Setting up square foot garden box

I have been talking some people recently who are doing square-foot gardening. They say that they have been getting some pretty amazing results. One guy who I have not met but is a friend of a co-worker is able to harvest some type of crop every month of the year. I live in zone 5 near Chicago so I think that’s remarkable.

One tip that I have regarding vermiculite is to look in the section where they sell home insulation instead of the gardening section.

My compost pile has not been active for long enough to have my own compost to use. Instead I bought mushroom compost. The bottom of my garden box is aligned with newspaper as you can see. This will help prevent weeds from growing through the bottom and eventually it will break down and allow worms to come up into the garden box.

I mixed the material directly in the box. The book, All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space! , recommends mixing the material on a tarp. I’m going to use that method when I setup my other garden boxes because they are going to be off the ground. But for this case it seemed to work just fine mixing the materials right in the box. I will be setting up my square-foot grids later this week and maybe even get the broccoli and scallion shoots planted.

<< If you like this, check out my Back Yard Garden Makeover.  Be sure to click on the links to see the *before* images.>>



3 thoughts on “Setting up square foot garden box

  1. A really good piece of article. Also I wish to quote a few lines from this article in my news site, I will give a link back to this article. Again.. it is really a good work.



  2. Vermiculite that was mined in Libby Montana up till 1990 was heavily contaminated with asbestos (see vermiculite, Controversy over health risk ,Wikipedia). The construction grade is often treated with a water repellant and would defeat the purpose. The horticultural grade vermiculite cost more
    but would be safer.

    • I remember reading about the asbestos problems but also that it was something that was in the past. As far as it being water repellent, I don’t know how I would be able to test that. I was able to grow vegetables in the garden but can’t really say what difference the vermiculite made. I didn’t run side by side tests with and without it.

      One thing I started to think of later is whether it was worth it to set the garden up the way I did. The food we ate was good but as time went on I shifted to using dirt, hay, and composted alpaca and horse manure in an American style hugelkultur bed. I used leaves, hay, and wood chips to mulch for better water retention. All the materials I used in the hugelkultur bed were free and plentiful in the area we lived. In contrast I had to buy the vermiculite and peat moss. I honestly don’t remember how much they cost but if I could get as good of a result from the free option, that would be more worth it to me. I have become more aware of the cost that I put into a garden compared to what I get out of it. I know there is the health benefit from growing your own food but I wonder now what the break even point is in terms of dollars.

      We moved from Illinois in November. I didn’t have the hugelkultur bed set up long enough to compare the results with the square foot bed. I now live in Southern Missouri. We are in the process of buying property and we will hopefully move into our next house within the next month or two. Many people in the area have horses so getting free manure shouldn’t be an issue. We also plan on having chickens. I want create a portable coop and run that can place over a garden bed for a while after the growing season so the chickens can scratch up the surface and fertilize it for the next growing season. Lord willing things will work out the way we are hoping. I’ll post pictures as we set things up.

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