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Possible money saving spacing question.

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Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  rbhaynes on 4/16/2010, 3:50 pm

I’m new to all of this and the costs for Mel’s Mix are pretty huge. I know it will pay off in the long run, but right now it is killing me. Based on that, here’s a shortcut question.

For those plants that bush (or otherwise take up more than 1 square foot), is this only because they need grow room? Or do their roots need extra space as well?

I am thinking about making a few 1’ x 1’ boxes and spacing them two or three feet apart. Would this be sufficient to grow bush tomatoes and squashes? Do their roots need a 2’ x 2’ or larger?

Thanks in advance.

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  martha on 4/16/2010, 10:58 pm

no answers, but welcome! Someone here will have some useful input for you.

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Possible money saving space saving question

Post  Bec on 4/17/2010, 7:50 am

Excellent question! I'll be watching for an answer! I, too, am concerned about the initial cost. Am wanting to grow a very lot (for myself, to give away, and to sell at the local farmer's market) but am not sure how I'm going to be able to handle the cost. I have a few boxes already but need many more.

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  Retired Member 1 on 4/17/2010, 8:44 am

Welcome. I'm no expert, but it is my understanding that it's the upper growth that need the extra room. Most plants, tomatoes especially, have a rather small root system when grown in Mel's mix due to it being so rich. The only problem I would forsee with your method is keeping the planting mix moist enough in such a small space. But if you live in a wetter climate than I do, you'd probably be OK. Also remember you can grow short season veggies around the tomatoes or squash... or whatever... as they get started. I'm growing leaf lettuce and spinach around the zucchini. It will be about done when the zucchini plant overshadows it. That way I get double usage out the squares.

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  Wyldflower on 4/17/2010, 12:08 pm

One aspect that I'm looking at is how many square feet can I get out of the board-feet that I have. Did you realize that, for example, you need four board feet for one 1x1 box - thus get one square foot from that.... now if you're using 8' boards to start with, you can make two 1x1's ... or you can cut the board to two 1' lengths and two 3' lengths, thus getting 3 square feet from the same piece of lumber. (It's also less drilling and fastening to do it this way.) That's why, when I had 3', 4', 6' and 7' lengths, I made a 4x7 and a 3x6 - I end up with 46 sf, but if I'd combined the lengths differently, I'd have 45 sf. (yes, it's only one sf difference, but it was important to me)

The general consensus is that the tomatoes and squash do fine with 1 sf for roots... so you could do three tomatoes or squash in one box and trellis them ... or let the squash wander into the space around the box (don't put the boxes so close you won't have room to walk between them) ... or two tomatoes on trellis and one squash on the ground between them....

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  rbhaynes on 4/17/2010, 12:16 pm

I understand the extra board usage. However, it is nothing compared to the cost of Mel's Mix. So my thinking is 4 1' x 1's with two feet spaced between them. Again, this would only be for the bush plants.

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  elliephant on 4/17/2010, 2:55 pm

Very interesting. I hope you update us when you see how they do! I have two 2.5 ft square boxes that each have 1 plant (yellow squash and zuchini). I was going for 3 square feet, but using reclaimed materials.

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  rbhaynes on 4/17/2010, 3:16 pm

How did this work for you? Do the plants have enough soil?

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  Mirjam on 4/17/2010, 3:45 pm

I don't think it will be a problem putting them in 1 sf boxes, since it's also possible to get great harvests of tomatoes etc grown in growbags... you can put 3 tomatoe plants in a bag, which is much more crowded than they would be in a SFG....keeping the soil wet enough will be the hardest part, I guess.

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  elliephant on 4/17/2010, 4:01 pm

It seems to be just fine. My yellow squash is from a seed variety "bred for small spaces" and is a definite bush, rather than a vine. The zuchinni took 3 plantings to get one to sprout (variety of factors, but not the box's fault) so it's still small. The yellow squash fills the box beautifully. I tried planting a marigold in one corner, but it is covered now, so I'm going to have to move it. If I didn't have a baby napping on me at the moment I would go take a picture. Here's one from about a week ago. It's grown a lot since then.


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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  Kabaju42 on 4/17/2010, 6:47 pm

That's a really interesting question. I'm new with square foot gardening too, and I actually took the opposite approach. I'm putting my tomatoes on one side of my boxes with one per square foot and I'll see how they go. At least that way the branches can grow away from the rest of the box.

I had a bunch of really short leftover pieces of wood so I made a few 1x1 boxes. I was going to try planing a tomato plant in one as an experiment, but decided not to. Instead I'm just putting herbs in those ones so that I can bring them in in the winter.

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  elliephant on 4/17/2010, 6:49 pm

Current picture


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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  Kabaju42 on 4/17/2010, 6:55 pm

wow

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  rbhaynes on 4/17/2010, 7:15 pm

For my first trek, I have 3, 2' x 6' boxes up against my house. This is where I have my tomato plants that are indeterminate (vining). And 5, 1' x 3' boxes that are bolted to the rails of my deck. So far so good.

It is with the left over pieces of wood and Mel's Mix that I want to make the 1' x 1' boxes for the determinate and bush plants. To give these bushes two squares (or nine as the book suggests for a few) would cost way to much for me right now.

I would really like it if a few of the "experts" would chime in with their two cents. I really don't want to mess up.

Thanks!

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  Mikesgardn on 4/17/2010, 8:00 pm

I have grown bush tomatoes and winter squash in boxes that measured 19"x16". It's an odd size because I made them out of a 10-foot length of 2x10 (included a bottom). I believe the spacing in the book is based on the plant size, rather than the root size, so I would think that a 12"x12" box would work based on my experience.
Keep in mind that smaller boxes/containers will require more frequent watering.

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  Mikesgardn on 4/17/2010, 8:08 pm


Here is a picture showing my 19"x16" boxes.

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  Amy in Idaho on 4/18/2010, 3:00 am

I have always grown a garden mainly for zucchini and sqaush, and I can tell you it is not the roots that require the space. I am planting my zucchini and summer squash in one by ones for this very reason. I agree the only main concern is going to be keeping them wet. I may rig up some sort of drip for them only.

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

Post  HawaiiAl on 4/18/2010, 3:54 am

drip systems work great you can custom make to fit. don't be afraid to trim lower leaves, more power goes to squash.

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Re: Possible money saving spacing question.

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