This is our third year of gardening. Our first year, we miserably failed at a row garden. Last year, we had our first square foot garden and had moderate success. This year we are adding a second square foot garden, using our poorganic principles. It’s not too late for you to start gardening, so if you want to try an easy and cheap method, this might work for you.
Get two 2×8 or 2×10 boards. They are usually 8 feet long. Cut them in half, so they are 4 feet long on each side. At Lowe’s they will cut them for you. Nail or screw the boards together to form a square. You may notice that we had two 2×10 inch boards and two 2×8. This is because we borrowed some leftover boards from my dad. Also, this is treated lumber. Ideally, you should use non-treated so there are no chemicals that will leach into the soil. However, if you are poorganic and are getting boards for free, you don’t care about that.
Lay them on a flat or nearly flat part of your yard that gets sufficient sun. Face the square to the south or southeast, so that if you decide to do a climbing trellis on the back portion, the trellis will not create a shadow over the rest of the garden.
Cut the bottom off of some paper bags. Then slit them along the middle so that the paper bag lays flat. You can also use newspapers or weed barrier cloth for this part of the job.
Arrange the bags, printed side down, over the ground and overlap to prevent weeds from coming through into your garden.
Wet the bags down.
The soil mixture recommended for the square foot gardening method is called Mel’s Mix. It is comprised of 3 parts. 1/3 compost. (Mel recommends using a variety of different types of compost for the most nutrient rich soil.) These three piles from left to right are compost we made, cow manure compost, and mushroom compost.
The second part of the mixture is peat moss. You can get a large bag this size for $10 at Lowe’s. For one square foot garden, you will use most of this.
It looks like this.
Lastly, you need vermiculite. It is hard to find. A 4 cu ft bag costs $18 in this area. Big box stores do not carry this size bag. I will say this this is kind of the “secret weapon” of Mel’s Mix and keeps the soil very porous so that you are able to plant more seeds in a smaller area, which is the point of the square foot garden.
So, on the far left is the vermiculite. In the center is the peat moss. On the right are the three types of compost. Pour your soils onto a large tarp. (In the background you can see my first square foot garden on the right and the new one on the left.)
Your might want to wear a mask because the vermiculite has fine particles that aren’t great to breath in.
Pour into your frame and wet thoroughly. Wait a bit to make sure it drains efficiently.
Plant some seeds. As you can see in the background, for my first garden, I use a grid structure to help me know how much to plant for square foot, but for my second garden, I am going a bit crazy and just doing some close rows. Use old popsicle sticks for row markers.
When you see your first teensy little spinach sprout, squeal with glee. You’ve done it!
More later . . . any questions?