Qualities Of Good Growing Soil
One of the reasons why SFG works is because Mel developed a formula for the growing medium that provides all the benefits that a successful vegetable garden needs:
- good drainage
- air circulation around the roots
- a steady supply of nutrients for the plants.
No matter where you live in the country, the dirt in your backyard will not be sufficient for a successful vegetable garden. You're dealing with clay, sand, rocks, and other lifeless stuff.
The first SFG book that Mel published contained a formula for building the needed growing medium. Mel suggested 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 compost. Over the years, many people have had great success with this formula. SFG'ers that have failed typically try some variation on this formula and mixing it into the existing dirt, thinking that clay, sand, and rocks are somehow still good growing mediums. Bad idea.
Now Even More Convenient
Several years ago Mel started selling bags of Mel's Mix. This makes it easier than ever to start your vegetable garden with a successful growing medium. No more hassle of trying to find vermiculite in the small quantity needed for your first SFG. The compost component of the Mel's Mix bags contains at least 5 different ingredients including bat guano, worm castings, and dried kelp. Why mess with any other brand of potting soil when you know that you're getting the proven vegetable formula straight from Mel?
The garden beds do not need to be deep, just 6" will suffice for most crops. So building a shallow raised bed and filling it with the proper growing medium is not an expensive venture. A 4'x4' box just 6" deep is 8 cubic feet is volume. Mel's Mix comes in 2 cubic foot bags, so 4 bags will fill your 4'x4' box.
Building a 4'x4' 6" tall raised bed costs about $20-$25 in raw materials for a DIY project. The expense of $15 per bag of Mel's Mix may seem high at first. But consider this: The one-time investment of $85 will provide $150-$200 of food per year. So with a 6-month break-even point, and a garden that will last several years, you will save 10 times the initial investment, not to mention the health benefits of your own organic vegetables that haven't been warehoused, trucked, and touched by countless germy grocery store customers before you.
If you've had a brown thumb in the past, make the small investment to start your SFG garden bed properly. Learn what to sow, and when to sow, for your area. Follow this proven method of vegetable gardening and you will wonder why you waited so long.
Questions about your garden? Trying things that are working? Not working? Need to talk? Am I asking too many questions? Chat it up below ...