Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'm an SFG club member now! When do I learn the secret handshake?

We finally took the Square Foot Gardening plunge and have become official SFG club members!!! Woohoooo! I can't wait to get my club card, secret handshake and funny hat! If I don't get any of that, I'll settle for some live plants instead of dead plants as a consolation prize.

Farmer B has been such a trooper with these raised beds. He bought me the SFG book as a get-well present when I was recovering from my surgery and as soon as I mentioned 6-inch deep boxes he dashed to the lumber store, bought the wood and built two 4x4 6-inch deep boxes. Then when so many commenters on this blog told me that six inches wasn't going to be deep enough for the Florida heat - and EG emailed me some wonderful advice too…well Farmer B got on it without complaining.

He bought 4x12 lumber and made one deep box and attached the other two six-inch boxes together with brackets.

I should mention he did this all for me with a 96 degree heat index outside, but he did hire two small boys as assistants.

We tried very hard to do everything "by the book." I know a lot of you told me not to take the SFG book as gospel and to experiment a little and make it work for us, but this blog isn't called "Gardening With Skills," is it? Whenever I experiment, plants die. Those are just the facts. So I figured we'd do out best to approximate Mel's Mix and not try to get too creative.

We bought some thick landscaping cloth to lay under the boxes to prevent weeds from growing up. We overlapped it quite a bit in the middle with the hopes that it'll actually work. We have terrible luck with landscape cloth and it usually ends up working like one of those seed mats with 9 million weeds per square foot growing up through it.

Jace helped carry in the vermiculite. We used two large bags that we purchased at our local nursery. We also used more bags of composted cow poo, mushroom poo and random un-named poo than I bothered to count.

We mixed it all together on a big tarp and then transferred it to the boxes with a wheelbarrow.

Finally Farmer B added the slats to the top of the boxes to mark out the squares. The slats are kind of wide so the squares are only about 10 inches in width. I think that seeing where to plant can only help us, not hurt us.

If all goes well tomorrow I'll plant some seeds and a handful of seedlings I bought at the local nursery and my journey into raised bed gardening will have officially begun. Thanks to all of you who encouraged me to give this a go!

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On a separate note, I wanted to thank all of you who expressed concern about my floppy-eared cat. His ear swelled up again and we had to take him back to the vet to get his ear opened up and drained again. And thanks to his weakened immune system he caught a nasty cat cold too. So he has a floppy sore ear, a runny nose, a cough, watery eyes and a slight fever. Poor thing.


Lo said...

sorry about the kittys ear and cold :(

On a brighter note YAY!!! Congrats SFG'ner :) You'll love it!

Ribbit said...

Woohoo!!! Good luck! When all of us are winding down, your garden should be at its peak.

Kathryn said...

Hi, Kate. Isn't it a blessing to live in an area where we actually get a second chance to grow something - anything! - wishing much success with your sq ft garden! And hugs to poor kitty! Take care. K (aka Mad Beach Maven)

Daphne Gould said...

Oh the poor kitty. I hope he feels better soon.

I have several issues with SFG (maybe some day I'll write a post about it), but for the most part it is a pretty good system, especially if you come in with no knowledge. I'm glad that you've been convinced that 6" isn't enough. I think anywhere even in cool climates it isn't enough for certain crops. Lettuce would be fine since it has a shallow root system, but if you want good tomatoes you need a lot of space for those roots. And you have to say 12" makes it that more unlikely to get totally flooded out again. Good luck.

Vonnie said...

Funny, we're just building our new raised beds, too. The master gardener I met at our farmer's market also suggested it.

Jeff Vandiver said...

So sorry for the kitty, itmust be having a pretty difficult time right now.

Congratulations on your new boxes!!!! You'll love this method, and will definitely build more in the future.
I really liked the photo of the little one hauling your vermiculite with his dumptruck. It was priceless!

Erin said...

yay! The boxes look great! I think you will probably want to ditch the grid by next year, lol! Now go run out and get yourself a few starter plants to put in with your seeds and you can get a little instant gratification! You will love the beds, drainage is a breeze!

Judy said...

Welcome to the Ft2 Garden club :-) Sorry about the cat's ear...

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