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Location Problem For SFG

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Location Problem For SFG

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/10/2012, 4:51 pm

I was thinking today that I should order the hemlock boards next week from a lumber mill a few miles from my house. My original plans were to have 2 beds 10ft long by 5ft wide and 1ft high. Those dimensions will cost me approximately 1.10 per foot which is really good. Anyway, when I was figuring out where I wanted to put them, I noticed the slope is more sloped than I originally thought. So I got a board and level out of my shed and a few bricks. I laid the board on the ground so that it pointed down the slope and I put the level on it. In order to make it level, I had to put two bricks under the end of the board at the bottom of the slope. The bricks are about 8 inches wide. So if the top of the SFG box is 12 inches deep that means(to keep everything level) that the bottom of the box will have to be 20 inches deep.
I have more than enough compost to fill the two boxes but the cost of the peat moss and vermiculite is going to kill me. Shocked

Since I'm going all tomatoes on my garden project I really wanted to go with 1ft deep boxes. I know that people have great success growing tomatoes in 6 inch deep boxes but I just want that extra depth.

There is three ways for me to do this.

1) go with my original 1ft depth boxes and to heck with the cost. That would give me 1ft depth at the top and 1ft 8in depth at the bottom

2) go with 6 inch deep boxes to cut down on the cost by a good chunk. That would give me 6 inch depth at the top and 1ft 2 inch at the bottom.

3) or I could compromise and go with 8 inch deep boxes and that would give me 8 inches at the top and 1 ft 4 inches at the bottom.

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Deep boxes

Post  tomperrin on 3/10/2012, 7:07 pm

Why do you need MM for the full depth with deep boxes? If you have ample supplies of free compost, why not fill the bottom six inches with compost or compost/peat 3:1, and then Mel's Mix for the top 6 inches?

This is basically what I did for a 10" high box that rests on bricks at the corners for my potatoes this year.

Tom

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Re: Location Problem For SFG

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/10/2012, 7:38 pm

@tomperrin wrote:Why do you need MM for the full depth with deep boxes? If you have ample supplies of free compost, why not fill the bottom six inches with compost or compost/peat 3:1, and then Mel's Mix for the top 6 inches?

This is basically what I did for a 10" high box that rests on bricks at the corners for my potatoes this year.

Tom

It's funny you mention that because while I was out for a walk this evening, I thought that maybe I could fill the bottom of the box with something like maybe newspapers or, like you suggested, extra compost.

If newspapers would work to fill in the bottom of deep boxes, then I could use the leftover compost to amend the other flower beds around my house.

One other thing I would have to do is fill in the gaps at the sides of the boxes with something to keep everything from working its way out. Maybe I could cut the wood in such a way that there would be no gaps at all.

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Re: Location Problem For SFG

Post  1airdoc on 3/10/2012, 7:47 pm

You could shorten the length of the boxes running down the hill, as well. With your proposed width of 5', it will be hard to reach the center of your proposed boxes, anyway. Mel recommends no width >4' for that reason, otherwise you end up stepping in your boxes to work them (see Mel's directions in ANSFG). Of course, your 10' length may be the side you plan to run down the hillside because of the angle of the sun on your property. If so, why not just do multiple 4x4 boxes and stairstep them down the hill slope? As long as you have 3' of ground on either side to work them, they should be accessible, and the slope will minimize your need for MM or extra filler.

As for the extra filler, I might consider using peat. Though it contains few nutrients, that shouldn't matter with a good 6" of MM on top. It will help hold your moisture, and it's fairly inexpensive.

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Re: Location Problem For SFG

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/10/2012, 10:36 pm

@1airdoc wrote:You could shorten the length of the boxes running down the hill, as well. With your proposed width of 5', it will be hard to reach the center of your proposed boxes, anyway. Mel recommends no width >4' for that reason, otherwise you end up stepping in your boxes to work them (see Mel's directions in ANSFG). Of course, your 10' length may be the side you plan to run down the hillside because of the angle of the sun on your property. If so, why not just do multiple 4x4 boxes and stairstep them down the hill slope? As long as you have 3' of ground on either side to work them, they should be accessible, and the slope will minimize your need for MM or extra filler.

As for the extra filler, I might consider using peat. Though it contains few nutrients, that shouldn't matter with a good 6" of MM on top. It will help hold your moisture, and it's fairly inexpensive.


I'm using the SFG method with a few twists. Instead of having a variety of veggies, I'm going with all tomatoes. I'll have a couple of basil plants around the tomatoes as well as marigolds lining the box on all sides. I'm also not using the grid. It'll look something like this....


I've made some changes to my original plans. The number and size of boards listed to the right of the diagram isn't accurate.

I'm going to plant a row of 4 tomatoes at the top 1 ft in and a row of 4 tomatoes at the bottom one foot in. The gap between the two rows is going to be 3 feet which will provide plenty of airflow through the plants. I'm going do some modification to a Florida Weave to keep the tomatoes in order.

I'm doing two of these boxes so I'll have a total of 16 tomato plants. I'm also going to put one tomato in a planter and maybe keep that up by the other side of the house.

17 tomatoes?? That's just nuts.

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Re: Location Problem For SFG

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/10/2012, 10:54 pm

Do you think I could get away with a 4ft wide bed and still have plenty of room for 8 tomatoes per box?

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Re: Location Problem For SFG

Post  Lindacol on 3/10/2012, 11:29 pm

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:Do you think I could get away with a 4ft wide bed and still have plenty of room for 8 tomatoes per box?

YES! Plus it will be easier to reach everything and you will still have room to grow other veggies in between them if you want.
I had 6 toms on less than 2 sides of a 4x8 that did fine plus I grew lots more in the rest of the bed.

That is assuming your toms are all indeterminants and you are trellising them

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Re: Location Problem For SFG

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/10/2012, 11:33 pm

@Lindacol wrote:
@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:Do you think I could get away with a 4ft wide bed and still have plenty of room for 8 tomatoes per box?

YES! Plus it will be easier to reach everything and you will still have room to grow other veggies in between them if you want.
I had 6 toms on less than 2 sides of a 4x8 that did fine plus I grew lots more in the rest of the bed.

That is assuming your toms are all indeterminants and you are trellising them

Yep....they're all indeterminates and I'm making some modifications to a Florida Weave system. I am going to do my best to prune the tomatoes too but just in case I get a touch of laziness, I want to have the room for the tomatoes to grow.

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Re: Location Problem For SFG

Post  fiddleman on 3/12/2012, 7:49 pm

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:Do you think I could get away with a 4ft wide bed and still have plenty of room for 8 tomatoes per box?

From experience I will guarantee that a 4ft x 2ft box is plenty big for 8 tomato plants. You CAN have them farther apart if you wish, but if you do the mix right, there will be no problems. One tomato every square foot will work just fine. I have done it at that density for the last 8 years or so. So with your 10 foot long x 4 foot wide bed, you have about 32 extra square feet laying fallow. Oh a couple of marigolds and a few basil plants will help take up some of that space, so let's just say you have another 28 square feet with nothing to do but grow weeds.

Really this high density square foot gardening works far better than you can imagine. Here's what I would do if I were you (unsolicited advice about to be given - ignore if you wanna). Break the 10 foot single square into two separate 4x4 squares. Place the 2 4x4 squares 4 feet between them so you can work in the row easily. Place the tomatoes along the back four squares of each 4x4 giving you your 8 tomato plants (the north side of the bed). Basil can be planted two plants per square foot I would place 4 of those plants on the two squares
You can see from the picture you can also have 16 carrots,2 green pepper, 4 head lettuce, 8 green beans, 32 leaf lettuce (or radishes or other low growing plants) and 1 - 4 marigolds in the square footage you were going to place just 4 tomato plants. This will be easier to reach into the center of the beds rather than one long bed... trust me on this one. Oh yeah... remember all of the plant numbers are doubled because you have TWO 4x4 beds... lots of vegetables ! -32 carrots, or onions, or lettuce out the wazoo! Of course pick the plants you like, but there is WAY more room here than you need to get just 8 tomato plants in.

Just my 2 cents,
Mark

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Re: Location Problem For SFG

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/12/2012, 10:49 pm

Thanks for the advice Mark....I appreciate it.

This may sound totally nuts to you and to other veteran SFG'ers but I want these two 4ft x 10ft boxes to be all tomatoes.....8 tomatoes each. I will have some companion plants such as marigolds, basil, and onions. I guess you can call these beds "Hybrid SFGs" because I'm still using MM in them but I'm not going to use the grid system and I want to line the bed with marigolds.


The space between the two rows of tomato plants in that diagram above will be 2 ft. That will allow plenty of airflow.

There is plenty of space in those beds for other crops but I am all about tomatoes. I studied a lot of different tomato varieties and I picked 15 of them myself. (two were included with the seeds I ordered Very Happy )

I'm not 100% tomato crazy(some here may dispute that) because I just decided today that I have the space right off the kitchen to put a table top SFG. That one's going to be 6 ft long x 3 ft wide x 6 in high) I want to make it a TT because that way my Mom can enjoy messing around in the garden without having to hurt her back by bending over. She also has problems with getting dizzy so I figured that if she can work a garden without bending over, she'll be happy. She loves gardening.
The TT will have the traditional veggie plants. I'm thinking some head lettuce, leaf lettuce, beets, bush beans like fordhook limas, bell peppers, and perhaps bush peas. I might do carrots especially if I change the depth of this bed to 8 inches.

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Re: Location Problem For SFG

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