to another. (sorry, but I don't lift weights, ever)

Before you purchase you Mel's Mix ingredients, make a few phone calls first. I don't know about sources in Medford, but my best source for Vermiculite was a Hydroponics or Aquaponics Store, (think crops like illegal weeds. Shocked ) They were about $25 for a 4 cu ft bag of vermiculite and the local Grange was $43 for the same brand, same size bag.

Have fun, and keep us posted on your progress.

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Re: New to the PNW

Post  Daniel9999 on 4/13/2012, 4:28 pm

Illegal Weeds.....

Hydroponics stores are kinda scary for some people aren't they?

Every time I go in one I get this weird vibe most of the people there are not exactly growing tomatoes hydroponically.

Perhaps its the camouflage grow bags....or all the psychedelic packaging on the "bud" blooming nutrient bottles.....


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Re: New to the PNW

Post  bakermtb on 4/13/2012, 10:54 pm

If your looking to move a 2 x 2 box you could build a dolly with small wheels on the bottom. (similar to a small vaccum with wheels) You could use a rollable cart(3' x 4') so you could put one box on top and one on the lower shelve.

If you build your own cart, build it to the height of you car or vehicle. This will make it easy to slde the boxes on and off the cart.

In Maryland I can get Course Verm.(4 cub) for $27.00 , Compost for $5.00/ Cub Ft and Peat for $8.00 (3.3 cub compressed) Total about $40-$50


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Re: New to the PNW

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 4/14/2012, 12:21 am

Daniel999 - rofl That and the stash hats... My hydroponics store is my only source of local worm castings (well, until I undertake my own). They are actually really nice and a whole lot more open to the idea of growing mediums which aren't native soil... It's just that I grow peas and tomatoes... Smile

As for moving boxes - I have 2x4 boxes which I find easy for my husband and I to pick up, place at an angle on his heavy duty convertible hand truck and move. The truck is similar to the link below. It was a Christmas present one year and has come in really handy to help us move all kinds of things. We set them on a single height of cinderblock and it works out about right... Smile

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Re: New to the PNW

Post  FamilyGardening on 4/14/2012, 2:54 am

welcome to the group Deb!



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Re: New to the PNW

Post  debclements on 4/15/2012, 12:22 am

Well I was busy today looking for all the goodies to start my square food gardening!

I found all the ingredients for my mix mostly at Lowe's, but I did end up at Grange for the vermiculite. It was $31 for 3.5 cubic of medium - they do not carry the coarse. The composts I found ranged from $1 - $4 for chicken, steer and mushroom.

I want to do my box in vinyl, but am only finding 5.5 inches wide which I think is too shallow, but for a 12 ft piece it is only $15 at Home Depot - I guess I could get two and stack them?

I won't be able to complete it until the end of the month as we are moving to a different site, but I want to have all my stuff ready to go!

Thanks for all the kind welcomes and info!


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Re: New to the PNW

Post  Kelejan on 4/15/2012, 2:19 am


It makes sense to get all your stuff together before you move, and you can also get your MM mixed ready and put into bags for easy handling. All hardware cloth and landscaping fabric cut to size; all boxes made and then dismantled flat. I think two pieces of the vinyl stacked woul be perfect.

Then you are ready to go almost as soon as you get there. I hope your surfaces are flat.

Let su know how you get on.

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Re: New to the PNW

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