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First SFG bed went into the apartment complex community garden today.

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First SFG bed went into the apartment complex community garden today.

Post  Daniel9999 on 3/24/2012, 8:46 pm

Today the weather was finally nice enough for me to put in the first SFG bed in our small apartment complex community garden here in Silverton Oregon.

First thing I did was too set out all my ingredients for the Mels Mix.

My five composts I purchased and had delivered from my local Wilco (a local farm supply co op here in Oregon).



From the top left hand corner working right I have Gardeners and Bloome Harvest Supreme which I am somewhat excited about as it came highly recommend by the clerks at Wilco and contains some high quality ingredients like bat guano, kelp meal, and worm castings (along with some chicken manure) as well as added beneficial mycorrhizae....however when I opened up the bags there also seemed to be quite a bit of filler in it as there where many small slivers of woody material in it....will have to see If this product lives up to expectations.

Next there is Gardeners and Bloome Worm Gro...basically worm castings....Mushroom and Planting compost by Whitney Farms and finally plain old steer manure also by Whitney Farms.

3 of my five composts are actually blends (The Harvest Supreme, Planting, and Mushroom Composts) with many different types of compost so I should have a fairly well rounded mix (crosses fingers).

Next is the Medium Grade Vermiculite from Therm-O-Rock I had delivered from Home Depot (I needed to find myself a mail order source for vermiculite as high gas prices have unfortunately caused me to trade in my car for a bicycle and motorcycle and I cant fit much at all on an bicycle/ motorcycle...the Home Depot website offered free shipping and seeing as vermiculite is usually so expensive to ship I jumped on it).



Finally I have the coconut coir in compressed blocks( I forget the brand at the moment)....I am glad I went with coconut coir instead of the peat moss I was intending to use as some of the composts had peat moss mentioned as an ingredient.... I do not want the beds turning out too acidic...I really really hope my beds do not come out unbalanced because of the peat moss in the composts...I added a little less coconut coir than called for in an attempt to compensate...if the beds do not turn out right I can add some more later....Hopefully it will work out.




As today was a Saturday and Spring Break starts next week there were quite a few kids running outside in the sunshine and quite a few were curious about what I was doing.

I got many questions about what I was doing and I tried my best to be a good ambassador for the Square Foot method answered the questions to the best of my ability even though I am certainly no Certified Teacher of the method and am not really familiar or qualified enough with SGF it to explain it in great detail.

One young child asked me "Why are you using so many bags (of composts)? I explained to him that composts were the plants food and that plants were like people and that they needed the "eat" many different types of food. A crude analogy of course but I think he was able to understand the concept.

They were also quite tickled when I explained to them that I was using worm poo, cow poo, and chicken poo in my garden (They asked what manure and worm castings were and I really kind of struggled to find a way to explain it to them in a "appropriate" way and poo was the only "family friendly" word I could think of at the time....man did those kids put me on the spot with that one!)

It was kinda funny when their discussion spontaneously turned to other things besides plants that eat poo like flies.....One kid said that he wanted to be a fly so he too could eat poo!??!!! What? affraid

Then another kid mention his pet dog ate poo and seemed to like it.... affraid

Man did it kind of get out of hand......

Kids say the darnest things sometimes.....

Anyway next I constructed the kits I bought from Ace Hardware....they went together really easily.


Their kinda flimsy but seeing as they were fairly cheap for raised bed kits at 34.99 (other kits I looked at like like Frame-It-All were much much more expensive) I was not expecting that much from them.

I could have built my own beds but seeing as a failed woodshop class in high school and as I have a dreadful fear of power tools learned from the 8 fingered shop teacher of said woodshop class my carpentry skills are not too great....and I wanted to have nice looking attractive bed...not the slapped together junky looking monstrosity I was sure to produce If I attempted to make them on my own.

The other unexpected bonus of purchasing a premade kit turned out to be the kids really wanted to help in the construction of the beds and actually fought with each other over who could it together.

I did not expect to getting any help putting the beds together and planned on doing it alone but seeing how excited they were to help I went ahead and let them put together one section each.

The kit was as easy to assemble as a Lincoln Log or Lego house and they manged to put it together quite easily with minimal effort.

Thats is four kits (they came in 4' by 4' by 7" deep kits) you see in the pic above with total combined area of 8 feet long 4 feet wide and 14 inches higher.....and yes that is much higher than the traditional 6 inches normally called for in the book.

The reason they are so high is I frankly I don't want to tell families that they can't have carrots or potatoes because I don't have enough beds that are deep enough for such crops.

It should also be a easier height for people to work from and will enable us to better prevent and contain plant diseases by enabling us to use all the bed space for the rotation of deep rooted crops like the aforementioned carrots and potatoes.

This is a really small space I am working with here and I have to maximize the utility of the space to the fullest..... after all that's why I went with SFG in the first place.... Smile

After constructing the beds came the "fun" part...mixing the Mels Mixs....

I was by myself at this point (the kids had lost interest in the project after the construction of the beds sadly) and I could not mix it they way described in the book so I went with the bucket method I read about on the forum.



Finally after awhile I finished.....



That was a lot of work wasn't it Basil?


The finished Mels Mix looks ok just have to soak it and start planting.....

I am really excited to see how this test bed turns out this year....if it works out I will be doing a couple more of these beds.....

Daniel9999

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Re: First SFG bed went into the apartment complex community garden today.

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/24/2012, 8:58 pm

Very nice! Thanks for sharing and good luck with the community garden Hope it stirs some interest.

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Thanks Rooster.

Post  Daniel9999 on 3/24/2012, 9:07 pm

Thanks for the support!

I goofed in the last post and now realized I double posted the picture of my cat....

This is the pic I of the finished result I intended to post....


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Re: First SFG bed went into the apartment complex community garden today.

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/24/2012, 9:29 pm

Awesome! I can hardly wait to see what grows!

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Re: First SFG bed went into the apartment complex community garden today.

Post  GWN on 3/24/2012, 10:14 pm

What a great story.
Don't all dogs eat poo?

Keep posting your pictures it is always so fun to see how others gardens progress.

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Re: First SFG bed went into the apartment complex community garden today.

Post  walshevak on 3/24/2012, 10:43 pm

Daniel, for the next set of beds you might want to consider the 7" beds with high hats over just the square with carrots. You could double the amount of beds you are able to offer.

Kay

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Re: First SFG bed went into the apartment complex community garden today.

Post  quiltbea on 3/25/2012, 11:45 am

What a great way to start a community garden. You did good.

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Re: First SFG bed went into the apartment complex community garden today.

Post  Furbalsmom on 4/2/2012, 12:48 pm

Daniel, what a great job you have done on preparing the SFG bed and Mels Mix.

Sounds like you were a great ambassador for the method too. Kids sure can keep you going with their questions.

Please be sure you thoroughly water that Mel's Mix. You would be amazed at how much water it can absorb. I used about 23 to 25 gallons for a 4 ft X 4 ft by 10 inch high table top. The peat moss really resists water at first. I would like to suggest that the next time you build a bed, you water the Mel's Mix as you fill the bed. 2 inches of mix, water, water, water, then 2 more inches of mix and water.

Again, Congratulations on a great job and a great project.

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Wetting the Peat Moss

Post  H_TX_2 on 4/2/2012, 1:11 pm

I recently created some MM for a few containers near my 4x4 beds. I found it easier to put the peat moss into a bucket and then wet the eat moss in the bucket. I really had to mix it around until the peat was completely wet. It seemed at first that I had a big mess on my hands with a bucket of slop but the peat lifts out of the water easily. I then added this to my compost which is already damp and vermiculite. I would recommend wetting the peat by itself because it takes more water and there are not any nutrients to lose by soaking the peat. Mix the wet peat, damp compost and vermeculite together and then water well once it is in the box. I think this method also uses less water since with only a few gallons of water I was able to completely soak the peat.

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Re: First SFG bed went into the apartment complex community garden today.

Post  Daniel9999 on 4/3/2012, 9:43 pm

@Furbalsmom wrote:Daniel, what a great job you have done on preparing the SFG bed and Mels Mix.

Sounds like you were a great ambassador for the method too. Kids sure can keep you going with their questions.

Please be sure you thoroughly water that Mel's Mix. You would be amazed at how much water it can absorb. I used about 23 to 25 gallons for a 4 ft X 4 ft by 10 inch high table top. The peat moss really resists water at first. I would like to suggest that the next time you build a bed, you water the Mel's Mix as you fill the bed. 2 inches of mix, water, water, water, then 2 more inches of mix and water.

Again, Congratulations on a great job and a great project.

Thanks Fubalsmom. It great to see all the support! Thanks guys!

Back when I built my bed the forecast called for rain the next day and pretty much the whole week....and its been raining on and off since then.

I just uncovered my bed and let Mother Nature do my watering for me for about a week before I planted anything in it...Trust me it got nice and soaked!

At least all this rain in Oregon is good for something!

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Re: First SFG bed went into the apartment complex community garden today.

Post  FamilyGardening on 4/3/2012, 10:04 pm

yes....rain is good when you need it....

hubby was able to get our asparagus planted last night.....when he came to bed i asked him if he watered them.....and he said nope....nature is going to do it for me...i shook my head and under my breath said....it better......Razz

woke up this morning with him opening the drapes asking me if i thought the asparagus was getting enough water.....ha ha ha...it was pouring down hard this morning.......

hugs

rose

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Re: First SFG bed went into the apartment complex community garden today.

Post  plantoid on 4/4/2012, 6:32 am

That's a good setup Daniel.

Do try and get a raiser box or two as well just to show how it can be applied to shallower beds .

Also to run a few carrots in one to show the advantages of it all with economy of materials in mind not just long rooted crops.



I loved your anology of varied inputs for better results to the kids and the questions they asked .. If a kid is old enough to ask a question they deserve an appropiate answer.

Re The one who wanted to be a fly and eat it .. tell him to go to Mc Donalds Wink

Dogs eat it not only for vitamins & trace elements it hoolds but to keep their gut infected with necessary bacteria and also to complete the natural cycle of spreading parasites.

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Re: First SFG bed went into the apartment complex community garden today.

Post  sfg4uKim on 4/4/2012, 7:55 am

What a great job!

It sounds like you NEED to become a certified teacher. Very Happy

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Re: First SFG bed went into the apartment complex community garden today.

Post  givvmistamps on 4/4/2012, 8:44 am

This is a wonderful project! TFS!!! I sure wish something like this had been available to me when I was living in apartments all those years. I've wanted to do SFG for 13 years, but never had an appropriate place to do more than a planter of tomatoes or something else small. Truly, you have what it takes to become a certified instructor.

Anyone else...how does one do that, anyway? I looked on the website, but something wasn't working properly...my connection, the website, user error, who knows...and I wasn't able to figure it out.

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Re: First SFG bed went into the apartment complex community garden today.

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