Square Foot Gardening Forum
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where do I begin

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where do I begin

Post  tammysgarden on 1/25/2012, 8:39 pm

Hi I'm new to the SFG concept although I've heard and read about it many times inthe past .I have just recently started to pursue the idea heres my delima in the past years my husband and I have always planted a good size garden -enough to feed a family of 6 for the summer and can for the winter also-can I still get that kind of volume with a SFG or are they mainly for seasonal eating.Also how do you cut the cost of buying the wood for the raised beds ?I'm feelimg overwhelmed and not sure where to begin.Any help would be appreciated.

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Re: where do I begin

Post  martha on 1/25/2012, 8:47 pm

Welcome, Tammysgarden!

First step....take a deep breath! We are here for you!

I know there are people here who will have suggestions for you of places to get discarded wood, or other materials to use. In his book, All New Square Foot Gardening, Mel also has suggestions for places to look for free or inexpensive recycled wood. Mel loves free! Have you read the book? I don't have mine handy right now, so I can't look up his suggestions. (I find the book so helpful that I actually have two copies - one for work and one for home, but I loaned one out, so right now I'm living on the edge!)

I made my first couple of boxes out of pine because it was cheaper. I knew it wouldn't be as long lasting as other choices. I am going into my fourth year and they are still fine.

Regarding amount of food - if you follow Mel's way of gardening, you will absolutely get more food out of less space than gardening in rows.

I don't know where Lake Hickory is, but I assume you have some time before you need to start planting. You'll be fine - I promise!

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Re: where do I begin

Post  llama momma on 1/25/2012, 9:05 pm

Hi Tammysgarden and welcome to the forum. Where do you begin you ask? Actually, with the book All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. It is easy and friendly reading and you will refer to it over and over again. Mel recommends you start your garden out small, my practical experience agrees. (For 6 people though it would probably take a bare minimum of 6 boxes, more so for canning). I recently read of someone on this forum who didn't get the book and scoured this forum, went ahead and got started but sadly did not get optimum results. They missed the incredible important section regarding compost which is a huge part of success in square foot gardening.
You can look up to the top left of this page in the white search box and type in different aspects of sf gardening. Please don't cheat yourself though, the book is still definately the better way to get started in my opinion.
llama momma

Certified SFG Instructor

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Re: where do I begin

Post  plantoid on 1/26/2012, 6:47 pm

Hi Tammy,
Welcome to the greenfingers club .
I second the advice to get hold of the 2006 edition of Mel's book . I got it as soon as I became aware iof its existance.
I wish I had had it instead of the original version , for " doing it by the book " new style is much less physically demanding with virtually no weeding.

There is a lot in it that you'll need to consider before you take the plunge .
Not doing it right not only costs you time , money & effort but it leaves you disheartened when things don't work out.
I've ended up changing over to the new way and am irritated that I didn't discover the new way untill last November .

I've wasted hours and hours of time and effort plus the earth in the beds was not too good as the original base soil in my raised beds was poor quality sticky blue coal mine clay that's sulphurous & hard to work despite me adding tons of coarse sand , compost & manures .

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Re: where do I begin

Post  staf74 on 1/29/2012, 7:17 pm

Hi there Tammysgarden !!!!!

I'm assuming you are talking about Lake Hickory, NC seeing as you posted in this region??? Sorry I did not catch your post earlier Embarassed. Now that I have, please post any questions you have about the process. Seeing as we are very close, I can point you to local sources for your compost and vermiculite to help ease the stress of converting to this method. Once you do, you'll be glad you did. Absolutely you can get the yields from what you have done previously and probably in less space. What did you have before? I'm assuming large long rows.... but do tell Very Happy

Pick up the book from your local Lowes (or wherever) and pls post back with your questions / concerns. I'd be glad (as well as many people here) to help out any way we can. For example....

Also how do you cut the cost of buying the wood for the raised beds

I used pine which is the cheapest to buy, built 2 years ago and all the beds are still solid. Some members have picked up pallets for free and converted them into beds. Those can do the job. Not as aesthetically pleasing but will hold Mel's Mix all the same and its hard to beat free.

Lots of ideas / help here Tammy....just ask Very Happy

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Re: where do I begin

Post  wncsohn on 1/31/2012, 8:26 pm

Hi there Tammysgarden !!!!!
Starting a new venture can seem overwhelming, but keep in mind that the fine folks of these forums are here to assist you in any way they can! A great bunch of folks!

Like everyone else, I highly recommend getting the All New Square Food Garden book, if you haven't already! I have a hard copy and a kindle copy (which is on both my PC and my IPhone) that I can refer to any time I need to.

Regarding cutting the cost of the boxes ...

1 - 4'x4' bed requires 2 - 8'x1"x6" or 8'x2"x6" boards. Estimated cost for pine $5 per board or $10 per bed. You do NOT have to use "new" wood though!

If you have any scrap laying around, that can be used. If not, as staf74 mentioned, pallets will do the job and you may be able to get them for free!

Another option is to look around for places that are doing "construction" work and ask to speak to the foreman and explain what you're doing and see if they have any 4'x1"or2"x6" scraps they'd be willing to give you. (that is out of the book - chapter 4)

I've even heard of some people using old bookshelves also. What you need is something to "contain" the Mel's Mix that is the required depth and non-toxic!

According the Mel -
SFG takes only 20 percent of the space of a single-row garden.
So hypothetically you should be able to grow as much (or more thanks to the SFG method) in 20 percent of the space as you grow now (including for your canning!) in your row garden! i.e. 100 SF garden = 20 SF of SFG garden beds!

One thing to keep in mind, the Mel's Mix (done properly) will cost more than the 2 pine boards to build the bed. The box is usually the least expensive part of SFG, lol.

Anyway, welcome to the forums, ask plenty of questions and (if you don't already have it) get the book! It's my SFG Bible!

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