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What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

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What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  erbarnett on 9/2/2010, 9:16 pm

I have read many of the posts in this forum and have been impressed by everyone's enthusiasm for SF Gardening. However, there must be some things you do not like about SFG. I will go first:

A traditional garden of vegetables and flowers can be very pretty and quaint if kept up properly. I like the smell and feel of newly tilled fertile soil and like to see the earthworms. There is nothing more appealing than a garden with neatly plowed rows producing a lot of harvest. A SFG, in contrast, can be too sterile, too cold, and too functional.

Any other thoughts?


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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  Chopper on 9/2/2010, 9:29 pm

Sorry, can't help you. I was standing among my boxes today doing some trimming and I could smell the dirt and loved it. I also have earthworms. But my boxes are right on top of my sod.

I do not miss row gardening at all. Nothing charming in the mess that that entailed and hoeing was and is backbreaking work that I do not miss at all. Never could keep up with the weeds. But this is from someone who had iffy row gardens and a great, neat and productive SFG. Not blowing smoke up anything, just my experience. Nothing sterile about it. But if I was on tarmac with weed cloth I might feel differently.

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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  julyXV on 9/2/2010, 9:38 pm

@erbarnett wrote:Any other thoughts?

Yes, I smell a troll.

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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  Megan on 9/2/2010, 9:58 pm

Hi, erbarnett, welcome to the forum! glad you\'re here

I grew up on a traditional, small family-run farm in New Hampshire. Only 64 acres, hay, lots of veggies, orchards/berries and livestock too. We also had large formal flower gardens on the grounds by the house, and I loved those and still do.

I agree that seeing the long rows of veggies is very nice. If you have a large-scale operation and/or are using a mechanical harvester, certainly it is more efficient to do it that way since the harvester can drive down the rows and shake the produce loose or dig it up, etc, especially if you are using plants which will come ripe all at the same time, such as the GMO stuff.

I love my SFGs. The feel of the soil is rich and velvety, and I for one have a ton of worms. If you think SFGs need must be sterile, look at a few more photos of our gardens, they are a riot of life! Smile I know I'm not going back. You say nothing is more appealing than a good harvest... well, I'm getting a great one! And with a lot less effort and space than I ever dreamed of. The one thing I dislike about SFG is that my yard is too small. I want to build more!

If you feel SFG is not for you, I respect that. ANY type of gardening is a great thing these days, and row gardening should be kept alive. I think it's vital that as many people as possible learn how to at least some of their own food, even if it's just a pot of parsley on the windowsill. Aside from being a great life lesson, it can be wonderfully rewarding, too -- much better food, saving some money, and the sheer joy of it.

Happy gardening! flower


Last edited by Megan on 9/2/2010, 11:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  Old Hippie on 9/2/2010, 9:59 pm

@erbarnett wrote: A traditional garden of vegetables and flowers can be very pretty and quaint if kept up properly. I like the smell and feel of newly tilled fertile soil and like to see the earthworms. There is nothing more appealing than a garden with neatly plowed rows producing a lot of harvest. A SFG, in contrast, can be too sterile, too cold, and too functional.

Emphasis here is on the "can be". I row gardened for years and always found it hard to keep up with the weeding and hoeing. I for one, do not miss the rototilling or the turning of the entire garden with a spade or garden fork every spring and every fall. I have seen lots of lovely row gardens but none of them were mine. My mother's was one and so was
my grandmother's. I had been taught what to do but try as I might, my garden was never the neat pretty garden producing a lot of harvest. In fact, I get MORE harvest from my SFG because the vegetable plants don't have to compete with the weeds that I don't have time to pull. It is not sterile and cold at all. Like you, I love the earthworms and the smell of the earth but I have all of that in my SFG. The earthworms are huge in fact. Maybe mine is not a true SFG in the sense that I didn't remove all the soil and fill it with Mel's mix. I added vermiculite, peat and my own compost to the soil that was already there.

What I don't like about my SFG is that I don't have room right now for everything I want to grow, however, that is easily fixed by adding more squares. For me boxes that are 2'x4' or 2'x6' would be more practical but other than that, I haven't really anything negative to say about it.

Sorry.

GK
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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  boffer on 9/2/2010, 10:47 pm

I dislike my sfg because I run out of things to do in it. I plant, water, and wait. At times I wish there were more weeds just so it would give me a reason to play in the dirt.

That being said, it has given me extra time to help my wife out with the canning. During the good weather summers, it's all we can do to keep up with the harvest from our small sfg garden.
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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  WardinWake on 9/2/2010, 11:09 pm

@erbarnett wrote:I have read many of the posts in this forum and have been impressed by everyone's enthusiasm for SF Gardening. However, there must be some things you do not like about SFG. I will go first:

A traditional garden of vegetables and flowers can be very pretty and quaint if kept up properly. I like the smell and feel of newly tilled fertile soil and like to see the earthworms. There is nothing more appealing than a garden with neatly plowed rows producing a lot of harvest. A SFG, in contrast, can be too sterile, too cold, and too functional.

Any other thoughts?


Howdy ER:

Just one thought. My brother-in-laws row farm in Minnesota on 2000 acres. Their soil looks good from a distance and they produce one bumper crop after another, year in and year out. They are very successful. Their soil on the other hand is sterile. Not one worm. Not one bug. Nothing lives in their soil.

God Bless, Ward and Mary.
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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  Garden Angel on 9/3/2010, 12:26 am

Couldn't resit chimming in !
first thought,
I agree if you are driving by somewhere and see beautiful rows in a field , but I do believe the key phrase there is "if kept up properly" now when I drive by I can't help but think , what alot of work that must be! and a small army must take care of it.
second, too sterile, too cold, too functional??? sounds like the description of an igloo !
Hmmm, have you seen some of the pix posted here ? this is not a cookie cutter system ! I guess what you are saying is the system is just too perfect! I agree !
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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  middlemamma on 9/3/2010, 1:24 am

The only thing I dislike about my SFG is it isnt big enough....
I absolutely LOVE my SFG and wouldn't row garden for all the tea in China. I LOVE the NEATNESS and FUNCTIONALITY of it.

Yea...there isn't a thing in the world I don't like about my garden.
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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  LaFee on 9/3/2010, 5:24 am

I LOVE how fertile and lush my SFG looks when every square is producing something (impresses the daylights out of my friends, too).

Summer's coming to an end, so things are beginning to look a little peaked, but I'm guessing it's going to look nice under its cold frame when that time comes, too.

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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  Garden Angel on 9/3/2010, 1:56 pm

Some one get the smelling salts ! stay with us Erbarnett!! everything is gonna be ok! just a momentary lapse.... probably withdrawls from not working to hard to achieve the same results!
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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  martha on 9/3/2010, 2:49 pm

I got so much sensual joy from running my fingers through my Mel's Mix this spring!

When you miss the smell of the tilled earth, perhaps go read a few paragraphs about what tilling actually does to the soil?

And keep in mind one of my very favorite quotes from Mel (paraphrased, I'm afraid), "It will take an experienced gardener two weeks to understand SFG. It will take a beginner two hours."

I honestly don't remember if he said two weeks or two months. I do understand that people who grew up tilling and whose parents tilled and grandparents tilled.....have a hard time accepting how much simpler it can be.

But one of the things I love the most about my SFG is that I have not had time for it for two months, but I keep harvesting those tomatoes! Two months of a regular garden being neglected - not a pretty thought!
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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  LaFee on 9/3/2010, 5:15 pm

I was on vacation for the entire month of August, during which time my SFG got watered (combination of my best friend and a LOT of rain), but little else.

It took me 15 minutes to weed. That's it. It took me longer to pick tomatoes than it did to weed a 4 x 8 box.

With a row garden, I'd have come home to a jungle. (Jungle is better used to describe the now weedy and overgrown flowerbed out by the front gate, which ISN'T SFG.)

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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  erbarnett on 9/3/2010, 9:26 pm

I have both a SFG and a traditional garden and am proud of them both. I am especially proud of the regular garden because it took about seven years to turn into a showcase in our neighborhood. We get a lot of comments about it. I do hate the weeding though. I do have many earthworms, but I hate the weeding. I am also proud of my newly planted SFG as I spent over ten hours installing it into a hillside. The mathematical simplicity of it is incredible. When I used the terms cold and sterile, I meant that it looked a little unnatural and was too boxy. We were taught in our landscaping class that garden lines should flow in curves and should avoid square and rectangular shapes, which are usually not appealing to the eye. I am looking forward to the harvest soon though, as everything is now almost up and looks healthy. I am sure the SFG will attract worms in quantity as time passes.

Oh well, maybe Mel can invent a new gardening system just for me. It would of course use Mel's Mix and the gardens would be oval or circular in shape. It could be called a Cute Concentric Circles Garden.

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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  Megan on 9/3/2010, 9:29 pm

If you are installed on a hillside, you could always bank your soil on the downside slope in a curvilinear shape.
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Re: What We Dislike About Our Square Foot Garden

Post  Old Hippie on 9/3/2010, 10:19 pm

@erbarnett wrote:I have both a SFG and a traditional garden and am proud of them both. I am especially proud of the regular garden because it took about seven years to turn into a showcase in our neighborhood. We get a lot of comments about it. I do hate the weeding though. I do have many earthworms, but I hate the weeding. I am also proud of my newly planted SFG as I spent over ten hours installing it into a hillside. The mathematical simplicity of it is incredible. When I used the terms cold and sterile, I meant that it looked a little unnatural and was too boxy. We were taught in our landscaping class that garden lines should flow in curves and should avoid square and rectangular shapes, which are usually not appealing to the eye. I am looking forward to the harvest soon though, as everything is now almost up and looks healthy. I am sure the SFG will attract worms in quantity as time passes.

Oh well, maybe Mel can invent a new gardening system just for me. It would of course use Mel's Mix and the gardens would be oval or circular in shape. It could be called a Cute Concentric Circles Garden.

Congratulations on turning your garden into a showcase!! Way to go. I have a long way to go before mine gets to be a showcase, but occasionally I have people stopping by when they see me out in the yard, and commenting on how much improved the place looks after just two years, so here's hoping. I would like to eventually enter it in the city garden tours.

Like you, I find the squares and lines a bit less appealing to the eye, but I do appreciate their function. I have been toying with the idea of making some triangular ones to fit into the space in my yard better. Eventually, I hope to have a boxwood hedge around my SFG to play up the lines and angles and give it a slightly more formal look. Your idea for a Cute Concentric Circle Garden is awesome. Perhaps you could start with a wagon wheel as an herb garden in the center with a path going all the way around. Then, build several 2'x8' boxes that have been built on a curve and arranged in a larger "circle" around that. Maybe there really isn't anything wrong with taking the SFG method and stretching one side or the other and shrinking another side to get it to fit into our space better. Do you think Mel would mind? LOL! Can we still call it SFG if the basic "area" is there, even if it is somewhat abstract? Or would that be some sort of copyright infringement?

And I hear you about the weeding. I am just way too tired after a long day at work to spend time weeding so the SFG is good for me in that respect. Gradually, in my flower beds and also in the potato patch which is basic row style, I am using more mulch and that is keeping the weeds down. The bags of bark mulch are too expensive to suit me so basic newspaper with grass clippings on top works really well. It is great to throw in the compost or even just dig into the soil at the end of the season.

All the best with ALL your gardens.

GK
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