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School Garden - 3x6 raised beds

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School Garden - 3x6 raised beds

Post  julloa on 3/21/2016, 3:02 pm

hi - 

how do i measure out the square panels for this size bed? what's the best material to buy to make them? 

thanks!
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Re: School Garden - 3x6 raised beds

Post  ralitaco on 3/21/2016, 5:18 pm

Hello Julloa and welcome to the forum.
I see that you are in Brooklyn, NY and are doing a school garden, so where are you looking to build your beds? over grass, over concrete, will they be on the ground or tabletop? If you tell us more about your project, the great folks here will step up and offer all sorts of advice and insight, especially, if they can help get children gardening and using the SFG method.

Most (if not all) of us are using the All New Square Foot Gardening (ANSFG) method based on Mel Bartholomew's book. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend you do - most libraries have a copy but I bet you will want your own copy. In his book, Mel gives ideas of what to use to build the beds, but I will share my thoughts. Of course, there is no 1 right answer and there are really only 2 musts for SFG'ing:
1. Use Mel's Mix which is 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite & 1/3 blended compost
2. Use a grid. If there is no grid, it's not a SFG Wink

As to your question about building the box:
The box can be as simple as cutting down some common 8' 2x6 pieces of lumber to length, securing them in the corners and filling with Mel's Mix

So as far as the best material, the answer is what you have on hand or what you can afford. Having said that, many folks on this forum shy away from treated lumber but others use it (myself included) so long as it's new wood. The old treated lumber had some pretty nasty carcinogenic chemicals. A lot of people like to use Cedar because it is resistant to rotting. Then there is the plastic/pvc material that is on the cover of Mels ANSFG book.Regardless of the material you use for the sides you will want it to be about 6" deep.

I am going to make an presumption that you are building your beds to sit on the ground. With that in mind, you will want to make the sides of the box 6" high. You can use your choice of lumber: 1 piece of 1x6's or 2x6's or even 1x8's & 2x8's per side or you can use 2 pieces of 1x4's or 2x4's. Some folks use cinder blocks others have repurposed pallets.

You will also need something for the bottom to help keep the MM in, the weeds and critters out. When I did my first boxes on the ground I just used some weed cloth and that is very common. Some folks put hardware cloth on the bottom to keep out moles and others use plywood. If you use plywood then you can elevate the box but that is whole other discussion.

Sorry, I'm a rambler, but I hope I have answered your question to some degree

OH one more thing, we love pictures so be sure to share the before during and after as you build them.

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School Garden - 3x6 raised beds

Post  julloa on 3/21/2016, 5:28 pm

hi 

i have 7 3x6 raised cedar garden beds to be placed on a grass surface. 

i plan to use landscape fabric and get the ingredients to make mel's mix hoping i don't mess it up. apparently i need 256 quarts of soil for all the beds. 

i have the square foot gardening book. 

but my beds are not the size that's in the book so i'm trying to figure out how to make the grid with non treated wood lath. what sizing would i need etc. 

thank you!!!
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school Garden - 3x6 raised beds

Post  julloa on 3/21/2016, 5:31 pm

here's the image of the garden space. there's a debate on where to actually put the beds. i'm confused myself. either next to the fence on the right or away from the fence but i'll be under the tree.
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school Garden - 3x6 raised beds

Post  julloa on 3/21/2016, 5:37 pm

here's the image of the garden space - there's debate on where to put the actual beds. either next to the fence but then only three sides are exposed or away from the fence but then it's closer to the tree.


Last edited by julloa on 3/21/2016, 5:39 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : trying to add picture. :-/)
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Re: School Garden - 3x6 raised beds

Post  yolos on 3/21/2016, 6:54 pm

@julloa wrote:here's the image of the garden space - there's debate on where to put the actual beds. either next to the fence but then only three sides are exposed or away from the fence but then it's closer to the tree.
If you put it under that tree, the tree roots will love you.  They will invade those beds very quickly.  You will end up with a tangled mess of roots in the bed that will take away the nutrients, water and clog the bed with all the roots.  If you do put it there, you would definitely need to raise them up off the ground or put something under the beds that will stop the roots.  Weed cloth won't work.   Newspaper won't work.  Cardboard won't work.  The roots will come up thru all these things.

And you may also have a shade problem depending on the trajectory of the sun and the seasons.
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School Garden - 3x6 raised beds

Post  julloa on 3/21/2016, 7:17 pm

oh man.

the mural is on the north side.

i took on the project of spearheading the school garden for the kids. this is the lot i was given to do it in.

i'm working with what i got.

i don't even know what i can even grow where. on top of not knowing how to do the grids on these beds.


here's my sketch of the plan. maybe it'll work out. crossing fingers.
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Re: School Garden - 3x6 raised beds

Post  Scorpio Rising on 3/21/2016, 7:53 pm

I second everything that has been said! Kudos to you for such a great undertaking! I do think that less of a gardeny feel and more of a functional approach might be in order. The tree is something to be avoided. Shade, and the roots are a huge huge problem.

I would recommend putting all the beds up near that mural wall, with walk through space between so you can get to all 4 sides. Also, grouping the beds makes for economies of watering, etc. You should try to get the beds as much sunlight as possible. In our short growing season, you need full sun as much as you can. Try to get the seating and pretty stuff under the trees.

Welcome! And good luck! Great project! glad you\'re here
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school Garden - 3x6 raised beds

Post  julloa on 3/21/2016, 7:55 pm

where the mural is gets the least amount of sun. it's on the north side. another hurtle. which is why i put the seating there.
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Re: School Garden - 3x6 raised beds

Post  Scorpio Rising on 3/21/2016, 8:19 pm

Ewwwww, gotcha. Hmm. Can you cram as many as you can over by where you have the Pre-K and K planters and maybe right to the left inside the entrance?
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Re: School Garden - 3x6 raised beds

Post  ralitaco on 3/21/2016, 9:03 pm

@julloa wrote:i'm working with what i got.
Aren't we all  Very Happy

@julloa wrote:i don't even know what i can even grow where.
That is part of the fun and joy of the SFG method. Since you are only planting in a 1' square, you can try different things, if they don't work then pull them up and put something else in.
I don't know how things do up in NY with your growing season, but I know I have had really good luck with several varieties of leaf lettuce. I have heard radishes do really well anywhere but I haven't grown any. Of course you will want to put in some cherry tomatoes. What I like about them vs the slicing ones is that they generate a bunch of fruit and you don't have to worry about end rot. Also since you are doing this for the kids to see and learn cherry toms and lettuce would be great so they can actually eat the "fruits" of their labors  Very Happy

@julloa wrote:not knowing how to do the grids on these beds.
That is really, really easy and we will be glad to help. What are the exact measurements of the beds inside the wood?

Generally speaking, each square should be 1' x 1' and clearly marked using either wood, string, pvc pipe, heck Mel suggests mini-blind slats!
According to your title, the beds are 3' x 6' so you will have 18 squares per bed. While you want 12" x 12" squares, that's not always possible just try to get close. if they end up being 11"x11" or 12x10, its ok. I think my squares on my outside ends are 12x10.5 and it hasn't stopped me. If you end up with some squares that are 12x9, instead of putting 16 whatevers in there only put 12; or use those smaller squares to plant your single plants (tomato) etc.

Overall, don't get hung up on that stuff - exact grid size, what to plant - that will be ok. If you are doing the SFG method, do your best to get your blended compost from 5 sources, your vermiculite and peatmoss. Those are the basics from which the rest will grow. You can't teach the students calculus until they know arithmetic.

Keep doing what you are doing, read the posts here and feel free to ask questions.

Btw, are you one of the teachers or one of the parents?
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Re: School Garden - 3x6 raised beds

Post  ralitaco on 3/21/2016, 11:22 pm

Julloa,
I was in Lowe's today and saw another SFG book that may be of interest to you. It's called "Square Foot Gardening with Kids"

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Re: School Garden - 3x6 raised beds

Post  CapeCoddess on 3/22/2016, 11:38 am

When I went to Home Depot (on a weekend) and asked for lath, they all looked at me like I had 3 heads. Laughing No one knew what I was talking about.

I've used many different things for grids over the years - bamboo, twigs, lines drawn in the MM, rebar, etc - and currently I use Venetian blind slats I picked up for free at the dump. I'm not a complicated person and were I you I would search around for something I could make into 6 ft and 3 ft pcs. You would need two 6 footers and five 3 footers per box. If the lath only comes in 4 ft pcs, you can put 2 together using a screw and bolt or whatever, and then cut off 2 ft. Personally that seems like a waste to me so I wouldn't go that route. I don't mind cutting free blind slats up since I didn't pay for them.

And please put a bottom on those boxes if you place them by the tree. Plywood is good. There are still a lot of veggies you can grow in dappled shade so all is not lost.

We're rootin' for ya! Keep us updated.
CC
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Re: School Garden - 3x6 raised beds

Post  sanderson on 3/22/2016, 4:58 pm

julloa,  Welcome to the Forum from California! glad you\'re here  You have quite a project and kudos to you for doing this.

Folks have already offered good suggestions.  With trees, you don't have an option but to elevate all of the boxes or this project will last only a year.  Easy way is to cut 2" x 4" into 3' (or what ever the exact outside length to include the wood frames) sections and lay 4 sections down under both ends and at the 2' marks.  You can also use brick, cement blocks, anything to get an air gap under the plywood bottoms.

For the plywood bottoms, use at least 1/2".  Drill 1/2" holes in the middle of each square and one in each corner.

I would orient them with the short sides facing north and south, leaving 3' wide paths between the beds and away from the public fence.  Small trellises can be placed on each north end for pole beans, peas, securing tomato plants, etc.  That way the children can walk and work around all sides of the boxes (and be away from doggies who might be tempted Wink  )  Maybe line the isles with commercial weed fabric and cover with wood chips.  In fact, to make it easier for the person who has to mow, cover the whole area except for a few feet around the trees, where the chips can be placed on the dirt

Very best of luck and happiness with this worthwhile project.
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