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First time gardening in Central Iowa

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First time gardening in Central Iowa

Post  greenThumbsUp on 4/7/2012, 9:23 am

Ok I have gardened on Long Island, The US/ Canada border, and Central Virginia. And now for Central Iowa Zone 5b
I have a 10'x50' bed
I am adding about an inch and a half of compost with a double dug bed. So I think that makes my beds about 18" or so deep.
--I don't think I can totally do a SFG... But I would still like to pack in the veggie plants.
The soil is a rich dark brown, but doesn't seem to drain well at all. I don't have the option of adding much more compost or sand. But I will be watering with a compost tea fertilizer...
How much do you think I can cram in? I am planning on growing ground cherries, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce, summer squash, bush beans and some leafy greens...

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Re: First time gardening in Central Iowa

Post  llama momma on 4/7/2012, 9:45 am

@greenThumbsUp wrote:I am adding about an inch and a half of compost with a double dug bed. So I think that makes my beds about 18" or so deep.
--I don't think I can totally do a SFG... But I would still like to pack in the veggie plants......but doesn't seem to drain well at all. I don't have the option of adding much more compost or sand. But I will be watering with a compost tea fertilizer...
How much do you think I can cram in? I am planning on growing ground cherries, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce, summer squash, bush beans and some leafy greens...

I understand you want to cram in as much as possible. Have you read the book, All New Square Foot Gardening? It uses an intensive method of gardening. A growing medium of 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat, 1/3 compost from 5 or more different sources. This method done correctly sets you up with near perfect conditions for plant life. If you are willing to try the method in one 4ft. by 4ft. box then you can compare the results to your current row gardening. I cannot tell you what kind of results you will have in your row garden since you stated drainage is poor, no option of adding compost, etc. Honestly right there you are missing two very important conditions. In the end, you want to "cram in" vegetables without using the proven square foot method in hopes that compost tea will take care of everything. Doesn't sound like the optimum conditions are there, sorry. Perhaps others will add their knowledge of row gardening to help you.

llama momma

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Re: First time gardening in Central Iowa

Post  greenThumbsUp on 4/7/2012, 9:58 am

Thanks! It sounds like a great idea. I will be able to add the SFG soil mixture to a part of the garden, the entire thing would be too much this year. Maybe the big stuff like tomatoes or eggplant, can be my tester...
p.s. - thank your for understanding that it is early April and I want tons of everything -- must fight cramming instinct...

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Re: First time gardening in Central Iowa

Post  llama momma on 4/7/2012, 11:13 am

How Nice!
Thank you for your understanding and taking everything I said the right way, sometimes it's difficult to know how the other person will react! But I took a chance, besides, you said you gardened on L.I. ! and I'm a transplanted Suffolk County girl myself Very Happy
For all the details to set up a sf garden be sure to pick up a copy of the book, All New Square Foot Garden, the 2006 edition. You can look up lots of topics here too, up in the white search box above this page and also continue to ask away with your questions, there is lots of help here. Let us know how it's going and feel free to share pictures.
LM



llama momma

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Re: First time gardening in Central Iowa

Post  llama momma on 4/7/2012, 11:18 am

I just remembered to share that Mel Bartholomew, the author, started square foot gardening in the early 1980's right on the north shore of L.I. Incredibly, I didn't know of his early Long Island efforts until about 2 years ago. The man was right there under my nose about 15 miles away.
Finally, glad you\'re here to the forum.

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Re: First time gardening in Central Iowa

Post  CCgirl75 on 4/7/2012, 2:22 pm



I'm a fellow Iowan. SW Iowa. It's my first year, also. Excited to have 'neighbors' to confer with!

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Re: First time gardening in Central Iowa

Post  quiltbea on 4/7/2012, 8:59 pm

If your soil is rich and healthy, MM or not, you can still use Mel's plan of growing in square feet. If your soil is rich, crops will grow, and so will the weeds so don't double dig any more. The deeper you dig down, awakening those dormant weed seeds, the more weeds will burst forth. Just add compost to the top of your beds.

Good luck and improve more as you can next year.

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Re: First time gardening in Central Iowa

Post  Turan on 4/7/2012, 9:19 pm

Sounds like you have made a great start. Double digging should have greatily improved your drainage troubles. You can then add to that by making mounded wide long rows/beds. I used to do that by shoveling the soft dirt from the paths to the rows. Then focus your compost and fertilzer on the mounded beds and don't walk on the beds. You can make the bed 3-4 feet wide and use many ideas of SQF in how much you put in them. You can really cram a lot in the wide row/beds this way. It helps to sprinkle a green manure crop down the paths (annual rye is
great) to out compete weeds and keep down mud and add to soil fertility
later. I used to sprinkle annual flower mix too down the beds. especially the cole crops. Mother Nature will grow something everywhere, so plant thickly enough that she is satisfied that you got it covered. Very Happy

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Re: First time gardening in Central Iowa

Post  quiltbea on 4/7/2012, 9:40 pm

@Turan.....Yes, that idea will work. I use it in the community garden where we do NOT have SFG and get tilled and manured each year. I rake my two 30' long beds into approx 6" high mounds 3 feet across, by pulling up the soil from between the rows (which end up as our walking paths), and use the planting distances as in SFG. Works just fine every year. Its just that all the tedious labor would be eliminated if we changed to permanent raised beds like I have at home. Can't get them to change, however.

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Re: First time gardening in Central Iowa

Post  landarch on 4/10/2012, 9:14 am

With a 10x50 bed you could still use some SFG principles in doing large 4'x4' planting areas of a single species...this is still better then row gardening. Weeds won't have a chance and it could be beneficial for bulk yields for canning/ freezing (tomatoes, green beans, onions, etc.) or eating produce at every meal.

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Re: First time gardening in Central Iowa

Post  greenThumbsUp on 4/11/2012, 12:05 pm

Thank you all for your thoughtful responses...
I don't much mind the tedious labor of digging... My husband not so much. But he's really good at it.
I think that I am going to try do do a four by four box in the middle of the bed. I have a mixed flower seed packet (I can't help myself when it comes to flower seed mixes, even though it always means petunias and soapwart)
I think that I am going to try to plant flowers four to a square in between little food crops like leaf lettuce, and radishes.
PS- I read the 2006 edition of the book

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