Overwhelmed planning first SFG beds!

CraftyHobbyHouse(9a)November 6, 2012

Hi all! So I'm new to the forum but have been an avid reader for a few months now! I just moved to a beautiful piece of property in FL with lots of room for a garden and I need some major help with planning it all out! I'm totally overwhelmed!

Going to try to keep this short and to the point.

We have fenced a 50x60 area for a garden and I'm planning to leave a 5' area on perimeter so husband can mow, so essentially a 40x50 foot area to put the boxes.

This season I plan to start with six 4'x16'x12" boxes made of plain white lumber due to costs. My biggest concern at this time is irrigation. We are going to trench in water and put a stub out at each box. After that, I have no idea what would be better and keep getting conflicting information. I have a neighbor who swears that a sprinkler on a timer is the best, I have read that soaker hoses are easier than drip irrigation (easy and lower maintenance is a priority since I work long and odd hours). I was thinking 4-5 soaker hoses along the length of the beds but now I'm thinking maybe 2 or 3 sprinkler heads on a timer would be better? Any experience is greatly appreciated!! I've always done container and earthbox gardening, so this is a little new to me!

My other questions are:

1. What has been the best underlayment in everyone's experiences? I really want to reduce weeding so is landscape fabric worth the costs over newspaper or cardboard? Boxes will just be built over grass (in FL so quite sandy).

2. What is the best spacing distances between boxes? Is three feet enough?

THANKS EVERYONE in advance! :)

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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F

I don't know much about SFG itself, but my impression of irrigation is that with sprinklers, even on a timer, you use a lot of water and hit everything, including weeds. So this could turn into more work for you as the weeds soak up all that water and grow. I have not heard that drip-lines are more maintenance than soaker hoses, more work to set up, yeah, but not so much maintaining after that. The big bonus for drip-lines and soaker hoses is that they put the water right at the plants roots where they need it. You also don't get run-off as you would with a sprinkler.

Something you might want to look into, that I only found out about myself and I'm still learning, is wicking beds. Very basicly, you run your irrigation under the beds and water the plants from below. I have seen projects where they used covered rain gutters run under the beds and push towels or some other cloth through the spots where the plants will be. This pulls water from the gutters up into the soil at a slow, even rate and keeps the soil 'just right'. All you have to do is check the ends of the gutters to make sure they're full of water. The rest is automagic.

Anyways, best of luck to you on your project. I hope someone more experienced with SFG can give a bit more insight.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 11:30AM
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Bryan Scott

I've seen the wicking beds done too, but it was done with a closed pvc pipe with holes drilled on top. Small rope was used as the wicks to draw the water up into the bottom of the beds/pots at the roots.

My irrigation system has always been a soaker in the bed with a small "lead hose" that I could disconnect if needed. Worked like a charm. You can run pvc and a sprinkler system on a timer, but you would want to run bubbler heads instead of throwing heads.

I think it really boils down to preference and how much work you want to put into it. My experience with a soaker hose is to set it and forget it. If you run a lead hose to your bed, then a soaker hose inside your bed, you could put the lead hose on a timer and only water your bed.

No matter what you do, put a back flow preventer on your spigot. If not sure what this is- google it. You can pick up at HD or L's.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 11:55AM
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Hi hope I am not too late posting on this.
I actually just began my Square foot garden a few weeks ago (I'm in Florida too) and I actually found a Florida company that manufactures square foot garden irrigation grids and expandable garden boxes. I love it!! The grid spaces everyting into 12' x 12' sqaures just like in Mel's Bartholomew's SFG book.

I have pretty limited time for a garden with my work schedule so the grids are fantastic. I use a timer with mine and just run it for 15 minutes in the morning splitting between the two sections, while I check for critters and differnt vegetables.

Here's the website www.gardeninminutes.com, they're family run and were really helpful with my garden layout! (I ended up making an H shape.) Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 3:12PM
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