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square foot garden questions for missoula folks  RSS feed

 
Andy Commons
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Hey everyone,
I'm reading the book about square foot gardening and am getting psyched to build it this spring, but I have a few questions. I'd appreciate your thoughts.

First, re: the issue of wild beasts. My neighborhood in the Grant Creek area get uptight about fences. We also have a few rules in place to prevent attracting bears (like don't put out your garbage can the night before pickup, and take down your bird feeders when bears are active.

Q1 - Will my garden be an attractant to bears?


Q2 - I'm thinking of building my frame a little taller than 6 inches (12 perhaps) and putting 6" of rotting sticks in first, as a bit of hugulkultur action to help reduce the need to water when it gets into August. Will 6 inches of sticks even help?

Q3 - the book just says to put the frame on top of the grass with weed cloth. OK, but would it not even do better if I dug up the grass and gave the roots the chance to head even deeper? If they wanted to send a tap root way down, why would I want to prevent that with weed cloth?

Q4 - seeds or starts. I might try both and see which do better. Thoughts?

Q5 - when should I start planting?
 
Andy Commons
Posts: 28
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Paul, I'd be interested in your thoughts on this topic. Seems no one else wants to weigh in.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22179
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Q1)  I dunno.  I've never heard of that.  I do know that bears like some fruit trees and bee hives. 

Q2)  6 inches helps.  Personally, I wouldn't fool with anything less than 18 inches tall.  In missoula, getting an extension on the season is a BIG help!

Q3) frame?  I read SFG about 15 years ago - I don't remember anything about a frame.

Q4)  Seeds.  I'm now against transplanting just about anything.

Q5)  It depends on what you are trying to plant.  The one thing that is truly excellent about SFG is the charts on when to plant stuff.  The average last frost date for the missoula area is June 1.
 
Andy Commons
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Thanks Paul!

I'll let you know how it goes. Perhaps I'll be a subject of a future video!
 
Mary James
Posts: 145
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
4
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Hey there Andy,
Not Paul here I see he has already answered.These are from my experiences of course and only ment to confuse you,,LOL,, Okay or at least give you some other things to consider..

Q1)  Bears, depending on the area and if they frequent..Do not use fish based fertilizers as they love them.Also be careful with bone and blood meals.Living in Bear country most my life I can tell you this will not necessarily bring them in but if they do come across it they will dig up plants, go through greenhouse etc for a tasty sample at times..

Q2), Not really one of my more knowledgeable areas. I have done raised beds with many other types of compostables including manures and such to  bring in warmth to help push our seasons.

Q3)Frames, I know this goes both ways some people like their frames and others do not.If doing this I preferred to teach people to use the frame for the convenience of a raised bed as well as maintenance surrounding them.However the planting depths depends totally on what crops your wishing to produce here.For shallow rooted crops like your greens and such the six in on grade is fine.However for the larger crops myself I would dig down for the added depth.

Q4) Seeds or transplants.What are we planting...hmmmm I like to push the zones as much as possible so I like my transplants for the usual tomatoes, peppers, etc. I do tend to run transplants of some of the cooler weather crops  such as the brussel sprouts, cauliflower and such..Seeds  of cooler weather plantings like your greens and such..

Q5) The SFG charts in the book in my shelf does have the dates for various as well as the rotation times and such.However I have always found that in Montana it is better to play with them and push them around if you can.Go that distance make the removable plastic tunnels and such and you will find you can push the planting times.This is kind of hard to answer with out knowing whats on your garden list.


 
 
                                                  
Posts: 18
Location: Near Butte MT
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Q1 - Will my garden be an attractant to bears? 


no bears here,but rabbits, chipmunks and deer will go after any garden.  Last year had an annoying mouse that invaded my greenhouse (cant let the cats as they thnk my fluffy beds are better than a catbox)


Q2 - I'm thinking of building my frame a little taller than 6 inches (12 perhaps) and putting 6" of rotting sticks in first, as a bit of hugulkultur action to help reduce the need to water when it gets into August. Will 6 inches of sticks even help?

drainage is always good... fluffy beds drain pretty well tho.  Back inthe dy Mel encouraged double digging ( i have even been known to tripple dig) 



Q3 - the book just says to put the frame on top of the grass with weed cloth. OK, but would it not even do better if I dug up the grass and gave the roots the chance to head even deeper? If they wanted to send a tap root way down, why would I want to prevent that with weed cloth?


I tried the just build thebed on grass - but my grass is kuackgrass (my letter "cue" key is dead on my keyboard 
and it will come up thru almost anything.  the only way to kill kwackgrass is to starve it out for at least 2 year, 3 is best. Completely cover the area (i use old carpet) do not water or let any light in.

I use both structured beds and freeform raisedbeds

Q4 - seeds or starts. I might try both and see which do better. Thoughts?

I use both where i can, but my area only get 80 days frost to frost so I use alot of started plants

Q5 - when should I start planting?

We cant plant outdoors here till June first , we plant potatoes on Memorial Day - may look niceer before but they always get frosted back.
 
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