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9 inch raised bed on grass

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9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  2010barb on 6/2/2011, 12:40 pm

I just constructed my first raised bed here in Northeastern Vermont and think I may have goofed up. I put weed cloth on the grass and erected the bed on top of that. Now I have come to realize that most plants need more than 9 inches of soil depth. Is there any vegetables that I can plant in 9 inches of soil?? I really don't want to have to empty the beds and dig out the bottoms. Help!!

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  boffer on 6/2/2011, 1:27 pm

Welcome to the forum. Before you do anything else, may I suggest reading the ALL NEW SFG book. You'll quickly learn why nearly every vegetable can be grown in six inches or less of Mel's Mix. Getting a better understanding of what SFG is about will save you loads of anxiety and hard work.

Happy Gardening


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on order

Post  2010barb on 6/2/2011, 1:41 pm

I have the book on order but wanted to pick up the right plants before the weekend because I try not to leave home at all on Saturday and Sunday. Its a 20 mile travel to the store so I wanted to get it done today or tomorrow since I'm in town working already

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  FarmerValerie on 6/2/2011, 1:48 pm

Welcome to the forum and SFG.

Very few crops actually need more than 6" deep growing room, my carrots, beets, onions, and garlic are doing fine this year. If you would like to you can build a top hat box 1 sq foot, 6" high and add that on top of a square and fill it with your Mel's Mix, then plant your deep root crops like taters, and carrots in that. Here is a link to a thread that talked about it, no pictures, but a bit more info.

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  camprn on 6/2/2011, 2:06 pm

Howdy Neighbor! are you up in the NE Kingdom! so lovely there. I am down the river a ways in Cheshire county NH!! Welcome to the world of SFG!!!! It is afabulous way to garden, and to the SFG Forum!

I echo Boffer in encouraging the new SFG Book. Do you have a library in town? they may have a copy to loan until your book arrives.
As to the depth of the growing medium, Mel's mix is what we use for the SFG and from experience I can say it really does not need to be more than 6 inches deep for the average garden vegetable, except for potatoes and monster carrots.
You, being in upstate Vermont, should have a pretty easy time finding the recommended 5 types of compost to use in the Mel's Mix. Have you had a chance to hunt up vermiculite yet? If they don't have it at the garden store, you may be able to find it at a local building supply place in the insulation area (HDepot does not carry it in the northeast).

please browse the forum, use the search feature to try to answer some of you questions and please ask if you cannot find answers.

So happy to have you join us! Cheers Very Happy

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  walshevak on 6/2/2011, 2:10 pm

Try filling the box with the 6" of mel's mix and grow this summer. You will be very surprised at what you accomplish. But it has to be the real thing, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 blended compost. This is my first year of SFG and I was a "Nah, aint gonna work person" Now I'm a believer.

WELCOME and happy gardening

Kay

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  2010barb on 6/2/2011, 3:07 pm

Thanks everyone. I have ordered the SFG book thru Interlibrary loan and should have it in a few days. I appreciate all of the answers and will be talking to you again as summer progresses. We have gone from 90 degrees to 58 degrees ina day here with lots of flooding and storms but the coming week looks like it will be almost normal for this time of year and I hope to plant on Saturday. Happy gardening to all. Bye now.

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  dizzygardener on 6/2/2011, 6:09 pm

glad you\'re here glad you\'re here glad you\'re here

SO glad to have ya!

You've already gotten some good advice, I'd just like to point you to a thread about how to create Mel's Mix. It's not an SFG without it, and trying to put it together without the book can be pretty tricky. I hope this is helpful.

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t7451-mel-s-mix-how-strong-is-your-backbone

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  Furbalsmom on 6/3/2011, 3:20 am

2010barb

Greetings from the other side of the US. Nice to have you join us.

Glad your book will be arriving in a few days, that will certainly make life easier on you, once you get the method down pat.

Keep us updated on your progress. As questions come up, check the search feature and you may find your answer right there, but if you can't locate needed information, or need help, just ask.

Again, Welcome!

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  2010barb on 6/3/2011, 9:56 am

Thanks everyone. And thanks for the link to different parts of the site.
I wish I had joined before I filled my beds. Now I'm trying to decide if I should shovel them out and start over. I have 2 - 4x4 foot beds that are 9 inches high. I filled them halfway with a garden mix (sphagnum peat moss, manure, and forest products was the description) and the other half with horse manure and a very light potting mix (the kind that comes in a compressed block) that I dampened and added horse manure to. I guess I'll try adding 4 more kinds of compost and start planting.
You guys are great! I love this site, I could read it all day! study

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  walshevak on 6/3/2011, 10:50 am

Your mix sounds like it is already a mix of peat and compost. It won't be true MM, but if I was caught in this situation, I would try to incorporate some vermiculite for fluffyness and water retention. At least 2 more composts, Cow and chicken would be good choices and stir it up good. I might even take some out of the box, reduce the level to 7" and start a new box with the extra. Then start planting and hope for the best. Your NEXT boxes, do the mix by the book. Be on the lookout for nutrient problems and standby with compost tea, blood meal, bone meal supplements. But the vermiculite will increase the fluffyness of your final growing medium and help it hold water.

Kay

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  2010barb on 6/3/2011, 12:05 pm

I will try that if I can find vermiculite. Thanks again. Very Happy

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  camprn on 6/3/2011, 2:54 pm

Hey there, you already have the ingredients of the Mel's Mix, you just need 3 more sources of compost, toss em together and fill up your boxes. The potting mix you mentioned already has perlite in it (most of those mixes do) which is a substitute for the vermiculite. SO you are closer to Mel's Mix than you thought ! HOORAY!!! Very Happy

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/4/2011, 10:00 am

As you can see, we are sticklers for making the Mel's Mix by the book. The others are right, you are closer than you think you are. Any further adjustments should be pretty easy to make and can be added over time if you had already planted. Since you haven't planted yet, I would recommend getting the adjustments made as soon as you can.

We try to follow Mel's fundamentals here not to be persnickity, but to establish a baseline that rules out the soil mix for any problems that may arise. We guide each other through a bit of wisdom/experience and community troubleshooting pretty quickly once we know it can't be the soil. When things are different within the soil, we get lost pretty quick around here because there are just so many variables that could be causing issues.

Well, that and we just believe wholeheartedly that Mel's Mix is absolutely the best growing medium modern gardening has come up with to date. Hope that helps explain why the passion for the ingredients being "just right."

Happy Gardening!

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  walshevak on 6/4/2011, 11:14 am

Forgot to give you the links to the vermiculite database that will help you locate some.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/Vermiculite-Entry-Form-h1.htm

Kay

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  2010barb on 6/6/2011, 8:27 am

I have been away from the internet since Friday afternoon and appreciate the comments since then. They are so helpful! I will keep you all filled in as I plant my bed and will definitely get more types of manure. I have a whole pile of chicken manure because my daughter just cleaned out the neighbors chicken coop. It hadn't been cleaned for a couple of years so there is lots of it and it is mixed with sawdust. How will I know if it is aged enough? I have heard it called a 'hot' manure and do I have to worry about burning my plants? I have horse and cow manure in my beds now. Still on a search for vermiculite-they don't sell it in Vermont or New Hampshire.
Have a great gardening day!

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9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  Ray'ssfg on 6/6/2011, 8:44 am

Smile Hi Barb,
Be very careful with the chicken manure as it can be "hot" and may burn the young seedlings.
Usually best to dig it in for a few months when garden is resting, then it is great manure. You could use some now but not too much from my experience. Put it in your compost pile and mix in well and you will have great compost in a month or two.
Cheers Ray Down Under

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  walshevak on 6/6/2011, 9:42 am

@2010barb wrote:I have been away from the internet since Friday afternoon and appreciate the comments since then. They are so helpful! I will keep you all filled in as I plant my bed and will definitely get more types of manure. I have a whole pile of chicken manure because my daughter just cleaned out the neighbors chicken coop. It hadn't been cleaned for a couple of years so there is lots of it and it is mixed with sawdust. How will I know if it is aged enough? I have heard it called a 'hot' manure and do I have to worry about burning my plants? I have horse and cow manure in my beds now. Still on a search for vermiculite-they don't sell it in Vermont or New Hampshire.
Have a great gardening day!

Only one VT source on the vermiculite database, but AGWAY is listed for NH. Is that like a big box store and is there one up your way?

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Agway

Post  2010barb on 6/6/2011, 9:55 am

I just called Agway in Littleton and they are getting a load tomorrow!! YAY!!!! Thanks for the tip. The other locations were over a 100 miles away -this is 20 miles!! I am all set to be a true SFG gardener. I'll take my first picture today, I think and can't wait to get started!!

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  walshevak on 6/6/2011, 10:59 am

hyper smiles rahrah

I just checked the database and the Littleton store is not listed. Get the address and phone number when you pick up your vermiculite and add to the database for future SFGers.

Kay

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/6/2011, 11:31 am

@2010barb wrote: I just called Agway in Littleton and they are getting a load tomorrow!! YAY!!!! Thanks for the tip. The other locations were over a 100 miles away -this is 20 miles!! I am all set to be a true SFG gardener. I'll take my first picture today, I think and can't wait to get started!!

I LOVE your excitment!! Best of luck to you and your SFG going forward.

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  tomperrin on 6/7/2011, 8:42 pm

As a first season SFG gardener, I have 4", 7" and 9" high squares. All are doing just fine. My sense is that tomatoes and peppers might do a wee bit better in the deeper squares. The 4" deep squares are an awful lot less work, and much less expensive.

All my squares (7 so far) are flat on the grass with a weed barrier underneath. We have named our garden "Clay Gardens" because that is what is underneath the weedbarrier.

I get my vermiculite from Agway in 20lb bags, and I use a lot of it. The stuff you get at Lowe's and Home Depot is just too fine for my taste.....And the bags are too small.

I have, from time to time, departed from Mel's advice. My wife's comment was that I spent hours reinventing the wheel, and it ended up being a square wheel. So back to the book. Mel's book is all hard core experience that works.

Using compost from five different sources taught us a lot about the wide variability of quality in compost. We have now settled on two different varieties, which we can get by the cubic yard. The first is composted horse manure, and the other is composted leaf compost. These we mix with coarse vermiculite and peat moss in the approved proportions, and it appears to be doing well. Bagged compost works just fine, but I could not get a reliable source for bagged mushroom (horse manure) compost.

We are using a variant of Mel's Mix for lawn repair: 1 part composted horse manure, 2 parts leaf compost, and 1 part peat moss. This is laid over our clay soil, and seeded. We'll see if it works.

We recently transplanted some cukes from a planter to a square. I was so impressed with the root structure of the transplanted plants. If I was a plant, I would want to be planted in Mel's Mix.

Mel's Mix does drain rapidly when it's hot. I water in the evening, and if needed, in the morning as well. As the tomatoes ripen, I might cut back on the water to enhance the sweetness.

I planted some potatoes in a deep planter without drainage, and they suffered badly. I drilled weep holes in the planter, and the plants recovered very nicely, most of them within a day.

Fringe benefits: I have lost 20lbs, my wife is down a size and a half. All this from making dirt and building a fence. Nice tan, too.

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  2010barb on 6/8/2011, 9:27 am

Thanks for the tips, Tom. I found a 20 lb bag of Vermiculite at Agway yesterday so will plant my garden this weekend. Sounds like you're having a great time with your garden too. I can't wait to see some of the trellis vegetables-cukes, maybe zucchini. Happy gardening!

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Clay Gardens

Post  tomperrin on 6/8/2011, 9:54 pm

Posted a photo on the gallery

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Re: 9 inch raised bed on grass

Post  Furbalsmom on 6/10/2011, 4:29 pm

I have, from time to time, departed from Mel's advice. My wife's comment was that I spent hours reinventing the wheel, and it ended up being a square wheel. So back to the book. Mel's book is all hard core experience that works.

Using compost from five different sources taught us a lot about the wide variability of quality in compost. We have now settled on two different varieties, which we can get by the cubic yard. The first is composted horse manure, and the other is composted leaf compost. These we mix with coarse vermiculite and peat moss in the approved proportions, and it appears to be doing well. Bagged compost works just fine, but I could not get a reliable source for bagged mushroom (horse manure) compost.

tomperrin

Really nice to have another SFG join our ranks.

I am sure there are shallow rooted items that could be successfully grown in four inches of Mel's mix, such as lettuce or spinach. But it seems it would limit the use of your boxes and make rotation difficult. It is great that you have two deeper boxes for those plants that have deeper roots like potatoes and carrots.

I'm sorry you had to settle for just two varieties of compost. I know a lot of others have had serious problems finding good compost.

Perhaps it is easier to get decent bagged compost where I live. I was actually able to locate 6 varieties without added peat moss as filler. Hope you are more successful finding good compost in the future. Perhaps you can even make your own, then you are in control of what goes in your garden.

Enjoy your garden and please keep us updated on your progress.

By the way, thanks again for your post regarding how to mix the ingredients for Mel's Mix.

ps: congratulations on the weight loss, but remember, Very Happy all the hard work is done now.

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