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Hello from South Florida!

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Hello from South Florida!

Post  Stevenhazel1980 on 7/13/2012, 10:51 pm

Hello everyone, very excited to say that I have finally built my first 4 X 4. I know I can't really plant much yet but I at least wanted to get it built and filled in. I went with 12" depth instead of 6" just because of how incredibly hot and humid it gets here. I do have a couple peppers and an eggplant going, along with tomatoes and a muskmelon, but otherwise just the mix with a thin layer of compost on top. The day was HOT today but I stuck my finger under the compost and the mix was still pretty cool.

I have finished ANSFG and I must say the idea of it really clicked with me. I have a couple questions which hopefully some of you seasoned florida growers will be able to help with.

First, I could not for the life of me find coarse vermiculite. So I picked up Medium. (Then I found the database on this site that shows me where to get it 20 minutes down the road... ugh.) I hope I won't notice too much difference with medium. Is that going to be better or worse for this area?

My second question has to do with good cover crops. I have heard chopped oak leaves is one of the best but there isn't a whole lot of them in South Florida that I've seen. Would Palm work? I imagine that Palm would do good holding moisture in but perhaps not so good at supplying nutrients as it decomposes. How wrong am I? Seaweed seems controversial. What say you?

Finally, should I plan on giving my plants more space in Florida than Mel recommends in his book? I mean, 4 corn stalks in one square foot seems like a lot for this area. And a tomato plant per sq ft seems like it would suffocate its neighbors, but then again I have not really tries pruning the way he talks about either. What has your experience been?

I apologize for saying hello and then bombarding with questions. I would appreciate any people who would like to share their knowledge on these issues or any others which you feel would be appropriate.

Steven

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Re: Hello from South Florida!

Post  Dunkinjean on 7/14/2012, 12:50 am

Hi Steven and welcome to the Sq Ft Gardening Forum!
glad you\'re here

Hopefully someone will reply to your questions shortly.
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Re: Hello from South Florida!

Post  Goosegirl on 7/14/2012, 8:44 am

glad you\'re here Steven!

When I read ANSFG it just clicked in my brain as well - This is for me!

I am not in FL, but I can tell you that I have some beds with coarse verm. and some with medium and I have had no difference in growth/success in the different beds.

As to spacing, remember that this is an intensive type of gardening. 4 corn plants really does work, but corn is a heavy feeder so make sure that you start with a good blend of compost for good plant nutrition and remember that when plants are done and removed you MUST add compost to the square before planting it again. As to 1 tomato per foot, that is talking about indeterminate (vining) tomatoes and they must have some sort of support structure (trellis). You have THE TOMATO MAN in Florida - look for posts by Acara. He is the Florida tomato-pruning master!

GG
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Re: Hello from South Florida!

Post  Stevenhazel1980 on 7/14/2012, 4:32 pm

@Goosegirl wrote: glad you\'re here Steven!

When I read ANSFG it just clicked in my brain as well - This is for me!

I am not in FL, but I can tell you that I have some beds with coarse verm. and some with medium and I have had no difference in growth/success in the different beds.

As to spacing, remember that this is an intensive type of gardening. 4 corn plants really does work, but corn is a heavy feeder so make sure that you start with a good blend of compost for good plant nutrition and remember that when plants are done and removed you MUST add compost to the square before planting it again. As to 1 tomato per foot, that is talking about indeterminate (vining) tomatoes and they must have some sort of support structure (trellis). You have THE TOMATO MAN in Florida - look for posts by Acara. He is the Florida tomato-pruning master!

GG

Thanks a lot for the input Goosegirl. That's a relief to hear that you don't notice a difference between coarse and medium grade.

When you add compost between plantings, do you find Mel's rough "a trowel per square" to be enough or do you add a different amount?

I'll keep an eye out for Acara's input! Thanks study
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Re: Hello from South Florida!

Post  Goosegirl on 7/14/2012, 6:29 pm

@Stevenhazel1980 wrote:When you add compost between plantings, do you find Mel's rough "a trowel per square" to be enough or do you add a different amount?

This is only my second year with my boxes and my first year really trying some succession planting. If a trowelful doesn't seem to be enough when your seedlings start growing, you can always topdress or sidedress with a bit more compost. I tend to go heavy on the compost addition - shovel it on and mix! My home composting is starting to take off, so I am looking forward to seeing how my homemade stuff works in my boxes.

GG
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Re: Hello from South Florida!

Post  walshevak on 7/14/2012, 8:46 pm

Welcome!!! Acara is not posting as much as he did last year, but a search on tomato pruning should turn up some of his old posts. In the meantime here is a video that you might find useful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJgA4n-sCE8&feature=related

Kay

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Re: Hello from South Florida!

Post  givvmistamps on 7/15/2012, 4:04 am

glad you\'re here Steven! Acara is the tomatobman, and he lives on the other coast of FL from you. He'll be around eventually. Meanwhile, you can do a search for his posts using the search box on the top left of the page. Just make sure that the "Search SFG Forum" box is checked before you search.

As for your questions...Live Oak leaves are not good mulching material, so I wouldn't worry about not having any of those. Any leaf that doesn't decompose quickly has too much acid in it, just like pine straw, and your plants wouldn't like that too much. Seaweed should be washed to remove salts before being used as a mulch. I'm pretty sure palm leaves would have a high acid content, so wouldn't recommend it. You can use shredded paper, so long as it isn't "slick" like magazine pages. Newspapers that use a soy-based ink are ideal!

Someone already mentioned that the 1' spacing for tomatoes is for indeterminate, or vining, tomatoes. I went with 1-1/2' spacing on my determinate, or bush, tomatoes, and have had to prune HEAVILY!!! I would go with a 2' spacing if I'd known how bushy they'd get! Be sure you look at proper pruning methods for the tomatoes you plan on growing. I can't stress enough howbimportant that is.

That's what I can offer off the top of my head. If I recall correctly, the fall planting time down there is August to September, so go ahead and plan your squares out now. If you need input, feel free to ask questions! We LOVE pictures around here, so if you have that capability it would be appreciated. Photos are especially helpful when you have a problem and need assistance.
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Re: Hello from South Florida!

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