Step 2: fill it with the right soil

gardner & bloome compostIf you don’t have the right soil mix, it’s a gamble on whether or not you’ll have a great square foot garden. The perfect soil can be made-mixed-in less than 20 minutes. What’s the main complaint during the garden season with your neighbors besides weeds? It’s “my soil is terrible…” The perfect soil is made up of equal parts-by volume not weight-of peat moss, compost, and course vermiculite. If you can’t find course, get medium. If you can’t get medium, get fine. If you can’t get vermiculite at all, don’t buy perlite. It’s useless in these gardens. This gets to be rather pricey, but it’s a one time expense if you make your own compost. If you don’t, you’ll always need a bag of compost around to amend your soil throughout the year. I bought one of those Rubbermaid tubs at K-Mart-the kind with ropes on each end. It’s simply a matter of filling that up to the top with peat moss and dumping that in your box. Do the same thing with the vermiculite and the compost. Mix it all up and wet it down. It’ important to do this. These gardens hold a tremendous amount of water because of the vermiculite. And that’s one of the main reasons we use it. I’ve made my own compost for 14 or 15 years and it’s easy. It’s also free with all the waste ingredients that come out of your kitchen. If I had to go out and buy commercially available compost, this is the variety I recommend. It doesn’t have any wood chips in it, and it doesn’t have any peat moss. This is unlike the Kellogg’s brand which has quite a bit of wood chips in it. This product has 8 or 9 different things in it which make it an excellent choice. How much soil will you need? Easy. All you do is take the measurements of your garden box. Let’s say it’s a single 4X4′ box. 4X4=16. Because you only need 6 inches of soil, you now cut that number in half. So that leaves you with 8 cubic feet of soil ingredients that you’ll need to fill your box. That means you will need approximately 3 cubic feet of vermiculite, 3 cubic feet of compost, and 3 cubic feet of peat moss. If you box was 4X8′ it would be different. 4X8=32. 32 divided by 2 equals 16. So this means you would need approximately 5 cubic feet of each of the 3 ingredients, plus a tad more to finish it off. I use compost to finish everything. Pretty simple. Now you have your box and it’s filled with the perfect soil that took you 20 minutes to mix. You’re almost ready…

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