The “dirt” in this garden is 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 vermiculite. You’ll need to figure out how many cubic feet of each you’ll need. Remember from math class that Volume=Length x Width x Height. For our box that’s V=4 x 4 x .5 (.5 for 6″ or 1/2 foot) That comes to 8 cubic feet total, or about 2 1/2 cubic feet of each ingredient.
That box holds not just dirt, but the promise of garden fresh veggies that I can cook up in my kitchen this summer. Have you noticed how many people are starting to garden? People who have never grown anything in their lives are planting gardens in the backyard. Count me in as one of those folks. It’s been 15 years since I’ve grown a tomato in my own garden and I’ve been hankering to do it again ever since. This is finally my year.
My husband and I have a system for this garden thing. I plan, harvest and serve up the produce for dinner. He does all the other work. I like this system. It works for me. As part of planning the garden I bought the book The All-New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. In the book he explains how to grow plants in just a 4’x4′ square box that is only 6″ deep. Part of the magic of this is to use “Mel’s Mix” instead of any old dirt.
Here’s a step by step of how we (ahem, I mean my husband) built our garden boxes.
First he used untreated 2×6 boards to build a simple box with no bottom. He bought weed cloth and attached it to the bottom. I think you can also use newspapers, but we forgot to hold ours out of the recycle bin. Here, my husband and youngest daughter attach the weed cloth.
The vermiculite is the white stuff in the photo. It was the hardest to find and also the most expensive of the three items. The brown is peat moss and the black is cow manure compost. My husband mixed all of that together in batches on a tarp in the yard and then shoveled it into our three boxes.
The cost for the gardens, wood and all was about $40 per box. That was a bit more than I thought it would be, but in the end it will be worth it. Next year, we will only need to add more compost. We still need to add the grids that make planting the garden easy and also give it the distinctive “square foot garden” look.
I’ve ordered strawberries, potatoes, carrots and lettuce seeds already. We’ll also plant tomatoes, cucumber, various peppers, basil, parsely and maybe some other herbs.
Want to join me on this gardening journey? I’m giving away one new copy of The All New Square Foot Gardening, which will be sent to the winner directly from Amazon. To enter all you need to do is tell me if you are going to be growing a garden this summer, what it will be like and if you’ve ever grown one before. Leave me a comment with your answer. One entry per person. The contest will run until Monday, April 13. Winner will be chosen randomly.