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Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

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Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  shawn350 on 1/24/2012, 1:51 am

I am getting ready to set up our first square foot Garden. We will have 8 4x4 Boxes Raised to a height of 36" 1 8x2 box with Trellis for Vine Types. I am also using the pvc grids with holes for watering and hooking each to its own Sprinkler Valve and then to a 12 Station Sprinkler Timer. I am putting a adjustable pressure regulator to control the stream coming out of the headers and on the main line a 20" 25 Micron Filter Element with carbon core to remove any sand and chemicals i.e. Chlorine.

I have a couple of questions.

1. Any Recommendations on Timers, I like the idea of one that has a weather module that can adjust for heat, rain etc.

2. How much water does each box need ? I have read the part about one cup per day?

3. My total Parts list so far is about 1300.00 for 9 boxes all the soil, piping, electronics etc. Thought on how fast that offset?

4. How long does regular plywood 3/4 last in a constant wet state?


shawn350

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  Chopper on 1/24/2012, 4:22 am

You will be thrilled to know I have no answers for you. LOL. But welcome and do check out the Southern California regional area when you have time. Isn't Castaic on the Grapevine?

Anyway, I am wondering what you are filling those three foot deep boxes with - and I would kill for 8 three foot deep boxes. I assume you know you do not have to fill all but the top six inches with Mel's Mix. Only because since you do not have to, and it can be pricey, why do it is all.

As for timers, since every year I have done this has been very different water wise in the area I think it is going to have to be a best guess thing. If there are timers that will go on in excessive heat and turn off when it is raining then they sound great!.

Other than that, it is foolish to think that vegetables do not need a lot of water. I would consider every other day to start and check the top six inches of soil on the off days to see if it is enough. It was for mine, even in the heat of summer in the Inland Valleys. You might get away with every third day but I think that would be pushing it. I had my timers on early morning so the veggies did not sit wet all night and risk all of the various fungal diseases more than they had to.

I am not nearly scientifically oriented enough to begin to guess cups per anything. That is between you and your system. Essentially, you should not let it dry out and beyond that some veggies can get temperamental (tomatoes for one) when they do not get fairly consistent amounts of water.

Would love to see pictures when you have everything in.

And this year you spend $1300 but next year maybe $20. And that is only if you have to buy more seed.

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  shawn350 on 1/24/2012, 10:09 am

Thanks for the welcome Chopper.

I am raising the beds with legs then 2x8 sides with 6" of mels mix.

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  sfg4uKim on 1/24/2012, 10:20 am

Welcome. PLEASE take a series of photos as you set this up as I'm sure we would LOVE to see them.

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  boffer on 1/24/2012, 10:38 am

Hi,

2. Furbalsmom determined that initially it takes about 19 gallons to properly saturate a 4x4x6 inch box of MM. During the growing season, water needs will be dictated by temps, humidity, wind, sun exposure, and the plants themselves. Water usage varies a lot depending on climate.

3. offset=pays for itself? Your initial costs are about $9 per square foot. Then you guess how much harvest of a particular veggie you can get from a square in a season. If you plant corn, never. Tomatoes and herbs, the first year. Broccoli, maybe 2 years. (J/K about the corn, it works out to about 36 years Wink )

4. I'm in western WA, and plywood starts delaminating the first year it is left outside.

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  jpatti on 1/24/2012, 11:11 am

I started gardening in pots on a balcony when I still lived in the city and had never heard of SFG.

Because I not only had to buy everything from pots to soil and manure, but also had to haul it all up to the second floor manually, and water it by attaching a hose to my kitchen sink and run it through my living room out to my balcony, everything I grew was expensive, both in financial cost and in time.

So I only grew expensive stuff... yellow and purple bell peppers, mesclun mix, heirloom tomatoes, unusual herbs, stuff like that. Basically, I looked at what cost me most at the grocery and grew that. This made the project worthwhile besides for the hobby aspects (which was my main reason at the time).

After we moved to the country and had lots of space, I grew a lot more things for curiosity or just to say I did it once. But... some of it is like making soap... cool to have tried it once, but soap is so cheap, it's not an efficient use of my time.

So I mostly grow lots of the expensive crops. These give you much more return than corn as mentioned (as it's dead cheap in season) or potatoes (also very cheap).

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  GWN on 1/24/2012, 11:17 am

basil expensive in the stores too, cheap in garden

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  shawn350 on 1/24/2012, 11:34 am

That is my strategy, Corn and Potatoes are already off the list. Herbs, Peppers and Tomatoes are top of the list. There is an opportunity cost to everything. What could I be doing other than this right now and what is the worth. However if you enjoy what you are doing then it matters less. My Wife Makes our own soap, I point out you only save 15$ but she likes doing it.

Looking forward to starting the project, I will talk before after and progress pics.

Keep the advice pouring in and thanks!

shawn350

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  Furbalsmom on 1/24/2012, 2:34 pm

Shawn

@shawn350 wrote:I am raising the beds with legs then 2x8 sides with 6" of mels mix

Once you are able to post photos (usually 7 days, I think) we would love to see pics of your Table Tops. Several forum members use and enjoy Table Tops.

I am on the Oregon Coast, so in a much cooler year round. Winters are very rainy. Our summers are very dry so I used soaker hoses, and after the original soaking when the bed is built, it really is going to depend on your MM. I checked the moisture several inches deep, then determined whether additional moisture was needed. I also watered in the mornings to give my plants a chance to dry off and avoid disease.

Various peppers would also be good crops, as it gives you the opprtunity to grow varieties you usually can't buy in the grocery or farmer's markets.

Again, Welcome.

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  Chopper on 1/24/2012, 4:17 pm

@shawn350 wrote:That is my strategy, Corn and Potatoes are already off the list. Herbs, Peppers and Tomatoes are top of the list. There is an opportunity cost to everything. What could I be doing other than this right now and what is the worth. However if you enjoy what you are doing then it matters less. My Wife Makes our own soap, I point out you only save 15$ but she likes doing it.

Looking forward to starting the project, I will talk before after and progress pics.

Keep the advice pouring in and thanks!

Although I love fresh potatoes, I can understand that they really are super cheap. But corn! Nothing beats fresh corn! . I was seriously thinking of doing one square of corn in my 16 square garden. I figured the four stalks would make a block, right?

Anyway, one of the advantages of having your own garden is the variety that you cannot get in stores. And fresh dill, basil and cilantro (the buggers bolt easily, but still have useful leaves and can keep the seeds but store bought rots in the fridge if you do not use is within hours it seems.)

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  Lindacol on 1/24/2012, 4:37 pm

Chopper said:

Although I love fresh potatoes, I can understand that they really are super cheap. But corn! Nothing beats fresh corn!



ME TOO - I absolutely loved the corn & potatoes I grew - way better than anything I have ever bought. I already have pototoes planted and will probably plant around 8 squares in corn again this summer. Maybe not cost effective but can't be beat for the taste.

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 1/24/2012, 5:59 pm

LOL on the corn thing. That depends on where you live. Here in the "corn belt" of central Illinois, it's very easy to get very tasty fresh home-grown sweet corn. It's available by the dozens at any roadside stand or farmers market (local corn is even available in some grocery stores) almost any day of the week during the season. I don't grow it as it is a space hog and because I can get all that I need very easily.

However, in some parts of the country, it's not. Storytime: One of the "kids" in our family lives with his father and stepmother in New Orleans. After Katrina he lived here for a year with his mom. Course he and his sister missed home and the thing he most wanted for his birthday was a crawfish boil. I'd never done one, obviously. Ever try to get crawfish in central Illinois!!!??? Shocked

We discovered that they paid a pittance per pound down there for the little mud bugs, compared to the pretty penny it cost to have those little crawfish trucked up here. But they had to buy frozen little corn cobs to put in it because fresh corn just wasn't very common down there. His idea of corn-on-the-cob was the frozen type. affraid

So the point I'm making is when we are considering "return" on a SFG based on cost of the item locally, the "answers" may be different based on what is readily available, and thus less costly, in your area... Smile

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  littlesapphire on 1/24/2012, 6:40 pm

Sounds like you're diving right into SFG! That's great. I'm so glad that I started gardening the SFG way. My traditional row gardens were a horrible mess that I hated to work on. But my SFG is just great. I wish more people knew about it.

As for how much water the garden uses, I'll agree with everyone else that it depends on your specific weather. But I will say that in the heat of summer up here in western New York, I need to heavily water my garden daily. When it's cooler and wetter (like in spring or fall), I can usually get away with watering it twice a week.

I had a lot of fun last year making up a spreadsheet to show how much money my SFG earns/saves me. The numbers are based on the price of vegetables where I live, but you could just as easily substitute what you pay and quickly figure out how much your garden will save you. Here's the link to the spreadsheet:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Alu3D4xHf_d7dHpTMXAxazJ1N2F2eXZpamtJcDRuaGc

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  shawn350 on 1/24/2012, 9:06 pm


I am starting a thread of pictures of the build as it goes along if you are interested.


MY SFG Progress Log

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

Post  jpatti on 1/26/2012, 1:12 am

I live rurally and in season, there's a farm stand about every 10 minutes drive. They all have very cheap corn. So... it's never been a priority for me. Though I am doing 9 squares this year to entertain my 10-yr-old assistant. Wink

IMO, finances are not the ONLY reason. I made soap once cause it was kewl, but I don't find it kewl regularly. But gardening is not JUST for finances though. Gardening is therapy, emotional gratification, stress-relief, etc.

The financial considerations are so I can justify it, even when we're very broke. Mine is one of the few hobbies that really pays for itself. Around here, an annual CSA subscription costs $300-400 - I can raise more of what we like much more cheaply than that.

And I have somewhere lovely to sit and have my morning coffee... as a bonus.

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Re: Starting my Square Foot Garden looking for feedback

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