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New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

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New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

Post  dixekid on 2/14/2012, 10:37 am

Well, my SFG is a new untested venture for me. I am a 70 year old retired male trucker, and Realtor, in SE Texas with nothing to lose except time and a little money for materials and seed if I am unsuccessful at it. I think some people are born with "green thumbs". However, I am not one of them.

My mom had very successful gardens thoughout her life and I thought I would give it a try, although on a much smaller scale. I am in the process of building my raised 4' X 8' X 6" garden on saw horses and will fill all 16 sq. feet of it with Mel's mix. Also, I have a lot of squirrels so I will fence it in to keep out the critters.

I purchased Mel's first book in 1981 as a guide to try to convince my mom that, because of her age, she did not need to bend over with a shovel and toil in the ground, but she refused the, "modern" and easier way of gardening. The book is still in perfect condition.

I know I will be returning to the SFG forum and asking lots of questions. I am sure some of them have already been addressed, so I will be here quite often to read them and to meet new gardening friends.

Len

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Re: New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

Post  Furbalsmom on 2/14/2012, 12:39 pm

dixiekid

Glad to have you join us.

I am sure you will enjoy the Table Tops for ease of use. I have three 4 X 4 Table tops and really love them, it is no longer possible for me to get down and garden on the ground anymore.

A 4 X 8 Table Top with moist Mel's Mix will weigh 500 to 600 pounds. Will your saw horses be strong enoough to handle that weight?

TABLE TOP IDEAS this link is to a great thread by Boffer with Table Top ideas and instructions.

I assume, since you are using Mel's Mix, you have already purchased and read ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING which was published in 2006. It really is a simpler way to garden. I am glad you still have your Mom's older book because it has some great information in it, but the new method is the best. No more double digging to establish your bed. Almost no weeds.

Again, Welcome and keep checking in with us. We look forward to hearing about your progress.

Furbalsmom

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To Furbalsmom from Dixekid

Post  dixekid on 2/15/2012, 9:25 am

Furbalsmom,

Thanks for the reply and information. I made my three sawhorses from treated 2 X 6 and I notched out each in the center to fit a 2 X 4 center board so they should hold the weight of the mix. Each weighs a ton, or maybe I am really weak.

I know what you mean by working in ground dirt. I cannot get down on hands and knees anymore without having to really struggle to get up.

I have not purchased the Vermiculite yet, but have it ordered. The best price I could find in my area was a 2CF bag for around $28 and I have ordered two of them to begin with. Peat moss and compost are sold everywhere but I can only find Vermiculite in 8qt. bags which is too expensive for the amount I need. I imagine that mixing it a little at a time will be a chore and time consuming, but I gotta do what I gotta do, and I have time.

Thanks for the heads-up on Mel's 2006 book. I will certainly try to find and get it.

I will be posting my progress and asking questions. Can photo's be posted? If so, how and where?

Thanks again.

Dixekid

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Re: New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

Post  walshevak on 2/15/2012, 9:59 am

Did you check all the Houston area places on the database. Might be a better source there. http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/Vermiculite-Entry-Form-h1.htm

If you find a good source, be sure to use the button to add the new source. That goes for any of you newbies out there who might not remember the vermiculite database.

Kay

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Re: New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

Post  newstart on 2/15/2012, 10:22 am

if you are in houston go here they have 4 cu ft for $15 cash only thats with taxes

713 896 6663 3025 maxroy st houston tx 77008 vermituclite products inc

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Re: New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

Post  Kelejan on 2/15/2012, 2:35 pm

@newstart wrote:if you are in houston go here they have 4 cu ft for $15 cash only thats with taxes

713 896 6663 3025 maxroy st houston tx 77008 vermituclite products inc


That is a very good price. Too far for me, though.

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Re: New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

Post  Furbalsmom on 2/15/2012, 4:26 pm

This link goes to the VERMICULITE DATA BASE

Use the button marked U.S.D.B to search for merchants in your state/area.

If you find a new source of vermiculite, use the U.S.FORM to enter the info and help other gardeners in your area.
I have not purchased the Vermiculite yet, but have it ordered. The best price I could find in my area was a 2CF bag for around $28 and I have ordered two of them to begin with. Peat moss and compost are sold everywhere but I can only find Vermiculite in 8qt. bags which is too expensive for the amount I need. I imagine that mixing it a little at a time will be a chore and time consuming, but I gotta do what I gotta do, and I have time.

Thanks for the heads-up on Mel's 2006 book. I will certainly try to find and get it.

I will be posting my progress and asking questions. Can photo's be posted? If so, how and where?

The ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING BOOK is available at Home Depot and Lowes, as well as bookstores. Or you could click the website button on the green bar at the top of this page to check out the SFG Foundation's Store.

To post pictures that are currently stored on your computer, use the instructions here on the HOW TO POST PICTURES thread.

Edited to add: sorry, I did not realize walshevak had already posted the vermiculite data base.

Furbalsmom

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Canceled Vermiculite order.

Post  dixekid on 2/15/2012, 10:46 pm

I received the Vermiculite site and canceled my order so I could have the time to check it out. Thanks for sending it. If prices listed are current I could save quite a few bucks. Also, thanks for the photo information.

dixekid

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Re: New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

Post  Furbalsmom on 2/16/2012, 12:39 pm

Dixiekid, those prices may not be current, but it still is worthwile calling the merchants to verify price and availability.

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Re: New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

Post  DIRTROOKIE on 2/16/2012, 12:54 pm

I built four 4' x 4' SFG boxes. I did not realize that the outside dimensions have to be 4' x 4' to line up with the plywood bottom. You don't end up with 12" x 12" inch squares because the actual dimensions inside the planting area are 3 feet ten and a half inches. I hope it does not have too much effect on the growing capability of the plants.

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Re: New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

Post  Furbalsmom on 2/16/2012, 1:08 pm

DirtRookie

My SFG Table Tops are also 46.5 inches for the interior dimensions.

That calculates to about 11.5 inches per square. 1/2 inch is not enough to cause problems in your spacing or growing of plants.

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Re: New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

Post  Kelejan on 2/16/2012, 2:16 pm

@DIRTROOKIE wrote:I built four 4' x 4' SFG boxes. I did not realize that the outside dimensions have to be 4' x 4' to line up with the plywood bottom. You don't end up with 12" x 12" inch squares because the actual dimensions inside the planting area are 3 feet ten and a half inches. I hope it does not have too much effect on the growing capability of the plants.

Mother Nature is not too picky.Very Happy

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Re: New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

Post  Glendale-gardener on 2/16/2012, 2:30 pm

@Kelejan wrote:

Mother Nature is not too picky.Very Happy

lol!

Welcome Len! It sounds like you are off to a great start! Don't be afraid to jump in and ask a ton of questions if you don't find the right answers. Some questions have been asked over and over and no one minds at all!

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To Furbalsmom from Dixekid

Post  dixekid on 2/16/2012, 8:26 pm

Thanks for the Vermiculite info.

I called Vermiculite Products Company in Houston and they have(as you posted) an 8 CF bag of what they call, #3, which is the largest size they make, for $15 and including the tax. Of course I had to drive about 120 miles round trip to go and get it, but the savings were worth it. The rep said they do not make it for agricultural use but they have several customers that are using it for that purpose. However, it is about as fine as perlite, but for the price I can't complain. Also while I was out, I went to Lowe's and picked up Mel's new, "All New SFG Handbook, my peat moss, and compost. Now all I have to do is figure out in what proportions to mix it. I noticed in the new book there is a segment on this subject so I will have to calculate it further.

I also looked at some online photos and it gave me some great ideas on my box supports and thought I had better stabilize my sawhorses and boxes more before filling them.

The question that I am asking myself now is, do I plant my seeds in mini starter pots now and transplant them when they have sprouted, or wait to plant the seeds directly into my SFG? I do not understand what is meant by, "hardening" them before transplanting though.

Thanks again for your help, directions, and advice.

Len

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4' X 4' are small.

Post  dixekid on 2/16/2012, 8:41 pm

@DIRTROOKIE wrote:I built four 4' x 4' SFG boxes. I did not realize that the outside dimensions have to be 4' x 4' to line up with the plywood bottom. You don't end up with 12" x 12" inch squares because the actual dimensions inside the planting area are 3 feet ten and a half inches. I hope it does not have too much effect on the growing capability of the plants.

Dirtrookie, you are correct but unless you are a professional carpenter(which I am not) what do you do? My solution was to build my sides from 1 X 4's, one on top of each other. The actual size of a 1 X 4 is .75" X 3.5" so that gives me seven inches instead of six in total debth. However, dimensions may be smaller but maybe the extra inch with make the adjustment work, but I don't think that will be a critical issue.

Thanks for your insight.

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Re: New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

Post  Furbalsmom on 2/16/2012, 9:06 pm

dixiekid

Now all I have to do is figure out in what proportions to mix it. I noticed in the new book there is a segment on this subject so I will have to calculate it further.
To determine your minimum volume of Mel's Mix use this handy dandy MELS MIX CALCULATOR . You may find that the calculated amount does not quite fill your bed once the Mels Mix has been watered in. I make another couple of cubic feet to allow for settling, once the mix is watered in.

I use two tarps to mix my Mel's Mix.

I found it was fairly easy to mix all the compost together on one tarp.

Then measure one 5 gallon bucket of mixed compost onto another tarp, and using the same bucket, add 1 bucket of vermiculite and 1 bucket of fluffed (technical term) peat moss and toss these onto the tarp and mix together before tossing the completed Mels Mix into the Table Tops.

One little tip when fillling your table tops, put a two inch layer of MM in the table top and water well. You might want to stir it a bit too. Then add another two inches of MM and water well again. Add your last two inches of MM and water again. Peat Moss is HARD to rehydrate. If you put in all the MM then water, the water will bead up on top and then doesn't soak in evenly. Dry spots in the peat moss will create problems for your plants. My 4 X 4 Table Tops took about 20 gallons of water for each box.

The question that I am asking myself now is, do I plant my seeds in mini starter pots now and transplant them when they have sprouted, or wait to plant the seeds directly into my SFG? .

When is your last frost date? That will determine if you should plant directly outside or start your seeds inside.

The starting date is going to be different for different veggies. Check pages 253 to 259 of the ANSFG book for instructions on how many weeks before your last frost to start seedlings indoors or to transplant or direct seed outside.

I do not understand what is meant by, "hardening" them before transplanting though.
To harden the seedlings off, you are trying to get them used to the different temperatures and conditions outside since they have been "coddled" inside for weeks.

At least one or two weeks before you want to transplant outside, take your flat of seedlings outside and set in a place where they will not get direct sun and leave them for an hour or so. Then each day leave them out a bit longer, but allow them only indirect sun for several days. Then allow them only a short time in direct sun for a few days. Continue increasing the amount of outdoor "Play Time" and "Sun Time" just a bit each day. By the end of two weeks they should be ready to transplant into your table tops. Others find that hardening the plants off for one week is sufficient,

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Frost! In Texas....

Post  dixekid on 2/16/2012, 9:38 pm

WOW, great information. I will have to look up information for a frost date here in SE Texas. We haven't even had any winter to speak of. OK, on the hardening. Now I understand, but I may be too late to plant indoors. March is upon us and I may have to plant seeds directly into the SFG. I don't even know for sure what zone I am in, so, I am really behind the 8 ball and have much to learn.

Thanks again! You have been a great help.

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Re: New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

Post  Furbalsmom on 2/17/2012, 12:55 pm

Here is a link to find frost dates by zipcode. AVERAGE FROST DATES BY ZIP

I find the frost dates are more important as they help you determine when to plant before and after your last frost in the spring, and when to plant before your first anticipated frost in the fall or winter.

I use the USDA Hardiness zone just for determining if a perennial is suitable for my area. Strawberries, artichokes, berry bushes, asparagus, that sort of thing.

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Frost zones

Post  dixekid on 2/17/2012, 8:16 pm

Thanks again. This will help.

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Re: New to the SFG forum from SE Texas.

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