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Gardening in England

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Gardening in England

Post  Frenchbean on 5/1/2013, 4:52 pm

How many of us on here garden in the UK and where are we all?. I can't find anyone in my neck of the woods gardening using the SFG method.
I live in South east London. Anyone near me?

Its a bit lonely down here Sad
I don't get the chance to chat over the garden fence as no one gardens!!! affraid Evil or Very Mad

Any SFG teachers around here. Would love to go on a course, but again can't find any where close to me.

Plantoid thank God is around to guide us all; at least he knows what the climate is like. I am sure there are others.

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Re: Gardening in England

Post  reservoir on 1/24/2014, 7:42 am

Hi There.  I have just joined.  I am in Leicester.  I was hoping of finding loads of Uk gardeners.  I have problems getting my head around Mel's mix.  seeing that our composts already contain peat moss.

Can you pass on tips about that?
 Very Happy 

Reservoir aka Christine
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  sanderson on 1/24/2014, 3:09 pm

Hi Christine. Welcome to the Forum! glad you\'re here

I'm sure Wale's Plantoid will be welcoming you. You have a very good question, something that other Newbies often encounter. I think most of the folks here make their own compost, which will NOT have any peat moss. But for a new person, you may have to buy 5 different commercially made "composts." These often have peat moss added and are heavy on wood products. Read the labels carefully and adjust down the amount of peat moss in your mix. Try to find a composted herbivore (like cow, horse, chicken, bunny etc.) animal manure as one of the five.

Do you have a copy of All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew? Carefully read the compost section. We are here to help you.
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  Marc Iverson on 1/24/2014, 6:42 pm

You're right, you do have to adapt to how often peat is already in your compost. And wood. And sometimes things that get included, like vermiculite or perlite or even just plain old well-composted stuff, are in shorter supply than you'd think.

If you can, it's best to check out the texture of compost before you buy it, by hand. I've been pretty surprised how lousy some store-bought compost is (lots of wood is a big problem around here), even the stuff that is supposedly extra-good and sold at premium prices.
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  plantoid on 1/24/2014, 7:18 pm

reservoir wrote:Hi There.  I have just joined.  I am in Leicester.  I was hoping of finding loads of Uk gardeners.  I have problems getting my head around Mel's mix.  seeing that our composts already contain peat moss.

Can you pass on tips about that?
 Very Happy 

Reservoir aka Christine
Hi , yes I can help  , though not a lot tonight ..it's past my bed time & I definitely need beauty sleep according to our  12 yr old munchkin  Laughing 
 

Check out the info in my strap lines
 

Go to the home page the left word of the green band on this page. now  look on the left hand side of the screen and click on the bobbly peachy coloured column there is lots of stuff there .

 B&Q sell Verve composted coir and sedge peat..it is an acceptable substitute , vermiculite from any big builders merchants .. Keyline do a good price per 100 litres ( 2 bags do 3 beds @ 6 inches / 150 mm of Mels mix )  .

getting the  five different type of composted materials to get your MM made is not easy but not impossible .
 Look in any of our big online seed merchants and you' see concentrated farm compost it is also available in big garden centres for about £12 for 3 bags made mainly from race horse stable muck and straw,  it does have the pong of ammonia in it so to me is not fully composted. 
Chicken pellet manure helps ,steer clear of local amenity recycled compost stuff it is the pits often containing weed killers , glass heavy metals and plastic )

 In the bobbly column you'll find lots of stuff about composting ..it can also be found via the home page index .


 Read up on line " The Berkley 18 day hot composting method " it has loads of info as to how and what you can use for a balanced compost .
 
Getting your compost started is the right at the heart of All New Square Foot Gardening's ( ANSFG )  success
 

 catch you some time tomorrow perhaps
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  sanderson on 1/24/2014, 8:14 pm

Marc Iverson wrote:.

If you can, it's best to check out the texture of compost before you buy it, by hand.   I've been pretty surprised how lousy some store-bought compost is (lots of wood is a big problem around here), even the stuff that is supposedly extra-good and sold at premium prices.

Amen
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  reservoir on 1/25/2014, 5:59 pm

Thank you Sanderson, Mark and Plantoid,

I have been sat in the Committee Hut at the Allotment most of the day as it is rent day and I'm the treasurer.  So talked a lot about SFG.  Discussed sources for the ingredients.  Gardeners  a helpful lot even if they don't believe in your methods.  Found through them a source of plain compost ( Dandy soil) then was suggested to use small amounts of concentrated forms of other compost ( chicken manure ( I've got courtesy of my hens) bat guano, sea kelp, mushroom compost) found some sources for bulk vermiculite online.  Just not sure of the proportions yet.  to garden in raised box ( we get given by a loca 

I have got and read twice Mel's book last version and his answers book.

I plan to garden in wooden packing crates that are two feet 2x4x2  : we get given by a local firm .  I plan to fill the bottom of the crate with 6 inches of rubble then 12 inches of sharp sand then Mel's Mix.

There is a lot of interest at the Allotments, they will be watching.

Rent day again tomorrow.  So I look forward to coming back to the forum tomorrow.

 flower Christine
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  sanderson on 1/26/2014, 3:10 am

Christine,  I looks like you are moving straight ahead.  The packing crates sound perfect.  I do have 2 suggestions to your plan.

One is to place weed fabric or clean brown cardboard on top of the sharp sand, so that the Mel's Mix will not filter down.  The MM is too precious to lose any.

Second, leave some head room above the 6" of MM to add mulch in the hot summers to control water loss and to allow room to add more compost as time moves on.  Of course, the sand will wash down and filter the small spaces in the ruble so you may loose some height that way, also.

Sounds like you are getting some good sources for the MM.

Please keep us updated and post photos when you can.
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Gardening in England

Post  burhinus on 1/30/2014, 3:13 pm

Hello

I joined SFG a few weeks back, I am located in west Suffolk, near Bury St Edmunds. Am new to the concept and have just taken delivery today of some peat moss. I make my own compost, which I have mixed with my own leaf mould and just have to mix with vermiculite. Hope to have my first bed ready at the weekend.

Just got to dig out the current soil and bag it up ready to apply it in layers into my compost bins.

I got wet through last weekend turning my 3 bins and bagging one off to make some room.  Good exercise though.
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  sanderson on 1/30/2014, 3:17 pm

burhinus wrote: Just got to dig out the current soil and bag it up ready to apply it in layers into my compost bins. .

Soil, as in dirt? Or soil as in homemade compost? I ask because there is no dirt in Mel's Mix.
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  donnainzone5 on 1/30/2014, 3:21 pm

There should be no need to dig out existing soil with SFG. Simply lay down some weed cloth, add a raised bed, fill with Mel's Mix, add a grid, then plant.
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  sanderson on 1/30/2014, 3:26 pm

+1
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Reply to donainzone and sanderson

Post  burhinus on 1/30/2014, 3:28 pm

I have already got raised beds which I have gardened for three years. They have soil as in top soil with some added compost, so I am going to dig them out and add Me'ls Mix. This way I have a fresh start as suggested in the book.  Hope I am on the right tracks?
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  donnainzone5 on 1/30/2014, 3:31 pm

It sounds like you're on the right track, indeed. Unless, of course, you plan to have deeper beds, in which case you could leave what's in your raised beds, add the weed cloth, and then proceed.
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Re Gardening in England

Post  burhinus on 1/30/2014, 3:38 pm

Hi again

Thanks for the information.  My beds are a little under 9 inches (sorry still deal in real measurements), so I was just going to go to that depth, though they are sitting directly on the garden and not on slabs/concrete. Digging below the base of my beds just seemed a bit too much like hard work!
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  plantoid on 1/30/2014, 6:25 pm

Christine why not use a saw to cut the two feet high crates into one foot high crates  two for one ????
 
Use a cheap black weed suppressing blanket to sit the box frames on , double thickness helps keep couch grass out. Use the pegs to secure it and make it about  4 inches bigger than the frames .
 If you only fill the frames to 6 inches that extra six inches is good to pin/staple  a light white insect/weather fleece over when supported by a few bamboo canes.

It will help make a green house with each frame you put it on .

This could allow you to get some early carrots and other crops in the slightly warm bed which is not such a bad thing considering the long term weather forecasts for the next two to three weeks ..
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  sanderson on 1/30/2014, 7:36 pm

Now I understand. You have existing 9" beds and are going to remove the fill and put in 6" of Mel's Mix. One other option is to add a new round of 6" high wood on top of the existing frames, lay weed fabric, and fill with new MM on top. You could do it that way if the idea of digging out the existing fill seems too daunting. Just leave a couple inches of head room to add mulch for the summer. Also for adding compost after each harvest.

PS We love photos. hint, hint
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re: Gardening in England

Post  reservoir on 1/31/2014, 2:10 pm

Hello everyone, 
I have been absorbing people's comments in this topic and others, whilst try to think of the best course of action. 
1) use what I have first;  I have 6 8"inches beds that uses to be pallet Collars (Whatever that is?) which I decided to use first to fill with the correct Mel's Mix.
2) Sort out my compost heap for ready mature compost.  Collect chicken manure in bags; obtain spent mushroom compost
3) find the cheapest source of bulk vermiculite ;
4) build a false bottom to crates as their height is just right for me to work sitting on a stool.


Location is important:  I was going to site the beds next to the crates I planted last year    with carrots, celery, chard and spinach.  A lovely crop of softneck garlic is coming through. Almost no annual weeds, no perennial weeds and everything grows well there, of all the plot the best soil is there.  on the other hand at the back of the plot an area of similar size is uncultivable having been overrun with brambles and other invasive shrubbery
I put there 4 large bays, 3 composting bins, a pond to collect rainwater.  No matter how much compost I have added it remains flooded in winter and hard as rock in summer.  that grows there are weeds and fruit trees ( apple, pear and plum).

So I decided that in the sunny patch I will put the low box with Mel's mix, prepare the compost bins to be able to mix bigger batches and when I have enough fill the other boxes.

SFG in the new beds and old style raised beds in the rest till I can convert into SFG. a full year I think

It will be slower but I get there with in the end.


I have been playing with the idea of using the white nylon strapping used to tie large packages, if I can get enough, to use for marking the square feet.


Anyway,m love this forum, love you all, completely hooked cant wait to put it to practice.


Christine
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  Goosegirl on 2/1/2014, 8:08 am

reservoir wrote:
Anyway,m love this forum, love you all, completely hooked cant wait to put it to practice.

Christine

The waiting is the hardest part! Can't wait to hear how it all goes - keep us updated and add pics if you can!

GG
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  plantoid on 2/6/2014, 9:09 pm

I understand the pallet collars idea .. they should be good.

 Use of the white banding strip.. could be dodgy as it oscillates in the wind and could cut plants to shreds .
If you nail it taut across two stout posts /points  it makes a buzzing sound in windy weather & is a good bird scarer , but not much use when the wind won't blow up. 

Some types of tape  can also be very sharp on the edges and you can easily end up with cuts from it .  though it you snip it down say 2" ( 50 mm ) say 6.4 mm wide 1/4" wide you can usually tear it in long strips that are not so sharp on the edges .

 Keep an eye out on your local Freecycle for other free manures , steer clear of lawn cuttings unless it is from your own lawn and  /or the owner assureds you that ... there has been no hormonal weed killer used on the lawn for the last 2 years or more.
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gardening in England

Post  reservoir on 2/14/2014, 8:22 pm

Thanks Plantoid for all those excellent tips.

I have decided as I will be staggering the construction of the beds using the six collar pallets I've all ready got, that my boxes deserve decent grids.  So I'll look out for recycle wood for this.   ( A lot of roof repairs expected in my area  Sad .....as long as it is not mine).
 
I was given 4 sq metre beds.  Two I am using at home near the door in the only bit of sunny area, the other two on the plot.   So that makes 8 sqf boxes  plus three crates from last year( not Mel's mix) and two new crates (empty) DH favours the cutting in half,  I favour using  mixture of soil and garden compost separated with weedcontrol sheet then Mel mix, and keep the high level box... but then I'm Libran so I keep changing my mind..

After seeing Rambo's photos I have made a purchasing plan for the components of the mix enough to fill a\ll ten boxes to be ready by mid-April.... or so  that's the plan.

Being the optimist I have sown my onions this week, next week its the toms. aubergines, peppers and chilies as well as the brassicas. First indoors with growlight, then outr ijn the heated  mini polytunnel at home.  First year doing everything from seeds.

Working my way through the forums  ... To learn as much as possible.


Hope you don't have to convert to hydroponics! lol! 

Christine
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  plantoid on 2/16/2014, 6:26 pm

Good to see your getting organised , all spare wood seems to float away at present  .... I'm not growing hydroponically as much as I'm looking for timbers 40 cubits long  & pairs of animals .

 We have literally thousands of shattered /ripped out trees in the area. At first todays venture out things didn't look much different till you drove over on the seaward side of the hills .
As we drove down to the M4 and a few miles along Munchkin gave up counting the fallen trees that had been chain sawed into big logs and left as logs higher up on the road sides & motorway embankments etc.

 My greenhouse is just that .. 3/4 inch deep in thick bubbly slimy green snot ..... all over the floor. I just can't get it dried or water vac cleaned long enough for it to die off.  My ANSFG beds are holding black mouldy broccoli stumps.  various shrubs in and around the gardens are starting to grow lichen ..
If this damp weather continues it won't be long till we start looking like the Everglades and crocs start appearing on the hillside.
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Re: Gardening in England.

Post  reservoir on 2/16/2014, 7:41 pm

Hi Plantoid

I've been wondering how things were for you.  Its so heart breaking to see all the effects of the storms and the aftermath is not really started yet.  I feel almost ashamed to be so glad we have been spared any major effects  the worse is being waterlogged  but no worse than two years ago. 
I've seem to have luck on my side: instead of having wait to dig and plow my plot , I am organising raised beds that can be put up and filled fairly quickly.

Make sure you get at least of  five different pairs of beast ready to provide to MM replacement. okay  okay  okay 

Christine
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  sanderson on 2/17/2014, 12:09 am

reservoir wrote:Hi Plantoid

Make sure you get at least of  five different pairs of beast ready to provide to MM replacement. okay  okay  okay 

Christine

 Very Happy 
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Re: Gardening in England

Post  ZakthePirate on 3/13/2014, 2:07 pm

Hello, new to the site and from Cumbria
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Re: Gardening in England

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