Square Foot Gardening (SFG) Materials List..

Well, first we’ll start with a little activity surrounding the feeders. I will tell you that activity has been sparse, but has picked up today. I think a tree rat robbed my Titmice and Blue Jays of their peanuts. And, I noticed all three male Cardinals today playing nicely around the feeders. It is supposed to get a little crazy again, weather wise, so maybe that explains some of this. Nothing major is going to happen, but we are going to slip into a colder and snowier pattern for the foreseeable future. We have four shots of snow in the next 12 days or so. Of course, none will pan out, but this is indicative of lots of little shortwave impulses set to come through our area. And, that might have gotten the birdies active again. At one point, I looked outside and saw two or three Chickadees, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, two Downies, several Mourning Doves, at least a dozen Eurasian Tree Sparrows, a few finches (2 very pretty Goldfinches), and about 7 Dark-eyed Juncos. None of this is “official” because I wasn’t trying to count.

Anyway, on to the material list. I have settled on my sizes. I will make the 2×9 bed close to the a/c unit in back of my house a 2×8 bed instead to leave a little more room. I don’t want the airflow restricted too much. I still wonder about some of the plants getting the hot air discharged onto them, but we will have to experiment with this since it’s, by far, the best place in the yard for the vertical plants to grow. I will also add a 4×12 bed about 3 feet away from the 2×8. Maybe next year I will add the 2×16 along the fenceline and/or the other 4×12 to round things out. But, for now, this will have to do.

So, to accomplish this, I will use white pine, untreated wood. I don’t like this choice because it has no durability. But, when I am costing this stuff out, it is the least expensive alternative. I could have also chosen Cedar wood or vinyl boards, but those were triple the cost of white pine. My perimeter measures 52′. The most efficient use of wood was to buy 3-12′ sections and 2-8′ sections of 2″x6″ wood. The beds need be no higher than 6″ because my soil will be perfectly conditioned. The cost will run close to $28 for lumber.

Next is soil. Since we are making a “raised bed,” I will no longer need to till or turn over my soil. I also can make perfect soil from scratch instead of trying to measure and amend the dirt in my ground. You can only imagine how much time, effort, and potentially money this will save. I can get it right from the first time and never look back! And, since the beds are no wider than four feet, I will never have to step on my soil. I can keep light, fluffy, perfect soil forever. There goes a lot of back-breaking work….forever. The mixture of soil I will make is measured by volume and then divided into thirds. One third peat moss. One third compost. And, one third vermiculite. For those that don’t know, vermiculite is a mineral almost rock-like. However, it has super water retention. And, in the heat and cool, wet and dry balance of things, vermiculite expands and contracts continually working your soil like an aerator or earthworm would…keeping things fluffy and workable. Imagine how easy it will be to pull weeds and/or replace plants when they just slip out of the dirt!

Measuring the volume of these two beds gave me 48sqft + 16sqft and divide it by 2 because I am only using 6″ instead of a foot. 32cuft of volume. Dividing into thirds means 11cuft of each ingredient. I am going to try and buy the biggest bags I can find, but the biggest were 3.0 cuft of peat moss…2 bags because when they pop open from being compressed they will measure about 12 cuft. 7 bags of 1.5cuft bags of vermiculite. And, 11 bags of compost at one cuft each. Costs are $23.34, $91, and $40 respectively. The vermiculite is looking expensive, but trust me…don’t skimp here. Once right, always right for the soil. Do it right the first time. Total of $154.34 for the soil.

I need a box of 4″ deck screws to get into the wood. About $8.

I need to build a trellis for the vertical 2×8 bed. I need 5-10′ sections of EMT conduit for $8. The elbows to connect the pieces are another $8. And, re-bar to put in the ground for added stability will run me another $6. I need a nylon net for the plants to climb. That is about $10. Total for trellis and screws…$40.

For my hoop house I will be running the length of my 4×12 bed, I will need 9-10′ sections of 1/2″ PVC pipe…$13.50. I need conduit “c” clamps to mount them to the inside of the bed…$2.50 for all four packs. I need some plastic covering that will run me about $20. Total here….$36.

Breaking it all down…

Lumber – $28
Dirt – $155
Trellis – $40
Hoop house – $36

Total – $259

Not bad, imo, for 64 square feet of perfect, never needs to be fertilized or tilled, growing soil….forever.

That’s a basic estimate of my first two beds. I will let you know if anything changes. And, I will talk a little more about concepts of SFG and technique in future posts. But, for now, Keep Chuggin’!

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