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Year 2

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Year 2

Post  B00kemdano on 3/22/2013, 4:30 pm

Hello everyone! I'm getting ready to start planting my SFG for the second year. Last year, there were some problems. I hope that this year I will be able to avoid those problems with what I've learned. But just in case... maybe someone can lend some advice!

Here are some observations from last year:

1- Tomato. Plants were puny, didn't fruit much, and what little fruit grew ended up with blossom end rot before they were ready. I thought I'd add bone meal for calcium and phosphorus to address the ber.

2- Watermelon. Plants seemed pretty big; the vines ran quite long. They had a few fruits, but when the melons got to about 10-12" long, they split. I don't really know what to do about this. All I could find about watermelons splitting is that they got too much water, and I don't know how to avoid that.

3- Jalepeno. The plants seemed pretty puny, but they really did put out a lot of fruit!

4- Radishes. These did well, and we actually replanted and harvested several times last year. Hurray!

5- Summer Squash and Zucchini. These did fairly well, too. I let some of them go too long, so the skin was tough even after cooking. The only real problem with these was pollination. We had WAY more blossoms than fruit. I'll be more dilligent with Q-tip pollinating this year. Very Happy

6- Bell peppers. Man, these suckers grew to about 8" then crossed there arms, stuck up their noses, and harumphed at me! I might have seen one blossom on there, and it didn't produce. I don't know what these guys need. Maybe some nitrogen?

7- Okra. My okra plant ended up about 18" tall and had one okra on it. I felt guilty heating up the skillet to fry one okra. Rolling Eyes The plant seemed healthy enough, just stunted. Maybe nitrogen here, too?

8- Pumpkin. The kids were really hoping for our own pumpkins last fall. We had a nice, long vine going with big green leaves! There were some blossoms that I pollenated by hand, but we never saw a fruit on this guy.

9- Lettuces and shard. We had a LOT of lettuce early on last year! It just kept coming and coming. We'd pull a few leaves here and there for burgers, sandwiches, veggie trays, etc, and the plants would just keep putting out! I don't know how big the lettuce plants typically get, but I had 4 to a square, and there wasn't a crowding issue. They seemed to be slow and steady, but I think they could have done better!

10- Carrot. I planted a short variety of carrots to fit in my 8" deep raised beds, and they all did really well. I might have left them in too long, though, some of them were a little bitter.

11- Onion. What onion?? I planted some sets from Lowe's, and they grew for a little while, then pooped out. The tops all turned brown and flopped over. When I gave up and dug them up, it didn't look like they had grown at all.

12- Garlic. Pretty much the same as the onios. Although, I guess I missed a clove or two when I dug them out last fall, because a few sprouts popped up and are now about 6" tall! Maybe I need to plant these a year ahead of time. Shocked

Overall, it seems like I just have a general nutrient problem. I'm thinking of adding some of my yardwaste compost from last year to my SFG beds this year. I've been a bit worried about using it in the garden for fear of weeds getting in there.

When I whipped up the MM last year, I used worm, mushroom, chicken, and cotton composts. I think maybe I had too much manure and not enough undigested bits in there. I have a compost bin going with kitchen scraps and some garden waste, but it looks like it's not going to be ready for this year's planting.

I did buy a PH meter, but checks in multiple spots are showing only small differences - from just under 7 to just over 7.

Another big lesson learned from last year is to keep a journal! I usually wasn't nearby when the fruit timer dinged, so I did let a few things go too long. I need to write down when I planted what, and when I should plan to harvest it, should something actually put out some fruit.

If you got this far, thanks for reading my long post, and I'd love to hear your input. Am I a nut, or am I on track?

Oh, one last question: if my plants were duds last year, do I really need to rotate? It doesn't seem like a lot of them had a chance to deplete soil nutrients in their square. Wink

Thanks,
Dano

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Re: Year 2

Post  camprn on 3/22/2013, 7:19 pm

Dano, good to see you! Some great observations from last year. You are nut free!

What I do is I stand above the bed with last years mix all settled down, give a big sigh, shake my head and then I dump one or two wheelbarrows full of compost into the bed and mix it up until it's level with the top edge of the box.

I don't usually rotate unless I had a problem with disease the year before.

A journal(s) of some sort are GREAT. One thing that was helpful with keeping me on track with my entries was recording the daily weather and when I harvested, I weighed everything and wrote it down.

7 seems a bit tilted, but it most likely will correct with the addition of enough compost.

You could try to speed up the whole compost thing and have usable compost in about 4 weeks if you have everything needed (see compost 101). Plantoid is sold on the 18 day method.


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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: Year 2

Post  B00kemdano on 3/23/2013, 12:22 pm

Thanks for the tips, Camprn!

My son and I noticed how much our MM has shrunk. I have some leftover MM from last year. I wasn't sure if I should use that or just top it off with some bagged compost.

I'll definitely go read the Composting 101! I didn't know it could be done so quickly.

-Dano

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Re: Year 2

Post  HillbillyBob on 3/23/2013, 1:39 pm

Hey Dano what did you learn from those tomato's last year :scratch: thinking

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Re: Year 2

Post  HillbillyBob on 3/23/2013, 1:46 pm

maybe little compost tea during the season,yep I know Mel says we don't need to feed our beds after adding compost. Shocked Shocked

but isn't that like walking, because our vehicles us gas? Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes

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Re: Year 2

Post  B00kemdano on 3/24/2013, 5:45 pm

From everything that I've read, and the people I've talked to a couple local nurseries, the blossom end rot on the tomatos is a clear indication that my MM was lacking sufficient calcium and phosphorus. I added some bone meal while I was prepping my beds today, so that should take care of THAT problem!

I also headed out to my compost heaps to see what's good there. I found some of this:


Very Happy

I've been putting leaves and grass clippings in a few different piles for a few years now. I took my screen box down there and screened some compost into the wheel barrow for my TT SFG. I hope that compost will add some of whatever other nutrients I might have been missing last year.

I also finished my prototype gravity fed irrigation system. It works like a champ! Now I'll have to build some more PVC irrigation grids for my other TTs.


Next week is spring break for my kindergartener. He and my 3 year old are excited to plant some seeds this week. Razz So far we have corn and a pink flower on the list. lol!

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Re: Year 2

Post  FamilyGardening on 3/24/2013, 10:58 pm

that looks like some great compost cheers im sure your plants this year will do a lot better with a feeding from that gold!!

Not sure what compost you used to make your MM but if it came from a bag it might of had a lot of peat and if so your mix should get better with each year....our beds are better over time and i really think its because they were heavy with peat to start with....

please keep us posted on how things go this year....and for blossom end rot....we have found using some Epsom salt really worked...we use it on all our plants now.....here is a great video on using Epsom salt in the garden....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cS1CDJ98ZAQ

happy gardening
rose

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Re: Year 2

Post  redhead120 on 3/24/2013, 11:06 pm

Book...love your irrigation system...great idea

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Re: Year 2

Post  B00kemdano on 3/24/2013, 11:10 pm

Thanks for the tip, Rose! I'll definitely read up on the Epsom salts.

For my original MM, I found five different types of compost, as recommended, but they were all bagged. I was pretty discerning about it, and went to a couple of different nurseries to find 100% composts. Like many other newbies, I wasn't clear on fluffing my peat, so I probably had too much.

In preparation for this year's garden, I read something here on the forums about avoiding using too many composts that come out of an animal. That may have been one of my mistakes last year. I mostly used composted chicken, cow, and worm composts. Now that I'm adding undigested compost from my own heap, I should have a higher nitrogen content.

I sure would like some salsa this year, so the tomatos had better like it! Laughing

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Re: Year 2

Post  B00kemdano on 3/26/2013, 6:48 pm

Although we still have the threat of overnight freezes here in North Alabama, I went ahead and planted a few seeds. Mostly stuff that says it's ok with cold, lettuce, carrots, etc. I hope that one or two brief spots of freezing temps won't hurt unsprouted seeds.

Also, I finished my watering grids! Hurray!

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Re: Year 2

Post  bnoles on 3/26/2013, 7:05 pm

Hi Dano, I too finished my irrigation grid about an hour ago and looking forward to putting it to good use. I am a little southeast of you over here near Atlanta and sharing the cold snap with you just the same. I planted many of the cool weather seeds about 3 weeks ago and they have sprouted and doing well. I have kept them under plastic during the freezing and frosty nights and so far so good. Hopefully it won't be much longer and we will warm up. I spent several of my teenage years in the Huntsville area (Madison) and those were sure some good times back then.


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Re: Year 2

Post  TejasTerry on 3/27/2013, 9:14 am

Hi Dano:

I'm going into my second year too. In the beginning last year I was having some of the issues you delt with, yellowing plants, etc. I had to break down and use a fertilizer just to keep everything from dying. Within days, the plants started looking better. My MM was a lot of the store-bought 100% compost, with some bunny, llama and worm castings added also.

What I think was the issue was that the store bought stuff, although it says 100% compost, had a lot of peat added. So it through my mix off.

After using the fertilizer once, I started using an organic compost tea and everything continued to improve, and produce like crazy. I also added "Tomatoes Alive" to my tomato plants. After that, I had so many tomatoes all summer, and into December before the first freeze, we were giving them away, canning, dehydrating, etc.

Another thing I did about half way through the season was install a drip system. Here in South Texas with temps above 100 for days on end, the plants had to be watered every morning. I think the drip system also caused a HUGE difference.

What I'm doing differently this year is adding my own compost, as well as a compost that is local. In the new beds I've built for this year, I'm using more compost and less vermiculite/peat. I know I'm breaking the rules, but I'm trying it out to see how it works out in the new beds. I added some vermiculite/peat, just not as much.

Hope you have good success this year. I enjoyed reading your experience.

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Re: Year 2

Post  B00kemdano on 3/27/2013, 11:23 am

Hey there, bnoles and TejasTerry! Here's to a super-productive second year!

I've read numerous accounts of second year SFGs being better than the first. It seems that a lot of first time MMers end up with too much peat because it's so challenging to find five different quality composts, and they unwittingly end up buying impure composts from box stores. The overwhelming majority of offered solutions are - make your own compost!

I'll see how it goes this year, and if my tomatos start giving me trouble, I'll look into that Tomatoes Alive stuff. I'd love to have the problem of too many tomatoes!


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Re: Year 2

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