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Newb questions (long...sorry)

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Newb questions (long...sorry)

Post  Gena575 on 4/4/2012, 8:30 pm

I feel like a such a newb...maybe because I am Smile But, still! I'm not totally newb to gardening, but have always done row style. My yard is pretty small and for some reason the two furry beasts at my feet don't want to give it all up to my veggies. Last year I attempted some tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and carrots. Squash borers got the zucchini (who kills zucchini, right? This girl!), the carrots were a dismal failure at germinating so I just mulched over them. We got plenty of beans and a decent showing on the tomatoes. This year, hubby wants corn so it is getting the former garden spot. I can't see wasting primo space for corn, even as much as I love it.

All that back story, for this...I'm a rambler...sorry. Hubby came home with 3 commercial raised beds the other day. They are 3.5' square and 6" tall. Worthwhile to use? Should we return them and get boards to build our own? I'm mostly concerned that they aren't quite deep enough to have 6" of growing medium in them. I'm on the side of less assembly frustration if that matters LOL!

If we go with these beds, I'll fill them with the magic mix, including the pitiful amount of homemade compost I've made. The following is the plan I've drawn up thus far, starting in the NW corner and ending in the SE corner. We mulch heavily with straw because we have a free source of that in exchange for fresh tomatoes or other produce.

Box 1
1-3 Pole beans
4-9 Potatoes

Box 2
1-3 Tomatoes
4 & 6 Zucchini
5 Marigolds
7-9 Cucumbers

Box 3
1-3 Tomatoes
4 & 6 Carrots
5 Marigolds
7 & 9 Peppers
8 Cilantro

I'm not sure if I'll stick with potatoes in box 1...they may share space with the corn in the ground. If I pull those, I'll probably double the beans and maybe play with hot peppers or herbs. I have some clear 12" canister type things that I thought about using as risers for the carrots. I'm worried that they would overheat though? I could line them with landscape fabric I suppose? We will either be building some trellising for each box or butting them up to our hog wire style fence as trellising. Keeping up with the weeds along the fence may be an issue if we go that route though.

Oh, and we are in zone 6a, south eastern IL where winter forgot to visit and spring is only making a halfhearted appearance...

Gena575

Female Posts : 42
Join date : 2012-04-04
Location : Illinois, zone 6a

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Re: Newb questions (long...sorry)

Post  CCgirl75 on 4/4/2012, 8:36 pm

Welcome! I'm in Iowa and new to SFG, also. My raised beds are a little smaller than 4 feet, also, and 6 inches deep. We filled them almost to the top and I'm pretty sure they are going to be fine. At some point, I HAD to stop fretting about the small stuff and just DO IT! Guess we'll learn along the way.

CCgirl75

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Join date : 2012-03-14
Location : Creston, IA

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Re: Newb questions (long...sorry)

Post  Gena575 on 4/4/2012, 8:39 pm

@CCgirl75 wrote:Welcome! I'm in Iowa and new to SFG, also. My raised beds are a little smaller than 4 feet, also, and 6 inches deep. We filled them almost to the top and I'm pretty sure they are going to be fine. At some point, I HAD to stop fretting about the small stuff and just DO IT! Guess we'll learn along the way.

Isn't that the truth! As long as I get a few tomato and butter sandwiches all is right with the world!

Gena575

Female Posts : 42
Join date : 2012-04-04
Location : Illinois, zone 6a

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Re: Newb questions (long...sorry)

Post  philct on 4/4/2012, 8:50 pm

@Gena575 wrote:I feel like a such a newb...maybe because I am Smile But, still! I'm not totally newb to gardening, but have always done row style. My yard is pretty small and for some reason the two furry beasts at my feet don't want to give it all up to my veggies. Last year I attempted some tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and carrots. Squash borers got the zucchini (who kills zucchini, right? This girl!), the carrots were a dismal failure at germinating so I just mulched over them. We got plenty of beans and a decent showing on the tomatoes. This year, hubby wants corn so it is getting the former garden spot. I can't see wasting primo space for corn, even as much as I love it.

All that back story, for this...I'm a rambler...sorry. Hubby came home with 3 commercial raised beds the other day. They are 3.5' square and 6" tall. Worthwhile to use? Should we return them and get boards to build our own? I'm mostly concerned that they aren't quite deep enough to have 6" of growing medium in them. I'm on the side of less assembly frustration if that matters LOL!

If we go with these beds, I'll fill them with the magic mix, including the pitiful amount of homemade compost I've made. The following is the plan I've drawn up thus far, starting in the NW corner and ending in the SE corner. We mulch heavily with straw because we have a free source of that in exchange for fresh tomatoes or other produce.

Box 1
1-3 Pole beans
4-9 Potatoes

Box 2
1-3 Tomatoes
4 & 6 Zucchini
5 Marigolds
7-9 Cucumbers

Box 3
1-3 Tomatoes
4 & 6 Carrots
5 Marigolds
7 & 9 Peppers
8 Cilantro

I'm not sure if I'll stick with potatoes in box 1...they may share space with the corn in the ground. If I pull those, I'll probably double the beans and maybe play with hot peppers or herbs. I have some clear 12" canister type things that I thought about using as risers for the carrots. I'm worried that they would overheat though? I could line them with landscape fabric I suppose? We will either be building some trellising for each box or butting them up to our hog wire style fence as trellising. Keeping up with the weeds along the fence may be an issue if we go that route though.

Oh, and we are in zone 6a, south eastern IL where winter forgot to visit and spring is only making a halfhearted appearance...



Just curious because I see a lot of people using them, why marigolds?

philct

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Join date : 2012-03-30
Location : Connecticut Zone 6A

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Re: Newb questions (long...sorry)

Post  Gena575 on 4/4/2012, 9:20 pm

@philct wrote:

Just curious because I see a lot of people using them, why marigolds?

They are supposed to help keep bad bugs away from things like tomatoes. And they are pretty Smile

Gena575

Female Posts : 42
Join date : 2012-04-04
Location : Illinois, zone 6a

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Re: Newb questions (long...sorry)

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 4/4/2012, 9:28 pm

glad you\'re here Gena575!

Another Illinoisian - WHOO HOO!! Have you got the All New Square Foot Gardening (2006) book to go with your raised beds? If not, I'd run out and get hold of a copy - check the library, or you can purchase it at most bookstores, Lowes, Menards, and of course online. I believe it's also available in digital format for Kindle or the computer as well. It is a fairly easy read and will explain all the basics necessary to make your beds productive! Smile

Yes, MOST everything grows in 6" of Mel's Mix...amazing isn't it? The mix will compact so it's really a bit less than 6" for most of us. Smile One exception I do see is your potatoes...you might do a search for potatoes in the bar in the upper left and look at some of the threads. You have to "hill up" potatoes and different members do that differently.

Are you going to let your cukes sprawl over the edge of your bed #2?

I struggled with zucchini last year too, but I am DEE-termined to get at least something this year. Who, in central Illinois doesn't grow zukes and tomatoes, right? And, I for one, LOVE them.... Smile

Keep us posted on your progress...we love pictures! Smile

Happy to have you here!

UnderTheBlackWalnut

Female Posts : 559
Join date : 2011-04-18
Age : 50
Location : Springfield (central), IL, on the line between 5b and 6a

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Re: Newb questions (long...sorry)

Post  Gena575 on 4/4/2012, 9:54 pm

@UnderTheBlackWalnut wrote: ::snipped for space::

Are you going to let your cukes sprawl over the edge of your bed #2?

I struggled with zucchini last year too, but I am DEE-termined to get at least something this year. Who, in central Illinois doesn't grow zukes and tomatoes, right? And, I for one, LOVE them.... Smile

Keep us posted on your progress...we love pictures! Smile

Happy to have you here!

I was going to pick up the book at Menard's this weekend...didn't even *think* about a Kindle version! It is loading to my phone as I type...thank you!

Do I have much choice, but to let the cukes sprawl? I bought some supposedly bush types last year and well, let's just say the tag lied LOL! But yes, I was going to let them do their thing over the edges if they wanted to.

I felt like *such* a failure killing zucchini! I remember as a kid coming home to grocery sacks of zucchini on the porch, in the back seat of the car, everywhere. This year I'm hoping a little neem oil and if need be a late planting will give me some. What is summer without fried zucchini??!

I haven't quite worked out how I'll hill the potatoes. I could build up for them or just move them to the "space waster" garden. I'm not even sure I can still find seed potatoes around here with the weather being so darn warm already.

Gena575

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Join date : 2012-04-04
Location : Illinois, zone 6a

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Re: Newb questions (long...sorry)

Post  AvaDGardner on 4/4/2012, 10:39 pm

Hey Gena! Welcome to the forum!

Buy boxes or build boxes....hmmm...how much time do you want to spend? Keep what he bought and go or wait for the weekend...

The plan: depending on your potato size, you may need a deeper container. If you put the corn in box 1 and added some squash you'd have box of 3 sisters. This link goes to the other thread here where we're discussing the spacing of it all.

@Gena575 wrote:Isn't that the truth! As long as I get a few tomato and butter sandwiches all is right with the world!

Is that butter from a cow or butter bean?

I thought it was tomatoes, onions & mayo sandwiches for the midwest combo. I lived on them one summer and lost a ton of weight, LOL. I bought bread & mayo and gardeners gave me the rest!



@philct - marigolds are stinky enough to keep some bugs away. Just don't smell one!

There's other companion planting that can be done too. I'm mixing onions with my cole crops; snapdragons and cosmos with my celery, etc. There's a decent list on Wikipedia.

Ava

AvaDGardner

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Join date : 2012-02-17
Location : Garden Grove, CA (still Zone 10b)

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Re: Newb questions (long...sorry)

Post  Gena575 on 4/6/2012, 8:17 pm

Well, hopefully I've managed enough variety in my compost...small town living can be challenging at times. We drove to the next "big" town-45 minutes away-to gather building supplies and filling supplies. We ended up returning the prefab boxes and spent only $40 more than they cost for everything we needed plus a few seed packets.

I ended up with:
Chicken compost (please tell me the stink goes away on this one! Shocked )
Mushroom compost
Cow compost
Forestry compost (betting this has chunks and/or peat in it)
Organic Humus and Manure (I *know* this has peat in it...I ran out of options Sad )
Peat
Pearlite (I know it isn't the same...please don't flog me...there was NO vermiculite to be found, even where the data base said I would find it Mad because they were out and had no clue when it would be in)

So, I'm close. I did the best I could and am prepared to amend/supplement if I need to. I'm working on a lead for rabbit manure and if it plays out, I'll trowel some of that in to make up for that darn humus. I bought a little heavy on the various composts to balance out the peat filler in the humus and will cut back a smidge on the peat I bought to try to keep things even.

I did end up having a neat conversation with one of the employees at one of the stores. He's building some table top beds for his wife this year. I encouraged him to check out Mel's book. He was got curious about the vermiculite and we chatted for probably 30 minutes LOL! My poor husband was giving me death stares. That almost made up for them being out of the biggest reason I drove 45 minutes. Almost.

Building commences as soon as the dew burns off in the morning! Wish us luck!

Gena575

Female Posts : 42
Join date : 2012-04-04
Location : Illinois, zone 6a

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Re: Newb questions (long...sorry)

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 4/6/2012, 8:55 pm

Gena - Your post sounds awesome! Uh...yea...we did discuss the "farm-like" smell that you will have for a week or two from your mix in another thread and that it's very normal... Smile

No flogging necessary - Perlite is a perfectly acceptable substitute when vermiculite can't be obtained and it sounds like you are being realistic about getting the best start possible and knowing you can constantly improve as you go...

way to go on talking to the gentleman at the store, although we definitely want you to be on hubby's good side if he's helping with the boxes and the mixing. Smile

If you get a chance and have the means, take a couple of pictures while building and when completed. We'd love to see your progress!

UnderTheBlackWalnut

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Join date : 2011-04-18
Age : 50
Location : Springfield (central), IL, on the line between 5b and 6a

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Re: Newb questions (long...sorry)

Post  floyd1440 on 4/6/2012, 9:04 pm

@Gena575 wrote:Well, hopefully I've managed enough variety in my compost...small town living can be challenging at times. We drove to the next "big" town-45 minutes away-to gather building supplies and filling supplies. We ended up returning the prefab boxes and spent only $40 more than they cost for everything we needed plus a few seed packets.

I ended up with:
Chicken compost (please tell me the stink goes away on this one! Shocked )
Mushroom compost
Cow compost
Forestry compost (betting this has chunks and/or peat in it)
Organic Humus and Manure (I *know* this has peat in it...I ran out of options Sad )
Peat
Pearlite (I know it isn't the same...please don't flog me...there was NO vermiculite to be found, even where the data base said I would find it Mad because they were out and had no clue when it would be in)

So, I'm close. I did the best I could and am prepared to amend/supplement if I need to. I'm working on a lead for rabbit manure and if it plays out, I'll trowel some of that in to make up for that darn humus. I bought a little heavy on the various composts to balance out the peat filler in the humus and will cut back a smidge on the peat I bought to try to keep things even.

I did end up having a neat conversation with one of the employees at one of the stores. He's building some table top beds for his wife this year. I encouraged him to check out Mel's book. He was got curious about the vermiculite and we chatted for probably 30 minutes LOL! My poor husband was giving me death stares. That almost made up for them being out of the biggest reason I drove 45 minutes. Almost.

Building commences as soon as the dew burns off in the morning! Wish us luck!

Sounds like you have done quite well in gathering all those different types of compost, which was very difficult to find, in the proper ammounts.

I know you have a lot to do but consider building a compost bin as you will get all the great admentments for your soil goingforwar.

Built my first one this spring and hopefully will have some fresh compost before I plant my summer crops...I hope.


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Re: Newb questions (long...sorry)

Post  camprn on 4/6/2012, 9:17 pm

Gena, Congratulations on your shopping trip! Perlite is perfectly acceptable!

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