Hi! I'm Belinda, a Square Foot Gardener and a Certified Instructor of the Square Foot Gardening method. I am also the Head of Operations at Square Foot Gardening.Com and a Master Gardener with the Utah State University extension.
Square Foot Gardening is by far the most hassle free way to grow food. Read on and see why!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Successfully Making Mels Mix

Have you made your own Mel’s Mix? Was it successful for you? Here are some tips to help ensure your garden thrives in Mel’s Mix. 1. Use a variety of composts! Some of Mels’ favorites are blood and bone meal. Try to include dairy and poultry manures, fine mulch and worm castings. The 1/3 compost ingredient holds the nutrients portion for your plants to grow on. Don’t skimp here, and the more the better! 2. Moisten Mels Mix well as you pour it into your box. This gives your seeds and starts a good moist foundation for the season. Mel’s Mix is easy and fun to make but sometimes the resources may not be available in your area. You may be hesitant to spend the money and do the guesswork to make your own Mel's Mix. If this is the case, we have shipped an entire truckload of the official pre made,bagged soil to Utah! Mel’s Mix is available in Pleasant Grove. Visit 1075 N 1300 W Monday-Saturday 9-5 or Call/Text 801-427-0563

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How to Make Your Own Professional Growing Soil: Mels' Mix

The Square Foot Gardening method allows you to grow your vegetables in just 6" of soil, a special soil that we put together ourselves. It is called Mel's Mix and we can compare it to a professional growing medium like the garden centers use to grow their seeds and starts. We use three ingredients:
Peat Moss, Coarse Vermiculite and Blended Compost
Mels Mix consists of these 3 ingredients
The blended compost is the most important as it contains the nutrients needed for robust garden growth. We need to obtain at least five different types for this blend. If you are purchasing composts, look for a fine wood mulch or forest humus, worm castings, dairy and poultry manures, bone and blood meal, potting and garden soils are acceptable but may have peat moss in them already.
Square Foot Gardening is all about simplicity. To mix these soil ingredients just lay out a tarp near your box and roll it back and forth. We happen to be making it on a large scale in Pleasant Grove, Utah. We buy our ingredients in bulk and use a cement mixer. Our peat moss comes from a peat moss farm near Utah Lake and contains natural potassium, phosphate and nitrogen. Our blended compost sources from a local farmer who grows food and raises all kinds of animals. We are in full scale production of Mels' Mix now. Just call 801-427-0563 or visit www.squarefootgardening.com to order your Mels' Mix and get planting right away.

Mels Mix production in Pleasant Grove, Utah

Mels Mix available in 1.5 cubic ft bags

Friday, April 10, 2015

Conserving Water by Square Foot Gardening

I received some more counsel from Mel Bartholomew about WHY we use a simple bucket of sun warmed water for the Square Foot Garden. Here's what Mel says-

"Here’s WHY ? The  water right from a house faucet is cold, and filled with chlorine and any other chemicals the town uses to treat and purify home water.  I learned this when raising tropical fish at home.  You never fill a new aquarium tank with tap water and then put the fish right in. They will turn belly up and die from the cold water and 

chlorine.  Best to let the filled tank sit overnight and all the chlorine will evaporate into the air and then the water will be room temp and chemical free for the fish. (See now why we use a bucket of sun-warmed water instead of hosing  down our SFG?) 

 Same thing goes for your precious plants in your SFG. That’s why the official-correct way to water a Square Foot Garden  is from a bucket of sun warmed water.  Besides you are using only 10 % of the water needed to water a traditional row garden and best of all, your hand watering gets you close to your plants, and just like children, you are nurturing your plants.

 In addition, sprinkling the plant  tops  is just wasted, unneeded, and sometime s detrimental   so in SFG, we hand water with a cup of sun warmed water right to that slight saucer shape you created at the base of the plant so all the water goes right to the root structure where it is needed.     Doesn't  all that make sense?

 No other method of gardening tells you that. Stick with SFG and you can’t go wrong."  -Mel 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Best Materials for Your Square Foot Garden Grid

Here are some tips from Mel himself on what to use and what not to use when putting together a grid for your Square Foot Garden.

Visit a thrift store and look for venetian blinds that usually come in just the right 3 or 4' lengths. Wood lath is found at most hardware stores and very inexpensive. Some other creative recycling ideas are old ski poles and arrows. You will need six grid pieces for a 4x4 size box. Simply connect the strips at the intersections with small screws. It does not need to be secured to the box but can lay right on top of the soil.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Let's Get Growing!

I guess you could say we're lucky here in Utah. We've had a mild winter and Spring has come early. Of course, we could use more moisture, that's for sure. I wonder if the California drought is spreading this direction! Square Foot Gardening is a great way to conserve water. We water by hand from a bucket of sun warmed water that we keep near our raised bed. Its very handy and the plants respond favorably to the warmed water, just like people do.
  I've planted a number of seeds already, some outside and some in my greenhouse. The outside plantings have been lettuces, carrots, spinach, cilantro,and potatoes. The winter was so mild my parsley is still alive. My chives are getting stronger,they are perennial and I really enjoy them in my salads and other dishes for a mild onion flavor. In my greenhouse I have started several varieties of tomatoes,zucchini, butternut squash, peppers, and pumpkin. I won't transplant these until the middle of May here in my climate zone.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Today's Harvest

The sun was out today and I decided to grab my large basket and see what I could gather from my Square Foot Gardens.  I've had a great season with tomatoes this year,

especially Roma's. They are the best for making thick tomato sauces. I wash them and blend them uncooked, skin and all then store in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Sometimes I'll add garlic onion and basil as well. My bell peppers have been the best ever for me. I've learned that they need a hotter soil (more nitrogen) so I made sure they had plenty of my composted chicken manure. I let some of my carrots (growing in a 12" deep box ) get a little too large and they may be a little tough to eat raw but should be okay steamed or add to a smoothie . I've heard the carrot tops are edible too and could be tossed in the smoothie as well. Then again, my chickens really like them too.  I thought I better dig up some young onions before colder weather set in.  I still have  zucchini and crooneck plants thriving under the eave of my front porch as well as lemon cucumbers. Butternut squash  is one of my new favorites to grow.

And we can't forget our beloved pumpkins for the month of October. I'll set them out on the front porch for a little while and then bake and purée them for the freezer to add to smoothies or for homemade pumpkin pie.



Friday, September 5, 2014

The Portable Garden

Here is a photo of my garden layout that I took about 3 years ago. It got plenty of sun at this time and the boxes were retaining their nutrients well for optimal vegetable growth.

This photo was taken today. As you can see the red maple tree nearby has gotten very large. It now shades my garden area too much during the day.  I found that the trees roots were also find their way into my garden beds and using nutrients meant for my vegetables. I decided it was time to relocate these boxes to a sunnier spot away from the tree.  Luckily I have a good space on the south side of my house.

It's a pretty simple process to move the gardens. This photo shows the soil still intact after lifting the box right off. I do that first and place the box in the new spot. Then I fill the wheelbarrow with the Mels Mix soil and take it to the new location and dump it in the box. Mels Mix can be used year after year and only needs to be replenished with 1/3 compost each season. I even tried to reuse weed cloth or landscape fabric  that I had down here if it was still intact and of course put that down before the box. The brand of weed cloth I bought from Costco was in very good shape and worked fine. I will shovel up the bark chips too to place in the aisles of my new setting.

Here's the new location in process.  See the little volunteer apple tree between the boxes? I'm going to let it grow a while there then transplant it somewhere else.