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Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

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Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  beebass22 on 1/31/2016, 7:24 pm

Okay so ive determined with doing 2 - 3x6 beds, and 6 - 3x3 beds and 4 - 1x1 ...with a  dept of 6 inches. I need to make 47 cu feet of soil.

To get this amount if I were to buy mels id be looking at $300 not including shipping.

I went around to different places, looking for compost, but everything is not measure out in cu feet.

I'm so confused how to figure out how much of everything I need to get.

I figured 1/3 of everything so divide 47 cu feet by three meaning I need 16 cu feet of compost, 16 cu feet or vermiculite, 16 feet of peat.

But I def do not want to spend $300 to get this, any ideas or suggestions.

I called one of the local garden places and they sell a cu yd of leaf compost for $10 but that's the only kind they have.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  Scorpio Rising on 1/31/2016, 8:20 pm

I more or less eyeballed to on a big tarp to mix my MM. If you can find vermiculite, the compost is the challenge. Last year, I used bagged compost, and added my own as I went along through the summer. But to be honest, my compost pile got swamped, and I supplemented my boxes with blood and bone meal at the beginning, and used blood meal when switching crops in a square to up the nitrogen.

I now have a cow farmer contact who gives me poo, and my own piles which this year will be mucho improvido! Do you have access to bunny farmers, ducks, chickens, cows, horses? Those are great sources. Some folks do vermicomposting with worms. Do you have leaves? Unfortunately, none of this particularly helps you to get off the ground.

I must say, the blood and bone meal supplement to my substandard mix did the trick to get me through my first season.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  beebass22 on 1/31/2016, 9:10 pm

@Scorpio Rising wrote:I more or less eyeballed to on a big tarp to mix my MM.  If you can find vermiculite, the compost is the challenge.   Last year, I used bagged compost, and added my own as I went along through the summer.  But to be honest, my compost pile got swamped, and I supplemented my boxes with blood and bone meal at the beginning, and used blood meal when switching crops in a square to up the nitrogen.  

I now have a cow farmer contact who gives me poo, and my own piles which this year will be mucho improvido!  Do you have access to bunny farmers, ducks, chickens, cows, horses?  Those are great sources.  Some folks do vermicomposting with worms.  Do you have leaves?  Unfortunately, none of this particularly helps you to get off the ground.

I must say,  the blood and bone meal supplement to my substandard mix did the trick to get me through my first season.  
 I am actually surrounded by cow farmers. I've thought about getting in touch with some of them for poo, unfortunately I don't have the time to season the compost. I also need to look into how to do the compost.


I'm planning to either start raising rabbits or quall. Learning more towards the quall even though that wont give me as much compost as the rabbits would. Planning on taking the quall stuff and setting up a worm compost. Can at least supplement with it next year.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  jimmy cee on 1/31/2016, 10:44 pm

It's my opinion compost is the most important part of the SFG program.
Try to get into doing your own, if you say you do not have the time, make time if you want to be successful.
Try local recycle centers for a start, the most do leaves and brush, add a few ingredients and you off to a good start.
I ( me ) do not and will not purchase anything from stores that's labeled compost. It is mainly by products from manufacturers.
If you use the recycle's compost add some Bio-Char, Chickitty doo doo, mushroom manure, other manures from your farmer friends, used coffee from local coffee shops, discarded veggies from local supermarkets, shredded cardboard, leaves, newspaper, the list goes on and on.
You mention needing to learn composting, well here is a read that is the best in my opinion...
Another thought, don't overwhelm yourself trying to do it all, a little at a time is much easier and you will change things as you proceed...

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  beebass22 on 2/1/2016, 12:32 am

@jimmy cee wrote:It's my opinion compost is the most important part of the SFG program.
Try to get into doing your own, if you say you do not have the time, make time if you want to be successful.
Try local recycle centers for a start, the most do leaves and brush, add a few ingredients and you off to a good start.
I ( me ) do not and will not purchase anything from stores that's labeled compost. It is mainly by products from manufacturers.
If you use the recycle's compost add some Bio-Char, Chickitty doo doo, mushroom manure, other manures from your farmer friends, used coffee from local coffee shops, discarded veggies from local supermarkets, shredded cardboard, leaves, newspaper, the list goes on and on.
You mention needing to learn composting, well here is a read that is the best in my opinion...
Another thought, don't overwhelm yourself trying to do it all, a little at a time is much easier and you will change things as you proceed...
Thanks for the info. I didn't mean I don't have time to put it together. I mean I don't have time for it to mature before the growing season from my understanding.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  sanderson on 2/1/2016, 4:05 am

It's been hard to get on the computer today. Yes, 16 cu ft each of mixed compost, vermiculite and peat moss. Vermiculite = four 4 cu. ft. bags of coarse vermiculite, two 4 cu. ft of peat moss, and 16 cu ft of composts. Remember, you will be breaking up the peat moss, which fluffs to almost twice the size in volume, so you only need two 4 cu.ft. bags of compressed peat moss. If you want to have some home made compost, you can do a Berkeley hot compost. It's an 18-30 day dedication but you can have it for your Mel's Mix. http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t18500-compost-berkeley-18-day-hot-method?highlight=18+berkeley

Buy the leaf compost, layer with cow/horse manure, bags of Starbucks and any veggies you can get your hands on. Build a 3' x 3' x 3' cage. (I finally lined mine with commercial weed fabric so I would lose any when I turned it) A 27 cu.ft. bin will give you at least 13.5 cu ft of finished compost, if not more. It heats up to 140-160*F regardless of the weather (snow storms excluded) and as long as you keep it covered from the rain.

If you end up having to buy compost, I would recommend the leaf compost as a base and add screened bags of bagged chicken or cow manure (screen to get rid of wood chips), a bag $$ of kelp meal, a bag or two $$ of worm castings. Look in Craig's List for local worm castings and even aged horse manure. Kelp4Less online is one source for kelp meal. There are others. What ever you buy, do NOT buy Kellogg's or Miracle grow composts. These often have wood chips and peat moss and perlite fillers.

Just 2 options. Yes, buy the Rodale Book of Composting if you can. I have The Complete Compost Gardening Guide by Pleasant and Martin, a pretty easy book to get through.


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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  Zmoore on 2/1/2016, 8:25 am

beebass, 
I think I read you were having a hard time converting units of volume.  Buying "bulk" is generally cheaper, but they also tend to sell in cu. yards, not by cu. feet.  
There are 27 c.f. in a c.y.
Your "math" checks for me with 47 c.f. total and then about 16 c.f. each.  
Just for comparison that's about 1.7 c.y. total (close to 2 c.y.) and about .6 c.y. of each.  You'll have to check with the bulk supplier and see if they'll sell in less than 1 c.y. increments, you really only need about a half cubic yard of compost.  However, you can still come out cheaper buying in bulk.  The leaf compost you mentioned you could go ahead and buy a full yard, you'll only use half or less and then the rest can be a start for your own compost pile for future use.    

The vermiculite is a "killer" up front, about the best you're going to do is like $22-$25 a 4 c.f. bag, so there's $88-100 right off the top.  Peat should be doable at about $5.50?, so that's about $12.  so, you're at about $100-120 to start and I don't think these two items are available in bulk.  IF you can find them in bulk then you should be able to get a better overall price.
Compost if you buy in bags is about $5-$6 per bag of about 2 c.f. per bag, so there's another $40-$50 easy.  BUT, compost is generally available in bulk so you can get that number reduced.  in your example you could get 1 c.y. (twice as much as you need) for $10, BUT then you'd have a compost with only one "ingredient" (leaf), so you should get some more different types of compost to mix with it.

Anyway, I ramble.  Have you checked local stores for bag compost lately?  Sometimes you can get a better deal per bag if you buy in the winter.  Selection may be limited, but it should be cheaper.  If you wait until spring when you really NEED it, definitely going to be $5-$6 range (isn't supply and demand lovely Wink)  I bought some "compost" that was labeled as a manure compost end of last fall for $1.50 or so a bag.  That's only "one ingredient" as well and I have my own compost piles in place and working now, but I couldn't pass up $1.50.  I can use it to supplement my own piles for that cost.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  AtlantaMarie on 2/1/2016, 9:39 am

And PLEASE don't go "cheap" on the compost to save money... Dear Hubby (DH) was getting concerned about start-up costs, so he would only buy the cow manure & mushroom manure from the big box store.

My plants were NOT happy. And I've had to supplement feedings.

It's getting better, but if you want success, just do it correctly to begin with!

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  CitizenKate on 2/1/2016, 10:07 am

@AtlantaMarie wrote:And PLEASE don't go "cheap" on the compost to save money.
I'll second this comment.  My plants do okay with the big box stuff, but I was not impressed with it.  It was full of "fillers" that I doubt were compost at all.  Just guessing, since they don't list the "ingredients" on the package... lots of small sticks, pete moss, some sand(?)...  I found better quality manure-based and other composts from the garden center, and my plants did much better with it.  You could tell it's better just by the color and texture of it. 

But, ask the plants!  I first used the "better" stuff in my salad box, and nearly got buried under a mountain of lettuce last year.  'Nuff said.

I would prefer to do what Jimmy advises, but still looking for good sources of the "real" stuff.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  beebass22 on 2/1/2016, 11:42 am

Thanks everyone for the advice.  I was thinking about doing the cu yd bulk leaf compost. Then mixing in some others. I went to Lowes yesterday, they have a mushroom compost for $3.48 for .75 cu ft (says its natural and organic, brand in just natural) reviews are good for this one on lowes website.

Same brand just natural has a cow manure for $2.48 cu ft decent reviews as well.

Then they have black kow manure $5.17 for a 50lb bag. this also has great reviews.

My concern is whether or not this stuff has sticks and other crap in it.

At Tractor supply they only thing they had was organic worm casting. 12lbs for $15

Gonna call the garden store today.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  beebass22 on 2/1/2016, 12:17 pm

So I was thinking about doing the 1 cu yrd for $10 but I think it may be a lower quality compost.

I found this local company Blue Ridge Compost or something like that. They make extremely high quality compost out of leaves, scraps, etc. no manure in this one.

Its about $10 for 1.2 cu ft. Can I use this as a base of say 4 cu ft then the bulk to account for the other 4 cu ft. So do 4 cu ft of this one type and then try to find 2 cu ft of cow, 2 cu feet of mushroom, 2 cu feet of chicken, 2 cu feet of something else. Also want to add in some worm castings but not sure about doing 2 cu ft of it that would be super expensive right?


Last edited by beebass22 on 2/1/2016, 12:21 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  donnainzone5 on 2/1/2016, 12:20 pm

Do you live near a Whole Foods market?

Probably around March, many of these stores carry an organic compost made of composted food waste, which is really quite good.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  beebass22 on 2/1/2016, 12:22 pm

@donnainzone5 wrote:Do you live near a Whole Foods market?

Probably around March, many of these stores carry an organic compost made of composted food waste, which is really quite good.
I live close enough to one. Do you know what the cost is around for this?

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  sanderson on 2/1/2016, 2:44 pm

The veggie based compost was very competitively priced at my local WF. I think is was around $4 for a good sized bag. There was a little tear in one bag and the stuff looked good. No wood chips. I would have bought a couple of bags if we had been in the truck. One can never store up too much compost!

Buying a cubic yard of leaf mold might be a good thing. Use it as 1/5 of the compost and use the rest in flower beds, build a compost cage to store the rest, use it for future compost building.

Build a screen with 1/4" metal hardware cloth to screen bagged manures to get rid of the wood chips. You can also use it on homemade compost to screen out anything not composted. The material can go into a new compost pile for a second round of composting or dump around bushes and trees as mulch. I'm not sure anything goes to waste, seems like there is always a second, or third, or fourth use to everything.

Worm castings are also a good compost. It's expensive but a little bit in each square foot is good. When you get your beds set up and filled, you may want to consider worm tubes for each large bed. It's a great way to raise the little red wiggler directly in the beds and it is a great way to use up some of the kitchen waste.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  Scorpio Rising on 2/1/2016, 9:07 pm

Are worm tubes only for warmer climes? I think the little wigglers would freeze solid here in a tube. Yes?

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  jimmy cee on 2/1/2016, 10:16 pm

@Scorpio Rising wrote:Are worm tubes only for warmer climes?  I think the little wigglers would freeze solid here in a tube.  Yes?

? depends... I went out to my piles today, removed the straw on top and found about 4-6 inches of frozen material. Having 2 steel rods down deep, I pulled them out, no heat at all...So just for the heck of it I dug down and turned over a bunch of the top..lo and behold it was packed with worms. I don't think worms freeze, I believe they will travel to where it's comfortable enough for them to survive.. Not sure what they were doing under the frost line, but they were moving freely.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  Scorpio Rising on 2/1/2016, 10:35 pm

Jimmy, I think my worms are good in the piles down deep. But what about those worm tubes people put in their beds and put kitchen scraps down? The worms can't get any deeper than the box is.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  sanderson on 2/2/2016, 4:00 am

This is the topic for further discussion of worm tubes. I should have included the link earlier when I mentioned them.

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1603-worm-tube-for-the-sfg?highlight=worm

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  beebass22 on 2/4/2016, 12:31 pm

Just to give everyone an update and what I decided to do.

I bought
3 - 3 cu ft bales of peat moss = $30 total

4- 4 cu ft bags of vermiculite = $100 total

6- 1 cu ft bags of cow compost = $30 total
4- .75 cu ft bags of mushroom compost = $15 total
2- 1 cu ft bags of worm castings = $24 total
6- 1 cu ft bags of high quality green(leaves and food waste) compost = $60

Total for soil is $260, this will leave me some extra compost for compost tea and other things.

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Planning for vertical gardening in my beds.

Post  beebass22 on 2/4/2016, 12:38 pm




So here is the plan, and now that I'm trying to figure out the vertical part of it, i'm hoping I can find a way to do it without having to move everything around..

So I guess I need vertical support for the beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. The problem I know see is how to do this without making it impossible to get to the other plants lol.

Any suggestions here, how would you do this. Cause I have no idea at this point. I don't want to spend a crap ton more money to do this since ive already dropped nearly $300 on soil and $100 on lumber, and close to $100 on seeds.

Random question from your experience is this investment worth what I've put into it?

Thanks for the help. Cant wait to get this up and running so I can get back on here and help out others.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  AtlantaMarie on 2/4/2016, 2:45 pm

Beebass, you are quite welcome! We all WANT you to succeed!

Mel's suggestion is that your trellising be on the north side of your garden so it won't block light from the other plants.

So it looks like you MAY need to move the tomatoes around...

In your drawing, I'm a little confused... Are your boxes 3 feet or 6 feet wide? If 3, you won't have any problem reaching in to the middle.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  sanderson on 2/4/2016, 4:01 pm

Beebass, I'm inclined to merge your topics on starting a new SFG into one, so you have just one site to document your journey.

One solution for ease of trellising is to limit the boxes to 4' lenths, or long boxes only 2' in width like Yolos has for beans, etc. It looks like the 2 upper beds are 9' x 3' (did you mean 8' x 3'?) The EMT trellises like shown in the book will last forever.

Home Depot prices for example:
The 5' long 1/2" tubing is cheap (<$2), 10' lengths are $2.30) I have a few 8' high trellises for winter squash and cantaloupe.

The 1/2" EMT inside corner pull elbow with set screws are corner pieces more expensive, $4.62, but the metal frame you build will last forever.

The 5' wide netting comes in various lengths and will last a few years. Mine are going on their 4th summer and are still in good condition. 5' x 30' = $9.88 -14.98.

A 100 count tube or packet of medium zip ties to secure the trellis netting to the metal tubes - $7.47.

For the tomatoes, you could have trellises on both the east and west sides.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  Zmoore on 2/4/2016, 4:50 pm

Peppers you may not need trellis for, check what you got.  Tomatoes, are you going to do all vine type (indeterminate) or will you have bush also (determinate).  You can use a cage for bush type and that will allow you more flexibility on placement.  If you go all or primarily vine, then you can't do the "pretty" spacing one on each side, you need to slide them all preferably to north side.  Are all your beans vine or will you have bush beans?  Generally looking at your concept I'd be inclined to make sure my long beds had the long side north and build a trellis along that side.  Do beans all along the trellis in one and tomatoes in the other, then rotate/switch them next year.  Well, you have a lot of vines including a boat load of cucumbers.  Going to be a challenge to incorporate trellis for all of them.  Sandersons 2' wide idea may be a good one.  

Anyway, I digress.  What I really wanted to ask was about your lumber.  You've already dropped $100 on lumber, what size especially lengths did you by?  I'm just a little concerned that your box sizes are going to create a lot of waste of material/money.  Typically boards can be bought in 8' lengths, for a 3' box I can get 2 sides out of that with 2' of board left over.  What are you going to do with that 2'?  I see 6- 3'x3' boxes, that's 12 pieces of 2' board left over in a pile.  Total that's another 24 board feet that could easy make two more 3x3 boxes except that it's broken into 2' lengths.  What board lengths did you get?  Might want to rethink your bed sizes based on that to reduce waste.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  sanderson on 2/4/2016, 5:07 pm

What about summer squash boxes for the 2' pieces? One plant in each. They will spill over but straw or plastic on the ground should keep them clean.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

Post  beebass22 on 2/4/2016, 6:19 pm

real quick to clarify small boxes are 3x3 large boxes are 6x3.

Ill be back in a few to respond to the rest.

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Re: Buying everything I need for new SFG in North Carolina

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