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Squareish Foot Gardening

Build or buy? A question that I wrestled with for weeks. Do I build my raised beds from scratch ,or, do I buy a kit and assemble them. I'm partial to my own build, simply because I like what I like, and I can build it exactly how I want it. Unfortunately, plannning a new gardening project in the middle of a pandemic presents a myriad of problems--availability being the biggest challenge. I knew I wanted to use cedar as it weathers best and I didn't want to have to rebuild a few years out. My cedar fence, while seeing better days is still holding up after 25 years, so I was willing to spend the extra dollars for the cedar.

Finding the cedar was another story. I checked every big box store in a 25 mile radius and other than a few pieces here and there (and let me tell you, the quality of the wood I did find was atrocious and the price... outrageous). Talk about frustration. I did check some local lumber yards, but their prices were even more ridiculous. Why so expensive? Everyone I spoke to in my search blamed it on the pandemic and subsequent wood shortage.

Okay, so it was time to resort to plan B. Look into buying raised bed kits. There are so many choices out there with many different opinions. I knew I wanted "manageable" beds--something small enough that I could reach every point in the bed, and, would also fit in my designated space--remember my backyard is postage stamp size. I decided a 3x6 bed would suit my needs. So the search began. I started with all my online favorites--Amazon, Wayfair, Hayneedle, Target, Gardener's Supply, etc.

I found a cedar raised bed kit that got great reviews, looked easy to assemble, was slightly marked down, and, in stock on Wayfair. I ordered two kits and was so impressed with the quality, I ordered an additional one. At the time, they were $146.99 (they are currently at $167.00). While I was still in the return window, we took one out and temporarily set-it up so we could evaluate the quality. The ends are half-lapped which makes them quite study and there is minimal hardware required for assembly. There's a metal pin/rod that slides down into each corner to hold everything in place. They are listed as 36x72 inches, however, when we measured them they actually came out a couple of inches shorter... maybe they didn't factor in the wood dimension? This was a bit disappointing since I was planning to use the Square Food Gardening method and had my heart set-on using this inventive tool--a Seeding Square--to layout my bed (please note the two links below are affilitate links. I earn a very small commission if you purchse through these links--the price you pay is totally unaffected... Thank you for purchasing through the Bumbling Gardener):

You press this square into the soil to deliniate each square. The Square is marked for 1, 4, 9, and 16 seeds per squre foot. You just poke the included dibble in the hole and plant your seed--easy peasy.

Of course, the lovely 18 squares I was planning for each raised bed would now work out to 15 lovely squares with an additional three squareish squares. UGH...for someone that likes everything just so, this will torture me everytime I work in my raised beds. One thing I am working on is letting my perfectionism go--perfectionism and gardening are not a pretty marriage.

I also purchased this book by Mel Bartholomew. My dad had a first edition of this book (I wish I still had it). Mr. Bartholomew is the square foot gardening guru who walks you through the principals of this gardening method from the ground up. The notion of square foot gardening is very nostalgic for me as I can remember watching Mr. Bartholomew on PBS with my dad back in the 80's--happy memories. At the time of this writing, the book is 50% off. What a great gift for the gardener in your life, especially if you include the Seeding Square!

Square foot gardening is based on these basic principals:

  • Raised beds allows you to build the perfect growing medium for maximum output

  • High yield from a relatively small space as compared to row planting

  • Less weeding, watering, and worrying about pests

  • Controlled planting reduces waste--you only plant what you need resulting in using less seeds

Together, we will continue to learn about square foot gardening--planning, planting, and harvesting a raised bed vegetable and cut flower garden. Many thanks for joining me on this journey! Bumbling Gardener--Flowers. Vegetables. Weeds.

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