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CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

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CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/6/2016, 7:46 pm

Who wants to participate in a fun challenge with me?

Mel said that the average American row garden is 20' x 35' or 700 sf.

Mel also said that by using the SFG method you can grow an equal amount of food using just 140 growing squares. BUT that doesn't mean that the GARDEN would be 140 sf. unless you had a 70' yard where you could put a 2' wide raised bed up against a fence.

SOOOOOOO, let's have a friendly challenge. What is the absolute smallest footprint you can make a garden with raised beds and 3' aisles that would give you 140 (or more but not less) squares? Here are the rules.

1. Mel suggests that the longest a 4' bed should be is 16' or you'll be tempted to jump over it instead of walking around it. So let's stick to this rule for both 4' and 3' wide beds. Since you don't have to worry about stepping on a 2' bed up against a fence, it can be as long as you'd like, but if it's freestanding, it also needs to be limited to 16'.

2. You can use any combination of 1', 2', 3' and 4' wide raised beds.

3. No bed up against a building or fence can be more than 2' wide.

4. A wider bed must be put at least 3' from a fence or house.

5. Keep the long side of the garden to 30' or less -- LOL that's MY rule since I feel that's a practical maximum length for a yard.

6. Aisles MUST be 3' or more (but not less).

7. We're going to have to count the square footage in a rectangle, square or triangle shape. For instance, if you decided to make a "U"-shaped bed that had three beds (2x20 = 40; 2x30 - 60 and a second 2x20 = 40 for a total of 140 squares) we'd have to count that as being a 30x12 rectangle or 360 sf. LOL if you submit a garden using a triangle shape you're going to have to "show the math" that you used to figure out the square footage.

8. You'll need to post a drawing of your garden with all bed and total area dimensions for us to see.

Your prize? Uuuuhhhhmmm personal pride? The adoration of the Forum members? Bragging rights? I really don't have anything tangible to offer, but you'd have my undying adoration and I'll share it on the SFG Foundation Facebook page!

I may have forgotten something, so if you have questions, post them and we'll decide if it's acceptable.

You have until January 6th!

Aaaaaaaaaaand . . . GO!

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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sanderson on 12/6/2016, 8:38 pm

Question: Each bed needs a 3' isle/walkway around it, except for a 2' deep bed stretched along a structure? For example, a 4 x 8 bed (of 32 sq ft of bed) needs a total area of 140 sq ft because of a 3' wide walkway all the way around it. Correct?

Question: Wouldn't a 3' access isle be needed in front of a 2' deep bed along a fence? Example, a 2' deep, 20' long fence bed (40 sq ft of bed) would need a 5' x 20' area, plus 6 sq sf at each end, for a total of 112 sq fr.

Please help clarify Very Happy

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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/6/2016, 9:20 pm

@sanderson wrote:Question:  Each bed needs a 3' isle/walkway around it, except for a 2' deep bed stretched along a structure?  For example, a 4 x 8 bed (of 32 sq ft of bed) needs a total area of 140 sq ft because of a 3' wide walkway all the way around it.  Correct?  

Question:  Wouldn't a 3' access isle be needed in front of a 2' deep bed along a fence?  Example, a 2' deep, 20' long fence bed (40 sq ft of bed) would need a 5' x 20' area, plus 6 sq sf at each end, for a total of 112 sq fr.

Please help clarify Very Happy
Sorry, a little confused. Let me see if I understand and you let me know if I've answered your questions:

Q1. Really with a 4'x8' bed . . . one of the 4' ends could be butted up against a fence or house, so it would only need 3' aisles on three sides.

Q2. A 2'x20' bed could actually be within a "U"-shaped fenced area so it would only need 20' of space, but yes, 3' would need to be in front of it so the footprint would be 5'x20' for a total of 100'.

Is that what you meant? If not, please draw a picture. I'm a visual person.
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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/6/2016, 9:35 pm

Let's add another "rule":

9. You can add fences around your garden to make better use of your space -- as long as any beds along those fences are only 2' wide.

10. If you fence in your garden, you must have a 3' gate for access.

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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/6/2016, 10:14 pm

Just thought of something. Since you don't add 3' to the area in front of a row garden, I don't think you should have to add it to the SFG either. Fair enough?

For instance, if a row garden is 20x35 you don't add 3' onto that area -- it's NOT 23' x 35'.

11. The area in "front" of your garden isn't added onto the square footage.

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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sanderson on 12/7/2016, 3:48 am

But you still need access area, like a wheel barrow path to every side of every box deeper than 2'. ??

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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  llama momma on 12/7/2016, 6:18 am

Been reading with great interest !  I'd like to suggest an amendment to the rules. 
 The bed count should Not include entire boxes dedicated to perennials like asparagus and strawberries, for example, right?  Since those would of course impede the three crop maximum potential from each square.
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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/7/2016, 9:23 am

@sanderson wrote:But you still need access area, like a wheel barrow path to every side of every box deeper than 2'.  ??

Yes. You need to be able to reach in to work in the center of each bed. That would mean any bed wider than 2' needs to have a 3' aisle around it . . . IF it's freestanding. In the first answer I gave you, the 4'x8' box could have one 4' side up against a fence but you could still access the bed from either side because there would be a 3' foot.

Perhaps if you draw what you mean?

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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/7/2016, 9:26 am

@llama momma wrote:Been reading with great interest !  I'd like to suggest an amendment to the rules. 
 The bed count should Not include entire boxes dedicated to perennials like asparagus and strawberries, for example, right?  Since those would of course impede the three crop maximum potential from each square.
 
Actually this isn't a GROWING challenge, but a footprint challenge. I want to know how SMALL you can make your garden and follow Mel's rules. I know I'm not taking into account that Mel says you can split your garden, but let's say someone lives in a townhome with a TINY back yard but they want to have the full 140 squares.

If you'd like to start a growing challenge next month that might be fun.

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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 12/7/2016, 3:16 pm

Without making some assumptions, here's the best I can do for 140 growing squares, an H-shaped 3ft aisle, 14x19 for a 266sf footprint, two 4x8 beds, two 2x19 beds against the fence in red, gate shown at the bottom

----
Cutting Corners...
There's mention of U-shaped beds in the rules/discussion, but I'm not sure I'm following what happens at the intersection of the beds. Here's a drawing of an intersection of two 2ft wide beds. Imagine a fence on the outside of the corner (left and bottom.) The dark green squares are fully reachable from the inside; the square on the inner corner is fully within 2ft from the corner (marked YES). But the other three are only partly in range (light green), with the one on the outer corner mostly not reachable (white section marked NO.)

The 2ft is a stretch for me as a short person, so practically speaking I'm uncomfortable including squares that have portions out of the 2ft range. But hypothetically speaking for the challenge, if those 'mostly squares' count in full, I can add 1x3 boxes at the 3 non-gate legs of the H, and remove a row from the non-aisle part of the beds (2x19s drop to 2x18 and one of the 4x8's drops to a 4x7) - switching 9 squares to growing, dropping 8 growing squares, to get 141 squares in 14x18=252sf.

Given that explanation, the below was another thought I had. It is also 140sq. The exterior also has a rectangle of 266sf. But fencing (in red) across the diagonals of the corners decreases the foot print by 2 (1 and two triangle-shaped halves) in each location - this is shown on the left side of the drawing. Fencing zig-zag to match the growing squares of bed decreases the foot print by 3 in each 'corner' location - this is shown on the right side of the drawing.

These methods would decrease the footprint. Is rule #7 meant to prevent this sort of reduction? It would make sense to me if it did, since it's rather impractical. It's fun to think about for a hypothetical challenge, but the only reason I can imagine bothering with 1x1 boxes and zigzag fencing is because the HOA insists that the fenced in area of the garden be less than 250sf or something like that...)


I *think* I can get that one down to 246 sf with 144 growing squares if I can include 'mostly squares' AND employ 'zigzag fencing' to influence the footprint, but I'll wait to re-draw until I get confirmation about whether either of those is allowed.
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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  Kelejan on 12/7/2016, 5:19 pm

Beetles, your small diagram showing the corner.  Lose one square only by putting a paving slab on the square marked "yes".

The rest of it seem fine to me and I understand what your are getting at.  But I don''t think that I am clever enough to work it out from scratch myself. Or perhaps too lazy.
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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/9/2016, 8:14 am

@BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:Without making some assumptions, here's the best I can do for 140 growing squares, an H-shaped 3ft aisle, 14x19 for a 266sf footprint, two 4x8 beds, two 2x19 beds against the fence in red, gate shown at the bottom

----
Cutting Corners...
There's mention of U-shaped beds in the rules/discussion, but I'm not sure I'm following what happens at the intersection of the beds. Here's a drawing of an intersection of two 2ft wide beds. Imagine a fence on the outside of the corner (left and bottom.) The dark green squares are fully reachable from the inside; the square on the inner corner is fully within 2ft from the corner (marked YES). But the other three are only partly in range (light green), with the one on the outer corner mostly not reachable (white section marked NO.)

The 2ft is a stretch for me as a short person, so practically speaking I'm uncomfortable including squares that have portions out of the 2ft range. But hypothetically speaking for the challenge, if those 'mostly squares' count in full, I can add 1x3 boxes at the 3 non-gate legs of the H, and remove a row from the non-aisle part of the beds (2x19s drop to 2x18 and one of the 4x8's drops to a 4x7) - switching 9 squares to growing, dropping 8 growing squares, to get 141 squares in 14x18=252sf.

Given that explanation, the below was another thought I had. It is also 140sq. The exterior also has a rectangle of 266sf. But fencing (in red) across the diagonals of the corners decreases the foot print by 2 (1 and two triangle-shaped halves) in each location - this is shown on the left side of the drawing. Fencing zig-zag to match the growing squares of bed decreases the foot print by 3 in each 'corner' location - this is shown on the right side of the drawing.

These methods would decrease the footprint. Is rule #7 meant to prevent this sort of reduction? It would make sense to me if it did, since it's rather impractical. It's fun to think about for a hypothetical challenge, but the only reason I can imagine bothering with 1x1 boxes and zigzag fencing is because the HOA insists that the fenced in area of the garden be less than 250sf or something like that...)


I *think* I can get that one down to 246 sf with 144 growing squares if I can include 'mostly squares' AND employ 'zigzag fencing' to influence the footprint, but I'll wait to re-draw until I get confirmation about whether either of those is allowed.

While I love your creativity, I don't think the zig-zag fence would be something the average person would do, so I'm going to say no to that.

HINTS on handling the corner square:

1. Plant something that's 1 per square (tomato) or 2 per square (cucumber) with a trellis behind it at an angle.

2. Use the corner square for a pest-deterrent flower.

3. Make sure there are enough "extra" squares in your design to satisfy the 140 square minimum.
Save

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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/9/2016, 8:20 am


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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sanderson on 12/9/2016, 12:14 pm

So far my 340 sq ft for a 140 SFG is a real loser! Razz

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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/9/2016, 1:04 pm

Don't feel badly Sigrid. My initial one was 330.

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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/9/2016, 1:19 pm

Beetle's certainly on the right track.

REMEMBER: (looking at Beetle's drawing) you wouldn't even need the front part of the fence, the length that includes the gate, if you didn't want it to. As we mentioned before, since the square footage of a row garden wouldn't include a 3' aisle in front of it, we wouldn't count that for your SFG either.

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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 12/9/2016, 8:22 pm

Kim, I'm sorry, I didn't ask my question clearly and/or didn't understand your answer. thinking
Here's a different version of the diagram (each square is a square foot), with yes/no questions:


Does the square labeled 1 count as a growing square? Y/N
Do the squares labeled as 2 and 3 count as growing squares? Y/N
    If 'sort-of', do they count as half squares (aka triangles)? Y/N
Does the square labeled 4 count as a growing square? Y/N
---
Kelejan, thanks! It's possible I enjoy garden planning slightly more than actual gardening, plus I've got a cold, so my energy for real activities is limited. And I then I took some medication that kept me awake.... so I've spent hours on this. (I want to save most of my seed catalog browsing for Christmas when I am likely to have limited internet access! study )
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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/10/2016, 3:38 pm

@BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:Kim, I'm sorry, I didn't ask my question clearly and/or didn't understand your answer. thinking
Here's a different version of the diagram (each square is a square foot), with yes/no questions:


Does the square labeled 1 count as a growing square? Y/N
Do the squares labeled as 2 and 3 count as growing squares? Y/N
    If 'sort-of', do they count as half squares (aka triangles)? Y/N
Does the square labeled 4 count as a growing square? Y/N
---
Kelejan, thanks! It's possible I enjoy garden planning slightly more than actual gardening, plus I've got a cold, so my energy for real activities is limited. And I then I took some medication that kept me awake.... so I've spent hours on this. (I want to save most of my seed catalog browsing for Christmas when I am likely to have limited internet access! study )

I would count 1, 2 & 3 as full squares. If you measure in 2', only the very tip of that square's corner might not be 100% accessible. Square 4 is 1/2 accessible so you could be a tomato in the center of the square and a diagonal trellis could keep the plant accessible.

Does that help?
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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 12/10/2016, 5:05 pm

Yes. My new best footprint is 238sf.
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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sanderson on 12/14/2016, 3:23 am

I guess you are the winner.

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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 12/14/2016, 9:59 am

@sanderson wrote:   I guess you are the winner.
Not until January 6th. I had time due to this obnoxious cold, but I figure other people may need the free time that becomes available during the holidays ....if I didn't scare them all off.

I can post a drawing of the 238sf footprint before then if you want.
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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  Kelejan on 12/14/2016, 1:04 pm

@BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:
@sanderson wrote:   I guess you are the winner.
Not until January 6th. I had time due to this obnoxious cold, but I figure other people may need the free time that becomes available during the holidays ....if I didn't scare them all off.

I can post a drawing of the 238sf footprint before then if you want.

That's generous of you Beetles.
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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  plantoid on 12/14/2016, 5:04 pm

So .. my veg plot has three beds with 6 x 12 foot in each bed ( my beds are a tad over 3 wide x 4 foot long  equals   3x 72 equals 216 sq ft they are raised brick built with interlocking brick work throughout for strength.  All  walls are 36 inches high for the vast majority of the walling .
The walls are only  4 inches wide  . I've not included my rhubarb & asparagus beds for as has already been said they are not really in the scheme .

 To that 216 I need to add another 20 sq feet for my  "D" shaped onion & garlic bed for it also gets herbs in it and radishes .  So  a total of 236 sq feet
 Now this is where things get interesting  my   216 sq ft of beds only need one three foot wide pathway for I can lean on the high wall and easily reach the other sides though this far side is actually the walled edge for a raised landscaped law so as a result only 20 inches of wall shows above the lawns . i rarely need to ever go onthb lawn to work or harvest crops  .
 

 The front flower beds consists of one 21 foot x 3 foot wide bed split into 4 beds ( take a 18 inches  off for the brick work  ) gives 19 x 3 + 3 x0.5  =58.5 sq  ft there is a 3 foot path between these beds & the house wall . Giving a total foot print of beds & path of 121.5 sq feet .

The second bed set is a  "L " shape  of four  3x3 beds ( 36 sq feet , again as I stand on the concrete path in the crook of the"L" I simply don't need a path on the lawn side . So total foot print of this " L " shaped bed  including path is 45 sq ft .

One end of the "L " backs onto a slope that the guys filling the heating oil tank use and the guys who bring our bottled cooking gas cylinders once a year  access , the other end of the " L" runs up to the neighbour wall at 6 " away from it  .  So I won't  include either end of the " L"  as they are not used  .

 The shape of the  " L " allows full access to all the beds using only 9 foot of 3 foot wide path .

 Over the years 99.9  % of the time this  "L" shaped bed won't get accessed from the front lawn .

 To me that makes the total area occupied by the front beds & pathways as 166.5  sq ft ..
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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/14/2016, 6:26 pm

Wow plantoid. I really need a drawing. LOL I just can't visualize it.

LOL hubby gets frustrated with me.

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Re: CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/20/2016, 6:46 pm

Any more ideas? Anyone? Very Happy

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