Author Topic: Square foot gardening help  (Read 2621 times)

Offline stry67

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Square foot gardening help
« on: November 10, 2012, 11:34:47 AM »
Im trying to learn more about this method but when researching it on the net, I keep running into ads for a book for sale and not much else.
Any pointers to info would be much appreciated.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2012, 12:07:06 PM »
Look up posts by cohutt on this site. He has tons of pics and an amazing setup.

Offline Mastoo

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2012, 02:10:35 PM »
It's a pretty good book with lots of info.  There's an older edition you can likely get cheap on half or similar.

Offline Freebirde

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2012, 04:11:14 PM »
I've seen copies for $5 in the Dollar General book rack.

4
« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 09:38:02 AM by Nicodemus »
With all the new and different mistakes out there waiting to be made, why keep repeating the same ones?

http://www.extension.org/

I just don't let preconceptions get in the way of doing what needs to be done.

Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Offline thewarriorhunter

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2012, 10:17:05 PM »
you're getting a lot of book results because square foot gardening was 'created' by a guy named mel bartholomue... mew? not sure, but he basically thought up the concept and it took off. it's a really good book, i purchased 'the all new square foot gardening' version and got through it in about a day.

i would say it's worth it to get the book for reference's sake. it has great pictures and instructions, as well as a decent appendix in the back for certain plants and their characteristics.

that being said i've put in a raised bed and am very happy. i even made my own trellis due to the inspiration... and size i needed.


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Offline Bloodyboots

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2012, 10:36:35 PM »
Check your local libary, ours here has 5 copies of the book and 4 of "Making money from your square foot garden" as well. In fact, the books around that section are really good as well.

Here's a good link for SQF and mel's organization. http://www.squarefootgardening.org/

this one is good too. http://www.amazon.com/Vegetable-Gardeners-Bible-Edition-ebook/dp/B003PGQK1O

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Offline stry67

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2012, 06:18:01 PM »
Alright cool. Maybe Santa will bring it this year :-)
I really do like the concept from what I gather and was thinking of combining it with the hugevelkulture idea as well.

Offline Freebirde

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2012, 05:19:28 AM »
A good companion book is Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening by Louise Riotte.   Check out the book section of your local Goodwill, thrift stores, and yard sales for gardening books.
With all the new and different mistakes out there waiting to be made, why keep repeating the same ones?

http://www.extension.org/

I just don't let preconceptions get in the way of doing what needs to be done.

Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Offline rdg

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2012, 12:55:28 PM »
stry67,

I'm not sure where you first heard about square foot gardening, but I first heard about it on TSP. Have you checked out this episode?

http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/hr875-survival-gardening-and-the-square-foot-garden

I bought the book at Barnes and Noble after listening to the episode. I haven't regretted it. I've lent the book out a couple of times to try to get more people gardening. I've also seen the book at Home Depot and Lowes.

There are also a couple of square foot gardening blogs out there.

http://thewealthyearth.com/
http://www.mysquarefootgarden.net/

Offline Roundabouts

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2012, 03:47:39 PM »
Ditto on what others have said.  I started SFG about 27+ yrs ago. Maybe longer.  Loved to watch his show on PBS.  That is how I got really into gardening.  However I never really did his recommended soil mix.  Never really followed everything EXACTLY as he laid it out.  Money time space and all.  But for the most part did as he laid out and then improvised to fit my situation.  Things always turned out great.   I still use the original book I got so many yrs ago from time to time.  I was given a newer version and use that too when I am in the house.   The planting guide is so quick planting times too. 

However now that I live on acreage It is not working for me as well.  Sorta out grew it.  It is worth the cost I know I have gotten my money out of it.  If you are looking at growing a lot of food in a small space SFG is great so is biointensive. 

The main concept of SFG is growing in plots you make 4x4. Low maintenance max out put.   4x4 because you can move around the outside and reach into the center.  With in that 4x4 section you divide it into 16 1 foot squares.  Then plant the squares heavily according to his lay out like 16 radishes in 1 sq foot ( so divide the one foot square into 16 sections and then plant 1-2 or 3 seeds thin as needed with scissors)  You would plant 4 leaf lettuce per sq. Peppers 1 plant per square.  and so on.  His motto is if there is enough room for a weed to grow there is enough room for a plant to grow.  So he plants on the heavy side. 

The soil is amended and worked and then all you do is add compost on top.  Never ever walking on your soil.  That way you don't compact it. You should be able to dig a hole with a hand trowel at any time.   You can also use this concept in a 4x4 off the ground raised bed.  Much like a flower pot. 

His recommendations for the the best soil is  peat moss coarse vermiculite sand wood ass and charcoal compost lime organic fertilizers, mix and put into your garden plot.  He give the exact measurements of how deep and how much in his book.  He also goes into composting water conservation controlling weeds some companion planting seed starting pest control harvesting with a few recipes freezing cold frames extending the season Putting your garden to bed for the winter.  he also covers the basics of drainage and soil structure and garden location.   The tools he says you need are Trowel spade water bucket  That's it Tools you might want to add are shovel or water hose with attachments hand clippers.   You don't need heavy duty tools.  Course in my case since I never did buy the soil amendments and I have rocky soil I did use heavier tools and equipment to get started.

So all in all I think it is the best book I have ever come across for beginning gardening.  Gives you enough info to keep you going for years without being overwhelming.  Remember it's through experience that you will learn what works best for you.

 
There is no $50 job that I can't do without a $100 worth of new tools.

Offline LibertyBelle

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2012, 05:09:29 PM »
Actually Dr. Jacob R "JR" Mittleider was doing this years before Mel was even out of diapers, basing it on over 55 years of his own studies and personal gardening experience.  I believe he called the method the "Mittleider Method of Grow-box Gardening".  But whereas Mittleider (world-renowned ag consultant) conducted most of his program efforts outside the US in trying to teach people of 3rd world countries how to feed themselves, Mel capitalized on it, right down to "custom" soil mix and the trellis setup/design, and marketed it as his own under the phrase, Square Foot Gardening

I have several of Dr. Mittleider's books (pre-1980's) as well as Mel's SFG book, and while I refer to both authors, I prefer Mittleider's works.  And not that I'm garden illiterate (quite the contrary), but Mittleider's writings are easy enough to read/understand and chock full of diagrames/drawings/photos so that even those with little to no garden experience and few resources (again, think 3rd world countries) can grow productive gardens. 

Offline stry67

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2012, 11:07:23 PM »
I am enjoying reading the various responses I am getting not to mention learning. I kinda figured his branded soil mix was more profit-driven. I like the concept of intensive planting and am planning on using raised beds but was gonna go with plain top soil with compost mixed in. That's the plan and may change after I get the book and read what others say.
The main thing that is attracting me to it is raised bed style, small enough where's ya can walk around a nd work everything without trampling the soil down and the intensive plating part.

Offline LibertyBelle

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2012, 10:53:19 PM »
I kinda figured his branded soil mix was more profit-driven. I like the concept of intensive planting and am planning on using raised beds but was gonna go with plain top soil with compost mixed in.

I only used Mel's mix one year.  But now I just set my box, dig deep, then line the bottom of the box (which is ground level, but still on top of the deep dug soil) with layers of newspaper, then fill the box with compost.  As far as I could tell, there was no benefit in spending all that extra money for the commercially purchased soil mixture when compared to the results when using all home grown compost.

Offline tarheelgarden

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2012, 07:54:46 AM »
check John's youtube channel at growingyourgreens.com   he has been on the show with Jack and has the best videos for raised bed gardening/sfg out there.  Just remember to keep it simple.  My recipe for soil mix is pure compost with some type of rock dust, Azimite and Gia green to name 2 examples.  From there I just sprinkle organic (chicken poo) fertilizer, rock phosphate and greensand.  The rock phosphate and greensand is applied only once a year, but the chicken poo fertilizer is applied about 4 times a year with each new planting/season.  Just get started and you will learn what your doing wrong quickly!!
Good luck, Tar
I will get some updated pix of my garden loaded up.

Offline Terroir

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2012, 07:24:59 PM »
Something else to look at is what is called the "French intensive method", has been practiced for over 450 years in various areas of France and studied and written about by one of my gardening heroes - Eliot Coleman. This is considered one of the great-great-grandaddy's of the SQF concept. The French grew 90%+ of their own greens and veggies year-round inside the city limits of Paris on 6 - 7% of the land area of the city for over 300 years continuously. It started declining after WWI and collapsed after WWII with development and the loss of horses to provide manure to the gardeners.

Google "French intensive method" or Eliot Coleman to learn more. Eliot spent several seasons studying their systems and learning from the remaining growers who still practice this method for market farming in France. They truly have it down to a science, including such things as what varieties of spring and fall veggies to plant together as seed with what matures first, then second, then third - each making room for the others; the technique of sowing seed for half of the winter crop and sowing 2 week old starts for the other half and planting intensively so that the starts are out and make room for the seeds as they sprout and mature. 

Yet another resource is the CHLA- Core Historical Literature of Agriculture. Be careful now, this site is proof that blackholes exist! An introduction from their website - http://chla.mannlib.cornell.edu/c/chla/index.html

"The Core Historical Literature of Agriculture (CHLA) is a core electronic collection of agricultural texts published between the early nineteenth century and the middle to late twentieth century. Full-text materials cover agricultural economics, agricultural engineering, animal science, crops and their protection, food science,forestry, human nutrition, rural sociology, and soil science. Scholars have selected the titles in this collection for their historical importance. Their evaluations and 4,500 core titles are detailed in the seven volume series The Literature of the Agricultural Sciences, Wallace C. Olsen, series editor."

This is a resource that I have literally lost days in, all with great results and giant leaps in my knowledge. There is so much historical agricultural knowledge that is just sitting there, waiting to be re-discovered - it is amazing what we have lost in the past 70 years of this "petro-chemical experiment". All of these techniques and knowledge had been proven for 50 - 100 years by the end of the 19th century or early 20th, all without the need for or availability of petro-chemicals!
Heirloom Seedsman

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Offline PorcupineKate

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2012, 08:08:27 PM »
I love Elliot Coleman's books! 

I am in New England and I also recommend Ed Smith's Vegetable Garden bible.  This is a great companion to Elliot's books if you are growing in a colder region. 

Offline Roundabouts

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2012, 10:49:15 PM »
OOOOHHHH NNNOOOO I am being sucked into a black hole.   ;)  Looks like I will be busy for a long long time.  Thanks for the link very exciting stuff.  Only ...

1,067,606

pages!!
There is no $50 job that I can't do without a $100 worth of new tools.

Offline Terroir

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2012, 01:41:29 PM »
I warned ya!

Enjoy the feeling of your mind being expanded!
Heirloom Seedsman

Truth Seeker   "The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it." - Ayn Rand

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Offline Roundabouts

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2012, 05:26:20 PM »
Shoot it is starting to feel like GACK
There is no $50 job that I can't do without a $100 worth of new tools.

Offline stry67

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2012, 07:58:31 PM »
thanks for the link to Jack's show in 2009 where hegives a quick overview of sfg.
I ordered the book from Amazon and already I have realized I had better get booked up on composting and creating a good blend. I had planned to save all my fall leaves and compost them with a source of horse manure I know.
I am planning to do just one 2 ft by 6 ft raised bed by this method  for learning so hopefully won't need too much compost at first.
Off to research composting....

Offline LibertyBelle

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2012, 08:32:26 PM »
Just a heads up on getting barn lot manure from someone else...a lot of hay that is sold (and especially "higher quality" horse hay) comes from fields that have been treated with herbicides, and this often includes Round-up.  And if you happen to get a load of manure from hay that came from such a treated field and then put it in your compost, chances are that you won't have much of a garden (if any) for the next couple of years or even longer.  It's becoming such an issue that extension centers have put out publications warning gardeners of the dangers of herbicide carry-over in hay and manure.  Just google the phrase "herbicide carryover in hay" and you will see pages and pages of warnings.

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/fletcher/programs/ncorganic/special-pubs/herbicide_carryover.pdf   

Offline thewarriorhunter

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2012, 09:44:06 AM »
liberty, i've read similar things about using oleander leaves in compost because they are poisonous. there was a study done by a CA university that showed oleanders were safe to use if the compost got hot enough for long enough because the harmful toxins in the plant were 'cooked' off... i wonder if the same could be said of herbicides?


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Offline LibertyBelle

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2012, 02:37:28 PM »
the harmful toxins in the plant were 'cooked' off... i wonder if the same could be said of herbicides?

The theory might be able to be tested by simply steeping herbicide/pesticide treated weeds with hot water, then letting the water cool and pour the water on live plants to see if it kills them.  If the plants die (as I suspect they will), you'll know whether or not compost generated heat can "cook" away the 'cides.  While they can indeed be deadly, natural plant toxins are quite different then synthetic ones, especially when it comes to the lifespan of the toxins and their ability to break down naturally.  Synthetic herbicides/pesticides can stay in the ground for years, and even seep into ground water.  I've yet to hear the same reports caused by natural (non-GMO) plants that contain toxins.

Offline stry67

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #23 on: November 30, 2012, 05:49:08 PM »
Well I got the book last week from Amazon and have finished reading it the other night.
Overall I enjoyed and learned from it but I definitly kept being reminded of late-night infomercials from the style of whoever wrote it.
One big plus I see is being able to easily extend your seasons by adding covers. Being such a small area really simplifies things and makes it way easier to control how large at one time of a harvest ya get which has always put me off in the future.
I am curious has anyone followed his advice on a tomato plant in regards to trimming all the branches off plus planting the whole plant sideways to encourage more root growth?

Offline PorcupineKate

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Re: Square foot gardening help
« Reply #24 on: November 30, 2012, 06:38:09 PM »
I have trimmed all the side shoots off tomato plants.  It makes them much easier to stake and keep contained when growing containers.  This is really useful when growing indeterminate varieties since they will get 5' to 7' tall.  If you let the side shoots grow they have a tendency to get damaged in windy storms.

I don't pinch back all the side shoots on short season determinate tomatoes like sub arctic.  The plants are somewhat compact with smaller fruits and do very well somewhat bushy.