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Very new and in need of some help...

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Very new and in need of some help...

Post  MonicaJ on 3/23/2014, 5:17 pm

I have never started a garden, worked in a garden, and have hardly even stepped in a garden in my life unless you cound growing 3 squash plants and a few radishes in a flower bed once :)But I'm ready to try a real garden! I actually found out about Square Foot Gardening from Pintrest and have started reading the book (a little late). 
In working on my plan and having discussions with my husband a couple of issues have come up...
1) The directions call for placing a weed cloth under the box to prevent weeds. Would newspaper work?
2) I have come up with a plan for one 4x8 box to start my first garden in that goes like this:
     North
     Corn, Corn, Corn, Corn
     Corn, Corn, Corn, Corn
     Green Beans, Green Beans, Green Beans, Squash
     Potatoes, Potatoes, Squash, Squash
     Potatoes, Potatoes, Jalepeno, Bell Pepper
     Broccoli, Broccoli, Spinach, Spinach
     Broccoli, Lettuce, Strawberry, Strawberry
     Radish, Lettuce, Strawberry, Strawberry
 I would be VERY thankful for any thoughts or suggestions on this plan!!! I tried to go through and make sure none of the plants we have next to each other are bad...but it is a bit overwhelming to look at all the companion planting lists!  Shocked 
I can't wait to learn more about it!
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Re: Very new and in need of some help...

Post  elysia on 3/23/2014, 7:18 pm

Hi - I was in a similar boat three years ago, have had two successful garden seasons so far (including starting many of my plants from seed) and am excited for my third garden endeavor this year. 

First and foremost - Having/borrowing a copy of Mel's SFG may be the absolute first step - basic resource that will save you a lot of time and frustration. 

Also, next to Mel's book, I have found this blog to be invaluable.  If you have not already done so, search this blog regarding newspaper vs weed barrier.   oh, and regarding any other question you have, search this blog!  Cool 

When I started I used weed barrier because I had access to some for free.  It has worked great for me but does not offer much insight into what will work for you.  *Of note* I also covered my seedling onions in clear plastic once they were in my box - effectively creating an oven!   silly me Don't do that.   Seems like a no brainer but it made sense to this garden dunce in her first year to do so at the time.  Point - prepare for some setbacks and don't get discouraged. 

When I started I found this chart to be helpful http://www.mysquarefootgarden.net/companion-planting/ 

One of the big things I am changing up this year is foregoing lettuce/brocc and the colder-weather crew.  I have just found that I much prefer growing peppers and cucs and the like - lettuce broc spinach etc just is not worth it to me and my situation.  Short point, long, you will figure out what works and what doesn't for you and your situation - I am always learning (sometimes forgetting and then re-learning *d'oh) and that is so much part of the fun! hyper 

also, I think you might want to isolate your strawberries in a separate box????? their runners might interfere with other plants???? Please use this wonderful blog to research this further!  *this is one of those moments where I obviously have forgotten what I thought I learned.  Just whenever I consider strawberries I consider them in their own wire-lid covered box*

best of luck!  Cool
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Re: Very new and in need of some help...

Post  yolos on 3/23/2014, 8:06 pm

I use cardboard in the bottom of my box.  After it decomposes the worms can then come up into the bed.  Newspaper decomposes a lot faster than cardboard.  It really depends on what type of ground/weed/grass you are trying to cover.
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Re: Very new and in need of some help...

Post  68carguy on 3/23/2014, 9:21 pm

The place I plan on building my bed I had a large tree removed and the stump ground below ground level so I have a lot of wood chips. I plan on raking them on to the area I plan on building my bed, this will then be covered with cardboard, the wood frame constructed and filled with Mel's Mix.
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Re: Very new and in need of some help...

Post  sanderson on 3/24/2014, 2:53 am

Monica,  Elysia stated it well.  1.  Get a copy of Mel's All New Square Foot Gardening.  2.  This Forum is full of wonderful information.  and . . ..  3.  "Short point, long, you will figure out what works and what doesn't for you and your situation - I am always learning (sometimes forgetting and then re-learning *d'oh) and that is so much part of the fun! hyper "

Are you going to build a 2' x 2' Top Hat for your potatoes?  They will need more than 6" of Mel's Mix.
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Re: Very new and in need of some help...

Post  AtlantaMarie on 3/24/2014, 9:28 am

Hi MonicaJ.  Welcome!

I just joined here recently and have already gotten a LOT of great info & met lots of nice folks!

What we're doing is building 2'x8"x various length boxes right now (for our bunny barrier/fence perimeter).  On the bottoms, we put weed barrier, a thick layer of newspaper, cardboard boxes, and another layer of weed barrier (just folding over the other 1/2 of the length.) 

We're planting in what was a cow field several years ago.  The grass & weeds are pretty clumpy and I want to kill it all.  We're hoping the paper/boxes will last long enough to do that.  I figure by sandwiching it in the weed barrier, it might last longer...  I hope...

I'm also spraying the grass/weeds with vinegar to kill it before we put the boxes down.  That's a rather slow process, but it works.

Next year (or later this year if $ permits) we'll fill in the middle with 4'x15'x8" boxes.

Bottom line, if you've got something like us, I'd use everything organically possible to kill the grass & weeds underneath.
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Re: Very new and in need of some help...

Post  CapeCoddess on 3/24/2014, 10:28 am

@yolos wrote:I use cardboard in the bottom of my box.  After it decomposes the worms can then come up into the bed.  Newspaper decomposes a lot faster than cardboard.  It really depends on what type of ground/weed/grass you are trying to cover.
Ditto.  I use cardboard also.  But I found out during my first year that since I planted near pine trees, their roots may migrate over & up into the MM.   Rolling Eyes   It hasn't happened yet that I know of.  But if it does I would have to raise the boxes right off the ground as I don't think weed barrier would be able to stop them.  So it's important to look around the outskirts of your garden area also.

CC
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Re: Very new and in need of some help...

Post  Marc Iverson on 3/24/2014, 6:15 pm

I do most of my gardening over at my neighbor's place. One of his rows of beds that I use, the beds 8 feet long each and touching end to end, starts a few feet from the drip line of a big madrone tree. Three beds away (24 feet), there are still plenty of strong tree roots pushing up through the soil.

He didn't put any weed barrier or hardware cloth in his beds. But, just a heads-up to beware of trees. Their roots can extend quite far beyond their drip lines.
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Re: Very new and in need of some help...

Post  nycquilter on 3/25/2014, 5:50 pm

I used to use weedcloth but no longer. It was more $$ than I wanted. Plus, we had some large beds built and the contractor simply filled them with topsoil. I added lots of compost to that and turned it in. So far, the only weeds seem to come from the surrounding area and being windblown. Before this, I also used cardboard or many layers of newspaper. I had planted a root crop in a box with a barrier (poor advance planning on my part) and found the harvest very difficult. Once the beds are down and developed, I would not worry about weeds coming from the underlying soil. It's the windblown and bird-dropped weed seeds that are my bugaboo.

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Re: Very new and in need of some help...

Post  JustMe on 3/25/2014, 6:00 pm

We used weed cloth. If you layered enough corrugated cardboard down, then that would probably work instead of weed cloth. If possible stick with plain brown corrugated cardboard and not the printed ones like diaper boxes are. You can ask around and get boxes free.

Last year, we had to add hardware cloth because critters had found their way into the boxes - based on the tunnels and holes we saw.

Ask if voles or other critters are issues in your area either with neighbors, other gardeners, or the garden shops. Our garden was in year 3 when we had to add the hardware cloth.

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Thank you!

Post  MonicaJ on 3/27/2014, 8:35 pm

Thank you all so much! I have modified my garden plan some after finishing the book and your suggestions. I'm going to go with newspapers and cardboard. But I'm going to separate the strawberries into their own garden box. And also move the potatoes into separate containers so they have a deeper space to grow in.
Thanks again for all your suggestions!
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Re: Very new and in need of some help...

Post  FamilyGardening on 3/28/2014, 2:45 am

one tip......when you put down your layers of news paper.... soak it with water as you go....it will help stick to the ground under it better ...keeping it from shifting and moving as you add your card board and it will help smother what ever you don't want to grow up into your Mels Mix.....

the worms will find all the decomposed grass/weeds, news paper and card board and go nuts!

happy gardening
rose
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Re: Very new and in need of some help...

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