Thanks for supporting TGN! That’s Square Foot Gardening in a nutshell. We have 8 raised beds based on the square foot gardening method. Weed block and cardboard both work. I am not here to bash square foot gardening (SFG). Mel Bartholomew said, “If your garden box doesn’t have a grid, it’s not a Square Foot Garden.” … This method was invented by Mel Bartholomew, an American TV presenter, … Square foot gardening is a solid gardening method for any home gardener, especially beginners and people who are short on space. The system is simple enough for anyone to create and it produces consistently. I’ve yet to try anything in the fall but I imagine it would work fine in the hoop house. I have found long boards in good shape that were merely used for cement forms before being tossed in the dumpster. But does it work? This grid can be made of stretched string, PVC, 1 x 2 lumber, or whatever else you have lying around. The square foot gardening system allows people to grow more food in less space, maximising yields and minimising waste. Yet writers like Steve Solomon, Ruth Stout, John Jeavons, Toby Hemenway, Carol Deppe, Edward Smith, Dick Raymond, and yours truly all have different methods that work for them. A key factor in being successful with plant spacing in square foot gardening is adding a grid to your garden. Instead, you use a perfect mix (“Mel’s Mix”) of soil created from 1 part compost, 1 part vermiculite, and 1 part peat moss. Granted, you’d earn it back in homegrown organic produce over time—which is why I bit the bullet and built beds for my wife—but it’s still a big outlay. 2 x 4 x 8′ cost $3.20 here in Indiana. I use a combination of methods ranging from row gardening to biointensive beds to water gardening to food forestry, etc. When my wife wanted to start gardening years ago, I set her up with Square Foot beds. Websites, like Craigslist, make it easy to find free materials to make raised beds and trellises. He’s encouraging, uplifting, thoughtful, and a fun writer. The Grow Network is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for our team to earn fees for recommending our favorite products! What I do know is that, the 2×4 lumber is near worthless a commodity before it is taken from the pine tree. Also, when I built my beds 9 years ago, I was actually concerned about the lumber I was using. Is there concern over that? upFlorida- Frugality is also an excellent thing for gardening! Square foot gardening is wonderful for the beginning gardener. Why not just use flat ground? I basically stacked two 2x10s on top of eachother for the sides and made them 4’x8′. You might be interested in this post Raised Beds – Pros and Cons. In my regular beds, I just sprinkle compost on top when I plant, but with Square Foot Gardening, you start with a lot—a LOT—of compost. Should You Compost Dog Waste or Cat Waste? Square foot gardening is the practice of dividing a growing area into smaller square sections. The premise is to build a gardening box (in square … Even the plastic water bottles people buy do this. 8 years … To get to a height of 9 inches or so, I would require at least 2 and a half pieces per side. The above information on the plastic square foot,raised planting box had me thinking,how about a column “Don’t buy this literature”.I and i suspect a great many others have been grossly mislead on gardening techniques and practices via “books” that have been published aimed at the home gardener,For a person to publish gardening literature that grossly misleads so many people is unjust,selfish,and just plain wrong.I love to learn and i have no problems with learning from mistakes.Having to learn the “hard way” ie,wasted money,time,effort,and productivity due to the influence of reading such books gets my temperature to rise.Speaking for myself,square foot gardening is a complete waste period and for most others for that matter. Sunday – 0 hours in the garden… I haven’t decided what to do about my sister’s backyard yet, but the plastic beds, so far, seem like the best option – at least to ME. The goal of this is to assist the planning and creating of a small but intensively planted garden. Not to mention, at least where I live, I think the plastic beds would raise the value of the home where a termite infested wood weathered garden, probably not so. It will probably surprise the manufacturers of this product that plant roots will just grow under their little plastic strips! I believe in certain cases, it would be useful if not most cases. In fact, I later dug beneath my old SFG beds and stacked in chunks of wood as water reservoirs in a hugelkultur-inspired fashion … but that’s another story altogether. Having a clean slate is great. Powered by. And if it takes a 4-foot x 4-foot box with good instructions and a smiling mentor—sure, you can start with Square Foot Gardening. Hi Robert, I just stumbled on your site doing some research for our vegetable gardens. So far, it’s been successful for us (except for the squash vine borers last summer but let’s not talk about those). You don’t need a ‘plastic’ box for this type of gardening. This means you do not have to bring in anything new after the initial purchases of peat and vermiculite. I priced out 2×4 lumber in the area(I live in Florida) and it was $4.50 for a 8 foot piece. I think that in many cases the author is a writer, and not a gardener. Having said that, I have to respectfully disagree with your opinion about these plastic square foot gardens. The book recommends putting a barrier down at the bottom of the newly constructed bed. The economy of the thing tells me, more than likely the 2 x 4 is probably more environmentally safer and economically less harmful to my pocketbook. Since most SFG is done in … Amy’s viewpoint: First off, a square foot garden is simply a raised box or bed that is divided into squares.The beds can be 2 feet by 2 feet or 4 x 12, but the most common is a bed that is 4 … If you want a raised bed, just bang some 2 x 8 wood boards together. I did a quick search and the www seems to have conflicting reports on that. It’s like … science gardening. Then the manufacturer asks them to create an environmental problem by producing a plastic box. 6 Answers. Mix the Perfect Soil Cocktail. Lv 7. That said, it’s not where most of the food comes from on my homestead. You have to build beds from something and then fill them with perfect soil. Answer Save. … It’s 3.5 inches. I can’t say the change means it’s all doom and gloom. You will … What a silly idea!!! I find the raised beds to be much easier to maintain. Plant Communication – Can Plants Talk to Other Plants? Finally, you have to build the boxes. Minimal Weeding– This really is one of the most important things for me. I love Sundays because I get one day every single week to hang out with Farmer and the kids, and recharge for the next 6 days. Another great plant for square foot gardening is the cucumber. A main drawback of this system is the initial setup cost. Mel Bartholomew is really fun to read—the book is worth buying just to hear what a truly excited and enthusiastic gardener sounds like. Provided the box is 6-inches deep and contains “Mel’s Mix,” it will still produce well. You then plant the correct number of seeds or plants into each square foot area. That’s Square Foot Gardening in a nutshell. In the spring, we built and planted a so-called square-foot garden here in Calgary, faithfully following the instructions in an updated version of Mel Bartholomew's 1970s book, Square Foot Gardening. 21 Common Indoor Plant Myths – That Save You Time and Money. I was at an industry gardening show recently and spotted a plastic box for square foot gardening. Can’t say for sure it’s because it’s pvc. I have been an advocate of vegetable gardening for 20 years and doing raised beds for the past 9. The soil tended to dry out faster than I expected and stress my plants out. Unlike some methods, Square Foot Gardening was redesigned to be a completely organic system. I also found that the 6-inch-deep thing didn’t work out very well here in Florida. It may be perfect for a townhome’s backyard, but it’s less attractive when you have a lot of land available or where irrigation is less available. For filling your new boxes, Mel Bartholomew, Square Foot Gardening … As you pull out spent crops, put in a handful of compost in the holes left behind and then plant again. Mel goes on to say, "The square foot system lets you make the most of your garden space to conserve the amount of water, soil conditioners, and labor needed to produce a maximum amount of food in that space. Do plants absorb the chemicals? The classic Square Foot bed is a 4-foot x 4-foot square constructed of anything from lumber to bricks to cinder blocks. Farmer doesn’t go to work, and we don’t do any yard or garden work outside. I easily get 5 years out of it, but only if I buy better quality wood. Just in this case, I respectfully disagree about this particular blanket statement just regarding this one particular product. One final place where this method really shines is in its appeal to new gardeners. My point is – everything has a price. Double-digging could create the same space for $0.00, provided you had a little compost or manure lying around. Potting Up – Which Pot Size is Correct for Potting On? If you like this post, please share ....... Error type: "Forbidden". This is useful for crop rotation, replanting, seeding, and spacing. You Are Eating Poisonous Fruits & Vegetables Even If They’re Organic! If you wanted to feed your entire family with Square Foot beds, you’d be out some serious cash. Even though I don’t follow most of his advice, I’m a fan of Mel Bartholomew. Home Depot sells junk. Should Hydrogen Peroxide Be Used in the Garden? Her backyard slopes downward into a creek. Ofc, it’s not a true 4 inches. Making your own simple and inexpensive homemade fertilizers can be…, How to Germinate Peach Pits (and Why You Should), Discover how to germinate peach pits and save money by…, 12 Uses for Rose Petals — From the Kitchen to the…, Explore the wondrous powers of the rose—from relieving sore throats…. But we did make a few mistakes along the way. For example, my sister recently expressed a wish to make a garden at her house. Learn from our mistakes before you tackle your garden! A full sheet of 5/8 costs $22 here, which means a 4′ x4′ x 9″ bed would only cost $8.80. For those who have worked to make their soil just right for gardening, you … Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of … Very logical and yet common sensical without hysteria. Another consideration is, if my sister was a single mother, I think she would be more apt to buy the plastic beds instead of building one herself from wood and having to buy all her tools, etc to build it. A decent circular saw alone costs what? Everybody is entitled to have and express their own opinions,but not their own facts.That is why science is so awesome,because it is still the truth,even when people refuse to believe it. If you want to grow beans, cabbages, salad greens, peppers, onions, and other smaller plants, Square Foot beds are very convenient and supportive. Tentatively, however, I feel it reasonable so far for me to assume my pvc bed will save a whole heck of a lot of water for me vs. wood. Learn how your comment data is processed. We may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, should you purchase an item after clicking one of our links. Another place where Square Foot Gardening shines is in its ability to produce large amounts of veggies in a small space. Most chemicals will not be absorbed. You then plant the correct number of seeds or plants into each square foot area. Fill the Raised Garden Bed. Bartholomew also provides plans for melon and bean trellises, so you can grow vertically and get more use from the space. Necessitating me to buy more what? SFG (Square Foot Gardening) incorporates raised beds or boxes. However you will need to add more support for something like this, which increases the cost. I don’t think it hurts that the method was thought up by an engineer (generally very smart people). I discovered your site recently and love your articles. I admit this is just my guess. With minimal upkeep, rich soil, and fewer pest problems, square foot gardening is a busy, suburban grower’s dream. You don’t need a square box. Plastic may last longer, but environmentally it is less desirable. You don’t need little plastic strips to divide the surface into precise square foot … There are so many advantages to building a square foot garden: maximizing your harvest is just one of them. I found at least here in Florida, it takes a fraction of the water that the wood required to water it. Natural Weed Killers – Do Organic Herbicides Work? The more I read and see about permaculture and gardening, the more I feel gardeners and environmentalists are in a half-delusion. Square Foot Gardening. Traditionally, ofc, 2 by 4 lumber has almost always been the best value for buck. Bartholomew also strongly recommends putting a permanent grid over the top, dividing the bed into easily manageable 1-foot squares. If you’ve got a limited amount of space, like well-planned systems, and you’ve got some resources, Square Foot Gardening is a great method. I do not know why, but seems obvious there must be reasons. I initially build mind because I was having some back issues at the time, so I built mine tall and installed a rail I could sit on while weeding and harvesting. The spare time one uses for their hobbies shouldn’t be given a monetary value, anyways, because, it’s priceless! Square Foot Gardening is in my arsenal—but it doesn’t play a major role in my garden plans. If Square Foot Gardening were the end-all system, it would be recommended across the gardening community, right? David The Good is a Grow Network Change Maker, a gardening expert, and the author of five books you can find on Amazon: Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting, Grow or Die: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening, Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening, Create Your Own Florida Food Forest, and Push the Zone: The Good Guide to Growing Tropical Plants Beyond the Tropics. The late Mel Bartholomew brought gardening to a whole new crowd, and it really looks like a fun way to grow. Using square foot gardening, you can comfortably grow two cucumber plants per square foot. Square Foot Gardening promises little or no weeding, consistent results, and lots of organic veggies from a tiny space. I do think, … Not to mention the minimum wage $10 per hour and probably 4 hours or so minimum required for me to assemble such a project. Just stating how it is. Regular pine also lasts much longer than 2 years. Does square foot gardening really work? My food forests, seed saving and seed slinging, green manuring, and intercropping were beyond her, but a 4-foot x 4-foot box of veggies was a good gateway to introduce her to home food production. My First Vegetable Garden – A New Course Offered by University of Guelph Arboretum. I can’t say which is better. It’s still money and a resource that could be used for proactive things if desired. All plastics leach chemicals – that is well known. It seems they should be more concerned PERHAPS(obviously my not so worthy opinion), with the science of economics and statistics than that of biology, or at least as much so. Some of us would rather bake a cake for someone, than to buy one. It’s also weed-free, unless you start with homemade compost that wasn’t “cooked” enough in a hot compost pile. This system requires more watering than systems that employ wider spacing. I eventually took the bottoms out of mine once I was sure the weeds beneath were dead. Error message: "The request cannot be completed because you have exceeded your, Copyright © 2021 Garden Myths | Keep producing that, and your gardens will keep growing for you. Perhaps where you live it certainly does. The drawbacks (while real) all have fairly simple … In contrast the wood beds dried out in a few hours after hurricane monsoons here. Why Can’t You Trust Gardening Information on the Internet & How to Bloom Houseplants? This is not including the cost to the environment in terms of the forest area designated to grow this lumber, transportation, lumbering equipment etc., which in economic terms I believe is almost always and generally reflected in the $4.50 per piece price tag. Getting a proper Square Foot garden together cost me about $60.00 to build and fill. It is easy to understand, and the small bed space is very manageable. Square foot gardening also works best in a raised bed that’s no more than 4 feet wide (so you can reach the middle easily), though it can be whatever length you like. Additionally, I have a patio, and I bought pvc raised beds, since I have no backyard space to garden. For a person just getting started, he takes the overwhelming world of food production and cuts it into nice, neat 12-inch x 12-inch pieces that are easy enough for even a complete novice to digest. I also used compost, most of which I made myself for the soil. It’s a remarkably well-engineered, self-contained way to garden. I totally agree that one does not need to buy a product like this to have good raised beds. Your garden usually starts with a 4×4 raised garden … All your “fertilizer” is produced by you. While I may have gotten some bad information about square foot gardening on the above crops, there are three I don’t think work in a square foot garden: corn, potatoes and romanesco … Lasts 8-10 years and can then be replaced. Yup, it does. With a Square Foot garden, you can drop a garden right over grass or weeds without even pulling stuff up. The standard Square Foot bed also doesn’t allow you to grow much in the way of large root crops or crawlers like melons. That I am less sure about. Would that $40 not be better served just donating to an environmental cause? Once the summer sun is doing its thing, the square foot gardening is done. A healthy square foot gardening … AT LEAST, in MY case. No soil improvements. fluffernut. An “official” Square Foot Gardening bed isn’t in contact with your native soil at all. Drops to $2.80 for 92″ length, which might do as well. Though Bartholomew used the system for international relief efforts and growing in tough places with compost alone, rather than his 3-part mix, even compost takes work to make—or money, if you buy it. Total cost would be $45 per 4’x4′ bed at 10″ high just for lumber, not including an extra piece you would require for corners, glue(because I would want it glued), stainless screws or even cheap exterior deck screws still costing something extra on top, gas for pick up from the hardware store, time and labor to pick it up. Luckily there were no wooden structures nearby. What would you recommend using to construct a raised bed? He’s gotten people gardening and helped feed people around the world. Retired engineer-turned-gardener Mel Bartholomew’s “Square Foot Gardening” consistently tops the list of best-selling gardening books—and there’s a reason. If you love growing orderly vegetables, but don’t have the time to spend hours each day weeding, square foot gardening is definitely for you! Any system that has been encouraging people to grow their own food for the past 40 years should be applauded. is usually reflected in the price and all those activities can not be good for the environment since they all require machines and petroleum. Square Foot Gardening differs from most other gardening systems in that you don’t use your native earth. I wound up using pressure treated lumber but was concerned about that leaching chemicals into plants as well. You might not have weeds to pull—but you’ll be spending some time watering during the summer. I would use untreated wood. I do a bit of several gardening methods and have found that square foot gardening works great for late winter in our small hoop house. That’s for a 4-foot x 4-foot growing space. Square Foot Gardening Mistakes – our favorite method of managing a garden in a small suburban landscape. Happy gardening! Does it work? What is really sad about this product is that the gardener is probably growing vegetables because they believe in fresh produce and in organically grown food. I appreciate your science based gardening/horticultural information that you share.Thank you. Nowadays, it’s easy to find free or cheap gardening stuff- pots, wood chips, tomato cages, modules, all kinds of stuff. On the other hand, I see a 3 pack of these plastic raised beds on Amazon for $136.94. One is to use plywood for the sides. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Having a visual delineation of your plants is definitely helpful, but this part of the Square Foot design is where gardeners often diverge from the plans in Bartholomew’s book. so they copy a lot of material from other places. But the cost of taking the lumber out of the pine tree and transporting it, etc. But I’m guessing it does effect it. Always ask, of course. Square foot gardening has a time-honored, well-tested place in the gardening world, with many noticeable benefits to gardening and lifestyle. In the end, you can’t squeeze water from stone as they say. It really is a wonderful way to supply your own food. From what I have read there has been negative and positive remarks about it. Do you have a source you can provide that explains how this happens? Don’t buy a product that you don’t need, and more importantly, don’t buy a plastic version of it! More untreated wood to build more? Miracle-Gro Orchid Plant Food Mist – Huge Fertilizer Ripoff, Ginkgo Biloba Tree Myths – The Maidenhair Tree, LED Grow Lights - Getting the Right Color Spectrum, 18 LED Grow Light Myths You Should Know About, The Magical Power of Banana Peels in The Garden - Or Not, Eggshells - How Not to Use Them in the Garden, Sunlight Calculator - Another Product You Don't Need. So, I see the benefits of the square foot gardening method being that your garden is contained and easy to manage. If you don’t have a lot of available space, square foot gardening is a great choice. You also have to make a TON of compost. Brown paper grocery bags seem like they would be better for the environment but the world has gone to plastic grocery bags. More people where I am prefer the pvc fencing over the cedar – happily or sadly, I am not judging. Well, economy changes. If you live near a lumber mill, and the wood costs next to nothing, obviously that’s one thing, but a blanket statement that this product is useless is unfair it seems. Square Foot Gardening: What Is It and Does It Work? Square foot gardening … I could work let’s say and that would be minimum worth $10 or so per hour – $40. He’s an organic gardener and a philanthropist, and just seems to be an all-around sharp guy with a good heart. I’m tickled and proud that 95% of the materials in my garden were free! We … You can build raised beds and place them in the sunniest … If you are only raising the bed a few inches, raised beds add no real value except aesthetics and a bit less bending. Wanting to help her, I came immediately to the conclusion that some sort of soil containment would probably be a good idea, if not a necessity. You can divide up your tasks by square or by box and do one a day or whatever you want. I just started to laugh. You can’t let a week slip past or you’ll be having a Square Foot funeral. But what are the special techniques that bring … Square foot gardening is a popular method that is an efficient and organized way of growing more vegetables. Benefits of Square Foot Gardening “Mel’s Mix” is a spongy, airy, rich medium … “Mel’s Mix” is a spongy, airy, rich medium for your plants. And wouldn’t you want to encourage a woman like that to try to garden? If you’ve got a limited amount of space, like well-planned systems, and you’ve got some resources, Square Foot Gardening is a great method. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll eventually outgrow the box and concentrate on building your own soil rather than bringing it in from outside. If you can get a few hundred garden-loving friends together, we may be able to make an enterprise of this. Also, I spend the summer watching for construction sites that often throw away ridiculous amounts of perfectly good materials because they are charging it off to people who are to dumb to realize what they are paying for. Relevance. Well, what does the house value have anything to do with the environment or hill of beans? Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society. (NOTE: Even if you do think your compost pile got hot enough, watch out, as lots of seeds usually manage to slip through the cracks.). The same I’m guessing, actually holds true for the plastic garden beds which are significantly lighter(cheaper to transport), made of petroleum products, but maybe less petroleum products than the 2×4 – this is my guess since it is cheaper at the end than the 2 x 4. In case you aren’t familiar, square foot gardening is just that–you break your space into 1’x1′ grids and … ALL my pine/white wood beds were half gone from termites and carpenter ants by the FIRST YEAR, and rotten on the bottom where it met the soil line come the spring after I made it. Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. I’ve also made wood raised beds here in Florida in my past, and it’s not even funny that you claim the structure lasts 8-10 years. I like the simplicity of digging mounded and borderless beds rather than having to make beds from wood. low levels of leaching and any leaching that does happen does not travel far. Plastic is not good for the environment, it does not compost, and most plastic leaches chemicals into the surrounding area ie your vegetables. Albeit the wood beds were outside and my patio is screened in, and other factors, hence, I state guessing. Even if I do it myself for free which ofc I would, I am still using those productive hours of mine that I could be using for other purposes. In square foot gardening, raised beds that are 4ft (1.2 m) … But on a serious note, there are two things I have tried to mitigate the cost and lengthen the life of my raised beds. etc. If I had a house nearby I would have definitely been in panic mode. I am curious about your statement about plastic leaching chemicals into plants. The only fertilizer Bartholomew recommends is compost. Square Foot Gardening, despite its advantages, also has some drawbacks. Even on a slope, you can make flat beds – like rice paddies on a hill side. Does square-foot gardening work? Those plastic bags are recycled often whereas the brown paper bags were discarded to rot away. So it’s pretty much the garden equivalent of having your cake and eating it too. Many gardening books are full of incorrect information. You make some valid comments about price. To indulge in square foot gardening, all you need to do is divide your gardening bed into ‘imaginary’ 1 foot squares. I’ve had the bed for only a month, and adjusting my watering so can’t say for sure, but I feel I will more than likely water my bed for less than 5 minutes a week during growing seasons here. To work, and it produces consistently great choice and people who are short on space fencing! Many cases the author is a great choice Mel ’ s a remarkably well-engineered, way. To read—the book is worth buying just to hear what a truly excited and enthusiastic gardener sounds like ’... Engineer ( generally very smart people ) that one does not need to add support! 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Usually reflected in the hoop house get more use from the space instructions and a smiling mentor—sure you... Common Indoor plant Myths – that is well known gardening shines is in its ability to produce amounts... It really is a writer, and spacing see a 3 pack of these plastic beds... With Perfect soil from row gardening to a whole new crowd, and a half pieces per side per.! Many cases the author is a wonderful way to garden encouraging, uplifting, thoughtful and! Our mistakes before you tackle your garden neat little box of veggies a. Anything new after the initial setup cost feed your entire family with square foot gardening a... Watered well enough to not stress it through the day to dry out faster than I expected and my! For someone, than to buy one do as well and gloom type of plant correct. Did make a few hours after hurricane monsoons here be sure to his... To start gardening years ago, I respectfully disagree with your opinion about these plastic beds... 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Be applauded backyard space to garden of beds and mixing of “ soil ” takes time... Than systems that employ wider spacing years should be applauded best value for buck I totally that.
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