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Newbie with Bed Quesitons

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Newbie with Bed Quesitons

Post  HGL on 2/22/2012, 11:32 pm

I am brand new to SFG and after a dismal year doing the semi row thing last year, I am taking to leap to SFG. Space is not an issue for me, but I am wanting to start small to make sure that I can handle it all. I was thinking of two 4x8 for most of my items, with these being 8" of mels mix. I was then thinking of doing two 4x4's, one at least 12" deep for potatoes and then another one that is 8" deep to start asparagus and artichokes.

Some of my questions are:
1) If I am making the beds deeper than 6" do I have to use Mel's mix for the whole bed or can I put in top dressing, with 6" of the mix over the top?

2) If you have a mole problem do you attach a wire mesh to the bottom of your boxes and put that on top of weed barrier?

3) if putting a hoop cage over each of the large beds with 6m clear plastic, can I plant out things that say they need to be under a coche' or green house?

Thanks for all of your help in advance!

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Re: Newbie with Bed Quesitons

Post  gwennifer on 2/23/2012, 1:45 am

Hi HGL and welcome to the forum and to SFG! I'm new too, only just built my first bed last year, but I can still answer your first two questions:

1. Yes, you can use just 6" of Mels Mix on the top.

2. Since weed barrier alone apparently doesn't stop moles, I would put the wire mesh first, then the weed barrier. Otherwise the weed barrier would get torn up with their attempts to get through, right?

I'm anxious to see answers to your third question as I've wondered it myself. When I get to that stage, I was planning on buying one of those remote thermometers so I could monitor the highs and lows under the plastic and see when the temps are right in there for planting.

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Re: Newbie with Bed Quesitons

Post  Lavender Debs on 2/23/2012, 8:05 am

They are your gardens; you can do whatever you want to. I have a question. What is top dressing? I have a feeling that what I call top dressing is not what you are talking about (top soil maybe)? I tend to make up labels as I go along and get easily confused.

Starting small? Wow your small is awesome! I hope you keep coming back so I can see your small start progress!

On your third question ....defiantly maybe. What do you plan? My cloches are season extenders. I do not have a greenhouse YET. When it is cold, an unheated, well sealed plastic cover is said to boost you to the next hardiness zone (does that make sense?). I do not much follow hardiness zone information so I am a little shaky here but I THINK Seattle is zone 7b. It would kick you up to zone 8. A heated tent is a whole different animal. Add lights and you can go to whatever Northern California’s zone is. What you gain in fewer trips to Safeway you make up for in your Puget Power bill. But all passions are worth the $$.

Stick around. You will find passionate people who are doing just what you are thinking about. Some of us are even getting a few artichokes! Me? Even with a good haircut and non-denim clothes my kids and their friends lovingly tell me that I am a hippy. I'm not sure why, all my herbs are culinary and legal medicinal. But like the hippies of the late 60's early 70's, when I say organic or natural, (the kids say off the grid and home grown) I mean without paying for extra anything that I don't have to. Plastic covers I am good with. Adding supplemental heat, not so much. (it isn't bad, I envy the electric gardens of other board members). All this to say there is a huge range of what can be grown depending on what you put into your hoop garden OR what you do not. Mine are mostly to keep things from drowning in spring. Your mileage may vary but you will still be in Seattle, not Tampa.

Welcome to our world HGL! Live long and prosper.
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some answers (purely MHO)

Post  curio on 2/23/2012, 8:55 am

I think the idea about the mesh and wire is good, but agree that the wire should go on the bottom.

You might look into building potato boxes instead of delegating one entire area of the SFG to potatoes.
For other large root crops, such as carrots/parsnips, you can build a small box top to fit on the main box that is 6" deep, which would give you a foot in just the area you need the deeper soil. MUCH less expensive than doing the entire depth of a box enough to handle these veggies.

As for top dressing... since the veggies usually use the mel's mix to grow in, I would be more inclined to put whatever isn't Mel's mix on the bottom. However... you don't need more than 6" for a majority of veggies grown. They will send roots into whatever is the most beneficial for them. Most veggies are fairly shallow rooted.

The plastic hoops work the same as cloches. We have used them for years in our conventional garden, and are building them in to our SFG as we're constructing them this year. In our area, you can increase your season by roughly 3-4 weeks in spring and at least that in fall. Some people use them to plant year-round, using winter veggies over the coldest period. The book put out by Seattle Tilth has some excellent information that will convert well for the SFG. We got one at Molbak's, but I know other places would have it.
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Re: Newbie with Bed Quesitons

Post  RoOsTeR on 2/23/2012, 9:14 am

Hgl, here is a fine example of a root system in just 6" of Mel's Mix:

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t4156p15-tomato-roots#101008

If it was me, I would stick with 6" boxes and with the savings build more boxes Wink

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Re: Newbie with Bed Quesitons

Post  1airdoc on 2/23/2012, 5:10 pm

We have a huge mole problem on our property. I built my SFG where we had not previously had moles, but I put down weed barrier (using a few layers of cardboard) and then put the garden cloth (wire mesh) on top, attaching it all around the bottom of the bed and wiring the 2 2-foot wide rolls together in the center so the moles couldn't push through. I then covered it all with MM. This winter the moles moved into that area of the yard. There are mole hills everywhere around the SFG, but no evidence of moles anywhere in the SFG.

I think once you've had the weed block down for a year or so, the weeds are dead/dormant. I doubt any mole disturbance at that point would really matter.
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Re: Newbie with Bed Quesitons

Post  Furbalsmom on 2/24/2012, 3:06 pm

HGL wrote:I am brand new to SFG and after a dismal year doing the semi row thing last year, I am taking to leap to SFG. Space is not an issue for me, but I am wanting to start small to make sure that I can handle it all. I was thinking of two 4x8 for most of my items, with these being 8" of mels mix. I was then thinking of doing two 4x4's, one at least 12" deep for potatoes and then another one that is 8" deep to start asparagus and artichokes.

Some of my questions are:
1) If I am making the beds deeper than 6" do I have to use Mel's mix for the whole bed or can I put in top dressing, with 6" of the mix over the top?

2) If you have a mole problem do you attach a wire mesh to the bottom of your boxes and put that on top of weed barrier?

3) if putting a hoop cage over each of the large beds with 6m clear plastic, can I plant out things that say they need to be under a coche' or green house?

Thanks for all of your help in advance!

HGL and we are glad to have you join us.

I agree that this is not a small start. You will be amazed at the amount of produce you can grow in just a couple of 4X4s.

1. 6 inches of MM is sufficient except for a few long root type crops, such as carrots, parsnips, and maybe potatoes.

For those longer root crops, you certainly can place a "top hat" on top of a square or two or few, of your existing bed to create a greater depth of MM for those specific crops.

2. I use wire mesh on the bottom, with weed cloth on top of the wire and Mel's Mix on top of that. We do have moles in our area, but I have Table Tops, so I don't have mole, vole or similar pest concerns for my beds.

3. The 6 mil will certainly extend your season a bit, but your protection level will vary with the way your plastic is installed and the way you ventilate.
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