Square Foot Garden

So, this past weekend I finally went down and picked up the wood to build my first two 4 x 4 foot 6 inch deep boxes for our Square Foot Garden following Mel Bartholomew’s directions….well mostly. This might be a good time to learn from my mistakes or in other words don’t do what Troy did.

Okay Troy, so what did you do?

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time and I know I probably should have reread the chapter in the book before heading down to Lowe’s but dangit I was in a hurry to get started. So I took my 4 year old son Kyle and we’re down there at Lowe’s and I started off by picking up a pair of new chainsaw chains and a chainsaw sharpening kit because I wore the blades out on my old chain last week cutting up a bunch of free firewood my buddy Layne was giving me. Now, if you’ve ever gone shopping with a four year old you know it can be difficult to think straight about the task at hand while dealing with “Daddy I don’t want to be in the cart, I want to be down there, no up here, no over there, what’s this, what’s that?” So cut me a little slack please! 😉

I’m over in the lumber section looking to see what they have and I see some real good looking pressure treated 2 x 6 boards 8 feet long for what seems like a good price so I load them up. Anyone see the mistake yet? So, because these boxes will be near a Maple Tree and Mel advises you should put about a 3/4″ plywood bottom on your boxes in such case so the tree roots don’t decide to come up right into your box to soak up all that nice moisture and nutrients you’re putting in there for your plants. So I grab a 4′ x 8′ sheet of pressure treated 3/4″ plywood to make my bottoms out of because I figure if this is going to be in direct contact with the soil and pretty much always moist I want treated wood so it lasts a long time. I truck on over to get my wood cut which is when I learn it is against Lowe’s policy to cut pressure treated wood. The guy even tells me that when he worked Home Depot they always cut pressure treated wood for the customers but at Lowe’s it’s forbidden due to the toxicity of the chemicals in the wood. You would think that might have set off alarm bells in my head right?

So, anyway, I am pretty ticked off about this poor customer service at this point and am about to head on over to Home Depot to buy from them instead. But after some thought I decide I really don’t want to deal with another store, with Kyle who is already cranky about this one, gathering up all my stuff again, etc. So I go ahead and get the full size boards, load them into the back of my truck to go ahead and cut them myself at home. Of course they stick out in the back a bit since I couldn’t get them cut and of course that full sheet of plywood was heavy and a pain in the butt to slide in under my tool box but thankfully a kind gentleman in the parking lot sees the situation and me dealing with this and the 4 year old so he gives me a hand loading it in.

It wasn’t until I am heading home that I think to myself…“I wonder if it’s a good idea to be growing vegetables that we’ll be eating in boxes made of treated wood?” So I do a search and low and behold there are numerous posts on gardening forums strongly advising against it. But, at least one person does advise that if you do decide to use treated wood then line the interior of the boxes with thick plastic to prevent the toxins from leeching into your soil and your plants. So that is what I did as you can see from the pics and i still need to attach the grids on top and add a bit more of the Mel’s mix but they should soon be ready to go. I am planning to also build the protective, removable covers to keep birds and other undesirables away from the plants. I guess, on the plus side, these boxes should last a good long time but the next ones I build will NOT be made from treated wood.

Oh, one other thing I noticed. I didn’t leave the recommended three feet of space in between the boxes. I might see if I can move them apart a bit before I plant stuff in them. Wish I would have thought about that before we loaded the soil in and wet it down. Doh!

2 Responses to Square Foot Garden

  1. Avatar Bradley Ellis
    Bradley Ellis says:

    Good story! Yes, I snapped to the pressure-treated wood thing right away. I have three courses of cedar 4×4's forming a 5×12-foot planter in front of the house. The plan was to grow vegetables, so we went with the cedar. I need to build some planters in the back yard, too, this year. I might go with cedar again. ~Bradley

  2. I like the idea of using cedar. I used cedar planks to line the bottom of the back fence back when we had the bunny so we could let him hop around the yard and not get out.