Mobile Alabama Square Foot Gardening Plan
- Gardening Year: 2012
- Location: Mobile, AL (on the Gulf of Mexico)
- Planting By Color: White/Olive
Mobile, AL: My Garden Plan…noobie and trying!
My wife and I live in Mobile, AL and we are getting ready to start our first SFG. Until last year, we had never grown anything. Our neighbor gave us a couple of tomato plants and we just stuck them in two 5 gallon bucks on our patio. They didn’t get much attention, but the tomatoes were wonderful. I hadn’t tasted a ‘mater’ like that since I was a child. A few days ago we found ourselves talking about the tomato plants…and here we were!
Using companion planting guides, etc, etc, for the veggies we want, we have decided on doing two plots, one 4×8 and a 4×4. This will be going over our existing lawn. I have got to do some additional reading on these subjects; how deep the box should be, how to kill the grass and whether or not to use a weed barrier under the frame (bottom of the box)? …there is so much to learn!
Time constraints will prohibit me from doing Mel’s Mix for the soil. There is a farm close to our house that will sell me their compost in minimal quantities (a yard or two). This on-going compost pile is 17 years old and they work it with a large track-hoe.
After a long discussion on what I was doing, he recommended a 60% compost and 40% topsoil mix. When I inquired why the mix, he said the compost by itself would be too light (given the depth of my bed) and I could have plants that could possibly blow over (corn, etc). He said the topsoil mix would help hold everything together and it would still be a very light and airy soil. (he also concluded that that is what his wife uses on a small raised garden at the house).
We have greatly enjoyed reading all the info and I am in hopes of finding a few local folks that are doing a SFG. It would be nice to look at another project, first hand! Thanks again!
It’s so fun to start your first garden!
*If you are planting over grass, spend the time and money to REMOVE the grass first. Trust me, you will be glad you did. You will also be happier if you rent a sod cutter and quickly cut out the squares you need. You can do it by hand (I have!) and it’s so much back-breaking work. I would put down a weed barrier. I did (double layer) my first year and I still have TONS of earthworms. It degrades over time, but that first year helps keep the grass in check. If your beds are more shallow, you may opt out so you can utilize the soil underneath.
*Build your beds at least 10″ high. Especially if you live in a warmer area–I found that some of my plants didn’t like the roots to get so warm. Going from 6″ to 12″ of soil made a huge difference!
*Another idea I’ve heard is to dig down 6″ into the soil, then mix that with Mel’s Mix. It will contain weed seeds, but gives you more depth to grow for less money (in materials and soil).
*The compost from the local farm is GOLD! It is true that Mel’s mix is very light and won’t support plants like corn. However, it’s also well-draining and easy to work with and should not contain any weeds. I spend less than 1% of my time weeding. I would add some peat moss (cheap and easy) to the mix you’re considering and call it good.
*Some things to consider: put plants that go in early and harvest at the end of the season in the middle (ie: onions), and others that have a continuous harvest or a short growing cycle on the outside, easy to reach (green beans, peppers, etc).
*You might want to move your squash to the outside. It tends to get big, and this allows it to spread without covering all the other plants.
Looks great! Take pictures and follow up to let us know how it went!
Top soil that you buy in bags is the cause of all your weeds. I’ve read that the bagged top soil is from farmers. They scrape all their top soil and usually it has tons of weed seeds in it. Also, corn has to be grown together so it will pollinate. They recommend not rows but blocks. I grew my first gardens last year. I put three corn plants in a row and got nothing. Then I read more about it. I put a block of four and they were the best corn I’ve ever had.
Thanks for the input…sincerely appreciated. We are beginning to see the potential overcrowding issue! We may have to do some thinning, etc before things get out of hand! Interesting about the stagnet air.
You mentioned a SFG friend in B’ham; would that be Kim? If so…I know her!
Our rushed planning on our soil is starting to show itself with numerous weeds springing up. We have been discussing this issue and feel certain that next spring we will be be starting with a well thought out Mel’s Mix! thanks again!…
Thanks for the welcome!
Thanks for the input. We ended up using cardboard in the bottom to help kill the existing grass. The cardboard was sprayed with water for several minutes prior to putting the dirt on top. I’m in hopes that it will break down quickly to allow earthworm and root movement. We also added quite a few worms to the bed.
I live in the Pensacola/Milton area-not too far from you. We can’t grow onions here except in the fall/winter. It is just too hot for them in the spring on the Gulf Coast.
I am a newbie too, but I thought I’d chime in with what I’ve read from Mel and here.
You need to spread out your tomatoes (use fewer). I’m told you’ll need 2 blocks per vining (indeterminate) variety or as many as 4 blocks (2×2) per bush-type (determinate). I think you will need to plant bush-type beans for the second row of the smaller bed since you can’t easily trellis them in that location. You need more space for the squash as well and they will need a trellis unless you give them a 2 x 2 area. That is a LOT of squash, so plant a variety.
Your tall plants (sunflower) on the edge of the garden are going to make reaching the interior plants very difficult, especially in the larger bed.
Finally, we are in Birmingham, and my dear friend did SFG for a couple of years. She suggests not planting as densely as Mel does because of the humidity and stagnant air. She had a real problem with disease.
Good luck and have fun! I got pretty frustrated in the planning stages, but my spring veggies are on their way despite the heat and we are enjoying the process.
Hi! We just moved from that area (Mobile, AL) to the Savannah, GA area!! Good luck with your garden!
I chose not to put weed cloth underneath even though Mel recommends it. My reasoning was I wanted earthworms to be able to crawl up from the existing soil, and I wanted the longer rooted plants to be able to extend their roots if they needed to. We did put some weed cloth in the border area around the beds and put mulch on top. We pulled up the grass with a sod cutter just to make sure it was gone. We used 12″ deep beds but we only filled to about 10″. I think you might be able to get away with 6″ for everything except the carrots. But I just wanted the flexibility of a deeper bed.