depth of box too shallow....

kawaiineko_gardener(5a)July 4, 2009

I have one 4' x 4' box. This is what I plan to use

for square foot gardening. According to Mel, the author of both books on square foot gardening, he recommends that the depth of each 4' x 4' box be 6". You're supposed to make the depth of each box 6" so you can fill each box with 6" of whatever soil mixture you're going to use in your 4' x 4' boxes.

Unfortunately although the length and width of each 4' x 4' box were specified the height of what each 4' x 4' box should be to acquire a depth of 6" wasn't specified.

The depth of my box is 2-1/2". Can I just dig a hole that is 3"-6" then place my box there and fill the hole with whatever soil mixture I'm going to use.

Also I do have one last question and this is for future reference. What does the height of a 4' x 4' box have to be in order to acquire a depth of 6"? I am assuming that what the height of the box is will determine what the depth of the box will be, that's why I'm asking.

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A big idea behind square foot gardening is to make it easy and minimize digging. So to achieve a 6" depth, you could use boards that are 6" wide, resulting in a 4'x4' box that is 6" high, which you would then fill to the brim with Mel's mix or whatever soil mixture you are using. The suggested 6" depth is not depth as in sitting in the ground, but rather refers to a 6" height of the raised bed above the ground.

It may be easier, though, to use boards that are slightly wider than the soil depth you want to achieve. I found little cost difference between 6" and 8" width boards, so I made a box that is 8" high and filled it to have slightly more than 6" of soil mix. Will be adding more compost, etc to have a greater soil depth for the fall season.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 12:48AM
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I concur that the digging is not a great idea... If you have the funds, I would re-build the beds using 2x6's or 2x8. (I prefer the latter.) You can also use bricks or almost anything to build your bed.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 1:00AM
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Yeah unfortunately I am on an extremely tight budget. I don't know if it's feasible for me to rebuild the box itself.

For starters I don't know if I could afford the cost of materials. Second I would need a drill and the bits to go with it, which I don't have; even the cheapest variety of drill I can't afford.

Third even if I could afford the cost of materials to rebuild the box, I can't build it myself. I've never constructed anything in my life.
Although this is a simple project as far as construction goes I would need somebody to help me build the first box before I would feel comfortable building a box myself.

When I say I'm on a limited budget I mean I only have $20-$30 to spend to construct the box. I would like to construct some boxes for root veggies as well, but of course due to financial difficulties and now being told I have to rebuild my 4' x 4' box this probably isn't an option.

My only other alternative is to do container gardening but getting the containers needed to grow the veggies I want
to grow isn't a viable option either as it will probably cost just as much $$$ to purchase the correct size containers I would need as well as the cost of a miracle gro potting mix to fill the containers.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 3:57PM
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daves_girl(7 GA)

kawaiineko_gardener, you don't have to use wood. You could use stacked rocks, or sticks tied together. I've found useful materials through freecycyle. I'm adding a link below to the Michigan area freecycle. Don't limit yourself because the book calls for wood. If you're not comfortable building a box from wood, be creative and use the materials at hand, add dirt, and start growing. :)

Good Luck!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Michigan Freecycyle

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 4:48PM
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Is there not a friend,or other person who perhaps could help with building gardens with you. yes your garden can be built out of what you want. It is the way seeds are planted in the garden that works so good.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 2:10AM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

If you have no resources to go up, by all means go down. Do the best with what you have and next year add amothe level to your 4x4 box. It is not rocket science. Give plants good soil, sun and water and they'll grow. Good luck and don't spend money you don't have on a garden.

I do like the friend helping idea. Gardening is addictive and they may get the bug. Good luck and let us know how your veggies turn out!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 11:23AM
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Katxena(z7 MD)

If you're going to dig (and I say go for it!), consider putting the dirt/grass/whatever you dig up into your compost pile. It will give you a good start on next year's garden.

Also, you might want to do a bit of reading about lasagna gardening (I've added a link at the end of this message). If I were you, I would add a thick layer of newspaper at the bottom of the bed, after you dig it, just in case any weed seeds are released by your digging. Then dump your soil mix on top of the newspaper. The newspaper will eventually decay, and it will make a big difference in how many weeds you get. Unfortunately, I think your bed is too shallow to just do lasagna layers without digging down. It wouldn't be deep enough to smother the grass.

The thing about SFG is that it is a foolproof way to get good harvests in year 1 as a gardener. That doesn't mean it's the only way (sacrilege! I know!). The closer you get to Mel's method, the better your first year success will be. But that doesn't mean that if you deviate from it you'll get nothing. And in the long run, your garden might be even better for it!

Here is a link that might be useful: Lasagna Gardening

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 1:53PM
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angela12345(7b NC Mixed-Humid)

Digging down is definitely OK ! That is what I did for my garden and it is doing great.

If you have moles in your area, place a piece of chicken wire fence under your bed so they don't get to your plants from the bottom. We do not have them, but my sister-in-law has lost about half of her plants to moles. They take the entire plant and she goes out there to just see a hole where the plant used to be.

I started my garden on a whim because I found a good deal on some seedlings. When I got home, it took my hubby & I several hours over 2 days to dig up the zoysia sod, then many more hours the next weekend to start digging and chopping the heavy compacted clay soil in our yard. The end of that weekend was about when I discovered the square foot gardening method. Since we had already dug down, I decided to kinda improvise my "raised bed" into a "ground level bed" and fill it with 25% each my clay, compost, peat moss, and vermiculite (I had read that clay soil is very nutrient rich). That is also when we found out that a friend had a little hand-held tiller which he let us borrow to finish. Wow, it was ridiculous how much easier that was than a shovel and a hoe !!! The 4x4's that line our bed are actually set down into the ground and the tops of them are approximately ground level. We did dig a lot deeper than just 4", however.

I bought the wood, moss, vermiculite, trellis netting, more seeds, and flowers. The compost I got for free from a horse barn's compost pile and the landscape fabric we already had a big roll of. The trellis support came with the house when we bought it ... we think the previous owners used it to stack firewood.

You can see my picture here that our garden is not a "raised bed". This picture was June 7 ...

July 3rd ...

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 3:26PM
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gardener_mary(6 MA)

If you don't mind the extra work digging is fine. The idea of not digging is to save labor, but not putting in the labor often costs money. I have a hard time starting a garden without digging first, I need to know what is under the soil that I'm starting with. I did start one lasagna bed this year because I had a couple of extra squash plants that needed a space quickly. I had some hay, peat moss, newspaper, lots of weeds and a little soil, so I figured it was worth a try to pile it in layers and plant in it. So far they seem to be growing well.

It is also OK to make raised beds without edging, just pile up the soil. Again takes a little more work to keep neat but it works. You can also grow directly in the ground if you need to, there are lots of different ways to garden. Sometimes we start one way and change to easier ways little by little over time.

Good luck and good gardening, Mary

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 2:07PM
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