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How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

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How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  bvarbel on 2/25/2013, 6:52 pm

I've been working on compost for months. Its not ready.

I want to know if I go to lowes or home depot to buy the wood, brackets, screws, and soil parts (5 composts, vermiculite, peat) how much I am going to spend? I would like to do this as cost effectively as possible.

Also, I think here in Southern California that I'm about ready to start planting. Where do I find out what I should plant?

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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  CapeCoddess on 2/25/2013, 7:33 pm

bverbal, I used kitchen cupboards for my first 5 boxes. I drilled holes in the backs, which became the bottoms, filled them with MM and that had a very successful spring last year. The vermiculite & peat for the MM and the seeds/transplants were the only expense since I already had a compost pile.

I could have stopped there and been fine with what I had but I kept on going with different projects and experiments, needing more wood, some of which came from the scrap heaps at construction sites, netting and shears from thrift shops or swap shops and seed collecting. But the point is you can do this for next to nothing after the original expense is laid out for the MM and boxes.

Take it small and slow. There's no hurry. Unless like me you get bit by the SFG bug. carrot

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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  Coelli on 2/25/2013, 8:30 pm

Hiya! I have a Google Doc spreadsheet with a planting calendar for SoCal (I'm in the Los Angeles foothills). It might be helpful for you:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ak4iZbFe__xldEdwR3IzMGFaTVlQazlXdkZqcGIwVEE#gid=6

If you go to a big box store, be aware that none of their compost is organic. I used some of it last year anyway and it worked out, but I think it was too hot for everything at first.

Also avoid Miracle Gro Organic Choice garden soil - I thought I would top my beds off this year with it since it's a mix of peat and compost and would just mix it with some vermiculite, but I found a TON of inorganic stuff in it - pieces of glass, pellets from pellet guns, other unidentifiable pieces of plastic, paint chips, tin foil, etc. I am so sad that it's too late and it got into my beds. I contacted OMRI since it's supposed to be organic and they were not helpful at all even though it's OMRI certified - so I will no longer trust anything with the OMRI logo again either.

Soil is far and away the biggest expense if you live in an urban area - finding organic compost, hauling it home, etc. Burkard's in Pasadena had a pretty decent selection of organic compost but it was not cheap (is anything?).

Good luck!

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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  bvarbel on 2/25/2013, 10:13 pm

@Coelli wrote:Hiya! I have a Google Doc spreadsheet with a planting calendar for SoCal (I'm in the Los Angeles foothills). It might be helpful for you:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ak4iZbFe__xldEdwR3IzMGFaTVlQazlXdkZqcGIwVEE#gid=6

If you go to a big box store, be aware that none of their compost is organic. I used some of it last year anyway and it worked out, but I think it was too hot for everything at first.

Also avoid Miracle Gro Organic Choice garden soil - I thought I would top my beds off this year with it since it's a mix of peat and compost and would just mix it with some vermiculite, but I found a TON of inorganic stuff in it - pieces of glass, pellets from pellet guns, other unidentifiable pieces of plastic, paint chips, tin foil, etc. I am so sad that it's too late and it got into my beds. I contacted OMRI since it's supposed to be organic and they were not helpful at all even though it's OMRI certified - so I will no longer trust anything with the OMRI logo again either.

Soil is far and away the biggest expense if you live in an urban area - finding organic compost, hauling it home, etc. Burkard's in Pasadena had a pretty decent selection of organic compost but it was not cheap (is anything?).

Good luck!

That spreadsheet is AWESOME. Thank you!

bvarbel

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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  cheyannarach on 2/25/2013, 10:47 pm

Check out farms, petting zoos, stables, etc... Also check Craig's list and local classifieds for sources of compost! Alot of those you can get free poo to haul away and rabbit and llama poo do not need to be composted. Check local construction sited for lumber like CC said, I have also used that for beds and I have some fantastic beds that were practically $0.00. You don't need brackets just lumber and screws and for a weed barrier used cardboard boxes and newspaper! Peatmoss is cheap (at least it is here in SD), round up some free poo, and buy some vermiculite (here it's about $15.00 per 4 CUFT) and it won't cost as much as you think it will! Just don't skimp on the compost!

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Excellent sources in your area

Post  Hardcoir on 2/26/2013, 1:33 pm

There is a famous blogger in your area--John Kohler from www.growingyourgreens.com.

John uses Mel's Mix for his soil-less mix and adds a few other nutrients to it. He praises two products in your area that you might want to spend a few extra bucks to insure quality. Check out the Sonoma Compost Company in Petaluma at http://www.sonomacompost.com/

Also, Consider using California Humus to add necessary fungal components to your compost.

http://www.vitallandscaping.com/soil-amendments/compost-humus/california-humus

Good luck. I found free bricks that a contractor was going to bury in the ground. One car load made multiple raised bed garden plots. I then took rose bush cuttings and placed on top of the bricks, and no squirrels, rabbits, or chipmunks dared climb on top. We have large wooded acreage where we live, and we have constructed a dry rock-bed for another garden. It is actually the prettiest part of our yard, and by accident has a kidney-shape. People think we paid someone a lot of money to make it, and we put it together in a couple hours.

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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  camprn on 2/26/2013, 1:37 pm

It looks like those are two good choices, the Sonoma compost and the California humus could be used as two of the five recommended composts to make the blend for Mel's Mix. Thanks for the links Hardcoir.

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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  Lindacol on 2/26/2013, 2:56 pm

But California is a big state. As far as I can tell neither of those composts are available here in southern California. Those locations are probably 400 miles away.

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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  pryz123 on 2/26/2013, 3:29 pm

@Coelli wrote:

Also avoid Miracle Gro Organic Choice garden soil - I thought I would top my beds off this year with it since it's a mix of peat and compost and would just mix it with some vermiculite, but I found a TON of inorganic stuff in it - pieces of glass, pellets from pellet guns, other unidentifiable pieces of plastic, paint chips, tin foil, etc. I am so sad that it's too late and it got into my beds. I contacted OMRI since it's supposed to be organic and they were not helpful at all even though it's OMRI certified - so I will no longer trust anything with the OMRI logo again either.


I think that Miracle Gro is the one to be leary of. They are a part of Monsantos, the most evil company in the world. just my two cents.

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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  camprn on 2/26/2013, 3:49 pm

@pryz123 wrote:
@Coelli wrote:

Also avoid Miracle Gro Organic Choice garden soil - I thought I would top my beds off this year with it since it's a mix of peat and compost and would just mix it with some vermiculite, but I found a TON of inorganic stuff in it - pieces of glass, pellets from pellet guns, other unidentifiable pieces of plastic, paint chips, tin foil, etc. I am so sad that it's too late and it got into my beds. I contacted OMRI since it's supposed to be organic and they were not helpful at all even though it's OMRI certified - so I will no longer trust anything with the OMRI logo again either.


I think that Miracle Gro is the one to be leary of. They are a part of Monsantos, the most evil company in the world. just my two cents.

If it says 'soil' don't put it in your SFG. Very Happy
This is all I have to say about that. Wink

____________________________

40 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  plantoid on 2/26/2013, 6:43 pm

@Hardcoir wrote:There is a famous blogger in your area--John Kohler from www.growingyourgreens.com.

John uses Mel's Mix for his soil-less mix and adds a few other nutrients to it. He praises two products in your area that you might want to spend a few extra bucks to insure quality. Check out the Sonoma Compost Company in Petaluma at http://www.sonomacompost.com/

Also, Consider using California Humus to add necessary fungal components to your compost.

http://www.vitallandscaping.com/soil-amendments/compost-humus/california-humus

Good luck. I found free bricks that a contractor was going to bury in the ground. One car load made multiple raised bed garden plots. I then took rose bush cuttings and placed on top of the bricks, and no squirrels, rabbits, or chipmunks dared climb on top. We have large wooded acreage where we live, and we have constructed a dry rock-bed for another garden. It is actually the prettiest part of our yard, and by accident has a kidney-shape. People think we paid someone a lot of money to make it, and we put it together in a couple hours.


A picture or two speaks a thousand words ..piccies please ! Wink

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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  Coelli on 2/26/2013, 11:37 pm

@camprn wrote:
If it says 'soil' don't put it in your SFG. Very Happy
This is all I have to say about that. Wink

Well, I did read the label and it said it was a mix of compost and peat.

Which begs the question, what defines soil?

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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  camprn on 2/27/2013, 6:49 am

@Coelli wrote:
@camprn wrote:
If it says 'soil' don't put it in your SFG. Very Happy
This is all I have to say about that. Wink

I did read the label and it said it was a mix of compost and peat.

Which begs the question, what defines soil?

In regards to starting a Square Foot Garden, this is the way I think of soil. This is certainly not an ultimate definition of the word.

Soil to me is dirt, of any variety. Usually has rocks, minerals, sand, large or small particles, and silt; stuff like that which isn't mostly 'organic' material. 'Organic material' being stuff from previously living organisms, plants and such.


For example, when I built my garden I took the top soil off with the sod and I placed the box on the subsoil. (trying to avoid weeds)
~~~~~~~~~~
When shopping for products for the SFG I avoid buying anything labeled 'soil' because it is a loose term and it could very well have dirt in it. Adding dirt to the 'soilless mix' makes it denser and reduces desirable tilth.

When I say don't buy anything that says 'soil' on the bag, it is basically an easy way to say to a newbee gardener, stick with the recipe of sphagnum peat, vermiculite and compost for best results. Very Happy


____________________________

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http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  donnainzone5 on 2/27/2013, 9:53 am

Coelli,

It's best to avoid composts that already contain peat, which would throw off your balance of materials and/or force you into performing higher mathematics to adjust the amount of peat in your Mel's Mix itself.

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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  Gunny on 2/27/2013, 10:20 am

Howdy,
All of my garden consists of reclaimed wood except for my three three sisters containers which are old horses feeders, the kind that hand on the coral fence. Look around and think out of the box for containers. One of my potato bins is an old animal cage and when the sprouts come up I will use cardboard on the sides to keep the plants from growing out the sides which should last just long enough. Be creative. Since starting this project I look at cast offs in a whole different light lol!

BTW check with your county extension office for planting calender and the website All Things Plants which has an amazing data base and enter your zip code, it will give all kinds of info. Above all else, have FUN

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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

Post  Coelli on 2/27/2013, 12:52 pm

@camprn wrote:
Soil to me is dirt, of any variety. Usually has rocks, minerals, sand, large or small particles, and silt; stuff like that which isn't mostly 'organic' material. 'Organic material' being stuff from previously living organisms, plants and such.

Yeah, same here. Smile The stuff I bought is really an amendment rather than dirt and I will say that I didn't find a single rock in it - it was definitely just compost and peat. However, it definitely wasn't good compost, I could tell. I didn't need much of it but still wish I hadn't put it in my garden!

I have a compost tumbler coming (it should be here today) so I'm looking forward to getting some "real" compost going. I'll be getting some aged horse manure from a friend this weekend too. My seedlings have all been eating very well from the worm bin.

This is derailing the original thread. Smile I built my beds from redwood, but also have stuff in 5-gallon buckets, my strawberries live in a cement mixing tub, and have herbs and hot peppers in tall 12" terra cotta pots from IKEA ($6 each).

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Re: How to build the garden for cheap and what to plant?

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