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How my first sfg season went

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How my first sfg season went

Post  Kate888 on 10/7/2012, 5:59 pm

Overall, I would consider my first year of sfg a success. We got lots of beautiful veggies and miracle of miracles, the weeding was only a very minor nuisance (my main complaint of gardening before).

3 varieties of lettuce did very well until the early and very hot summer weather. Broccoli did wonderfully even though the cabbage worms did some work on the leaves. Spinach was yummy but didn't seem to produce much. Lots of green onions squeezed in around the outside edges did well as did a couple of parsley plants.

Snow peas and purple beans were good, but didn't produce as much as I thought they would. The bean leaves were getting chewed on, so I guess that explains them.


Out of 3 bell peppers, we only got about 8 altogether and a couple were very small. One of the plants didn't produce at all. The jalapeno produced like crazy, 2-3 dozen (maybe that's normal, I've never grown jalapeno before).

Tomatoes - my starts did poorly so I bought some at a greenhouse - the Riesenstraube did great - lots and lots and LOTS of delicious sweet little toms - in fact, even though we've a frost a couple of nights we're still getting lots - 4 dozen the other night). But the other 3 mortgage lifter, cherokee purple and ? can't remember the third right now, they were nearly all rotting on the vine before ripening. Mostly they looked just fine, but would be soft and squishy, and then falling apart by the time they were ripe. Don't know what that is. So we were very disappointed in that.

2 spaghetti squash - we only got 6, and 2 are sitting on my windowsill, hopefully ripening soon. Lost several to blossom end rot

I also had a couple each of zucchini and yellow squash in my old traditional bed and they did terribly, blossom end rot there, too.

Anyway, there was some frustration at the toms, peppers, and squash, but I really enjoyed gardening this year and plan to double my space next year (add 2 more 3x8 beds, I'd do more if I could afford it). Thanks for all the help here. Sorry I didn't post more, but I got so busy and being new don't have a lot of helpful advice for others yet.

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  Kelejan on 10/8/2012, 2:31 am

Well done, Kate. I bet you will do even better next year.
Don't forget to add the compost each time you harvest. Very Happy

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  RoOsTeR on 10/8/2012, 10:15 am

Congrats Kate888! Sounds like you had a very productive season rock on

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  cheyannarach on 10/8/2012, 10:30 am

Good job Kate! From what I've read you can eat that spaghetti squash anytime, you don't have to wait for it to turn orange!

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  Theresa_in_the_ATL on 10/8/2012, 12:42 pm

Congrats on your first year being so successful. Very Happy

I just started my first year as well, but I've started with Fall crops. I only just planted everything a month ago, but here in GA it will be warm enough for a while still. Besides, since this is my first year, I figure that everything is a learning experience. I had a pretty large container garden in Southern CA, but I just moved to GA so everything is different here.

Looking forward to what your next year brings!

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  Kate888 on 10/12/2012, 12:14 pm

@Kelejan wrote:Well done, Kate. I bet you will do even better next year.
Don't forget to add the compost each time you harvest. Very Happy

Thanks! Oh, yeah, we've got a good compost pile going to add next year.

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  Kate888 on 10/12/2012, 12:15 pm

@RoOsTeR wrote:Congrats Kate888! Sounds like you had a very productive season rock on

Thanks Rooster!

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  Kate888 on 10/12/2012, 12:15 pm

@cheyannarach wrote:Good job Kate! From what I've read you can eat that spaghetti squash anytime, you don't have to wait for it to turn orange!

Reallly? I didn't know that.

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  Kate888 on 10/12/2012, 12:18 pm

@Theresa_in_the_ATL wrote:Congrats on your first year being so successful. Very Happy

I just started my first year as well, but I've started with Fall crops. I only just planted everything a month ago, but here in GA it will be warm enough for a while still. Besides, since this is my first year, I figure that everything is a learning experience. I had a pretty large container garden in Southern CA, but I just moved to GA so everything is different here.

Looking forward to what your next year brings!

Well, you've got a much longer season that we have here in Indiana. Very cool that you can still get some stuff in now. Good luck!

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  FamilyGardening on 10/12/2012, 12:47 pm

kate next spring sprinkle some epsom salt around your plants.....its not really salt.....its magnesium sulfate .....sprinkle it around like the tom's and squash.....you can sprinkle it around all your plants Very Happy

Blossom end rot is caused by erratic watering and/or lack of calcium. The lack of calcium can be a true lack of calcium or an inability of the plant to use the available calcium due to a lack of magnesium.....this is where the epsom salts come in....

epsom salt really helped us this year with blossom end rot.....we heard about it from others and tired it this year after having problems with blossome end rot last year and it worked really well!

here is a good video on using epsom salt

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cS1CDJ98ZAQ

congrats kate over all sounds like your garden did very well! cheers

hugs
rose


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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  Kate888 on 10/12/2012, 2:27 pm

@FamilyGardening wrote:kate next spring sprinkle some epsom salt around your plants.....its not really salt.....its magnesium sulfate .....sprinkle it around like the tom's and squash.....you can sprinkle it around all your plants Very Happy

Blossom end rot is caused by erratic watering and/or lack of calcium. The lack of calcium can be a true lack of calcium or an inability of the plant to use the available calcium due to a lack of magnesium.....this is where the epsom salts come in....

epsom salt really helped us this year with blossom end rot.....we heard about it from others and tired it this year after having problems with blossome end rot last year and it worked really well!

here is a good video on using epsom salt

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cS1CDJ98ZAQ

congrats kate over all sounds like your garden did very well! cheers

hugs
rose

Thanks for the tip, Rose. I'll have to try that next year.

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  deriter on 12/27/2012, 12:55 pm

Glad to hear some of you had success with sfg. This was my first year of sfg and I have to say that I was a little less than impressed with mine. I know the summer was quite hot and dry. But I believe that this sfg requires regular watering (like every day if it doesn't rain) as it seems to dry out quickly here in Iowa. Maybe it was just the heat we had I don't know for sure. Also I believe that my soil mix was not quite right. I think it was missing some nutrient. I ended up cheating by adding some miracle grow which did help. I tried planting sweet corn in one box and didn't even get it to grow any ears. Will try once more this coming year. Carrots, onions, beans, cabbage, and lettuce were pretty much ok. The tomatoes were not much to brag about. Ended up with blossom rot.

The grass was miserable even with weed fabric or cardboard laid down. Hopefully that won't be quite as much of a problem this year or the roundup will come out.

But even after the lack luster year that I had, I truly look forward to the coming spring to get out there and get it going again. Hopefully we will have a more normal season.

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  quiltbea on 12/27/2012, 2:16 pm

deriter....Can you get your soil tested to find out what's missing in the beds? Amending it would work wonders.
Obviously the compost didn't have enough of the right ingredients. A soil test will help find you the answers you need so you can make amendments to your beds. Then its just a matter of adding compost each time you plant something, at fall's cleanup or the next spring's beginning.
I wish you better luck next spring.

I had some dismal failures this year as well with weather playing a huge part in it. Even the experienced suffer losses but they just bounce back even more eager the following year.
Good luck.

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How my first sfg season went

Post  deriter on 1/3/2013, 12:58 pm

I know that the heat we had and also the lack of rain were also factors. I think that we have a COOP that I could probably have my soil tested and that just might be a good idea as so many of you go on about how good the plants grow in this stuff. Mine did much better after I gave them a shot of miracle grow. I don't think I watered near enough. In hind sight, I should have been watering daily unless it rained. Well it did not rain much and I probably only averaged every other day or two. I promise to do better this year as I believe that is necessary.

I read somewhere that someone said to not plant the tomatoes together. What I was wanting to do is plant 8 of them in one box, using 8 squares at one of one box. I have made some cages made to fit this type of planting. They said something about air circulation. If I prune them so that the leaves are up high off the ground and not getting wet during the watering, would this work?

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  Pollinator on 1/3/2013, 1:21 pm

@Kate888 wrote:

2 spaghetti squash - we only got 6, and 2 are sitting on my windowsill, hopefully ripening soon. Lost several to blossom end rot

I also had a couple each of zucchini and yellow squash in my old traditional bed and they did terribly, blossom end rot there, too.


I'll wager that your "blossom end rot" is not. BER is common in tomatoes, but rare in cucurbits like squash. It's much more likely a problem of incomplete pollination.

See http://gardensouth.org/2011/06/15/evaluating-squash-pollination/ for more.

You may have to work to increase bee populations (hard to do if your community or your neighbors do a lot of spraying) or hand pollinate your squashes.

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  Pollinator on 1/3/2013, 1:33 pm

[quote="Kate888"] Broccoli did wonderfully even though the cabbage worms did some work on the leaves.

Make your place a haven for paper wasps - the kind that build little umbrella-shaped nests on a stalk under roof overhangs and such. These are gentle wasps that can sting, but rarely do if you leave them alone.

But they will spend the summer carrying cabbage worms and other caterpillars back to their nests to feed their babies.

Too many people destroy their nests out of fear, and then suffer the consequences in loss of their pest patrol services.

Hornets will do the same, although I would not want their nest in human traffic areas. Actually we had a nest built right on the doorframe of one of our storage sheds this summer. When I went to open the door to get something, I saw them and decided to let them be until the season was over. They also did a good job for me in the garden.

Now I have a big beautiful nest as a remnant. I am going to try to harvest it as a decoration in the next few days, though it's built on a convoluted surface and I may inadvertantly destroy it. We have several for decorations. One that I went to get in the fall was still alive, much to my surprise. Now that was entertaining...

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  Pollinator on 1/3/2013, 1:40 pm

@Kate888 wrote:

Tomatoes - my starts did poorly so I bought some at a greenhouse - the Riesenstraube did great - lots and lots and LOTS of delicious sweet little toms - in fact, even though we've a frost a couple of nights we're still getting lots - 4 dozen the other night). But the other 3 mortgage lifter, cherokee purple and ? can't remember the third right now, they were nearly all rotting on the vine before ripening.

Cherokee Purple has failed for me two years in a row. They split, then rot and bugs get in and ruin them. Mortgage lifter can't stand the heat very well. If you ever notice after a real hot day that the skin is nearly transparent - kind of watery looking, they have literally cooked on the vine. This is a problem with a lot of tomato varieties in the South. You can get around this by picking them before fully ripe - but that defeats your purpose of maximum flavor that brings us to home growing in the first place.

Black Krim might be a good sub for Cherokee purple, and its flavor is outstanding. You'll find Marion, Ozark Pink, and Abe Lincoln to be much more heat tolerant than other varieties.

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  quiltbea on 1/3/2013, 1:42 pm

Carrying a soft artist's paint brush in your pocket is a handy device. You can brush it across plants to hand-pollinate.

Deriter....As for your tomatoes, I personally would never put 8 together. Planting 4 across the north side is more than enough. Those plants get mighty bushy and branchy and need air circulation. With a second row of toms, that won't happen. In fact, even here in Maine, 3 across is better than 4, and I remove suckers. I can't imagine what its like in the more southern states where toms grow huge in size for a much longer season. I'm thinking jungle conditions.

But as a gardener, we all make choices and try our own little experiments to see what works best for us. You could try it. Some have on this forum and its worked. Maybe some of them will jump in here and let you know how that worked for them.
Good luck whatever you decide.

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  Pollinator on 1/3/2013, 1:50 pm

@quiltbea wrote:I can't imagine what its like in the more southern states where toms grow huge in size for a much longer season. I'm thinking jungle conditions.

In the humid Southeast, tomato season is pretty much over when the really hot weather comes. If the heat doesn't do them in, disease will.

I have almost no bug problems, due to good biological control in my garden, but disease, especially with tomatoes is a constant problem. With a small plot, I cannot rotate either. I am trying SFG in hopes that it will reduce disease problems.

So the spring garden is always a race with heat and disease. If I get a good crop of tomatoes, it's usually with the earliest plantings. Cherry toms are an exception, as they will bear much longer.

My fall tomato crop is mostly in buckets, planted around late August, and carried into the greenhouse when cooler weather comes. We are still picking tomatoes (and peppers) right now. Those home-grown Black Krims make a wonderful sandwich in the winter!

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  deriter on 1/3/2013, 1:58 pm

Thanks Bea. Pollinator, what are the outdoor temps in your area right now? Mercy, hard to imagine picking tomatoes in January - even in a greenhouse! Must be nice.

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  Pollinator on 1/3/2013, 5:29 pm

@deriter wrote:Thanks Bea. Pollinator, what are the outdoor temps in your area right now? Mercy, hard to imagine picking tomatoes in January - even in a greenhouse! Must be nice.

It is nice. Things are about to wrap up, but we seem to be going a bit longer than last year, when a hard freeze killed them on the morning of January 2. The greenhouse will run about 20 degrees warmer than outside on a sunny day; somewhat less if it's overcast.

I have a lot of buckets with water and old honey to help hold the warmth during the night to prevent freezing. We briefly had 24 a couple weeks ago, but it didn't hurt the plants. Looking ahead we have no serious cold predicted for the next ten days; nothing below 30.

Daytime averages in the fifties and sixties. Today it was 46 and rainy, one of our colder days. Yesterday I worked outside all afternoon in a t-shirt and worked up a sweat.

I enjoy winter gardening more than summer, really, because it's more comfortable for physical work, and there are few pests, and no disease. Broccoli has been so sweet and good, in abundance this year. Cauliflower is coming on. Collards, bok choy, carrots and spinach fill out the outside crops. I have ten buckets of tomatoes in the greenhouse and two of bell peppers. They all are finishing up the fruit that was on them from warmer weather.

I am toying with bringing in the bell peppers for awhile to ensure they survive. I realize they are unlikely to set any fruit, but should bring on some early fruit when set out in the spring. I'm not going to try this with the 'maters, because the lower branches/leaves are all are dying now and I don't want to carry over any disease into the new season.

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Re: How my first sfg season went

Post  deriter on 1/7/2013, 12:14 pm

I guess we are having our January thaw as it is going to be getting into the 40's for a few days and that will be a relief to what we were having. Hope some of this ice goes away! I keep hearing some of you folks talking about extending the seasons with cold frames and green houses and it really makes me want to do something in this way. But I can see that it would be very beneficial to have milder winters than what we have here in Iowa. But I'll bet I could probably extend the growing season by two months easily with just a little effort. So I will be doing something!

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