Thursday, April 29, 2010

Square Foot Construction Costs's a couple of days late, but it's been miserable cold and rainy here in MA and I just wasn't feeling the blog thing the past couple of days. Anyway, here's the breakdown of what I spent on the construction material and start-up costs on my SFG:

2"x10" pine boards for box frame: $19.24
3/4" x 1/4" pine lathe for grid: $12.15
3'x5' weed mat: $9.92
6 cu. ft. peat moss: $17.92
32 qt. perlite: $15.88
4.5 cu. ft. organic cow compost: $14.82
64 qt. vermiculite: $31.76
Box construction total: $121.69

White onion set: $1.68
Beet seeds: $1.50
Lettuce seeds: $1.50
Carrot seeds: $1.00
Plant totals so far: $5.68

Because I was in such a hurry to get my box built and planted with the stuff that I was running late on, I only picked up the seeds that I absolutely needed to get started. Over the next week, I'll pick up the rest of the seeds that I need. Next weekend I'll start shopping for the plants that will need to go in.

With all of this cold weather I've been kind of fretting about the poor little seeds I planted on Monday. I have to keep reminding myself that the stuff I put in was scheduled to go in before the last frost, so it should be just fine. I need to learn to trust in the process.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Can You Cure a Black Thumb?

I guess we'll find out.

Saturday I came across the website: and was hooked. I love the concept. You build 4'x4' boxes, place a grid inside it that breaks it into square foot blocks, and plant.

It seems so easy that even a caveman could do it.

Or someone that has repeatedly failed at any and all attempts to grow something green.

So...I spent all day Saturday obsessing over the details of what I would plant. When it should be planted, and if I was starting "too late." Turns out in's almost never too late.

Yesterday, I went shopping for the necessary ingredients to build my first square foot garden (SFG). When I got home, I was going to assemble the box, but apparantly there are rules in this house prohibiting me from using power tools. So, Tony built the box for me. I think it came out nice.

This is the bottom side of the box. Tony added the corner braces for extra support. We used 2x10 boards that I had cut at Lowe's to the appropriate length.

This morning it was supposed to rain, but it didn't, so I managed to move forward with my SFG plan.

I took weed block mat and attached it in two layers to the bottom of the box. While I was at Lowe's I heard the siren song of combination staple/nail gun. It came home with me. And, no bleeding occurred.


Bottom side of the box with the weed mat attached

Box flipped over and in place in the yard

The next step was creating the "Mel's mix." Mel Bartholomew is the originator of the square foot gardening concept, and despite selling a book and offering classes, offers an ENORMOUS amount of information on the website. Enough that even a newbie like me could figure out the basics and get started. I have every intention of buying his book, "The New Sqare Foot Garden," just because I feel like I should support his efforts.

Anyway, Mel's mix is 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 vermiculite (by the way, vermiculite is apparantly garden-speak for "gold in a bag. That stuff is expensive!).

From reading the forums on the website and hitting up a few other blogs online, I decided to mix it up in the box. I'm not sure if this was easier or not since my arms are so sore I can barely lift them. I tried using the garden rake for this process but it really was easier to just go in up to my elbows and do it by hand. Here's a pic of my box with my Mel's mix mixed and smoothed out.

The final step before planting was to build a grid that would separate my box into 16 square (each equalled one foot square....for the math impaired). Here's my SFG with my grid in place and ready to plant.

During my obsessive hunting for information on SFG I came across Here was another person who was sharing an enormous amount of information. Emily has gathered a great reference source on her website. She's now selling some organizers on her site that I am also adding to my "to buy" list.

So, based on my 2010 SFG plan, today I planted onions (one square, 9 to the square), carrots (one square, 16 to the square), beets (one square, 9 to the square), and lettuce (one square 4 to the square). More will be planted in the upcoming weeks as they come "due."

Tomorrow, I'll post what the amounts were that I spent on the marterials and plants so far. After that I'll be updating as things actually occur in the garden.