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I have a hard time believing...

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I have a hard time believing...

Post  NixieKnox on 11/29/2012, 4:22 pm

I'm a new gardener, having just put in my raised beds last year. I grew a few things with some success, then picked up the new SFG book and decided to try it out in the spring. But I'm having a very hard time believing the claims. Do any of you actually manage to grow as much as the book says you can grow? For example, I had two summer squash plants last year, and they took up more than half of one of my 4x12 beds. The book claims I can grow one summer squash plant in 2 square feet. I don't see how that is possible. I don't see how a lot of the claims are possible. A square foot is a tiny area to grow so many things in. Anyone want to weigh in on expectation vs. reality?
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Re: I have a hard time believing...

Post  camprn on 11/29/2012, 4:58 pm

I grew approximately 190 pounds of food in about 220 square feet. My squashes were a total failure this year thanks to the squash vine borer. Squash takes some planning in planting and some management when it is growing. The root system will do well with 2 square feet, but the whole plant will do better growing out of the box so planting on the outside of the box is what I would do.
I couldn't have done as great in the garden without the girls doing pollination; they also gave me 46 pounds of honey and 6 pounds of honeycomb.





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Re: I have a hard time believing...

Post  NixieKnox on 11/29/2012, 5:11 pm

I'm hoping to have hives at out new place, but for next year it won't be possible. Those are some impressive gardens! I'm planning to try some vertical growing next year as well. It looks like you've had good luck with it.
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Re: I have a hard time believing...

Post  donnainzone5 on 11/29/2012, 5:29 pm

NixieKnox,

Believe it! Don't take it on faith, but on the experience of many of us SFGers.

From one square foot (9 seeds) of spinach, I harvested four servings since I planted during the last week in July. Yes, carrots, radishes, and onions grow 16 per square, although larger bulb onions do better with about 9, in my experience.

In the past, I've had splendid results with chard, Asian greens, kale, and various lettuces--actually, more than I could devour, and only in two 16 SF raised beds!

It remains to be seen what can be grown in my new garden in Zone 6, now that I have ample space and sunlight. I'm rarin' to go!

Just be sure to follow the method as outlined in ANSFG to the letter, and consult with us here on the forum should you have questions. Very Happy
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Re: I have a hard time believing...

Post  quiltbea on 11/29/2012, 5:39 pm

Most things grow well in the space given in the book, greens, cole crops, carrots, chard, peppers, eggplant and such, but a couple didn't work for me.

I couldn't grow zucchini or squash in 2 SF even with it in a corner area. I allowed 9 SF for mine (I live in Maine with a short season) and around it I put in lettuce and radishes to take advantage of the shade but also grew a pepper plant beside it. The plant is huge but you can get a few crops in around it if you space them correctly.

This photo was taken on July 16th and it wasn't at its largest yet. That's a pepper growing in the front. Unfortunately the pepper was shaded too much in the following month to produce more than a couple peppers but the cool crops around and under the plant and the adjoining squares did well, even cabbage.

Aug 12th and one of my many zucchs that season.
I wouldn't even try to get them in 2 SF. I know there are those that prune judiciuously so they take up less space, but I ain't one of them.
Remember, if you are in southern climes, the plants grow much larger because they grow for much longer and many need more space for that. Like tomatoes; a min. of 2 SF for staked plants and in Florida, 4 SF is even better for good air circulation thereby reducing diseases.

The best thing is to try something once and see what happens. You learn what works for you in your particular garden with your particular sunshine, compost, length of season, and diseases. Not all gardens are the same.
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Re: I have a hard time believing...

Post  plantoid on 11/30/2012, 10:13 am

NixieKnox wrote:I'm a new gardener, having just put in my raised beds last year. I grew a few things with some success, then picked up the new SFG book and decided to try it out in the spring. But I'm having a very hard time believing the claims. Do any of you actually manage to grow as much as the book says you can grow? For example, I had two summer squash plants last year, and they took up more than half of one of my 4x12 beds. The book claims I can grow one summer squash plant in 2 square feet. I don't see how that is possible. I don't see how a lot of the claims are possible. A square foot is a tiny area to grow so many things in. Anyone want to weigh in on expectation vs. reality?

Oh ye of little faith Laughing
You need to look at the whole subject and use Mel's book of the 2006 edition .
He used vertical panels to grow things up .


I myself had two marrow plants in my beds and had 60 pounds or so of marrows .. I got these by having 36 inch tall raised beds and grew the marrows out over the brick wall at a corner and down to the ground , I used corrugated house for sale boards to stop the vine growing back over the rest of the beds 7 inseted bamboo canes to force the vine to grow out over the brick work
.
Peas x12 plants grown up pig fencing wire five feet tall gave me pounds and pounds of peas .
Carrots up to 1 & 1/2 pounds or more . Two pound plus parsnips .
These all take time and space to get to these sizes ,if you want smaller veg pick them as soon as you discover they are large enough for your needs and then sow the follow on crop in their place after refreshing the square with well made compost .


The way you decide to grow crops is also very important . You have to work out for yourself if the quick grow crop you want to will be shaded by a slow grow crop and adjust what you plant where accordingly.

I say work it out yourself because each persons ANSFG is quite unique to each person because of how you make your MM and compost what you choose to grow and where you chose to grow it .

You could live next door to me but not have 19 inch dia salad bow lettuces , 26 inch long runner beans etc etc.( see picture gallery ) .

There are many many factors you need to discover and consider , including your climate and the micro climate in your garden area .
Do a lot more reading on the site especially about compost and the successes we have when we get it right ...it's not something that anyone can say in a hundred word or so how it can be done sucessfully .

All the best , stay with the way Mel tells of, it does indeed work and it works really well .
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Re: I have a hard time believing...

Post  GloriaG on 11/30/2012, 12:25 pm

Hi NixieKnox

I was planning to wait until the end of the year to post this, but now's a good time.

When I started my first SFG three years ago, I also wanted to know how much we could harvest from the SFG so I could better calculate the amount of space I would need to feed a family of three.

In 2010 I had 32 square feet of space to try it out and see if I could actually make things grow. In 2011 we expanded the SFG to 150 square feet, but I found that I didn't have enough space for some crops. So at the beginning of 2012 we expanded the SFG to 225 square feet and I decided to keep detailed records to see what was really happening.

I live near Dallas so I can garden most of the year. But I soon discovered, its' possible to garden year round in MANY climates, not just mine, if you plant by the season and use covers. I also found that keeping records is a very good thing because it lets me learn from my mistakes.

Keep in mind that the weight of your harvest is VERY dependent on what you plant. (tomatoes weigh more than spinach) As for our harvests: for 2012 SO FAR - I have picked 441 pounds of produce from our 225 square feet of space. I'm sure others are harvesting much more per square foot because their gardens are more mature than mine.

We picked:
33 3/4 pounds of brassicas (spring broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.)
49 pounds of fruit (melons, strawberries, blueberries)
187 1/2 pounds of fruiting crops (eggplants, tomatoes, squash, cucumber, etc.)
19 pounds of herbs
57 pound so leafy crops (lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, mustard, etc.)
16 pounds of legumes (beans and peas)
78 3/4 pounds of root crops (carrots, beets, onions, leeks, sweet potatoes, etc.)
TOTAL: 441 pounds

Tomorrow I will pick the first of the broccoli I planted for this fall.

Since this is our first full year with 225 square feet of space, my husband and I had a little bet going about how much the garden would produce. His guess was 500-pounds, I was much more conservative. Unfortunately, my fall tomato crop failed - otherwise he might have been right!

I hope this helps!
Gloria

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Re: I have a hard time believing...

Post  toledobend on 11/30/2012, 12:55 pm

I am still new at this but I will make one suggestion: start your own compost pile as soon as possible. My first garden (13'x4') did well for a lot of things, but my spinach still doesn't grow in it for some reason, probably the quality of the store bought compost. My next two tabletop 4'x4's with my own compost are still doing great (it has only got down to 33 degrees here so far) and I have been snipping spinach and lettuce for salads for a month. The first garden did great for tomatos, my bell peppers are really producing after being dormant during the summer and melons and mustard and turnip greens also did well. It got warm here so quick, all the cool plants did badly in the spring but most I planted are doing well this fall. I also think I didn't water enough until I put in a drip system. I live on a lake, and I think the constant south wind dried it out a lot more than I suspected. It seems most of the things that keep your garden from really producing is lack of water if you have great drainage and weak nutrient mix in the store bought compost. I probably had to much peat in one of the composts and I think it set me back a little on some plants.
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Re: I have a hard time believing...

Post  Turan on 11/30/2012, 1:53 pm

You will find that there are variables in accordance to your own climate and circumstance and choices like in any garden.
I grow carrots and greens and beets and peas and beans tighter than in the book with good results. That might not work in Florida though. I give tomatoes 2+ squares because I won't prune them. Summer squash I plant 2 per square but then gap a square. Plant them on an edge they can sprawl over.
The point made about root space versus leaf space was well made. A lot of plants are bigger above ground than below with good nutrition and steady watering. Vertical growing cares for a lot of managing that, and some things need pruning. You can select varieties also that sprawl more or less etc.

The break through of Mel's work is not how much you can grow in a garden, but in the managing of that growth. By recognizing a square foot as a unit and each seed as a possibility you can focus and tailor your efforts to your own specific circumstances.

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Re: I have a hard time believing...

Post  GloriaG on 11/30/2012, 2:26 pm

Hi Turan,

I agree with you 100% that Mel's work is really about quality not quantity - however, if you need to plan to feed for a certain number of people, it's nice to have some idea of what you can expect in yields.

I believe that, even given differences in climate and plant selection, we can make educated guesses about how much we'll be able to harvest; and by extension, how much we need to plant to meet our family's needs. That's the practical application of managing the SFG Mel's way.

Good growing,
Gloria



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Re: I have a hard time believing...

Post  NixieKnox on 12/5/2012, 12:02 am

That's a lot of great information, thank you! Yes, it is important for me to at least get a ballpark idea of how much I can grow. My husband and I own some land, and we've started building a house on it with the intention of homesteading there. I know livestock, but gardening is new to me, so I'm cramming. The exam will be next year (hopefully) when we move to our land. And because we're throwing everything at getting our home built and other developments for our land, we have very little money for anything else. Growing most of our food will be pretty essential.
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Re: I have a hard time believing...

Post  llama momma on 12/5/2012, 9:54 am

NixieKnox wrote: Growing most of our food will be pretty essential.

You can easily spend hours on this forum but reading the book is the Essential Core of knowledge I would recommend to you First. Get your compost going and get ready for a wonderful adventure. Good Luck with everything!
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d,csd;LD'a

Post  cheyannarach on 12/6/2012, 12:45 pm

Yes Yes, get your compost going (it's free and better than the store bought by far) and get the book, you can order one from walmart online and get it shipped to you for $13 and some change!
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Re: I have a hard time believing...

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