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Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

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Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  tomperrin on 3/19/2012, 5:11 pm

This is where we were on April 3, 2011. 2 squares, and then we asked ourselves if we would be too compulsive if we added more.

These two squares were followed by two more squares and a fence:
Somewhere along the line we added another three squares and a whole bunch of pots and planters.
For this year, we wanted to grow a surplus to freeze and can. So far that plan looks like this, as of today.


All told, we expect to have some 400 square feet of Mel's Mix planted this year. At this point, we've pretty much run out of space that gets sunlight. We'll improve the sunlight situation a bit by taking down a couple of maples for firewood.

We've taken advantage of the early spring (will it last??????) by planting 12 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes from seed. Once these have sprouted, I'll plant another full square of tomatoes from seed. Plants purchased so far have been cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, lettuce, spinach. Already in the ground are potatoes, onions, garlic, strawberries. We'll spend the next couple of weeks planting more seeds and filling in the squares outside the fence.

Inside the 20'x33' fence, the boxes are all various sizes: 4'x4', 4'x3', 4'x2', 3'x8', 2'x8. When we started SFG, we had no idea how successful we were going to be, and so the garden evolved rather than being planned. I could easily plant another 400 sq ft, but just don't have the room.

Outside the fence, so far we've planted potatoes. In preparation are squares for asparagus and rhubarb, and hopefully corn.

The plastic in the background is for the seed planted tomatoes in the event of a frost.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with 12 heads of cabbage if they all mature at the same time. Fortunately, it keeps well in the refrigerator.

Tom

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  WolfHeart on 3/19/2012, 6:34 pm

WOW!!! Shocked Shocked Shocked

That is spectacular! I can't wait to see some summer time photos when it is all green....Wish I had space for 400 square feet.

good luck this summer

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  quiltbea on 3/19/2012, 6:53 pm

Your zone must truly be productive if you can seed tomatoes now and have them grow to harvest. I'm in 5a and have to start them indoors in a couple of weeks and transplant them outside about the last freeze date. I envy you.

I'm loving your garden area. You really caught the gardening 'bug' and that's great. There's just nothing like the flavor of your own home-grown food and no worry about chemicals.

As mentioned, I can't wait to see further photos as it progresses. Good luck.

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/19/2012, 6:57 pm

Holy cow....that's gotta be the most impressive garden I've seen in a long time. I would LOVE to have a garden that big.

Awesome stuff. I can't wait to see pictures in mid summer!

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  kittykat on 3/19/2012, 7:40 pm

Wowzers!! And you were worried you *might* be compulsive?

I think perhaps maybe just a tad!

Looks fantastic!

sunny

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A grand experiment

Post  tomperrin on 3/19/2012, 8:28 pm

@quiltbea wrote:Your zone must truly be productive if you can seed tomatoes now and have them grow to harvest. I'm in 5a and have to start them indoors in a couple of weeks and transplant them outside about the last freeze date. I envy you.

I'm loving your garden area. You really caught the gardening 'bug' and that's great. There's just nothing like the flavor of your own home-grown food and no worry about chemicals.

As mentioned, I can't wait to see further photos as it progresses. Good luck.

Well, planting the tomatoes from seed this early is just a grand experiment. I figure the tomatoes will germinate when they are ready. The ground is warm enough, the last time I checked. For most of the new squares (didn't do it for the first tomatoes) I've put down a thin layer of pure black compost prior to planting. The black layer should help warm up the entire box. I could also goose things along a bit by putting a sheet of plastic over the square at night to keep the heat in. Just didn't think of it. If we continue to have weather in the high sixties and low seventies, as is forecast over the next ten days, I think I might have some visible signs of germination pretty soon.

My peas, which I planted on March 7, have almost all sprouted. They did benefit from the black compost layer. The soil temp when I planted them was 66F, plenty warm enough. The tomatoes were planted a day or two later, I forget the actual day.

Last night, I was so psyched about the garden I wanted to go planting at midnight!

The quality of the food we get out of the SFG is what impresses me. The labor saving is important, the simplicity is important, but the bottom line is the taste. It's not enough that our veggies taste good - it's that their taste out of the SFG is far superior to anything obtainable elsewhere.

Thanks to all for comments. I really love to see photos of others' gardens.

Tom

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  laufenberga on 3/19/2012, 10:37 pm

That garden is awesome. I hope I can get mine filled up like that over time, right now I'm just starting to convert my existing row garden into SFG. I just built my first box last week and now I'm waiting to get more time to build more boxes. Garden On

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/19/2012, 11:03 pm

@tomperrin wrote:Thanks to all for comments. I really love to see photos of others' gardens.

Tom

after seeing your pictures, I would feel totally ashamed to show pictures of mine.

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  tomperrin on 3/19/2012, 11:17 pm

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:
@tomperrin wrote:Thanks to all for comments. I really love to see photos of others' gardens.

Tom

after seeing your pictures, I would feel totally ashamed to show pictures of mine.

I'm always looking for inspiration and I think I can get that by looking at any garden. Even though the farmer types in my family on both sides go back more than 11 generations, farming ended with my grandparents, and their accumulated knowledge with them. So now I'm reinventing the wheel and learning from experience. Better for me to learn from the experience of others, which is why I like this forum so much. So please share. It's not a competition.

Tom

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/19/2012, 11:23 pm

Well as soon as I get my boxes built, I'm going to take pictures of it. Probably of the entire construction project.
I'm getting the hemlock lumber delivered next week and I hope to get the boxes built by that weekend. I won't get them filled yet because my compost won't be done till the end of April.

I'll want to take pictures of the planting process of my tomatoes and the installation of the posts for the Florida Weave system.

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  AvaDGardner on 3/19/2012, 11:34 pm

It's beautiful! I wish I had that kind of room!

Very inspiring.

We are at opposite ends of the country and you're having the same planting season this year as I have! LOL

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The grand experiment in 6b

Post  tomperrin on 3/20/2012, 3:08 pm

My tomatoes planted from seed one week ago on March 14 have sprouted. So tomorrow I will plant another square of tomatoes from seed.

Tom

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  efirvin on 3/20/2012, 8:04 pm

Tom, I love all your garden pixs! I'm busy modifying my row garden into raised bed SFG and will be planting as soon as my Zone 4 weather allows. Please keep posting your pixs, it gives me hope for my new garden!

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Even fools like me can make a box....

Post  tomperrin on 3/20/2012, 8:33 pm

@efirvin wrote:Tom, I love all your garden pixs! I'm busy modifying my row garden into raised bed SFG and will be planting as soon as my Zone 4 weather allows. Please keep posting your pixs, it gives me hope for my new garden!

It's easy enough to make a box. The hard part is following directions and not cutting corners when making Mel's Mix. The other hard part, I think, is garden management.

Last year I got sick, broke a toe, and generally neglected what I started for the better part of a month. The plants survived, thanks to MM and the boxes. But I neglected putting in two crops, as befits our growing season. My lack of experience also led to many other mistakes. You have the benefit of gardening experience. It's all good.

You have quite a bit of company converting from row to SFG. Next year, when you look at your squares in the spring, you will be so grateful that you don't have to roto-till or spade/fork your garden. Never again!

Consider throwing out the zone map this year (even tho its changed) and invest in a soil thermometer. Plant according to the soil temp. Just keep a piece of painter's plastic drop cloth handy in case of impending frost. Look into winter gardening for next year.

Best of luck,

Tom

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/20/2012, 8:45 pm

Looks like you guy's have been busy! You've got a beautiful place Tom.

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  efirvin on 3/20/2012, 10:33 pm

You have quite a bit of company converting from row to SFG. Next year, when you look at your squares in the spring, you will be so grateful that you don't have to roto-till or spade/fork your garden. Never again!

Consider throwing out the zone map this year (even tho its changed) and invest in a soil thermometer. Plant according to the soil temp. Just keep a piece of painter's plastic drop cloth handy in case of impending frost. Look into winter gardening for next year.

Hmmm. Thats an idea that is foreign to me but worth pursuing. Once I get my raised beds completed and MM soil into the beds I can start monitoring the temp and consider what to plant. Thanks.

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  Dunkinjean on 3/20/2012, 11:30 pm

Tom

I am totally speechless! You have an amazing garden!! flower

I started with one 4x4 box and now have 3 4x4 boxes and will have 2 more soon that will be 2 x 6 each.

I have the boxes on the side of my house because we have a pool, deck, patio etc. in the backyard. I told hubby once the pool collapses I plan on moving my boxes where the pool is located and will add an arbor, etc.......so it will look as amazing as yours.

Best of luck!

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  GWN on 3/20/2012, 11:44 pm

Last night, I was so psyched about the garden I wanted to go planting at midnight!
go tom go rahrah
Thats what I would do too.
It will be very interesting to see how your tomato seeds do, being left to their own devices. smiles
My fear of a tomato... less summer has me planting about 3 weeks ago, yet not being able to plant for over a month.

LOVE YOUR PICTURES

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Wazzup in 6b/7a on March 22, 2012?

Post  tomperrin on 3/22/2012, 8:29 pm

Garlic – planted the first Monday after Thanksgiving, now
12” + high. New cloves have not yet formed but the stalks look healthy.


Onion sets – planted a week or so ago. Didn’t record the
date. I also have a couple of onions that overwintered
somehow.


Peas – Planted March 7,
now an inch high. A handful of
non-germinators, easily replaced. Peas make us look like genius gardeners! They grow fast, are cold tolerant, taste
great raw or cooked.



Potatoes – Gold &
russet - Planted March 8 from organic store bought spuds bought last fall and
stored overwinter in an unheated garage. Avg storage temp was 45F-55F. It would have been better if I could have controlled the temp at 40F. Yet Another Grand Experiment.




Lettuce – Planted Dec 21 2011 from seed and transplanted.


Spinach – Planted Dec 21 2011 from seed and transplanted.


Tomatoes – Planted from seed March 14. You have to look for these but they are
there. First variety up was an Heirloom German Giant. Haven’t had time to plant more, but I will
soon.



Tomatoes – Planted from seed in window box on Jan 5. I took these outside a couple of weeks ago to
get some real sun and they keeled right over at where the stem meets the soil. I was sure that they were dead, but somehow
they survived. So today I moved them to
the garden, and laid them down in the approved ANSFG manner so that they would
grow strong(er) roots. They have been on
the patio 24/7 for the better par t of the week. They did not take to the move well and are
sulking. The carrots and radishes I had in the same box were left in the box.




Today, planted carrots, swiss chard, beets, cilantro.


Tomorrow – Peppers, both hot and sweet, five varieties, One
4’x4’ square. The square will be
covered with painter’s plastic drop cloth to keep the soil warm overnight, at
least until the plants are well established. Some of the seed dates to
2009. Yet Another Experiment.


From the looks of things, I could have planted a lot more seeds
earlier, but the time has been spent making MM. In my next incarnation, I will
make the new boxes and MM in the fall. That way, they have all winter to get
saturated and will be ready to be planted whenever. Unfortunately, I don’t
think I have much room left for new boxes. And next year we’ll probably have a new
glacier in the Adirondacks which will move south chilling everything in its path. I’m toying with the idea of making a number
of 1 sq ft boxes that can easily be moved around on the patio or elsewhere. My one window box was very successful. Now here’s the $64,000 question. Can I keep those tomato plants going all year
long in the house under our one skylight?
Tom

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Dang that's impressive!

Post  daryl.weaver on 3/22/2012, 8:36 pm

I guess size matters after all.

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  AvaDGardner on 4/9/2012, 11:10 pm

@daryl.weaver wrote:I guess size matters after all.

Finally...confirmed by a man!

Tom...where are you going to put more boxes? Instead of building 1' boxes, have you considered just using containers?

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  GWN on 4/9/2012, 11:13 pm

Tom
I keep thinking about your front lawn, and what a waste lawn is> Very Happy
You likely have LOTS of room there. cheers

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Lawn space

Post  tomperrin on 4/10/2012, 7:45 am

@GWN wrote:Tom
I keep thinking about your front lawn, and what a waste lawn is> Very Happy
You likely have LOTS of room there. cheers

Room I got. But I also got a leach field and a grove of beech and oak that have pre-empted the front yard. What I have to play with is the back yard. And if were not for SFG, the back yard would be useless for almost anything.

Two maple trees will be coming down this morning, making a cord of firewood each for three families. The tops of the arbor vitaes which block the morning sun will get a haircut. What's cut will be chipped for mulch between the new asparagus and potato bed squares. I'm also making a row of blackberry bushes west of the potato bed. All of this takes place to the south of the fenced garden. To the north, I planted 3 apple trees. I also wanted to plant a couple of pear trees, but I got shot down. In the garden, I planted 3 grape varieties, which, if they grow, will go along the top rail of the fence. One of the strawberry plants I bought to fill a square produced an exquisitely tasting strawberry with a wonderful aftertaste. (Sequoia, from Bonnie). So now of course, I want to put in a new square of just Sequoia strawberries.

As for containers, I have had mixed results. Onions, lettuce have done well. Tomatoes not so much. Blackberries will do better in the ground, which is where they will go once the trees are down. Nevertheless, I will be experimenting with some determinate tomatoes in some large pots I got on sale last winter. These will go out on the patio. I like my home made cedar boxes because I think they repel bugs, but can not say that with any definitive authority.

So far, the last month has been cold, notwithstanding our high 60's and low 70's we saw in March. Our last average frost date is April 14th I think, and hopefully we can get the rest of the squares planted soon. I've been mixing dirt since January, and I'm still not finished. The double deep asparagus squares have been time consuming. I tried to put my original Trex squares one on top of the other but could not get screws in that stuff even with an impact drill. I'll have to find another use for them.

Peas are growing about an inch a day, even in the cold wind. Cabbage is thriving. Chives are ready to cut.

Life is good.

Tom

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

Post  RUTBUSTER on 4/10/2012, 8:34 am

Tom, that is an impressive garden to say the least. This is my first year of SFG and I have built 4 4x4x6" boxes so far and want to build a couple of more. Everything is an experiment this year, and if all goes well I plan on expanding next year. Keep the pics coming so we can see the progress. Weather here has turned cold again and is holding me back from planting.

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More sun for the garden

Post  tomperrin on 4/12/2012, 9:16 am

As previously reported, we had some trees that needed to be cut down. While we are tree lovers & huggers, some of ours were either in the way, needed a haircut, or were storm damaged. So some management was indicated.


Above is the before picture. The arbor vitaes (aka white cedar) had never been trimmed. They, and the tall silver maple behind them, shaded the garden and cast long shadows over the pool in the early afternoon. At issue was the large number of resident birds (mostly cardinals) in the arbor vitaes. We did not want to destroy their habitat.

Here is the after picture.


The trees have been trimmed at the top and shaped at the sides. They should fill out nicely over the next couple of years, providing even more protection for our bird population. I estimate that we have gained at least 1 to 2 hours of full sun on both pool and garden.

Here's a photo of our insurance against $200 bbl oil prices.


Here is a photo of the backside of the garden area. Cutting down these two maples opened up the clearing, giving us room for garden expansion between the pails and the fence.


The chipped wood came from two trees across the street donated by my arborist. The chips will be laid down between the new squares being built on the backside. At some point, I will rent a Bobcat and level this part of the backside and turn it into something more presentable.

This is a view of the garden from the side, showing the trimmed arbor vitaes in the background, and our new apple whips surrounding the yet to be elevated birdhouse.


As you can see, the lawn sports a nice weed collection. I just have not had the time to manage it properly. Maybe in a year or two.

More room for expansion Very Happy


And here is why we can't expand to the front yard. We're surrounded by trees, and the trees across the road we can't cut.



Tom

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Re: Transitioning to 2012 - 2nd year garden.

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