Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Hi! new with questions!!

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Hi! new with questions!!

Post  Mariah on 7/21/2010, 12:15 pm

hello! I am Mariah. I have started gardening this year, but have decided that i will be doing a SFG next year. I read Mels older book, then I read his newer book and wasnt so sure about the new technique. I like the idea, but it seams like it wont work. First, How can so many plants grow in just 6 inches of soil? I know that its good soil and everything, but why only 6? I thought that plants needed deep roots? Q 2: Why do extra measures to make crops that need to be deeper? why not just stick with 12 inches and not worry about it? I know it costs more, but then all things oculd have deeper roots, and you wouldnt have to build extra stuff for carrots and other things. not trying to be negative.... just some questions i cant figure out before i decide if i want to use the old or new SFG method. Q 3: what about the weed cloth... how can water drain? i dont understand.... I saw someone post saying that the water wouldnt drain.... but Mel says that you cant overwater?

I love to garden and i cant wait to get started doing a SFG but let me know your thoughts so i can see which SFG method i want to do

Mariah

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Re: Hi! new with questions!!

Post  Wyldflower on 7/21/2010, 12:36 pm

Hi Mariah, and welcome!

You may want to take a peek at the posts in the Western Mountains and High Plains Forum for info specific to your (our) area. I'm on the front range in CO, so my situation is a little different than yours.

I'm a new gardener - I did a small row garden last year (almost no produce), and SFG this year, and I'm doing okay with SFG - though I have a LOT to learn. I've thought about the depth of the boxes, too, and for next year, I may increase the depth for some of my plants, while others seem to do fine in 6" of Mel's Mix.

You may want to see someone else's SFG in your area. I think there was another person here who is also in Nampa. .... oh... AliSmith13... She hasn't posted in a while, but I always look for her posts. Maybe you could send a private message, and maybe arrange to see her garden!

You can also check the personal albums of people in this region for some pictures. I'll have to get out and take some more pics today. My garden is not as happy as I'd like for it to be, but I do have tomatoes coming, and peppers, and some eggplant babies too!

Oh.. and the weed cloth... it's a fabric, not a solid sheet of plastic, so water can drain through.

Good luck with your garden - I hope your SFG is successful.


Last edited by Wyldflower on 7/21/2010, 12:38 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added comment on weed cloth)
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Re: Hi! new with questions!!

Post  Furbalsmom on 7/21/2010, 12:39 pm

Mariah
Most of our veggie garden plants have pretty shallow roots, so 6 inches is more than enough. I am growing strawberries, cucumbers, lettuce, broccoli, turnips, beets, radishes, peas, chard, bok choi, herbs, new zealand spinach, summer squash, bush beans and pole beans all in 6 inches of mix. Even if you planted them in deeper mix, the roots just would not grow down that far.
Since I bury my tomato plants up to the top few sets of leaves,(this allows extra roots to develop along the stem) I place them in highrises as I do carrots and potatoes which have longer roots that require the extra depth.
I just can't justify the expense of trying to make my whole garden area 12 inches deep.
Weed cloth is porous and will let the the water through. You don't want to use sheet plastic as a weed barrier, because then you would have a drainage issue.
Good luck, whichever way you decide to go.
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Furbalsmom

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Re: Hi! new with questions!!

Post  Mariah on 7/21/2010, 2:28 pm

Well thank you everyone! I cant believe that the roots just don't go down further than that! That's so odd to me!
Okay so I will have to make sure i dont get the plastic stuff. That makes more sense now. Lol! Well all I need to do is get started then! Thanks everyone!

Mariah

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Re: Hi! new with questions!!

Post  chocolatepop on 7/21/2010, 3:24 pm

what they end up doing is spreading horizontally, the roots that is. I'll post some new pics as soon as the batteries to the camera are done charging.
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Re: Hi! new with questions!!

Post  Icemaiden on 7/21/2010, 4:36 pm

It is amazing what people are growing in just 6 inches of Mel's Mix

This is my first year of square footing so I'm no expert at all. I have two 4x4 boxes, one is 6 inches deep and one is double that (though not quite full this year so probably only 9 inches of mix).

I've got broccoli in the shallow box and it is perfectly happy in only 6 inches. My carrots are in the deeper box and although I've only pulled up a couple they seem to be doing very well in there.

Here is a link for sq foot gardening but in soil rather than mix - this guy shows a couple of figures which have plant roots way down into the soil
http://organicgarden.org.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/sqft_step_by_step.pdf

and an old book is available on line which details just how long roots can be
http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010137veg.roots/010137toc.html
it is fascinating. Look at the onion roots!

I think that the method using Mel's mix relies on the growing medium being so perfect as regards nutrients that the plants need not root so deeply. Leastways it seems to work very well judging by the pictures posted on here by experienced gardeners

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Re: Hi! new with questions!!

Post  NAR56 on 7/22/2010, 11:10 am

Icemaiden, that last link is very informational. My SFG box is 10" deep so for most plants I should be OK. But for those who plant carrots, potatoes, and corn, how deep does your SFG box?
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Re: Hi! new with questions!!

Post  Icemaiden on 7/22/2010, 12:11 pm

It is interesting isn't it? But I can't believe that they actually NEED that depth for their roots. and I'm not convinced that the roots go that deep even in open soil beds.

I'll be interested to see how my parsnips make out in 9 inches of mix

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Re: Hi! new with questions!!

Post  quiltbea on 7/22/2010, 12:47 pm

IceMaiden...This is my first year trying parsnips. I understand they can have roots several feet long but my boxes are all 12" deep. I chose to have them all the same so that I could plant any crop in any square as available and not have to worry about long roots in this box and short ones in that one. It will also help with crop rotation with more deep spaces available to rotate.
I'll let you know how my parsnips do in 12" when I harvest them, whenever that may be. I think some in early winter and some probably next spring.
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Re: Hi! new with questions!!

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