SFG: Step 2

Folks – we are ready to get this party garden started.   Two weeks ago we built our 4×4 raised bed and I promised you an update when we formally placed the garden and made our oh-so-special soil mixture that promises us a hearty harvest and minimal weeding.  Ok, it really only promises minimal weeding but I’m chosing to be optimistic.   Last weekend The Hubs and I finished up those tasks.  Here’s how it went down.

Remember we’re following the Square Foot Garden (SFG) method for growing more in less space.  So here’s our previously built tell-tail SFG raised bed:

The next step was to get it placed precisely where we wanted it on our lawn.  Some of you will also remember that this is where I had the big one last time.  Lucky for me, our newly developed Backyard Master Plan had it all layed out for me this time….so there was no question where this sucker needed to go.

Plan in hand, I marched over to the SE corner of our lawn and started measuring.  Six feet out from the fence to the South, and 5 feet out from the East.  Bingo.  That’s where the corner of our bed should go.  Now that wasn’t very stressful, was it?!

Just a titch over six feet from the South side of the fence

Ok I’m kind of lying stretching the truth. It wasn’t that easy to find the correct placement (although I admit…it could have been that easy).  Because obviously I wanted to make sure the garden wasn’t imposing on our soon-to-be-expanded patio. So I also took the opportunity to stake out a rough estimate where the future patio will be going….just to make sure I was on the right track. What can I say? I’m a planner. This shouldn’t be a surprise to any of you. Cease eye-rolling now please.

What a little poser!! Outta the way 'Ol Grey Beard!

After we had the exact placement down, we got to work digging out the sod.  You can opt to set the bed directly on top of your grass and let it slowly die…but we decided the band-aid approach was more appropriate for us:  just rip that sucker off tear that sod up.  Plus, with the sod gone, the bed would sit nice and snug against the rest of the lawn; making it look more like it belonged.  Instead of I-just-threw-my-garden-over-there-in-that-corner sort of look.

Next, we The Hubs stapled some weed cloth to the bottom of the bed to ensure that no stinkin’ weeds could work their way up from the topsoil. 

Lastly, we just plopped that garden bed right down into its new home.  It took a few more targeted sod removals to make sure it was snug against the perimeter of the bed.  And it also took some dirt-raking to make sure the thing was level (and yes, Miss Type A had a level out there making sure). 

Next on the agenda was to mix our super-fabulous-weed-free soil.  Mel (the SFG author) has a special mix to use for his gardens…and it does require some math, but the gist of the whole thing is to divide the amount of soil you need into thirds, then compose of:

  • 1/3 Compost
  • 1/3 Peat Moss (I hope you’re reading this Stacey!  I know how Peat Moss makes you think of me)
  • 1/3 Vermiculite

Since we had a 4×4 garden, we needed 8 cubic feet of soil; that means 2.6 cubic feet of compost, 2.6 cubic feet of peat moss and (you guess it) 2.6 cubic feet of vermiculite. 

That morning we had stopped by our local landscape shop to pick up the items, only to find out that vermiculite is (a) hard to find and (b) expensive!  We finally found some and  got the last bag at Home Depot for a hefty $20.  This shit better work and I better not be weeding.

 Note:  Mel also suggests using FIVE different kinds of compost in your mix to have some variation (you don’t want to use 2.6 cubic feet of just steer manure!  You should have at least five different composted materials in the compost part of the mix).  Luckily, the two bags we purchased both were multi-ingredient bags, so we only chose to purchase two bags total.

So here’s our haul:

The next step is easy:  mix it up!  We dumped everything out onto a tarp and mixed it with a shovel…. 

…then transferred it to the garden bed. 

The last step was to finally secure the lath grid on top of the bed.

"Quit taking pictures and come help!"

And that’s it.  Easy, right?  Right.  We realllllly wanted to start planting seeds last weekend (do you see how gorgeous it was that day?!).  Alas, we are not in the clear for freezing at night so we must wait (read:  it will probably still snow again here).  Ugh. 

The only solace is knowing that in 3 weeks when we get the all-clear to plant….we will be ready.  Oh yes, we will be ready!  Well…the garden bed will be ready.  Someone still needs to plot out what we’re going to plant in each square foot – and of course purchase the seeds and/or starters (more on that later).  But the work (bed building and placing) is done and the rest, my friends, is fun.  So I repeat:  let’s get this garden started!

Plant me! Plant me! Plant me!