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From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

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From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 5/4/2012, 3:27 pm

Hi!

Here you are in this forum. Hopefully you've bought the All New Square Foot Gardening book, read it, and realized how easy Mel makes it to garden the SFG way. If you are a newbie like I was, you aren't bringing much previous gardening knowledge to the table, so are reading faithfully all these posts about pests and disease and nutrition in your mix and planting dates and cold water and warm weather crops and starting seeds...and Oh My Goodness!! What a Face

Suddenly something that seemed easy now seems monumental. I know. Been there. Felt that. Still feel a twinge of that sometimes! I am nowhere NEAR where my mentors like Camprn, Boffer, Lavender Debs, QB and so many other experienced gardeners who helped me last year, are. But you know what, that's okay. Master Chefs don't learn how to fix gourmet meals in a year either. Smile I don't think when I leave this world, I'll have as much knowledge about plants, pests, and diseases as most of these people have in their pinky fingers, but that's okay, too. Smile

This post is to address stage 2: The Fear Factor

You know...that overwhelmed feeling that slides right in on the heels of the exhilaration you felt about starting your first SFG. If you already had previous gardening experience, you are probably not experiencing this breathlessness as much as those of us who had/have none. Some of the below may be second nature for you. But what's below is critical for those of us without as much previous knowledge to realize. Smile This is advice I've gleaned from the experienced gardeners on the forum that has helped me overcome my Fear Factor the most.

PLANTS GROW
Plants grow "in spite of the attentions of the gardener" ( thanks Plantoid). I'm going to bet that right now you have a plant growing in your space. Whether it's a "weed' growing from your sidewalk, or a vine growing on your fence. You have a plant growing. It happened without much effort from you. Now granted, gardening takes a little more effort to get the plants you want to grow, when and where you want them. But the cardinal rule is just relax and learn. Don't stress that you planted something a week after you were supposed to, or you put 5 lettuces in a square meant for 4, just try it and learn.

PLANTS FAIL

Yep. Even for the best gardeners. Tomatoes get diseased. Bagged compost doesn't live up to it's reputation. Radishes don't root. Beans get eaten. The weather throws curveballs. It happens, especially to us newbies as we are learning. Ying with Yang. Good with Bad. Makes the things that do well that much better. My first year successes: Peas from seed, tomato transplants. My first year failures: lettuce, carrots and onions that only grew an inch, beans that got eaten and never seemed to produce much, watermelon and canteloupe vines that looked like they were for a doll house, radishes that didn't form, etc. Since I didn't have much experience with these plants to begin with, I had a lot to learn.

Don't expect that everything is going to live up to the grandest goals. Relax. Some will thrive. Some won't. You learn. I learned two things: I need to pay better attention to bagged compost AND I needed to try some different varieties recommended to me by members in my area. Guess what? This year, I've already EATEN lettuce and radishes. Smile I had to let go of my instant need for gratification and realize this is a multi-year learning process.... In year 1, my husband would always say "But you ate more homegrown peas this year than you did last year." He was right. Smile (If you know my husband, please don't tell him I admitted that on the forum. Thank you.) Smile

DON'T EXPECT "PICTURE PERFECT" PRODUCE

This one is important enough I'm going to repeat it. Don't expect "picture perfect" produce. And once again, don't expect "picture perfect" produce! Man, was this one a hard one for me personally to get over. You mean that radish that has holes in the leaves or even, gasp, a small defect in the shoulders, is okay?!! What a Face My mom taught this city girl to purchase the prettiest produce I could find when I was in the grocery store and now you are telling me it's OKAY?!! It's okay that my broccoli has a few holes in the leaves where the couple of cabbage worms that camouflaged themselves better than my eyes could see, had to get bigger before I could pick them off?!! You mean you can still EAT a lettuce or spinach leaf that had a hole in it?!! The other half of that cracked tomato is still good?! Come on folks, say it with me "Don't expect picture perfect produce"! This is not to say you won't have some picture-worthy produce! Trust me, you will be so excited the first time you get some good eats, you'll be taking pictures. cheers You will have some beautiful plants. Smile

But not everything has to look perfect. Leaves get eaten before you can identify the pest. Seedlings stress before they get better. It's okay. This is the REAL stuff. The TASTY stuff. Ever notice how organic or home-grown is sometimes not as pretty but way more flavorful. I've read articles by famous chefs and cooks where they say often the less pretty produce is the tastiest. Just a day or so ago Walshevak said some of the best peach jam she'd ever eaten was made from the "bruised" areas of peaches she was slicing for freezing. Some of us are old enough to remember "home grown" food our parents/grandparents/great-grandparents served. You know why it tasted so good? Chances are, they were using the "bruised spots". Smile

THE FORUM MEMBERS ARE WONDERFUL

Our members are so willing to answer questions or try to point you in the right direction as the issues come up. The first time I posted a picture of a pathetic zucchini plant that wouldn't grow, I was terrified. I mean WHO in central Illinois can't grow zucchini?! Those things are all over the place come mid-summer. I thought all these people are probably laughing at me. NOPE! I think it was Camprn who came to my aid and gave me some suggestions to try and she was right on. I try to answer the questions where I am gaining some experience, but I still rely on those experienced gardeners. Don't be afraid to search, research, and ask. Smile

For most of us, the garden is a healing place. But I don't think any of us would deny it does take a little work to get it going. The difference is SFG is so much LESS work, and so much LESS work in years to come, that for me, it's the absolute best way to garden!

So....

1 ) Read the book
2 ) Build/obtain your beds or containers
3 ) Make your mix and try not to skimp on compost
4 ) For those of us in areas that experience freezing temps, look up your first/last frost dates
5 ) Put in your plants or seeds based on Mel's charts
6 ) Water them regularly
7 ) Research and ask questions as they come up
8 ) Enjoy being part of a forum that is so interesting, kind and knowledgeable that it's addicting, and most of all....
9 ) Say goodbye to the Fear Factor and ENJOY YOUR SFG! Smile


Last edited by UnderTheBlackWalnut on 5/4/2012, 3:35 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  yolos on 5/4/2012, 3:34 pm

Very well said. Thank you.

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  gwennifer on 5/4/2012, 3:48 pm

Wow! Well done UnderTheBlackWalnut!

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  littlesapphire on 5/4/2012, 3:57 pm

Great post, and so true too! My first year was SO overwhelming in many ways. I was panicking about everything, and I was also mildly afraid to ask because I didn't want to admit I'd done something wrong. But I learned so much that year that my second year was a huge success, despite the natural curve balls!

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  givvmistamps on 5/4/2012, 4:10 pm

Thanks so much for the encouragement to all us newbies!

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  elysia on 5/4/2012, 4:22 pm

First year SFG and total gardening newbie here - really appreciate the great advice! Thanks esp. for posting your success/failures! I have several failures under my belt so far already but have learned A LOT in the process! Thanks for the so much for the perspective UnderTheBlackWalnut!

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  No_Such_Reality on 5/4/2012, 4:36 pm

Great post, I'll add one



Pick it and eat today.



Unlike store bought stuff, particularly true of cucumbers, melons, peppers, they will not keep sitting on the counter. In my area, a fresh garden cucumber picked today, will be wrinkled up and pathetic looking by the time I get home tomorrow from work.

It'll still be better than a store bought one, but leaving you wondering just how good was it?

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  littlesapphire on 5/4/2012, 6:48 pm

If you keep your produce in the fridge, it seems to do pretty well for me. My fridge stored veggies that came from the garden lasted three times as long as the stuff from the store, so maybe the fridge makes the difference.

OH, right, I remember now! Probably the reason your cucumbers are wrinkling on the counter and the store bought ones aren't is because they wax cucumbers at the store to keep them fresh. Isn't that weird?

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  RoOsTeR on 5/4/2012, 6:57 pm

Great job Undertheblackwalnut I can totally relate to everything in your post.

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  kbb964 on 5/4/2012, 7:55 pm

Thank You , a great post which I will flag and read again when i am feeling underachieved you rock



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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  camprn on 5/4/2012, 8:31 pm

Sticky worthy!

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http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  kristinz on 5/4/2012, 8:56 pm

Thank you for posting this- I am a year one newbie here. We had a small 'regular' garden last year, which actually did well, but I knew there was a better way to use my space and started with the book. Your words ring true to me, I feel scared and overwhelmed at times, but am happy I can come here, read posts from others or ask for advice. Due to other yard projects, we haven't started, but I don't feel too bad because I can just do a fall garden if it gets too late. Thank you for the post...I feel more at ease and ready to start!

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  quiltbea on 5/4/2012, 9:20 pm

What a great bit of information for newbies! Every newbie needs to read it.

Reminds me of me in 2009 when everything was a first. I never knew about tomato hornworm and couldn't figure out what was happening to several of my tomatoes that year. They were being stripped to the main stem. The poor plants looked like green skeletons. I lost many plants entirely. It wasn't til the 2nd year I learned about the dreaded huge green caterpillar and found a dozen infiltrating my plants. Once you know what to look for, its easier to prevent disaster. So ask questions, newbies.

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  kgooding on 5/4/2012, 10:47 pm

Thanks for the post, it's very encouraging. When I was a kid the only thing my mom ever succeeded in growing was lettuce (that a bunny usually came by an snacked on before we ever got) and cucumbers. Imagine my dismay when my potatoes are growing great, peas are running up the trellis, beans are looking fantastic, spinach is looking okay, and my lettuce has bombed! It's only about an inch tall after 2 months and I'm thinking it's going to not make it. I'm blaming it on the crazy warm weather we had about a month ago, but it doesn't matter how much the rest of the garden grows I feel like a failure! I'm so glad to see I'm not the only one with problems with lettuce the first year, and will be trying it again come fall and next spring.

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  cheyannarach on 5/4/2012, 11:26 pm

Awesome post!!! This is great, I have had a garden for many years with not a lot of huge successes and this year is my first SFG! I think it is going to be my most successful garden yet but understand failures are okay too, got to live and learn. Thanks Under the Black Walnut!!!

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 5/4/2012, 11:35 pm

Wow! Thanks for the kind words! *blush* I'm loving this forum and SFG. Smile Year 2 is starting out so much better! Smile QB - did you REALLY have green skeletons? I'm in awe of how beautiful your tomato starts always are in their air pruning pots. I can't imagine them getting eaten to the central stem! What a Face

kgooding - Yup! My lettuce was like an inch tall after WEEKS last year! This year, I tried a different variety, better added compost, and started earlier and have eaten both salads and some darn good sandwiches. You might check out your extension service and see what varieties they recommend. Smile

As I was reading the posts from so many who are new to SFG, I remembered how I felt last year at this time and wanted to write a post of encouragement with some of the things I've learned from those who were here before me and who have helped me so much! Smile

BIG hug
Maria (gardening UnderTheBlackWalnut in her SFG) Smile

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  RoOsTeR on 5/4/2012, 11:44 pm

@camprn wrote:Sticky worthy!


One better. It's been HOVERED

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  cheyannarach on 5/4/2012, 11:48 pm

@RoOsTeR wrote:
@camprn wrote:Sticky worthy!


One better. It's been HOVERED

Like (this forum needs a like button like facebook has) Very Happy

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  RoOsTeR on 5/4/2012, 11:53 pm

@cheyannarach wrote:
@RoOsTeR wrote:
@camprn wrote:Sticky worthy!


One better. It's been HOVERED

Like (this forum needs a like button like facebook has) Very Happy

Sorry, I'm a google+ fan, so it's a +1 for me Razz


Everyone does know where the Hover tab is right??

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  Kelejan on 5/4/2012, 11:57 pm

Such an encouraging post, UnderTheBlackWalnut Smile

I am on my third year of SFG, but somehow this year I am feeling a little discouraged. Then I look at the temperatures we have had (at this moment it is 57F) and the continual rain, then I realise that if I were a seed, I wouldn't want to poke my nose up right now. I think also it is reading about what so many others are harvesting already, then I realise of course it is a huge continent we live on.

We are forcast sunshine this coming week, in the 70Fs so I am looking forward to an explosion in my beds when everything will play catch-up.

Just to say, thank you again , UTBW, it truly is inspirational.

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  Nicola on 5/5/2012, 12:00 am

@RoOsTeR wrote:
@camprn wrote:Sticky worthy!
One better. It's been HOVERED
Okay, I think this is my third year on here; and stickies I know, but I don't think I've ever heard of "hovered". What, pray tell, is that?

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  givvmistamps on 5/5/2012, 12:38 am

Is that hover thing the one on the main page that when you swipe your mouse all the way to the left slides out like a drawer with links you can click on??? So will this be sticky'd as well as hovered?

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 5/5/2012, 12:41 am

Kelejan - Hang in there! I believe you are right. Once you get some cooperative weather, I'll bet everything will just turn green in nothing flat! Smile

Nicola and Givvmistamps - yes there is a "Hover" at the top left of what looks like a scalloped edge on the left side of the page. When you hold your cursor over it, the scalloped edge pops out and shows different topics. I have found, though, that it works better in IE than in Chrome - so some browsers work better than others with it. Smile

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  givvmistamps on 5/5/2012, 12:54 am

It works fine in Firefox, too. Very Happy

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

Post  cheyannarach on 5/5/2012, 1:10 am

@RoOsTeR wrote:
@cheyannarach wrote:
@RoOsTeR wrote:
@camprn wrote:Sticky worthy!


One better. It's been HOVERED

Like (this forum needs a like button like facebook has) Very Happy

Sorry, I'm a google+ fan, so it's a +1 for me Razz


Everyone does know where the Hover tab is right??

No not everyone knows what a hover tab is Embarassed , and LIKE and +1!

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Re: From a Year 2 Novice to All the New SFGers or "How to Get Past the Fear Factor! :)"

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