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An investment in square foot gardening

2993 Views 45 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  Daisygirl
~SFG is something I've wanted to do for almost 10 years but the costs involved in the start-up scared me. This post will probably scare you all too. :crackup:
This year I decided I was going to make the investment and not freak out about how much it cost. It's an investment.

Compost: $35
Vermiculite: $89
Peat Moss: $9
Lumber: $36.50
Weed cloth: $20
=$198.50 for 3 4X4 beds

If I can get each square in my garden to produce $5 worth of produce I will come out ahead this year. ;)
I have my own compost going now and I have plenty of seeds so the next 10 years of gardening should be free or nearly free.
My beds look so awesome that I'm really annoyed I waited so long to do this.
Lettuce, peas and spinach will be planted tomorrow. Green beans, sunflowers, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, dill and chives will follow in a couple of weeks.
I'd love tips from anyone who uses this method!~
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I wish we could use the dirt here, but it's very poor soil and VERY rocky. Including boulders the size of cars and bigger. Glaciers, dontcha know. Tilling that stuff up is an impossibility. So we have to buy our dirt. We're such bad gardeners, we've found it pays off to buy the expensive fancy dirt with the fertilizer already in it, plus the mulch, compost, etc. already mixed in the proper quantities. We've mixed our own many times in the past and it's never worked, even with the advice of master gardeners. I envy those with better gardening skills than we have, and who have natural materials to work with, like we had in southern Minnesota farm country where I grew up.
My garden has been awful the last few years getting hardly anything from it and I believe most of it is the soil even though I've been adding to it for years and using a rototiller to turn the soil. I also have to stay out of the sun for health reasons and been having a hard time getting rid of the weeds. Sooo when I read about sq ft gardening and alot of the common sense used to do this form of gardening; I thought I'd try it.
Yeah, there's a lot of good info in the SFG book, either one of them.

Have you tried self-watering planters, Pam? They require a lot less tending. Of course that doesn't work if you have a huge garden. We were gone most of last summer and our tomato plants in the self-waterers didn't even notice.

Nobody in our area got anything from their gardens either, which was strange because we had a hot (high 80's, low 90's) summer so tomatoes should have loved it. Everyone had the same as we did, huge beautiful tomato plants and no fruit. Weird.

We can't have a conventional garden here so we're taking a many-pronged approach and trying different things.
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Your garden looks great Nuisance26! I think you will really like this method. I started with just a couple of beds and added more over the past 20 years. Now I have (1) 4X20, (6) 4x12, (2) 4x8 in the outside garden and a 4x4, 2x8 and a 4x10 inside the greenhouse. We used recycled wood to build the frames and I haul composted horse manure from the neighbors and compost from our pile in addition to what Mel suggested in the original book. I get plenty for us plus another family that lives near by and some to share with friends from church. I love by passing the store and eating what's in season in the garden. Just think of all the money you will be saving and how much better the nutrition when what you are eating is just picked and not shipped around in trucks for days. I sometimes start replacement plants in newspaper cups so that when I pull up something that is past it's prime I can pop the new plants right in and not have to wait as long to harvest. Our soil was way too acidic when we started and SFG really appealed to me because I only had to amend the soil in the bed and not the entire property which would have been way too expensive (and I really really hate pulling weeds).
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I just started SFG this year. Start up for us was about $75. We reused old wood from a previous project to make 3 4ft square boxes. To mark off each square foot I drilled screws that we already had in the toolbox and wrapped twine around to make the square foot grid. Grew plants from seed but union sets and potatoe seeds I got from a local Amish farmer for 75 cents and $1 respectively. I use craft sticks that I got at the dollar store for $1 as markers. I used a mixure of Manue and Vermiculite that I picked up at Wal-Mart for a couple of dollars a bag Biggest expense was the soil, about 30 bags at $1.98 a bag at Wal-Mart.

It can be expensive to start up but with the price of Produce skyrocketting it most certainly is worth it.
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Officially inspired. I got seeds today for myself for Mother's Day and the girls and I planted them in egg cartons to get them started inside. The kiddos also bought me some herbs for the windowsill.

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