How to Build a Square Foot Garden

Update! Check out our new Square Foot Gardening Infographic for even more tips, diagrams, a plant list and much more.

I recently stumbled upon a book (All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space! by Mel Bartholomew) with an interesting gardening method called square foot gardening, and decided we would give it a try. I’ve always thought the idea of having a vegetable garden would be a lot of fun. Walking out to your square foot garden and picking a fresh tomato for tonight’s dinner appeals to the self-sufficient nature of most frugal individuals.

I know just enough about gardening to know that I am not very good at it, and that it is a lot of work.  My kids have always been fascinated with the idea of growing things, but our soil and our dog make planting anything in the yard impossible.  Enter square foot gardening.

square foot garden box

What is Square Foot Gardening?

The idea behind square foot gardening is that you can plant fruits, vegetables and flowers in raised beds, above infertile soil and even out of the reach of pets. Seeds are planted in 1X1 square foot plots, and when harvested a new plant is installed in the square. Raised beds can sit directly on the ground, or include a bottom layer and be placed on patios, decks or porches. Because of a bad back, and a dog with a propensity to dig up our new plants, we decided to build a 4×2 foot table-top design.

Materials Needed to Set Up a Square Foot Garden

Material costs are variable, depending on the size of garden you plan to build. I personally opted for a 4′ by 2′ configuration because it fit the table we were planning to use. Most people typically start with a 4′ by 4′ design for their first square foot garden. I’ll share with you what materials I used, but keep in mind the pricing could be higher or lower depending on your local costs of lumber, soil, etc.

(1) Sheet untreated plywood – $0.00 (leftover scrap from a previous home improvement project)

(2) 2x6x8 pieces of untreated lumber – $7.38
Don’t get treated lumber because treatments can seep into the soil and contaminate your planting area.

(8) #8 x 3″ Wood Screws (or deck screws) – $2.94
Use these longer screws to connect the corners of the 2×6′s after cutting to the desired length.

(8) #6 x 1″ Wood Screws – $0.98
These were used to anchor the nylon line to create a grid system for the 1×1 planting plots. I also used a few to fasten the sheet of plywood to the 2×6′s to create a bottom to my container.

(1) Pack of Twisted Nylon Line – $4.43
I used this and the smaller screws to create a grid system on top of the container, in 1×1 square foot patterns.

(2) 2cu ft. bags of Miracle Grow Garden Soil (for flowers and vegetables) – $13.54
There were more frugal recipes here for soil, such as 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 vermiculite. However, I could not find the ingredients packaged locally and the individual ingredients bought separately at the larger home improvement stores were more expensive the bags of Miracle Grow.  If you have some compost to mix, such as soil generated from a Mantis ComposT-Twin composter, it would really help your soil.

(10-pack) Strawberry plants – $3.98
(1) Burpee Seed Pack Super Sugar Snap Peas – $1.57
(1) Burpee Seed Pack Tomato, Early & Often Hybrid – $2.47
(1) Burpee Seed Pack Cucumber, Burpless Beauty – $1.88
(1) Burpee Ambrosia Cantaloupe – $1.57
(1) Burpee Danvers Half-Long Carrots – $1.28

I buy our seeds from Burpee Seed Company. Check out the banner at this end of this post for a special offer for Frugal Dad readers.

Total Start-up Cost: $42.02

Building a Square Foot Gardening Box

Square Foot Garden

It was my daughter’s idea to use popsicle sticks to mark the type of fruit or veggie planted. We will fill in the remaining squares after we eat another round of popsicles!

Since we decided to go with raised beds on a table top I checked the dimensions of the table and came up with a suitable size for our square foot gardening container. Four feet by two feet would allow for eight square foot plots for planting. First, cut the 8ft. long 2x6s down to size. Next, position the 2x6s on the table in a rectangular pattern, alternating corners to make the “inside box” dimensions four feet by two feet (I chose not to alternate corners because the table I was working with was only 45 inches wide, so I needed it to be a little narrower). Fasten the sides using the #8×3″ wood screws. If you have trouble with the wood trying to split you may want to first drill pilot holes.

With the sides now fastened it is time to attach a bottom to the container, unless you are planning to put the raised bed directly on the ground. If this is the case, use some cardboard or weed blocking fabric to discourage grass and weeds from coming up through the soil. In my case, the container will be placed on a table top so I needed to attach a bottom to hold the soil in place. Fortunately, I had some untreated plywood I ripped to size. The bottom doesn’t have to be thick, so 1/4″, 3/8″ or 1/2″ plywood would do just fine. Fasten the bottom to the container using the #6×1″ wood screws (assuming you didn’t use 1″ plywood).

Plan for drainage by raising the box up a couple inches. I ripped a couple scraps from the remaining 2x6s and used them to attach four 2″ feet for each corner of the box. I also drilled a few 1/8″ thick drainage holes in the bottom of the box to allow standing water to flow out the bottom.

Create a grid system on top of the square foot gardening container using nylon line and #6×1″ screws, spaced a foot apart across the width and length of the container. Drill the screws about half way into the top of the 2x6s, leaving enough room to tie a knot of nylon line around the screw. If the end of the nylon line frays after cutting (as mine did), use a lighter to gently melt the ends to prevent further fraying.

Irrigating a Square Foot Garden

Watering the Garden

*Unless you already have a drip line and timer prepared for your garden, you’ll have to water manually early on to improve seed germination. If the air is particularly dry, or hot, you will need to constantly keep the soil moist until seeds have sprouted and taken root. One economical way to do this is to fill used water bottles and poke a small hole or two in one side of the bottle using a safety pin. Use your finger to dig a 1/2″ deep trench the length of the bottle and lay the bottle on its side, pin-prick side down, over the trench. The water will slowly drip into the trench, keeping the soil moist for several hours. Obviously when sprouts begin to appear above the surface you want to be sure not to position a bottle directly on top of the struggling plant.

Perform this routine first thing in the morning so soil gradually soaks and then dries throughout the day, and is driest overnight. This reduces the chance of fungus or diseases developing. This is even more important when the plants begin to develop leaves – avoid wetting leaves at all costs as it encourages disease.

*I’ve since improved on this irrigation system as I became more aware of the dangers of heated plastic leeching bad things into the soil

I’m not sure what to expect from this effort in terms of food yields, but just the process of building the box, filling it with dirt and planting seeds with my kids was worth the $40. If the small garden yields a few fruits and veggies during the spring and summer then all the better. Who knows, if we can cultivate a good crop we may build more boxes next summer and section off an area of the yard so the dog does not eat our produce.

I think over time it will help my kids understand the true value of things. Those strawberries don’t just wind up in the produce section of our local grocery stores. As I pointed out to my daughter today someone has to plant the seeds, water the plants, harvest the crops, clean the strawberries, package them, and transport them to a distributor.

Additional Resources:

Comments

  1. Jeff – like I mentioned in the article, even if the garden yields only a few crops, it was worth the time and money just watching the kids get involved! It has generated some other ideas such a building a sand table, a bird feeder, etc.

  2. We’re planning on getting another garden started soon. I always had one growing up and hated working in it. I used to vow that I would never make my kids work in a garden. As soon as we moved into our first house, I planted a huge garden.

    I’ve had one every year up until taking on my current job. It just has me out of town so much that I wouldn’t be able to tend to it properly (been out of town for 7 weeks, home only on weekends).

    My kids though, are old enough (14, 13, 8) to start working in one. I think I’ll break that old vow unless they want to start contributing their babysitting and yard work money toward the groceries!

  3. I LOVE this idea. I have a blank slate for a backyard after moving into a brand new house and I really wanted a MANAGEABLE garden project for the summer when I’m off work. This is the perfect thing for my 6 year old son and I to tackle.
    I especially love the irrigation system. I’m going to start collecting water bottles from my co-workers tomorrow (since I’m too “frugal” to buy water myself).

  4. Master Your Card: Most of the seed packs indicated a 64-85 day window from germination to harvest. I’m guessing around May we may have some cucumbers, green tomatoes, etc, but it make take a little longer for things to fully ripen. The strawberries we planted were actual plants, cut down to the root bulb and just a faint showing of a plant. I imagine (hope) these will take off faster as they tend to be ripe for picking around here in April/May.

  5. I used to have a square foot garden and it did very well. I’m planning on having one this year as well but I’m … well, I’m dreading the building part. Last time I tried to build a square it ended up rather trapezoidal.

  6. I am looking forward to seeing the fruits of your efforts! We did our very first garden last year and I was so suprised at how well I did (black thumb and all) I had low expectations that I would follow through on it so I didn’t pick the best place to plant, just the best spot where no grass was growing. I still managed to have herbs and tons of varieties of tomatos that did well. This year I plan to do things more properly and actually plant in an area that gets full sun. Trial and error, but a great experience for the entire family! Thank you for inspiring me more!

  7. Great post – I am going to try a garden this year. In the past I threw in a few tomato plants and had some luck. This year I would like to try a few varieties on things. Please post an update for us!

  8. thank you so much for posting this! i did a google search for “average start-up square foot garden” and your site was the first to come up. we’re very passionate about growing our own food but we’re also a low-income family and i’ve been, well, FREAKING OUT a bit about how much it might cost to set it up. so thank you for easing my mind! i’ve bookmarked you and i would love to see more pictures and reports as your garden progresses.

  9. I found a website offering free seeds while I was researching gardening this morning .. might be useful to you :)

    We would love to share our seeds with you to make it even easier to try winter sowing! If you would like to receive six packs of seeds ~ our choice of varieties ~ please send a self-addressed #10 business-size envelope with two first class stamps (affixed) for postage to the address below.
    (Please do not use metered postage, use postage stamps.)

    WinterSown.Org Six Pack
    1989 School Street
    East Meadow NY 11554

    All SASEs filled and returned within two weeks of receipt.

    This offer is available to USA residents, if you live in another nation and would like to receive seeds please only send a check for $2.00 USD (US Dollars) with your mailing address to the above address, we’ll provide the envelope for you!

  10. Wow, I love your blog.

    Being a dad in a single income family with a small garden this post couldn’t have been a better fit!

    Thanks

    Albert (www.thoughtsintime.co.za)

  11. Another method that might be right up you frugal folks alley is the no-dig garden. http://www.no-dig-vegetablegarden.com/
    For my own yard, I got a bunch of laundry detergent bottles, cut the tops off them (including the tops of the handles to water with) and some bronze spray paint for my peppers. I am also happy with the 10 cent packages of seeds. Left over seeds from last year do me good, too. For fertilizing, I gathered old piles of horse manure out at a friend’s pasture and bought a mess of earthworms last year that are rather happy in my container garden! Companion gardening is good too. (Carrots/radishes planted at the near edges of my pepper pots–they are ready for harvest before the peppers need that space.)

  12. Thanks for the great article, I’m glad you are enjoying your new square foot garden.

    We ended up fencing off part of our yard to keep our dogs from digging in our garden, but I have been looking into square foot gardening to maximize the amount of produce that we’ll get from our garden this year.

  13. Nice, but I would steer clear of miraclegro soil – loaded up with fertilizers (NPK). Better to go with an organic soil mix, or better still some compost from last year’s vegetable peelings etc.

    Also if you live in a frosty area (as we do in the Northeast), elevating the garden on a table allows cold air to get to the roots from underneath, which can enhance frost damage. It is better to place it on the ground or slightly buried, so there’s only one side (the top) exposed to the cold air. Also cover with a clear plastic sheet until the chance of frost is over (mid May for us).

    One more thing – regarding the comment on using last year’s leftover seeds, we have not had much success with this, and storage conditions are critical. Nasturtium in particular don’t do well if the seeds get damp at all. For the extra investment of $5, it is well worth it to get new seeds. It would be a shame to go to all that effort and have it fail because you cheaped-out on a couple of bucks for new seeds.

    • Not so on the Miracle Grow soil mix – I work with it at my job and use it all the time. If you mix it with your own compost, it will not hurt you at all… give us a break on the Miracle Grow, it’s been used for many many years with great success!

      • So glad to hear that Miracle Grow dirt is good as I purchased six bags on discount due to tears in bags and a customer suggested adding the peat moss which I had since planning to make own dirt. Time has been a dilemma w/two jobs so this is my answer for the moment. I did start some veggies from old seeds and was so pleased so will try again as garden wasn’t ready and neither was i when i attemted to acclimate them outside. I am excited to begin this as it’s been a lifelong dream. wish me luck. thank you, MJ

  14. You really shouldn’t plant cucumbers within 200 feet of cantaloupes or other melons.

    My dad made this mistake years ago in our first garden. We got tough fleshed orangish cucumbers and pale bland melons with weak skins subject to rot. Neither tasted very good, either.

  15. I know this comment is a little tardy, but I wanted to share that we made one of these too – actually, I sent your link to my hubby and he used that to help him! We’re waiting on adding the dirt/plants (since we’re in Ohio and it could frost tomorrow). It is too cute (of course that matters) and I can’t wait to get my fresh veggies!

    BTW – love your site! I’m adding you to my snackable blog listing!

  16. I built my square foot gardening as well and am having a ball. Don’t know if I’ll harvest the first thing or not, but we’ll see. I was going to post a picture but not sure how to do that.

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  18. I’ve made a squarefoot garden myself, but I’ve never seen that type of irrigation system before. Very nice. Great idea!

  19. I am trying this this year and I have only raves about it…I am doing just a few things different but it is the least work I have even put into a garden for the most reward…I mulch everything, paths and plants with hay the way Ruth Stout did,,,,very, very little work involved and so far it is producing so much…here is my blog about it..

    http://oursguarefootgarden.blogspot.com/

  20. I am a few months into my squarefoot garden experience and have great success with minimal effort once the garden was set up. I will say that the most important aspect of the square foot garden is the soils mixture prescribed in the book, 1/3 peat, 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite. If you are going to skimp on any materials don’t skimp on this part, it the key ingredient to success.

  21. Just a thought…..someone may have addressed this. I wouldn’t use plastic bottles to irrigate. On warm/hot days chemicals in the plastic leach into the water and then into the garden soil.

  22. :o ) This is a great idea. So simple and much appreciated. I have recently built my first raised garden bed, not too large but had fun doing it. Although I have used as much recycled stuff as possible has still cost me about $80.00 in materials. I have actually have used treated pine to create my sides (oops) hope it won’t have too detrimental an effect. thanks again. Please send updated photos of your gardens growth. :o )

  23. Great idea – anything to get kids interested in growing their own food.

    I have done something similar by building my own High Density Garden but on a larger scale at 10ft by 10ft. I did not put a base on it but built it on a lawn so I dug the lawn over and then just put my garden on top of it.

    There is more info on this on my website at http://www.highdensitygardening.com/home.html

  24. Start a pile of compost now and keep your eyes peeled for vermiculite (hint: try brickyards). If you thought it was fun with commercial dirt wait until next year when you have black gold and the water properties of vermiculite (or perlite).

  25. Love this idea. i think it will benefit many frugallers who have wanted to dip a toe in to the world of growing their own.

    I will link this article to my blog

    happy Growing

  26. The Square Foot Garden works really well. One way to reduce the cost is to buy the lumber (2×6) in 16 foot lengths and have the store cut it in half twice to get the four (4) 4ft sides. Saves over 30% of the cost on the lumber, as a longer single board is cheaper than two shorter ones.

    Second, in order to give credit where credit is due there is a great book called “All New Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew. Mel invented the square foot gardening concept and had a show on PBS about it. His website link is: http://www.squarefootgardening.com/

  27. Mel Bartholomew, the inventor of the square foot gardening method, (although raised-bed gardening has been around for ever and is basically the same concept) was already mentioned, but I wanted to add that he originated this concept as a way to garden efficiently and cost effectively to the extent that he now has a not-for-profit that promotes the square foot gardening method in urban poor areas of underdeveloped countries where they establish square foot gardens on the rooftops of buildings.

  28. Great article! I don’t think many people realize that they already have all it takes to grow their own food garden. These days it not only makes sense from an economic point of view but it’s also great to get back to the basics. There are many sites on the net that can help. I like http://www.zipharvest.com – one can design and layout a custom garden with minimum effort. They even have a replica of the new Obama victory garden at the White House. Everyone can grow what the president is growing…

  29. I recommend that you do try this method. I use it in High Density Gardening and find that I can grow crops at high density in a small mini plot. I will put 36 radishes in a 12 inch square plot and find that most of them grow. I have also grown carrots at this density, great for mini veg, but grow with 20 in a mini plot for larger carrots. Great fun so just do it.

    There is more info on my website http://www.highdensitygardening.com/home.html

  30. This is great! I love gardening for veggies and I’ve always used small window boxes but I’ve wanted to step it up a notch! Thanks. Plus what betterway to be thrifty than to grow your own veggies!

  31. Gardening is so relaxing and a wonderful way to spend time outdoors. It is one of my favorite hobbies that I love to share with others online! Thanks for taking the time to write this post, I always learn so much about gardening from many different sources online! :)

  32. I built 2 4×4 sq ft gardens several years ago as a test. Not only was it very productive, but maintenance was VERY manageable.

    I’m sure you’ll be delighted with the results!

  33. How’s this for cheating? I go to my local wine shop and ask for the wooden wine boxes (usually French and Italian, sometimes California) and fill them with compost or bagged potting soil and voilà, square foot gardening in chic wine boxes without lifting a hammer! I think they look great and are very functional. They last a couple of seasons and then I go get some more boxes :)

  34. I found square foot gardening a great way to keep the weeds down to a minimum. And lets face it picking weeds is the task that we all dislike the most about having a garden.

  35. Woot! You are my hero. I wanted to do a SMALL garden this year, but I was unsure how to do this because we have an English bulldog who LOVES LOVES LOVES to eat. The tabletop idea is genius! Plus if it bombs, I won’t have messed up the yard! Thank you thank you thank you.

  36. Last year I found local sources for compost, around $20/cubic yard. I love gardening but can’t understand composting. I love the wine box idea by cathleen, comment #124. This is a cheap way to an easy raised garden!

  37. Very clear instructions and a clever idea for irrigation. I am curious, though, what improvement you made to the water bottle irrigation? Quoting:

    *I’ve since improved on this irrigation system as I became more aware of the dangers of heated plastic leeching bad things into the soil

    Thanks,
    Jim

  38. What a GREAT tutorial, just what I’m looking for this time of year! I’ve included this tutorial on my “DIY Vegetable Gardens” page on my website today. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  39. excuse me for being a downer, but i’m confused how spending $43 is a good idea to grow $20 worth of veggies?

    also, you act like this is your idea, and you fail to even credit to Mel Bartholemew except for very brief link to the amazon page where the book is sold. this has been a widely know about method of gardening for 30+ years. the least you could do is acknowledge that you’re stealing ideas to generate page views.

  40. I don’t think the author of this article was attempting to take credit for the idea. As one post pointed out, it’s been done for 30+ years. Mel Bartholomew didn’t invent it, so you could just as easily criticize him for stealing the idea. It’s just a method that’s getting popular and the blogger was sharing her experiences.

  41. I opened this page because I have a raised garden that we tried to elevate to 3 feet high. Our attempt isn’t working.

    Thanks for all the great ideas for being successful with this project.

  42. I have been using the square foot gardening method for almost 15 years. I LOVE IT ! I don’t raise my beds because of the cost of supplies. I have a 15 foot by 10 foot garden and arrange my squares in rows (3 squares to grow in, 1 aisle to walk in , 4 squares to grow in , 1 row to walk in, and 2 more to grow in) . Okay, my squares aren’t exactly 12 inches, but I use the “peas 4 inches apart”, “one tomato or pepper per square” just like the book says. I also did something totally NEW last year. I planted each tomato in side a hole that I stirred Miracle peat, Organic soil conditioner and a tiny bit of fertilizer all stirred up deep under the tomato. Then, I planted the tomato inside a bottomless box. Half of a girl scout case-box to be exact, but refolded to make 4 sides. So, when I watered my tomatoes, the water went down instead of all over. the very-very thick layers of newspaper topped with leaves did not enter the box, but layers of leaves did. I had more tomatoes last year than in many previous, even with the TERRIBLE drought that Houston suffered. My green beans were heavily mulched with leaves— the bigger they got, the more leaves I put around them. They are always easy to grow, but now I have a whole lot less weeds. ( more leaves than ever before) I no longer need a tiller. Adding soil conditioner each year for the last 5, my soil is easy to use a hand rake and just poke holes with my finger or a dowel.
    Mel B’s square foot methods have made gardening fun… and I don’t have to do much weeding as I did as a kid. Now, if I could just find a sure cure for squash borers!!! they eat my squash every year!!! (Easiest to grow and eat: sugar snap peas–pick when plump but still tender, bush beans (I didn’t grow up with pole beans–trying them this year), tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers (though the houston heat makes them grow better in the fall?!, turnips, white radish, spinach, chard. Know your region’s planting season and whether your home is actually the region the seed company claims. My yard is closer to a 9 than zone 8 for heat in summer! I’m thinking of keeping a journal this year. Hopefully, I’ll find a squash borer cure that’s worth writing down.

  43. I was searching for Homemade grid ideas for square foot gardening and discovered your website. I love the idea of using rope or twine. My husband thought your “drip system” was brilliant. We are going to try it. I decided to use twine and a staple gun to attach the twine to the sides of my boxes. I also had the idea to use white rocks (small) and create a grid that way..I might do a combo of both the twine and rock.

  44. I am also interested in alternative irrigation ideas, as the article says you improved on the plastic bottle method due to risk of toxins. Other ideas anyone?

  45. One downside of the “sitting on top” method:

    While it is true that most of the roots are concentrated in the top 6 inches, roots can send down a few feet. If you build in direct contact with the ground it wouldn’t add much effort to “double dig” – where you mix a foot of original soil with new soil and then put fresh new soil on the top 6 inches. In my garden I actually have 2 feet of top soil over drainage gravel and drainage tubes.

    Also, I am not a fan of Miracle Grow. Chemical fertilizers may give you quick results, but if you go organic your yield will steadily improve. I would mix 1/3 each Mushroom compost, sphagnum moss, and vermiculite. Mix into the top 6 inches 1 pound each Biochar (for establishing microorganism health), evaporated sea minerals, (for adding trace minerals to the soil), and Epsom Salt (for promoting vigorous growth) along with your choice of organic fertilizer. Finally, go to a bait shop and add both Earthworms and Red Wigglers.

    My first year tomatoes yielded a few thousand tomatoes – many more than a pound each – from a 4 by 4 area. The plants grew to 14 feet tall, and their foots extended well into even the gravel layer. Because the soil wasn’t a chemical fertilizer it wasn’t really “spent”. Right now growing in the same area (In January, cold winter) is Winter Wheat. The Dinosaur Kale I planted next to the tomato garden still thrives at a few feet tall.

    Of course, there is added effort so I can see why many people choose the simple methods. Unfortunately, these methods only give credibility to the urban legends that gardens can’t produce enough food to live on. Still, it’s something I would do temporarily when expanding the garden outward. Better to grow a little more on unused space when the alternative is nothing.

  46. The irrigation bottles are what brought me to this page. We know toxins are in the plastic and were looking for alternatives. You say you’ve fixed the problem, we’re here because we’re curious what the solution is. Could you please answer and let us know how to solve the plastic bottle problem? THANK YOU.

  47. Always use organic seeds and soil. To help with moisture and weed control always cover your soil with shredded wood bark or something similar, never ever leave your dirt exposed. Just has your skin needs protection from the sun, so does soil. The shredded wood bark will also retains moisture and thus this will cut down on your watering. I have also used dried leaves from last fall in my gardening beds and get about two weeds which are easy to pluck out, when replanting work the leave or shredded bark into the soil and reapply a new layer each season, if you were to go into the forest, this is exactly how nature does it, you would find layer upon layer of leaves, bark and soil that break down each year to produce a natural compost. Doing this will eliminate any need for fertilizer, weed killer, etc that you do not want going into your vegetable or fruit.

  48. Loved your comments-I’ve been SFGing for 13-14 years and it’s tough to keep up with the yield so now I grow for 5 neighbors. It’s real food that comes out of the garden instead of paying grocery stores the rip off prices their charging. And now there’s news that 70% of that labeled as organic probably isn’t. Check out my blog for more pictures and ideas if you’re interested.

  49. I used 2by8 lumber and varnished it all first, so it will last longer. This is a long term investment. I am elderly and will not be able to rebuild the beds in the future. Pay particular attention to the ends of the wood to use plenty varnish on them.

  50. To Margle, I just wanted to say that all the vermiculite sold today is safe. I like to use the 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 coarse vermiculite. To this, add a little lime, wood ashes(with charcoal), and a good organic fertilizer. I make my own organic fertilizer with blood meal, bone meal, and earthworm castings.
    I made my boxes out of treated wood since the new kind of wood preservative is completely non-toxic. I lined the bottom with screens to keep out any varmints that might try to get in from the bottom. Like Kathy, I varnished the ends of the boards to make it last longer. The great thing about this method is that you can raise up the boxes as high as you want, which helps those of us who are getting too old to bend over all the time while working in the garden.
    Larry

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