Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Newbie in Riverton, Utah

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Newbie in Riverton, Utah

Post  WendySue67 on 4/11/2011, 6:18 pm

Although we have tried gardening in the past, we have never had a ton of luck (last year we had three pepper plants and no peppers--but the plants grew well...) so this year we are going with the SFG method and hoping things work out better. Now I need some advice from those who have been doing it with success... We have done nothing at this point except read the book, and we are trying to do this as inexpensively as possible. So here are my questions:

Does the grass need to come up where we are planning on putting the boxes?
Where can I find coarse vermiculite? And for the best price?
Is it less expensive/more expensive to buy the Mel's Mix? (I'd have to drive to Ogden for it, which is a pain, but if it's the best way to go I will do it)
I know the planting season is upon us... I assume we need to hurry at get it all together. What should be my target date to have the boxes finished and ready to go?

Thanks for your help!

WendySue67

Posts : 37
Join date : 2011-04-11
Location : Riverton, Utah

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Re: Newbie in Riverton, Utah

Post  Furbalsmom on 4/11/2011, 8:05 pm

WendySue

Glad to have you join us.

You are in for an adventure. SFG is really easy, once you get your boxes made and your Mel's Mix into the box.

As far as the grass under your box, it depends. If your grass is weedy or something like wire grass or bermuda, it might be better to remove the grass. If you have something like fescue, probably not necessary.

As far as purchasing vermiculite, check out our Vermiculite Data Base

To look for merchants found by other members, click the button that says US DB. They are listed in state order.
If you want to include a merchant you have located that is not already on the list, click the button that says US FORM.

Before you can figure out whether it is better for you to go to pick up premixed Mel's Mix or make your own, call around and get prices (and make sure they have on hand) your peat moss, coarse vermiculite and 5 types of compost.

To determine your best planting dates, you need to know your average last frost date.
Try this link FROST DATES

Then go to ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING BOOK, look in Mel's Final Summary, pages 253 - 259 to determine the correct dates to start seeds indoors, plant seeds and transplants outdoor, when to plant for successive harvests and when to plant for your fall crops.

Hope this helps you get started.

Again, Welcome and keep us updated on your progress.
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Furbalsmom

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Age : 70
Location : Coastal Oregon, Zone 9a, Heat Zone 2 :(

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Re: Newbie in Riverton, Utah

Post  peanut0915 on 4/12/2011, 2:26 pm

I have just started the SFG method this year too! I purchased beds from Costco and the Mel's Mix from Ogden. My husband built the grids and support trellis using supplies from Home Depot and we had our first spring seeds in the ground on March 18th. In this past week my spinach, green onions, sugar-snap peas, gourmet lettuce blend, and beets have begun to sprout. I am still waiting on my petite carrots, Bibb lettuce, and swiss chard to make their appearance. I have a protective plastic dome over the top of the box since the weather has been so cold and snowy, but I think you would be safe to get your spring crops in the ground now. Good luck!
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peanut0915

Female Posts : 44
Join date : 2011-03-09
Age : 37
Location : Canton, Georgia

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Mel's Mix

Post  MSJ on 4/12/2011, 6:54 pm

I got my Mel's Mix at IFA in Draper last night. At this point I have more money than time so buying the pre-made just makes sense. They had a new IFA product for square foot gardens. It has the vermiculite, peat moss and several kinds of mulches. It was a different blend than Mel's Mix but I will probably try it with my next box because it was $14.99 for 2 cubic square feet. It recommended 4 bags for a 4x4 foot box. I was also able to get some stuff they use to make rabbit cages to put under the box to stop the gophers from feasting on my garden.

I have boxes are made of the recycled composite material from Home Depot. I am just going to fill and plant one box at a time. I'm hoping to get my first box of spring crops in this weekend. I figure that I can fill another couple of boxes by Mother's Day for the summer crops.

In past years in my regular garden I didn't get around to planting until June and I still harvested squashes, pumpkins, potatoes and beans before the first Fall frost. I bought plants from the nursery for tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupes and cucumbers. It may be too late to do everything but we can still do something.

Good luck!

MSJ

Posts : 38
Join date : 2011-03-28
Location : Sandy, Utah

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Re: Newbie in Riverton, Utah

Post  WendySue67 on 5/3/2011, 11:24 am

Wow, I wish I'd known about the Mel's Mix at IFA... I ended up mixing my own but was quite surprised to find that the vermiculite was not hard to find at all. Thanks for the advice everyone! My spring seeds are in... hopefully stuff will start growing now.

WendySue67

Posts : 37
Join date : 2011-04-11
Location : Riverton, Utah

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Re: Newbie in Riverton, Utah

Post  Hoggar on 5/3/2011, 11:43 am

The MM at IFA is $17.99 a bag and says 4 bags will fill a 4 X 4 box. We made our own MM and I'm not sure we saved any $$ in the process. We did accidentally buy the fine Vermiculite though. I felt my boxes were a tad low so I bought some pre mixed MM to top it off.
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Hoggar

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Location : Salt Lake City, Ut

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Re: Newbie in Riverton, Utah

Post  Furbalsmom on 5/3/2011, 1:43 pm

My spring seeds are in... hopefully stuff will start growing now.

Congratulations cheers WendySue, please keep us posted on your progress.
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Furbalsmom

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Making your own mix

Post  Elmateo on 5/17/2011, 1:19 pm

@Hoggar wrote:The MM at IFA is $17.99 a bag and says 4 bags will fill a 4 X 4 box. We made our own MM and I'm not sure we saved any $$ in the process. We did accidentally buy the fine Vermiculite though. I felt my boxes were a tad low so I bought some pre mixed MM to top it off.

I'm starting SFG this year and I'm really excited! I'm most excited about working with brand new nice soil--having worked with rock hard clay for so long. If you have the money, the pre mix stuff is great. But yes, you can save a lot of money mixing your own.

I decided to create enough soil to fill not only my garden boxes, but some flower beds as well. I found 4 cu. ft. bags of Vermiculite at Cascade Shadows in American Fork for $22 a bag. You can get the 3.8 cu. ft. bags of peat moss for $15 (which doubles in volume). And here's a little tip, ask who ever you're getting your bags from if they have any open/broken bags and they'll give you a discount. You can get compost from the landfill for as little as $15 a yard, but I think that stuff is questionable. I found a good compost that is delivered to your home for $50 a cu. yd. Do the math and it comes to about $2.90 a cu. ft. Compare that to $8 a cu. ft. for the small pre-mixed bags and you get the point. If you only need a little, then the pre-mixed bags are convenient, but if you're doing more and don't mind a little extra labor, you can definitely save money.

By the way--all the Vermiculite I've found locally doesn't seem all that "coarse" even though it's labelled as such. I found a wholesaler who explained to me that they're having a hard time getting Vermiculite from certain mines which produce a coarser variety, so most of what's available is not so coarse. I don't think that will spell doom for a garden, but it's something to be aware of.

Happy Gardening! Very Happy

Elmateo

Posts : 1
Join date : 2011-05-17
Location : Utah

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Re: Newbie in Riverton, Utah

Post  Hoggar on 5/18/2011, 2:24 pm

Hi Elmateo.

The compost from the state is $30 a load if you have an open bed pickup you go out to the
dump and they will dump a full load into your truck and what ever stays in is yours for $30
not a bad deal. The compost is made from yard waste and tree clippings that they pick up
around the city in the brown yard waste containers and from the Christmas tree pickup every
year. here is a link to SLC's yard waste page and a link to the Salt Lake Valley Landfill compost page.
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Hoggar

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Re: Newbie in Riverton, Utah

Post  Furbalsmom on 5/18/2011, 3:14 pm

Elmateo

Glad to have you join us.
ElMateo said By the way--all the Vermiculite I've found locally doesn't seem all that "coarse" even though it's labelled as such. I found a wholesaler who explained to me that they're having a hard time getting Vermiculite from certain mines which produce a coarser variety, so most of what's available is not so coarse. I don't think that will spell doom for a garden, but it's something to be aware of.
If it is labled coarse, it should be coarse, period, no explanations about unavailability. If coarse is not available, the packages should be marked medium or whatever size is correct for the product being sold.
MEDIUM ON LEFT, COARSE ON RIGHT

I did a lot of my shopping for vermiculite by phone. Much easier than running from store to store.

One concern with fine vermiculite is that it will eventually degrade into smaller and smaller flakes or chunks and may need to be replaced more frequently than coarse.
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Furbalsmom

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