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I thought SFG would be easier!

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I thought SFG would be easier!

Post  JackieB999 on 1/30/2013, 12:01 am

I'm very excited to get my first SFG started this year. I live in Florida but I was raised in New York State and we always had big gardens in the summers when I was a kid. It didn't seem that my parents or grandparents fussed over the garden very much. They tilled, planted, watered, harvested. Seemed pretty easy. I dont remember seeing bags of this and bottles of that laying around for gardening. They had a wire fence for rabbits, and that was about it.

If Florida, our soil is terrible. I tried to grow a garden down here 20 years ago and I didn't have success at all. But now with all the GMO foods out there, I decided to try it again and found SFG. One of the things I was most excited about is that Mel said he didnt need to teach us about pests because the Mel's Mix takes care of all that. He said we could tend our gardens in about 10 minutes a day, LOL!

I must have spent about $500 by now on seeds, MM, containers, Organic sprays, a compost barrel, the book, etc. Is it worth it? I sure hope so! I want to be self sufficient and I always loved food right out of the garden.

So I'm 4 weeks in now and I got my first infestation this of a tiny critter this week (see my other thread about that). By reading other posts here it seems that pests are still a big problem even with Mels Mix.

How did our ancestors survive? LOL Doesn't it make you wonder? I'm trying not to be discouraged and I guess I needed to vent. I'm not looking forward to another failed gardening attempt where the bugs win or the PH isnt right or the fertilizer was wrong, etc.

Was Mel fooling us by saying pests wouldn't be a problem and we could tend our gardens in about 10 minutes a day?

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Re: I thought SFG would be easier!

Post  RoOsTeR on 1/30/2013, 7:37 am

JackieB999, could you please supply the reference in the book, All New Square Foot Gardening , about pests not being a problem in the square foot garden? In my book, Mel suggests contacting your local county extension agent for pest problems and ID. He states on pages 135 and 248, that pests vary so much from region to region, contacting your local agent is helpful in not only identifying the critters, but how to get rid of them as well. Good luck!

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Re: I thought SFG would be easier!

Post  walshevak on 1/30/2013, 8:57 am

Pests will always be a problem. The real savings is the time spent in digging, soil testing and weeding. As we don't spend hours trying to keep the weeds down, the bugs have fewer hiding places and we can keep on top of them easier. When I was row gardening, I would get to the point of avoiding the garden because of the weed problem. Now a 30 minute swing to check up on things and water (I have 10 beds), a few pulls of weeds while watering or harvesting, and I can see the pests and get a head start on keeping them in check. A spray bottle of insecticide soap or neem kept handy gives me a bit of breathing space to address the issues when I have a bit more time. And the healthier plants in the MM can stand up to the bugs better Razz

Kay

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Re: I thought SFG would be easier!

Post  Lemonie on 1/30/2013, 11:57 am

Well....I can somewhat see the other side to this. See, my mom still does traditional row gardening and is slowly about to make the transition as she sees how more productive and less labor-intensive my garden has become. She spends time each year finding large amounts of manure to till into her large row garden or knows it will take several more plants to get enough produce. She also spends the time each year in back breaking tilling and buying more seeds since she uses most of hers each season. She plants so many because she doesn't do much weed/critter/pest control and knows she has to plant extra to "sacrifice" to those issues and still have enough for her. My mom has opted to not grow certain treasures (like melons) because of the constant issues w/ pests/rodents and space.

On the other hand...w/ my SFG: 1) My seeds last several years because I only have to use a few, 2) I have higher production per plant but also work harder to protect those plants because I only plant what I need and not enough to sacrifice to the evil critters. Plus, healthier plants mean less pest/virus attacks but can't eliminate all, 3) I spend less time and resources on watering because MM holds moisture better, 4) I only have to add my homemade compost and fertilizer as needed (it's free and not much is needed), 5) I can grow a large variety (including melons) in a small space w/ use of trellising.

So...the take away on this: I agree that it may appear that some traditional gardeners may not be as proactive on preventing damage to crops, but it does take a lot more work w/ the same or less production per plant. SFG method may find more concern w/ being very proactive for preventing issues, but that means there is more opportunity for organic methods. And, we can spend the little time we have to in the garden just harvesting and controlling these pests and less time messing w/ soil issues and weeding. The initial start up of SFG can cost a bit if you are going w/ all new materials...but you'll likely save much more each year in time and money.

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Re: I thought SFG would be easier!

Post  cheyannarach on 1/30/2013, 1:04 pm

Mel says "To summerize pests and problems, try not to worry about them. Enjoy your garden. If one square gets devastated, pull it up and replant with something else. If you didn't use the protective stuctures of Chapter 4, try them out next season to help eliminate your problems."

The first year can be frusterating but hang in there, once you get a little more time undr you belt you will realize what to and what not to worry about and solutions to your problems will seem much simpler. Have fun and enjoy your garden!!

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Re: I thought SFG would be easier!

Post  quiltbea on 1/30/2013, 1:46 pm

By planting different crops in each square or every couple of squares, when there's a bug issue, it doesn't affect the whole crop since some are in another part of the garden. It its bad, pull it out and start anew.

Personally, I like having 2 or 3 of the same crop beside each other so the watering needs or shade needs or insect barrier needs are the same. I just need to be more diligent.

I can tell you this from experience last year. I was slowed down by health issues last summer so my rows in the community garden weren't tended to daily. The weeds became more than I could remove when I got there and soon my rows were overrun. In a word, disaster. Yet my home garden beds were so much easier to weed. They never overran the garden.


A view of one garden row by mid-July. Grass and weeds invading. You can barely see the red romaine lettuces near the glads.

From that sad experience, this spring I'm dropping the additional rows in the community garden (which does not do SFG or even raised beds) and putting my efforts into maintaining a healthier home SFG.

I know that folks in the south have more insect issues and have to do more detection and preventive methods, even if, like me, you're organic. Its still easier with a SFG than row gardening.

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Re: I thought SFG would be easier!

Post  JackieB999 on 1/30/2013, 2:04 pm

Thanks Ladies and Rooster. Thanks Cheyanne, I know I saw somthing like that in the book to not worry about pests. I will hang in there. I just got a little frustrated over my first critter invasion.

I remember my Florida garden years ago that grew big and strong, but it didnt produce many fruits. And the fruits it did produce got attacked by bugs. I was even using chemical controls back then. I guess I got a flashback to those feelings of failure, and wasted time and money in Florida. Here's praying for a great crop this time around!


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Re: I thought SFG would be easier!

Post  camprn on 1/30/2013, 2:20 pm

The gardener is wise to be prepared, knowledgeable and willing to act, usually in advance of insect invasion. There are a lot of things to learn about in gardening but a fundamental notion for me is forewarned is forearmed.

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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

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Re: I thought SFG would be easier!

Post  plantoid on 1/30/2013, 3:13 pm

Jackie,
What Mels said is a fair comment however like some have said there are so many pests in the world some will need sorting .
In China people used to pick each plant clean of bugs else they starved. The protein in the bugs saved many from starvation and over the thousands of years some of those bugs have become nationally delicacies raw fried or boiled .


Other cultures ate the plants once the bugs had been killed off in boiling water or after they had bee well smoked over a smokey wood fire.
As a kid .....with root crops we used to dig the grubs and damaged parts out with a peeler knife and carry on as if it were a sound root.. (far it hasn't killed me & I'm only 62 Laughing )

Mel has realised that htere is a need for pest control some times if you don't have the luxury of time & fitness to daily tend your beds.

In his book
SQUARE FOOT GARDNING ANSWERS ..... 2012 EDITION
ISBN CODE 978-1-59186-541-4

Mel has taken the trouble to collate lots of answers to questions raised by SFG'ers of all kinds over the years .

Pages 118 to abiout 144 give all sorts of sensible , mainly organic or humane answers to observations / questions about pests .

At first I was wary of buying yet another book as I've forty odd gardening /horticultural books that I've collected over the years . Now having purchased the book I offer that your on to a winner with it. it is really good .

( No ..... I'm not related to him or on commission from increased sales Laughing )

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Re: I thought SFG would be easier!

Post  bnoles on 1/30/2013, 5:26 pm

@plantoid wrote:

In his book
SQUARE FOOT GARDNING ANSWERS ..... 2012 EDITION
ISBN CODE 978-1-59186-541-4

Mel has taken the trouble to collate lots of answers to questions raised by SFG'ers of all kinds over the years .

Pages 118 to abiout 144 give all sorts of sensible , mainly organic or humane answers to observations / questions about pests .

At first I was wary of buying yet another book as I've forty odd gardening /horticultural books that I've collected over the years . Now having purchased the book I offer that your on to a winner with it. it is really good .

( No ..... I'm not related to him or on commission from increased sales Laughing )

Dave,

I have been sitting on the fence over whether or not to get this book, but after reading your comments, I am heading straight to Amazon and make the purchase.

Thanks for the recommendation!

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Re: I thought SFG would be easier!

Post  JackieB999 on 1/30/2013, 6:25 pm

Yes, TYVM Plantoid! It always helps to get a good book referral. I will put that on my wish list for my birthday Smile

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Re: I thought SFG would be easier!

Post  Lemonie on 1/30/2013, 6:51 pm

@JackieB999 wrote:Yes, TYVM Plantoid! It always helps to get a good book referral. I will put that on my wish list for my birthday Smile

+1 I've been waning on getting the new book too....telling myself it can't have that much new info. But I'm really seeking organic improvements and thinking it might just be worth it. Thanks for the review! okay

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Re: I thought SFG would be easier!

Post  cheyannarach on 1/30/2013, 9:49 pm

@Lemonie wrote:
@JackieB999 wrote:Yes, TYVM Plantoid! It always helps to get a good book referral. I will put that on my wish list for my birthday Smile

+1 I've been waning on getting the new book too....telling myself it can't have that much new info. But I'm really seeking organic improvements and thinking it might just be worth it. Thanks for the review! okay

+2 Now I want the book, Thanks Dave!!

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Re: I thought SFG would be easier!

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