Our First Square Foot Gardening Experience
In years past we had several very large gardens (three 10ft x 40′ ft).
Wow was that A LOT of work!
By the end of the season I looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame with muddy feet.
It was so hard to keep up with that our harvest suffered and so did we.
So, last year, having moved to a very shaley area, we decided to do a rasied bed.
It worked out well, but we were unable to plant as much as we wanted and weeding was still an issue.
This year, my Mom’s friend, a Master Gardener told us about “Gardening by the Foot” and a soil mix called “Mel’s Mix”. (You can find more about them in the links posted at the bottom of the page.)
I can’t begin to say how pleased we are.
It takes a bit of extra cash at the begnning, but it’s well worth it.
The idea is to make a 4ft x 8ft box. We reused ours from last year, so it was a considerably larger.
Here’s what you need for the box:
*Four 2×8 boards.
(Don’t buy pressure treated as they leach bad things into your soil!)
*Nails & Hammer (unless you got Kung Fu style)
*Screws and a Cordless Drill
*Twine (hemp, jute, bailer twine, whatever ya have laying around)
Here’s what you need for the soil mix:
(Equal parts of each)
*Vermiculite/Perlite mix (make sure it’s from a reputable source…years ago there were asbestos problems which now it should be certified on the bag to be asbestos free).
*Organic Compost (you can buy it your local garden center if you don’t make your own).
*optional* We chose to add some Organic Gardentone Fertilizer as well. It smells like dead guy, but works like a dream. Note that there’s a specific one for tomatoes, Tomatotone as their soil requirements are a bit different.
Here’s how ya’ combine it all:
Make an area level and, if you’d like to do any
mulching/stepping stones, etc, larger than your box will be.
Roll out landscape fabric and place your box on top.
We added all the components of the soil mix in the box and stirred.
And stirred. And got really dusty (wear a mask).
And stirred some more.
|Gardening by the Foot – Raised bed garden boxes|
*Note: We’ve since discovered it’s remarkably easier to do this on a tarp. Dump one 5 gallon bucket of each component in the middle of a tarp. Each person grabs two corners and one picks up, then the other, thus mixing the soil. You can also use (thank the ingenious Bealer) a grout mixer attachment for your cordless drill to help mix and break up any clumps.
Dump the tarp into the box and repeat. A lot.
The good part is you don’t have to do this again next year*
Rake the soil so it’s even(ish) across the top.
Hammer nails in the top of the rails at one foot intervals all around the box.
Add string to make a grid of 1ft x 1ft squares.
(I’m adding a picture from much later in the season in another box as I forgot to take one at the time).
Add your plants in and tada! A lovely garden. The weeds were extremely minimal this year (only a few per week) and were very easy to pull out.
The soil stayed moist, though not overly so.
There was no space wasted by rows to walk in.
Our harvest was better than other years.
-Make sure to put up wire for your peas/beans/crawly things right away or they end up like necklaces in the bottom of your purse-hopelessly tangled.
-Check the back of your seed packets to know how many plants you can put in each 1ft x 1ft square.
Onions can be very close together. Potatoes get one plant per square.
-Find something else to entertain you as you won’t be spending 80 billion hours a week weeding 🙂
Gardening by the Foot Links
Buy the book:
You can purchase the books elsewhere, but directly through the site they say
“All of the money spent in our store goes directly to our humanitarian projects around the world!”
Have any experience with Square Foot Gardening? Any tips and tricks you’d like to share?
Let us know. Comment below.