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Need help with large community garden plot.

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Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  parallax on 5/17/2010, 9:56 pm

Hello! I moved to a city this year that offers a community gardening program and was approved for a plot. I have just started the Square Foot Gardening book and am stumped at the idea of only planting a couple boxes - I have 15x19 feet at my disposal and I don't want to just not use space that was given to me but it seems that filling it with 6 or 8 of the boxes would be overkill for just two people.
I am also not allowed to put anything permanent in the garden. The plot has been tilled for the season and I have a lot of mulch, water, tools and even plants provided for me, do you think the ideas would still work without building the boxes? I was thinking of just marking them off with string. I might be able to put some planks down to mark the walkways but then I'd have to dispose of them at the end of the season because I don't have anywhere to store them.
Does anyone have any thoughts or tips for me? I'd really appreciate it, I'm completely new to gardening.

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  alouwomack on 5/17/2010, 10:27 pm

You could still follow the "square grid" part of Mel's guide . . . but unfortunately I think the best part is having the 6 inches of yummy soil to work with. The plants are just happier and you would be too! Maybe with a little brainstorming we can help you figure out a way to do raised beds?!?!

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  chocolatepop on 5/17/2010, 11:07 pm

you cold get the cheaper composite beds from a big box store. they should be relatively light and easy to break down for storage. and you could store the mels mix some how im sure!

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  Megan on 5/17/2010, 11:24 pm

$0.02 from a SFG noob:

You need walkways between your beds to tend your plants and also move hoses/etc. Don't use planks, though. In addition to off-season storage issues, they could be very slippery/slimy when wet. Mulch would be much safer.

Re: overkill.... you could always plant some flowers, too!


Last edited by Megan on 5/17/2010, 11:45 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  WardinWake on 5/17/2010, 11:43 pm

@parallax wrote:Hello! I moved to a city this year that offers a community gardening program and was approved for a plot. I have just started the Square Foot Gardening book and am stumped at the idea of only planting a couple boxes - I have 15x19 feet at my disposal and I don't want to just not use space that was given to me but it seems that filling it with 6 or 8 of the boxes would be overkill for just two people.
I am also not allowed to put anything permanent in the garden. The plot has been tilled for the season and I have a lot of mulch, water, tools and even plants provided for me, do you think the ideas would still work without building the boxes? I was thinking of just marking them off with string. I might be able to put some planks down to mark the walkways but then I'd have to dispose of them at the end of the season because I don't have anywhere to store them.
Does anyone have any thoughts or tips for me? I'd really appreciate it, I'm completely new to gardening.

Howdy and a warm welcome to the Square Foot Gardening Forum.

I suggest that you go ahead and build the number of boxes that you think that you will need for this year. Attach the weed blocker cloth to the bottom of the bed and fill with Mel's Mix. At the end of the season carefully remove the mix from your boxes and place the mix in thick trash bags or perhaps garbage cans and store them at home for next season. Build your boxes so that they can be easily taken apart at the end of the gardening season and store them at home as well. You may be delightfully surprised when the other gardeners see how much produce and flowers your garden produces that the whole community garden may convert to SFG next year allowing you to keep your SFG in place.

God Bless, Ward.

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  boffer on 5/17/2010, 11:53 pm

@WardinWake wrote: At the end of the season carefully remove the mix from your boxes and place the mix in thick trash bags or perhaps garbage cans and store them at home for next season. God Bless, Ward.

As I recall, that's what ColoradoNatureGirl is doing this year because she lives in an apartment. She's loving it!

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  Chopper on 5/18/2010, 12:28 am

I agree with Ward. I build my boxes by using right angle brackets. They would be easy to unscrew one of the parts of the right angle only and leave the other attached to the wood for next year. But that is all I do. 4'X6" boards with cheap corner brackets. Easy up, easy down.

You may choose to not even staple the weed mats on and just place them in the box, fill with mix and then at the end of the season, unfill, roll up the mat, unscrew the brackets and voila, you are broken down for the winter and ready to go for next summer.

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/18/2010, 8:38 am

All of the above is great advice. I'll offer another take. I followed Mel's first book for years, and when I lived in a place that had good soil, I had no problems except the spacing of the walks (1 foot) was too narrow. If you have good soil, build some 4 x 4' frames out of 2x4's, which could be moved without even taking apart and mound up your existing soil into them. Then place your grids. The reason I suggest the boxes is it's easier to organize the garden and walkways. If you don't want to use boxes, then rake the soil up from the pathways (make sure they are 2' or wider), mark the beds as you suggest and use mulch or grass clippings as the walkways. You could even use several thicknesses of newspaper covered with mulch -- anything biodegradable. Take it from someone with long experience, planks don't work.

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  PB on 5/18/2010, 8:48 am

The first SFG book talked about amending the existing soil. Perhaps build your boxes. Fill with existing soil. Add some peat moss and vermiculite. If you have good soil to start with then I think it would be a start. Then maybe try to get your same plot next year. You will already have amended it.

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  pattipan on 5/18/2010, 9:29 am

Here's link to one of the threads where they were talking about community gardens. Maybe you can PM each other to share ideas...or better yet...if you ask nice, perhaps our forum magician, boffer can create a special place in the forums just for community/urban gardens:

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/welcome-mat-f3/new-square-foot-gardener-in-colorado-t1502.htm#10200

Patti

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  nancy on 5/18/2010, 11:47 am

I also have a plot at our community garden. My space is 25 x 25, and I think I've actually encroached on the space next to mine. So far I have 4 beds built and planted. I scored some free wood and have outlined 5 or 6 more. We are allowed to keep our space from year to year and many gardeners have elaborate plots. I have 3' between the beds. I'm thinking of mulching the aisles. They don't till our areas; we have to do that ourselves (which is a large part of why I chose sfg). So the unused plots are often overrun with weeds. A guy mowed a couple of weeks ago, which has helped. I think I'm putting in so many beds to cut down on the weeds in my plot! I am having the best time down there and have met some wonderful people.

I've been cronicling my adventures here:

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/northern-central-midwest-f12/don-t-laugh-t929.htm

Let us know how you decide to proceed. Perhaps if you build a few boxes, they will see your amazing results and let you keep your space!

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You do not need lumber....

Post  quiltbea on 5/18/2010, 12:51 pm

You can have a raised bed garden without lumber. Just take your hoe and mound your beds, leaving about 1 1/2 feet between them for walking. You won't walk over your beds because they are mounded and they won't compact. You can amend as needed depending on what you are going to grow.
More lime in the brassica beds (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc) and more peat moss for things like potatoes.
url=https://servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=90&u=15016226][/url]
I did this to my community garden rows because permanent structures were not allowed due to tilling and manuring needs before and end of season. I just pulled the soil up into mounds with my hoe. They are about 5" higher than the paths between. I have since planted broccoli, cabbages, onions, kale, chard, spinach and dill so far and all are coming up a little. I just went out every day with my watering can and watered the sown beds until they germinated. The seedlings I have at home under lights will go out when they are ready. My plot is about 12' by 30' so I got 3 nice rows. I'll be putting cantaloupe, watermelon and squashes at the far side so the vines can trail into the unused areas.

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  Icemaiden on 5/18/2010, 1:09 pm

How lucky to have so much space!
I think that I would go for one 4x4 box this year. Make it so you can take it to bits and perhaps store the mix as suggested and if you can get free wood for the sides (pallets?) just throw them away at the end of the season.
You can give that one box lots of love and attention and grow what takes your fancy. Then in the rest of your space grow things that do well in your area and if you get lots you can easily give away some of the crop.
At the end if the year you will know if you want to carry on with squarefoot gardening or not. I think the setting up and storing part will be quite a commitment each year if you have to clear it each autumn to allow for tilling and it would be sensible to know what it entails before you start lugging stuff in and out of a community plot.

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  aspiegardner on 5/19/2010, 7:45 pm

I would talk to the gardener in charge and ask about keeping your boxes year to year if you agree to keep the weeds away from your area.

You could also build a sfg on wheels so you could wheel it to the truck at the end of the season.

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  milaneyjane on 5/19/2010, 9:17 pm

Sam's Club has composite beds that just slide together---I am loving mine so far and they are fairly inexpensive $39 for a 4x8 foot bed that is 8 inches tall. Maybe buy two to start with and I agree on saving the mix!

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  graceypt on 5/20/2010, 2:54 am

Could you post the link of the composite bed you got from Sam's Club? I got mine at Walmart but it wasn't exactly 4x4. It was 42" x 42" to be exact but it still worked

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  milaneyjane on 5/20/2010, 9:44 am

It isn't quite four feet across but they work beautifully. I have a total of 5 beds two of which I stacked double high and three that are single height. I will post pics hopefully later today.

http://www.samsclub.com/sams/shop/product.jsp?productId=prod1170390&navAction=push

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  ColoradoNatureGirl on 5/20/2010, 10:40 pm

Hi parallax,

I am also at a community garden this year. I have a 20x20 plot and also have to remove everything at the end of the year so they can till. Sad

I have 3 4x4 boxes so far. We are a family of four and this is what I was willing to put into it until I knew for sure I would want to continue with SFG.
Plus I still have to figure out where and how I am going to store my boxes and soil at the end of the year so I didn't want too much to have to move.

I am also feeling like I am wasting some space with all the unused space I have. I have met some wonderful people at the garden who offered to rototill my unused space so I could grow in it as I pleased. I am planning on putting a bunch of wildflowers and pumpkins in that space and see what happens. I am taking my beds much more serious and figure I will throw something in the other soil and see what happens. There are others at my garden who share plots, i.e. they want to plant nothing but corn but a whole plot is too much for them so they share a plot with another. Maybe that would be an option if you don't want to use all your space and don't want it to be empty either.

I have talked with several of the other gardeners and mentioned asking the coordinator if I could reserve a plot for next year in the corner of the garden so they could till around my plot and I could leave all my boxes in place. Maybe convert a corner of the garden to raised beds for those of us who like to garden this way. They seem to think it would be a good idea and would be interested in it as well. I figure the more of us who want this change the easier it will be to convince them to do it.

If that doesn't work I plan on getting some large trash cans on wheels to put my soil in and my boxes are easy to just pick up and lay against a wall or something. We'll see how it all works.

I would love some advice on how to go about talking to the community garden coordinator about converting a section of the garden to raised beds.

Good luck and keep us updated on how things are going.

Boffer... it would be fantastic to have a Community Garden section for all of us (it's a growing number) to share ideas in! Please, pretty please with sugar on top, (i'm batting my eyelashes right now) flower

Stephanie

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  boffer on 5/21/2010, 2:59 am

lol! It's a simple question, but the answer has long term policy implications for the forum. I've presented your question to the Leadership Panel for discussion. Unfortunately, 2 of the 4 are on vacation, and one is going 90mph in a new venture. Vacations and summer schedules are slowing down some processes. Give us a few days for everybody to get back to the table.

In the meantime, how many row gardeners in your community garden do you think you can convert to SFG? Would having an All New SFG book available for the community gardeners to look at be a help? What you need is an 'old school' phone booth with the sfg book on a cable like the phone book was secured! Oh, I GOT IT! Is there a porty potty there? Hide the Sears catalog and replace it with the SFG book! Hmmmm.... thinking

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  PB on 5/23/2010, 7:58 pm

That's funny Boffer!!

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

Post  ColoradoNatureGirl on 5/24/2010, 2:27 pm

Thanks for passing along my request Boffer. Smile

I may have some converts by the end of the summer, we'll see. I stopped by last night, really, I was there for 5 minutes. Hopped out of the car walked to my plot, planted a jalapeño I bought while I was out, picked my VERY FIRST harvest of some lettuce and spinach and walked out. There was another gardener there with her hoe bent over hacking away and the wonderful soil with all the clay in it and just just watched me go in, do my little things and leave. I think she was really giving me a dirty look but was a little to far away to tell. I could imagine her thinking "that's it, I am here breaking by back and that's all she has to do". This is a daily occurrence for me out there so we will see how it all goes!

It's a great idea to leave a NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING book out there like a phone book. LOL That would be hilarious, just a subtle hint and I am sure they would have no idea who left it. lol I could attach it to the gate where there is a laminated newspaper article with me and my kids about the community garden and square foot gardening.
Pinky: Gee, Brain, what do you want to do today?
Brain: The same thing we do every day, Pinky - try to take over the garden!
LOL rofl

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Re: Need help with large community garden plot.

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