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Things I am learning about our first SFG

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Things I am learning about our first SFG

Post  KelliK on 7/2/2012, 8:37 am

Hello All,

Gardening is so much fun, and my neighbors are becoming believers in SFG. One of them has determined that she is just going to plow under her beds and come and garden with us. She doesnt have the time and we have an automatic sprinkler system, and lots of success with our garden.

However, there are some things I am learning along the way and I wanted to capture them here, please feel free to add to the list and learn from our take aways.

1. This soil is amazing! Our garden looks like a wild jungle, and we have fresh stuff all the time. However, we can't eat all that we have. So next year I will only be planting two (squares) of any type of vegetable. For our household, more variety is better than quantity. Our two and three year old are starting to rebel against vegetables, so the full court press has to be on.

2. My husband is a wonderful patient man, and he loves building things, he did such a great job that I am encouraging him to do even more... SFG's.Very Happy Because our herbs have really taken off (and trying to take over- I mean we have a 4' tall Dill and the basil...holy moly!) I have asked him to make me a perinnial herb garden so we can devote space just for them and not take up garden space for it. Plus that will give them the room they want to spread out and thrive.

3. I will not plant flowers IN the garden. But I do like the bug control they offer (marigolds) So I think I will buy some large flower pots at the end of the season and fill them with Mels Mix and "plant" them around the garden on the outside. Yesterday I pulled out a single Petunia that had spread almost 5 feet from her neat square foot boundary. It wasnt really a problem, but she started choking out the other plants.... not nice.

4. I need to do more research on companion plants. I want to maximize space, and have healthy plants, naturally.

5. I didnt use a garden planner this year, I used good old fashioned grid paper and marked everything out. I have a lot going on, I dont want this fun hobby to become a full time job.

6. I need to do a better job at preparing for what is to come. I didnt have the trelis up until the toms were monsters, and even though I cut them back, they are using it for support. I need to go online after the summer is over and start trolling craigslist and hitting end of the season sales at the nurseries around for good deals on cucumber trelis, tomato cages, and anything that will help me control the jungle.

7. We have great dogs! I do not give them enough credit. They left the garden alone (for the most part). I dont know why (or if I planted something they dont like), but we didnt need a fence around any part of the garden.

8. I need to decide what I want to keep forever in the back yard. We planted strawberries along a retaining wall, and I would like to get a nice berry bush. These arent things I want in our garden taking up space.

9. Worm poop is magical! I need to get one more bag from Justen at Veteran Compost to use as my "filler" for when I harvest the squares.

10. we need a composter so we can recycle and grow our garden responsibly.

11. THIS FORUM has been a Godsend. So many people who care about each other and their gardens is a wonderful thing to be a part of.

I am excited to hear any of your "take aways" from your gardening experiences this year (or years past).

Thanks!

Kelli

KelliK

Female Posts : 46
Join date : 2012-03-27
Location : Manassas VA 20110

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Re: Things I am learning about our first SFG

Post  CharlesB on 7/2/2012, 10:01 am

Great take aways from your experience.

I am a few years in to this so my take aways would be more about SFG friendly varieties for my climate (Philadelphia, PA).

1. Seven-top Turnip Greens (no turnip just greens) are a great green for the amount of space and have very little bug problems. They grow so fast they outpace the bugs.

2. Rattlesnake Pole Beans (thanks to members of this board for the suggestion) are tough, early and very tasty.

3. If growing tomatoes in the SFG choose small varieties like Sweet n Neat. I grew some varieties in my SFG that were just monsters, 6 feet tall, 3 feet wide and that was with a fair amount of pruning.

4. Even highly trained up a trellis squash and pumpkins are still going to take up too much space. Plan accordingly.

5. Early in the spring the slug population is too high. Use Sluggo on them if planting early.

6. I started many more seedlings in flats and trays than usual. This proved useful. As plants came out of the garden or had problems I had plenty of back-ups. Ended up using everything extra I had started.

7. Not worth letting Swiss Chard go to seed the second year. Plants get too big and take too long to produce the seed. If doing it, do it somewhere other than in the SFG.

8. God Bless the worms and microbes. Keep them both well fed and watered and they in turn will keep the garden well fed and happy.

CharlesB

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Location : Philadelphia, PA

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Re: Things I am learning about our first SFG

Post  KelliK on 7/2/2012, 10:20 am

@CharlesB wrote:

3. If growing tomatoes in the SFG choose small varieties like Sweet n Neat. I grew some varieties in my SFG that were just monsters, 6 feet tall, 3 feet wide and that was with a fair amount of pruning.

7. Not worth letting Swiss Chard go to seed the second year. Plants get too big and take too long to produce the seed. If doing it, do it somewhere other than in the SFG.

8. God Bless the worms and microbes. Keep them both well fed and watered and they in turn will keep the garden well fed and happy.

YES CharlesB, I couldnt agree more!! Our Toms have taken over, I dont know if I can prune them back now, its a great lesson learned, hence the two veggie rule for us. And it is always good to realize your "space issues".

I was so impressed with all the info on worms from this forum that I added them to our house plants and "feed the worm" some corn meal once every couple weeks and our plants are just thriving!

KelliK

Female Posts : 46
Join date : 2012-03-27
Location : Manassas VA 20110

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Re: Things I am learning about our first SFG

Post  Belle87ad on 7/3/2012, 11:15 am

Thank you for posting this!! It has given me a lot to think about! This is my first year gardening...ever...and I'm a little late to boot--my veggies have just started sprouting in the last week. I haven't been this excited about something in a long time!!! It's so hard to believe that the little sprouts I have now will actually grow (God willing) to produce something for my family to eat!!

Belle87ad

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Join date : 2012-06-16
Age : 28
Location : St. Louis, MO

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Re: Things I am learning about our first SFG

Post  bakermtb on 7/3/2012, 3:54 pm

It's so great to hear all is going good in your first year. Many people who start the first year cannot believe the size of the plants and the production. My neighbor and friends have become believers of SFG. See the photo attached of my Marigold (3' high) next to my tomatoes.

Mike

https://i49.servimg.com/u/f49/16/79/27/73/marigo10.jpg

bakermtb

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Join date : 2011-06-21
Age : 62
Location : Ellicott City, MD

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Re: Things I am learning about our first SFG

Post  KelliK on 8/1/2012, 7:55 am

A few more noteworthy items:

1. Give everything room to grow. I think I saw all 55 squares in my garden as possible planing areas. They look so nice and neat when all the sprouts come up, but then the plant grows and invades other squares.

2. Cages, cages and more cages. Last night I went out to harvest my green beans and the toms, squash and beans were all intertwined. I need to give each the space they deserve to grow and fruit, and that includes vertically.

3. Learn to Prune and do it early and often. I had a jungle earlier and cut a lot back. I thought I was doing a good thing, and it did clear up a bunch of the garden, but the shade the leaves provided for the other plants helped them too. We are still getting eggplants, but they are much smaller and softer than before I pruned the toms. I think they liked the shade.

4. I am not sure when to transition and how to do it. Right now, I am just waiting for each plant to stop fruiting and then I pull it. I would like to completely clear out the garden and give it a good raking to clean it up before starting a winter garden, but I don't think that is the way it is done with SFG. I need to learn more about it.

5. I need to be a bit more flexible. I am learning that just like a two year old, I can't control how big and unruly the garden can grow. I am happy that I've pulled maybe four weeds from it, but I just don't like my nice neat squares being run over. Kind of like folding laundry and then having a two year old run through the house and jump on them and mess them up. I need to see the beauty and fun in the "mess" and just go with it.

KelliK

Female Posts : 46
Join date : 2012-03-27
Location : Manassas VA 20110

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Re: Things I am learning about our first SFG

Post  CapeCoddess on 8/1/2012, 1:13 pm

Great stuff, you guys! This is my first year also, and I'm learning a lot:

1) Put the grid in before planting. I thought I would remember where everything is, and when it didn't sprout soon enough for me, I planted more of apparently other things and ended up with a mish mash in one of my boxes. Which leads to...

2) Wait for it. Everything has it's germination temp. I planted too early thinking I was smarter than the seeds but they wouldn't come up til they were good and ready. I read later that they won't produce as well if they are sitting in the ground a long time. Hence my one and only cucumber on 9 plants.

3) Cats can learn that the boxes aren't big litter boxes. At least my Siamese, Lilly, did. An aside, rabbits don't seem to bother with raised boxes.

4) MM is best. I experimented with different soils in different boxes - straight compost, sand/compost/fertilizer, straight Fafard, & MM. The others work in a pinch but MM wins. I'm gradually changing over my other boxes to MM as I empty parts of them.

5) Tomato plants grow crazy tall in MM. Be ready! And pinch those suckers!

6) With leafies, the more I take the more it makes. It's amazing!

I'm sure there are lots more but I need to go home for lunch right now and add something beside Fafard around my cucs.

Later,
CC



CapeCoddess

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Re: Things I am learning about our first SFG

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