Just got a new book: "All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew.
He dismisses conventional row gardening and promotes a different model. His
garden consists of, for example, a 4x6 foot 6" tall framed area with a
special mix of soil. Into this arrangement, he plants stuff within each
square foot (16 radishes or 1 lettuce). His garden is easier to tend, free
of weeds, and produces more vegetables than the standard model.
His "Mel's Mix" of soil consists of equal parts of three ingredients:
1/3 Peat Moss
He urges that the manure be made up of at least five different sources. That
way you get cow manure, mushroom compost, compost made from fast-food
scraps, etc., rather than just one source.
His book also give you recommended planting density (in parens below) by
categorizing plants based on their size.
Extra Large- (1) - Broccoli, cabbage, Pepper
Large (4) - Leaf lettuce, chard, Marigold
Medium (9) - Bush bean, Spinach, beet
Small - (16) - Carrot, radish, onion
That is, you can plant 16 radishes in one square foot.
By the way, he does not support this "throw in a lot of seeds, then thin"
business. For him, it's one seed = one plant.
Anyway, I got my 3x6 foot bed built and filled with Mel Mix soil. Tomorrow
Watch this space for future updates.
This a totally viable option for gardening.
Sunset did some articles a while back.
I've toyed with switching over but my garden is already setup &
functioning and it seemed like extra work to change methods.
If I were starting out or starting over in a new space, I'd definitely
I agree with him as to one seed one plant (if possible); I never liked the sow
promicuously and thin.
Re: Mel's Mix - does it include any just plain dirt? Not clear if Mel's Mix
consists of modifiers added to soil -- or is that it?
On Tue, 4 Jun 2013 00:50:43 -0700 (PDT), firstname.lastname@example.org
We've gardened for about 60 years now. We tried his method when
his first book came out. It's okay but we like our own variation
of container gardening. I built some stands 3 feet tall. I then
adapted the "Walmart" tub garden to a TSC 40 gallon rubber
livestock watering tub. And set those on the stands. No stooping,
no weeding, just plant, water and harvest. We do not buy veggies
anymore. Haven't for years. Oh, rabbit shit is the only
fertilizer. Use it hot or cold.
Here's where our idea came from:
I use a 4x4 x3 high frame of landscape timbers secured with pieces of rebar. Mix
of potting soil and peat moss. Use it for tomatoes mostly -- 4 plants in wire
frames. Put my sprinkler in the middle with a timer and low flow. Works great.
While I think the raised bed premise has merit- I take exception with
"How to grow veggies in 2-4 square feet"
When what they are showing is beds that are 2-4 feet square.
Corn isn't a good choice for raised beds-- though it might be
adaptable to square-foot gardening.
a bunch of container/raised bed gardens.
This year I haven't had time to really 'garden' -- but I made a
~1.5x3' earth box & it holds a tomato plant and a couple cukes. Looks
promising so far.
+1 on the Earthbox idea- so far. My first one went out 30 days
before I was comfortable putting tomatoes in the garden, and is 60
days ahead of the garden.
I followed these for my 'Self-watering container'-
Must have time on his hands.
You never get 100% germination of seeds.
And different plants have different soil requirements.
You certainly don't want to be growing root vegetables in
fresh manure (mixture).
Raised bed culture has been known about for millenia.
Just another celebrity tosspot gardener trying to sell books.
He didn't say fresh manure, did he? And nobody mucks about with
different soils for different plants in their garden.
Yeah, and Mel is the guy who brought the concept to the West's
attention...in the 1970s. He's been doing it for nearly a
half-century. This is just the latest edition of his book on the subject.
Another oldtime gardening practice that's enjoying a resurgence is
straw bale gardening, where you grow plants in/on partly decomposed
straw bales. No need to mess about with garden beds, pots, or dirt.
You can position straw bales on patios or driveways or wherever the
sun is on your property.
No plain dirt. The growing medium's composition is as was stated: 1/3
Vermiculite, 1/3 Compost, 1/3 Peat moss. One benefit is that there are no
weed seeds in the mixture. Any seeds in the peat moss wouldn't survive the
several thousand years it took to produce the stuff and seeds in the compost
probably wouldn't survive the 150 degrees hit during the decomposition.)
The disadvantage is the cost. For example, Vermiculite costs $35+ for 4
cubic feet. A ten by four bed would need 6+ cubic feet.
Holy crap-- I'll have to be more careful with my 30gallon bin of that
stuff. I don't think I paid $10 for it maybe 5-10yrs ago. I bought
a couple bags from an insulation place. I wonder what made it
go up so.
Google 'vermiculite asbestos' and you'll see why. Basically, the
world's largest vermiculite mine (located in Montana) produced
vermiculite contaminated with asbestos. Most vermiculite sold in the
US up till 1990 came from that mine, and is most likely contaminated.
That mine is now closed and vermiculite mined from other locations is
tested to ensure that it does not contain asbestos. It's also why the
majority of potting/soil mixtures sold in the US no longer contain
much, if any, vermiculite. Between its reputation and expense, it's a
I have a Victorian gardening book describes the same thing.
(Over one hundred years old)
Recommends it for poorly drained soils such as clay.
Which is about all it's usefull for.
Also describe hotbed culture, ( Straw below the beds)
Used for raising semi tropical plants.. A form of heating as it rots
So, just another tosspot with nothing new except a book to push.
All good gardeners muck about with their soil.
I have added sharp sand and lots of organic material to mine as it is
a clay. Common practice.
Different soils are better for different vegetables.
How much gardening have you done that you don't know this?
Yes, but they don't do it on a row-by-row basis, they apply it to the
entire garden bed.
I've just spent the last five minutes laughing. For you, it's a
pastime. For me, it's been a lifelong (thirty-five years so far) paid