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Building Questions...

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Building Questions...

Post  Shoda on 3/26/2010, 10:42 pm

Last year we had a "regular" garden with mixed success. The dirt was bad and we had critter issues -- gophers from below; squirrels, raccoons and birds from above. We decided to do a raised bed in order to put a barrier between the garden and the gophers.

My twins (10-yrs) are taking gardening in 4-H. We have lots of seedlings ready to go into the garden next month. The master gardener that is teaching the class suggested Mel's mix for the raised beds we are building, although she thinks the beds need to be at least 12" deep. That was when I purchased the SFG book and found this forum.

Since building the beds (and filling them) is expensive, we have to choose this year between one 4x12' bed that is 14" deep or two 4x12" beds that are 7" deep. I guess I was also concerned about the bigger plants like the tomatoes having enough root space. Do the roots grow across the bed then?

I am leaning toward the two beds and maybe next year making one of them deeper to accommodate more roots and deeper root veggies if needed. Has anyone tried making existing beds deeper after they were set up?

Also, last year our garden beds were only 2 feet apart which was a bit tight. I don't want to give up too much space for paths. Does anyone have success with 2.5 foot paths? If we give 3 feet width to the paths, we have to reduce the size of the beds.

Thanks for your help!



-- Lisa





Last edited by shoda on 3/26/2010, 10:43 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : too many blank lines)

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Re: Building Questions...

Post  chocolatepop on 3/26/2010, 10:59 pm

No joke, you don't need 12 inches. Not to take it from your master gardener, but she doesn't sound very versed (yet) in the SFG method. Our master gardener here SFG and lasagna gardens and can tell you that you don't need as much as you think. I had 5 tomato plants in a 2x5 box and they did WONDERFULLY.

I would do two beds at 7" so you can really see that many plants don't need that deep of a root system. only thinks that need deep soil are like potatoes, parsnips, carrots, etc. Things where you would need a high rise.

I have 2.5 foot spacing and it is "ok" I wish i had a little more, but you can easily make do. You can also alter the size of your boxes and make more, smaller boxes (which is MUCH easier).

happy planting!

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Re: Building Questions...

Post  Miss Mousie on 3/26/2010, 11:13 pm

Hi Lisa,

I'm new to this forum so I'm sure there are people around here with a lot more experience but I thought I'd chime in anyway.

You might want to checkout my post regarding wildlife in the garden here. I'm going to build a "cage" around my garden. I'll be posting pictures when we start building it. That may not be feasible for everyone but we have the space and we have deer that eat everything. We have some friends who own an iris garden near our house who trenched around their huge garden plot where they grow the iris' and they put chicken wire down in the trench and then up about a foot sticking out of the ground. The part in the ground might be a foot or so.....not sure. That seems to keep the gophers out of the iris garden. I guess they don't climb and they only tunnel so far down. As far as raccoons, squirrels and birds (and deer) those are the critters I'm trying to keep out of the garden. That is why I'm thinking cage. 24'X24' and 8 ft tall with a top. Made out of chicken wire and 2X4s.

I made my 4X4 raised bed boxes 12" deep but that was only because it gets really hot in the summer and a blog that I read, the writer said that her beds got really hot and dried out (of course maybe she wasn't watering properly). I've read both the old and the new SFG books and it's written that you only need 6" of soil to grow most veggies and I do believe that to be true. I'm sure others on this forum can attest to that. You need more soil for carrots and potatoes and other root veggies but you can build a box out of 1"X12" that is 1 foot square and put it on top of the carrot square (or potatoes or whatever) and put more soil so you can grow the root veggies. It's movable so you can move it when you rotate your carrots to another bed when you rotate your crops.

I'm with you, it's kind of expensive to get started with this method especially if you're like me and are challenged when it comes to reusing and repurposing things. I'm starting out with 2 4X4 boxes. Next year I hope to expand, that is why my "cage" is so big.

Good luck with your garden.

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Re: Building Questions...

Post  Shoda on 3/27/2010, 11:54 am

OK, sounds like I should give the shorter boxes a try. Does everyone put weed cloth at the bottom? If I am not worried about weeds, why would I want to limit my root growth? (Just a question)

Interesting idea about the "cage". We tossed it around all last season. Our garden is surrounded by 6' high chain link. They were originally used for a dog pen and are movable which makes it easier for doing things in the garden later. Our garden spot is about 17' by 24'. On one side we have an established 4 x 8 strawberry bed and last year we had two 4x12 beds and a long bed running along one side of the fenced area.

We actually go very little produce from our garden due to the animals. This year I am going to put the tomaotes against the fence and build an enclosure around them -- critters took almost every almost-ripe tomato.

I am going to try putting wire at the bottom of the SFG beds to keep out the gophers. The master gardener here suggested heavy hardware cloth as she has had gophers chew through the chicken wire. I am then going to try some of the wire covers.

The squirrels in our backyard seem to like soft dirt and dig through it like cats. They are busy burying walnuts and acorns from the wild part of our yard (or trying to dig them up). They seem especially to like bean and pea seeds!

I would love to see how your cage works out. Our garden is close to redwood trees (don't block the light just dump junk on the garden) and we thought our cage would get too jammed with debre. If your garden is in an area that doesn't get tree drop, it should work well.

OK, I realize I am a bit chatty. Sorry for the long message. Let me know about the weed cloth.

Best to all.... --Lisa

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Re: Building Questions...

Post  chocolatepop on 3/28/2010, 12:47 am

You don't have to use weedcloth, many people use several layers of newspaper or cardboard which biodegrads in no time Smile

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Re: Building Questions...

Post  Shoda on 3/28/2010, 5:14 pm

OK, but why use anything at all. I understand that the books says it keeps out the weeds and tree roots if you use weed cloth. It might also keep the "bad dirt" from contaminating the Mels Mix. I suspect when you remove plants without the cloth in place, you would pull up roots that had the ground soil attached.

But don't you also restrict worms and downward root growth (good or bad). \

Can anyone give me feedback on any regrets they had about not putting down weed cloth? Or regrets about using it?

Thanks. -- Lisa

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Re: Building Questions...

Post  camprn on 3/28/2010, 5:57 pm

I lifted the sod where I put the 4x4 boxes, forked the soil a bit with some wood ash as the soil showed acid in the pH test, then I just mixed the mix right in the box on top of the soil. I am not a purist in SFG and have a bit of experience in raised bed intensive gardening. I didn't have the cash for the landscaping cloth this year. We shall see what happens; time will tell. Very Happy

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Keeping on the weedcloth

Post  SirTravers on 3/28/2010, 6:42 pm

Lisa I have to agree with Mel about keeping the bed shallow. I've noticed that "many" but not all veggies never have roots deeper than 4 or 5 inches so a 6 inch deep bed of mix is usually plenty.
As far as the weed cloth goes... I definitely endorse that too. It keeps your worms in the bed so they don't wander off and it makes fall cleanup easier as you don't have to worry about the occasional root getting into the subsoil.

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Re: Building Questions...

Post  jerzyjen on 3/28/2010, 10:54 pm

I have not tried any beds WITHOUT weedcloth on the bottom, but I would advocate it just to keep the soils seperate (mels mix from native soil). You will be amazed that your tomatoes and broccoli really don't need to root deeper than a few inches because they are getting everything they need from the mix. I know I will be changing out my boxes and moving them around someday (most likely next season) so i want to be able to pull out my mels mix without adding all my native sand to it.

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Lumber dimensions

Post  Wyldflower on 3/29/2010, 12:08 am

Related question:

Mel says he uses 1x6 lumber to build his boxes, but the actual width of the wood is 5-1/2", so you wouldn't get 6" of mix into the box... I haven't bought my lumber yet... should I buy 1x8, and not worry if my beds don't come up to the edge of the bed or make more mix to fill it completely to 7-1/2"? (My budget is tight, and I could do three 4'x4'x6" boxes or two 4'x4'x8" boxes.)

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Re: Building Questions...

Post  boffer on 3/29/2010, 12:17 am

Mel uses a box made of 2x4s to carry around for demos. (saves weight)

Make your box out of 6 inch lumber, water heavy during the summer, study the root structures when you harvest. You'll become a believer.

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Re: Building Questions...

Post  Wyldflower on 3/29/2010, 12:20 am

Oh, I'm already a believer.... even though I haven't planted a darned thing yet (if you don't count the seedlings in my enclosed porch). I just want to try to do this as close to the way it's recommended as I can.... Like someone said about cooking, it's best to follow the recipe exactly, the first time, then you can experiment.

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Re: Building Questions...

Post  boffer on 3/29/2010, 12:23 am

Someone?! Rolling Eyes I'm going to have to make a macro for that post!

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Re: Building Questions...

Post  Wyldflower on 3/29/2010, 12:31 am

@boffer wrote:Someone?! Rolling Eyes I'm going to have to make a macro for that post!

.... at least you know the message is getting through! I thought it was you who had said that, but I wasn't sure and was too lazy to search for the quote.

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Re: Building Questions...

Post  boffer on 3/29/2010, 12:51 am

[quote="Wyldflower"]
@boffer wrote:Someone?! I thought it was you who had said that, but I wasn't sure and was too lazy to search for the quote.

Me too! Wink

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Re: Building Questions...

Post  Wyldflower on 3/29/2010, 1:42 am


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Re: Building Questions...

Post  camprn on 1/4/2014, 1:51 pm

bump

____________________________

40 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


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Re: Building Questions...

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