Here's a tried and true, simple formula that is
great for beginners or experienced
vegetable herb gardening alike!
All organic and all natural, too!
1/3 Peat Moss
1/3 Coarse Vermiculite**
1/3 Blended Compost ***
(must be a blend of 5 different types of organic composts, like:
mushroom, horse, cow, earthworm, cotton, hen...
no dog or cat waste nor any meat eating animal manure)
all the nutrients, minerals and trace elements
the correct pH level for just about all plants !
Ok....so a little shopping (or perhaps ordering online) will be necessary to begin "building" your planting mix.
The important ingredient of coarse Vermiculite is usually the toughest to find...however, large bags are extremely lightweight, so should you have to order this product the added shipping cost should be minimal.
Your planting mix will last approximately 10 years
- good to keep in mind as your work through the initial set up.
Just a note: a "pre-mixed" Square Foot Gardening plant mix is becoming available across the country. Before buying all the separate ingredients it may be worth your while to compare purchasing the mix...
Square Foot Gardening Soil can be ordered online from Home Depot and have it shipped anywhere in the continental USA.
The bags are labeled Square Foot Gardening Potting Soil Mix (product #11760).
It is also available at select locations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and New York.
I did ask at my favorite local nursery if they would blend the mix for me and they were unable to help me - but if you have a good working relationship with your local nursery that would be a win-win.
Perhaps because I live in the heart of farmland the philosophy of square foot gardening has not been openly accepted....yet.
Fellow Gardeners...this is important!!!!
THE ONLY TIME you will need to create this mix is the FIRST time you set up your planter boxes....from then on you only add a small amount of the blended composts ... that's it!!!!!
From season to season you just add a little more of the blended composts because the vermiculite and peat will be retained in the boxes!!!!! HOW EASY IS THAT ???
Here are sample products that I have used and have been extremely happy with the results.
Try a tarp like this....nothing fancy...weigh it down...
I had help with my mixing project...so I was able to use entire bags of the mix components at one time....
For those of us with physical limitations, I recommend using a very small measuring container (like a bucket) to create the mix. Remember, we are measuring by volume, not weight.
Yes, it will take longer, but will give the correct quantity and proportion without being nearly so heavy!
If you are like me and need to minimize the weight lifting of heavy bags, then ......
The best way to prepare for mixing would be to blend equal amounts of the 5 composts BEFORE doing any other mixing.
Then you can mix:
Keep on adding in the same
1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3 mix
until your planting box is full.
Check out my step-by-step progress photos.
Once your pile of 1/3 vermiculite plus 1/3 peat moss plus 1/3 blended compost is piled on the tarp....
MIX, MIX, MIX....if the pile seems too dusty sprinkle with just a little bit of water from the hose or watering can.
Now, you are ready to start filling your planting boxes ! :)
SO, you have nutrient rich planter boxes...what kind of planter grids are you going to install?
Due to a back injury, I kept my planter box grids SIMPLE by using the green gardening tape available at the nursery....
Okay, okay ...so I'm fussy about color!...the green tape matched the stain on my fence and planter boxes!...
At planting time I had not fully recovered from my back injury, so I minimized bending over to tack my tape planting grids...
Place your grids....like Mel Bartholomew always says:
"If you don't use grids, it is not a square foot garden!"
The green garden tape added a nice visual, but once again the advice in the "All New Square Foot Gardening" book proved to be correct:
It is better to use sturdy planter box grids
made of wood lath or re-purposed window blinds.
Why sturdy grids?
The grids need to be in place for the entire growing season.
You'll be harvesting and re-planting throughout the season.
I wasted a lot of time and effort
replacing my green tape grids multiple times!