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Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

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Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  rabbithutch on 2/8/2014, 10:09 pm

I want to raise a few veg and herbs.  I'm planning to set up 4 4-foot square beds.  I would like feedback on buying soil and amendments. We have a yard locally that sells what they call garden soil (don't know yet where it came from or if anything has been done to it).  From my calculations, each bed will take about 2/3rds cubic yard; so I plan to buy 3 cu yds and will have some left over.  The local yard also sells compost from turkey houses.  I was thinking about buying a yard of this to mix in the beds.  I thought an inch or 2 deep and thoroughly mixed with the garden soil should give me a good start.  Does this sound like a workable plan?  Is there any way to test the turkey compost to be sure it is no too 'hot' for the beds?  What about other soil amendments?  Is it advisable to put a sprinkling of dolomite in the beds?  If so, in what quantities

Texas gardening maps put my location at USDA hardiness zone 8a.  Our elevation is about 600'.  Last frost is the last week of March to April first.  First frost is the last week of October to  November 1 although it is frequently later.

Any suggestions and recommendations would be greatly appreciated and gratefully received.

PS:  I'm still reading and re-reading Mel's book and trying to decide on what to plant.

TIA
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  Goosegirl on 2/8/2014, 10:32 pm

rabbithutch wrote:


Any suggestions and recommendations would be greatly appreciated and gratefully received.

PS:  I'm still reading and re-reading Mel's book and trying to decide on what to plant.

TIA

Rabbithutch - check out my reply to your other post - has info on the filler for your boxes!

GG
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  rabbithutch on 2/8/2014, 11:30 pm

Thanks for the feedback.  I ordered the new book.  I should get it next week in plenty of time before I have to fill the beds
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  sanderson on 2/9/2014, 12:51 am

Rabbithutch, Welcome to the Forum!  glad you\'re here 

I'm a little confused about whether you want to use Mel's Mix (you are reading the book). There is no dirt in Mel's Mix and I'm concerned that the "garden soil" will contain dirt. If you are going to go true SFG, this is the place to come for good support.
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  Goosegirl on 2/9/2014, 8:28 am

rabbithutch wrote:Thanks for the feedback.  I ordered the new book.  I should get it next week in plenty of time before I have to fill the beds

You will love the ease using the soilless mix instead of all the soil amendments! Once it is in place, you just have to recharge it after every harvest with compost to replace the nutrients the plants have just used. Do you have room to start your own compost?

GG
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Guess I Came to the Right Place for Answers

Post  rabbithutch on 2/9/2014, 10:41 am

As I said, I've not done the SFG approach although I have done 4' wide beds with concrete block borders.  That was some years ago and further South.

I have ordered and shall read the ANSFG before planting.  In the past, I've just bought garden soil from the yard and mixed in cow manure, horse manure, or compost - depending on availability.  Based on your advice and pending reading the new material, I shall probably try what I think is the soil-less mix described.  I have used the Miracle-Gro potting mix with good success over the years and have even stirred vermiculite into some concoctions of planting medium.  These were all for potted plants and herbs.

As for compost, I have a place and even have a poorly tended compost pile.  I have not added any kitchen scraps or manure to it, but it seems to have broken down quite well.  It is not a large area and I've not produced much of it.

At my age, I'm trying to keep my goals tightly controlled as I cannot over-do it any more.  I have a tendency to dive into the deep water then learn how to swim.  I don't want to do that on SFG'ng.  No double digging or turning compost bins or others of the more strenuous efforts.  Too many stents and too much ticker congestion.  I'm planning to make 4 beds each 4x4 because I know that MLW will have ideas of her own.  I figure I can look after a couple of beds and she can play in the other 2.

I'm trying to make it simple and easy and as low maintenance as possible.  I'm thinking that I can buy from the landscape yard and squeak by for now.  If that doesn't pan out, I'll look into the composting bit a little later.  I need to learn more about cubic volumes and quantities etc. that will fit my pistol, so to speak.

Again, thank you for the advice.  I look forward to reading about the new soil-less method and learning where to acquire the materials to make it happen.  In the meanwhile, I've got some 2-by's to cut and fit.  I plan to make the old fashioned charcoal and boiled linseed oil paint to treat the wood rather than using anything that has been treated.  I figure I can get 6-7 years out of the lumber.  It may last longer than I do.  What a Face
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  sanderson on 2/9/2014, 3:24 pm

Rabbithutch, I applaud your goals. Yes, wait until you have read the book before starting the garden. Light bulbs will light up like Las Vegas. I love that you will have 2 boxes and your wife will also have 2.

Concrete blocks or wood, either one will work. But, DO NOT use boiled linseed inside the boxes. Toxic! Use RAW linseed oil. Many don't bother with treating. They just use 2" x 4" raw lumber.

At your age, I strongly recommend that you hire a couple of young dudes to do the heavy part of setting up your boxes. Save the ticker for planting and tinkering and enjoying the garden. My teeny frail Mother did that in her last decade. She would hire them from a "work wanted" at the local college. Try neighborhood, church, college youth.

After you have read the book, you may rethink how to improve your compost. The youths can set up a double bin frame system for you securing 5 wood pallets like 2 horse stalls with 2 pallets as removable gates.. Turn your bin from one into the other, little bit by little bit. Gather wilted veggies from the produce stands, neighbors. Cow or horse manure. Coffee grounds from Starbuck's or neighbors. Leaves, chipped branches with leaves from municipal green center or neighbors.

Well, that's it for now. I'm excited to see photos of your garden. You know, find some 5 year old to post them! Oh, keep a journal. It's fun to read come next winter.
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  camprn on 2/9/2014, 4:50 pm

I use plain old 2x8 boards. Good luck with your garden!
To get a jump start about what's in the book, click on the hover button on the left side of the SFG Forum main page.


Last edited by camprn on 2/10/2014, 2:08 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Good Lord! Needed to correct bad spelling)

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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  rabbithutch on 2/10/2014, 1:15 pm

Do you stack your2x8s to get double their depth, or is a single 2x8 deep enough?

I tried the 'hover' button but it is not active for me.  Is there a password or secret handshake?  The cursor doesn't become a carrot when I put it on the button.

Thanks for the feedback!!!
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  boffer on 2/10/2014, 1:33 pm

The guy who wrote the code for the hover button wasn't smart enough to add an 'on click' function to the button.  Wink 

If you run your cursor into the left side of your monitor, over the 'nubbins', a slider comes out with some links. No security background check or clearance required!
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  camprn on 2/10/2014, 2:11 pm

rabbithutch wrote:Do you stack your2x8s to get double their depth, or is a single 2x8 deep enough?

I tried the 'hover' button but it is not active for me.  Is there a password or secret handshake?  The cursor doesn't become a carrot when I put it on the button.

Thanks for the feedback!!!
I use just the 2x8 boards, there really is no need to have it any deeper. Did you see Boffer's response to you about the hover button?

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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  rabbithutch on 2/10/2014, 2:50 pm

camprn wrote:
rabbithutch wrote:Do you stack your2x8s to get double their depth, or is a single 2x8 deep enough?

I tried the 'hover' button but it is not active for me.  Is there a password or secret handshake?  The cursor doesn't become a carrot when I put it on the button.

Thanks for the feedback!!!
I use just the 2x8 boards, there really is no need to have it any deeper. Did you see Boffer's response to you about the hover button?

If you use only one 2x8 are your beds deep enough for root crops?  I'd like to plant carrots, onions, and maybe leeks and thought that greater depth would be required.  I have a layer of limestone fairly near the surface to double digging is out of the question.  My plan was to make my beds using one 2x8 and one 2x6 for each side.  Four beds would take almost 3 cubic yards of soil or soil mix if my calculations are correct.

As for the hover button, nothing happens for me at all and I'm obviously logged in or I wouldn't be posting under my username.  I run Windows 7 and use Firefox as my browser.  I run Microsoft Essentials for AV and use Ghostery to block invasive sites from my computer.  Might those be the problem???
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  donnainzone5 on 2/10/2014, 3:35 pm

You'll need about 12" depth for most carrots, as well as potatoes and leeks. I'd simply stack or build to get a deeper box for such crops. Also, you could build or purchase what we call a "top hat," which is 12" x 12" x 6" and fits atop a single square.
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  rabbithutch on 2/10/2014, 4:10 pm

donnainzone10 wrote:You'll need about 12" depth for most carrots, as well as potatoes and leeks.  I'd simply stack or build to get a deeper box for such crops.  Also, you could build or purchase what we call a "top hat," which is 12" x 12" x 6" and fits atop a single square.  

I guess I'll go with my original plan.  The actual widths are 5.5 and 7.25 which will give me a 12.75" deep bed if filled to the rim.  That should be deep enough for almost anything I want to plant.
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  boffer on 2/10/2014, 4:28 pm

rabbithutch wrote:...As for the hover button, nothing happens for me at all and I'm obviously logged in or I wouldn't be posting under my username.  I run Windows 7 and use Firefox as my browser.  I run Microsoft Essentials for AV and use Ghostery to block invasive sites from my computer.  Might those be the problem???

We've had no issues with Win7 or FF.  Can't speak to the other two.  Can you turn them off?
Here's what you're missing:


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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  camprn on 2/10/2014, 4:35 pm

rabbithutch wrote:
camprn wrote:
rabbithutch wrote:Do you stack your2x8s to get double their depth, or is a single 2x8 deep enough?

I tried the 'hover' button but it is not active for me.  Is there a password or secret handshake?  The cursor doesn't become a carrot when I put it on the button.

Thanks for the feedback!!!
I use just the 2x8 boards, there really is no need to have it any deeper. Did you see Boffer's response to you about the hover button?

If you use only one 2x8 are your beds deep enough for root crops?  I'd like to plant carrots, onions, and maybe leeks and thought that greater depth would be required.  I have a layer of limestone fairly near the surface to double digging is out of the question.  My plan was to make my beds using one 2x8 and one 2x6 for each side.  Four beds would take almost 3 cubic yards of soil or soil mix if my calculations are correct.

As for the hover button, nothing happens for me at all and I'm obviously logged in or I wouldn't be posting under my username.  I run Windows 7 and use Firefox as my browser.  I run Microsoft Essentials for AV and use Ghostery to block invasive sites from my computer.  Might those be the problem???
yes, my beds are deep enough for carrots, onions, garlic, parsnips, shallots and the luscious leek. I grow them all successfully in 8 inches of mix.

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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  rabbithutch on 2/10/2014, 4:39 pm

boffer wrote:
rabbithutch wrote:...As for the hover button, nothing happens for me at all and I'm obviously logged in or I wouldn't be posting under my username.  I run Windows 7 and use Firefox as my browser.  I run Microsoft Essentials for AV and use Ghostery to block invasive sites from my computer.  Might those be the problem???

We've had no issues with Win7 or FF.  Can't speak to the other two.  Can you turn them off?
Here's what you're missing:



Thanks, boffer!

I can see the hover button contents but I discovered that I have to hover on the left margin crenelation just below the hover button to do so.

Thanks, again!
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  boffer on 2/10/2014, 5:06 pm

And thank you for teaching me a new word today. Would you be retired military or a history buff, by chance?
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  sanderson on 2/10/2014, 7:15 pm

RH,  Here are a couple of photos of my "Top Hats."   One is a free standing square and the other is only two sided for a corner square.

A single 2" x 8"  layer is all that is needed for 95% of your garden, including some root veggies like beets, turnips, or Parisienne round carrots or Little Finger 3" carrots.  For pointy longer root veggies like regular carrots or parsnips, you can add a top hat to that/those squares.  No need for the expense of extra high MM in the whole box when all you need it for is one square!!

This is a new box showing a free standing Top Hat and a ready-to-go worm tube.


This is a corner top hat frame, sized to fit within the grids.


PS Despite what is looks like, both of these main boxes have only 6" of MM. One is a two layer made of 2" x 4". The other is 3 layers of 2 x 4". It was just a designer choice to add a third layer to certain boxes. I'm certainly not going to fill the extra air space with expensive MM.


Last edited by sanderson on 2/10/2014, 7:20 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added PS)
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  rabbithutch on 2/10/2014, 7:35 pm

boffer wrote:And thank you for teaching me a new word today.  Would you be retired military or a history buff, by chance?

It is the great regret of my life that I never served in the military.  Four of my brothers did tho including one who was a combat infantryman in Germany in the closing days of WWII.

History is one of my favorite topics - but I take most of what is written with a grain of salt because most historians who get published have an axe to grind.  When I focus on a period of history, I try to read as wide a variety of authors as I can find, then draw my on conclusions about what really must have happened.

May I take this chance to ask about TTs?  I saw your gallery and really liked the metal framing you made for your TTs.  I might try that idea after I get my feet wet in ground level SFGs.  When you make them, what size hardware cloth do you use?  I have some 1/2" and some 1/4" and wondered if the opening size makes any difference.  Also, does it matter what sort of weed block cloth you put over the hardware cloth?
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  rabbithutch on 2/10/2014, 7:45 pm

sanderson wrote:RH,  Here are a couple of photos of my "Top Hats."   One is a free standing square and the other is only two sided for a corner square.

A single 2" x 8"  layer is all that is needed for 95% of your garden, including some root veggies like beets, turnips, or Parisienne round carrots or Little Finger 3" carrots.  For pointy longer root veggies like regular carrots or parsnips, you can add a top hat to that/those squares.  No need for the expense of extra high MM in the whole box when all you need it for is one square!!

This is a new box showing a free standing Top Hat and a ready-to-go worm tube.


This is a corner top hat frame, sized to fit within the grids.


PS Despite what is looks like, both of these main boxes have only 6" of MM.  One is a two layer made of 2" x 4".  The other is 3 layers of 2 x 4".  It was just a designer choice to add a third layer to certain boxes.  I'm certainly not going to fill the extra air space with expensive MM.


Thank you!  That is great information to have.  Coincidentally, I have just been reading the early posts in the thread about Josh's worm tube.  I will definitely incorporate one in each of my beds.

The top hats are certain to become part of my repertoire as well.  At this point, I'm still planning to make my beds using a tier of 2x8 and one of 2x6; however, instead of filling them completely with MM, I think I'm going to use garden soil from my local yard for about half their volume.  This way, I will get some loose soil below the MM and above the limestone that we have.  This should give the depth needed for carrots and other root crops.  I plan to till in a little fertilizer with the soil, too.

May I ask what the metal tubes around your beds are for?  And, I see that you have irrigation in your SFGs.  It appears to lie on the surface and from my estimates of the tdiameters of the tubes I'm guessing that it is drip irrigation.  Have you posted about tthis before?  I'd like to learn as much as I can.

Thank you again.  I hope my ANSFG comes tomorrow, but I'm having a ball exploring the wealth of information here on the forum and the SFG web site.
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  sanderson on 2/10/2014, 8:29 pm

The metal tubes are 8' lengths of electrical conduit for new trellises for cantaloupe, winter squash and small watermelons. I'll be posting photos when it stops raining and I can get them assembled. I found out that 5' beginner trellises in the ANSFG book were too short for vining beans, snow peas, and melons. Even my one giant Roma grew to 8'-10' tall and needed extra high support. PS, everything, even the giant tomato, were grown in 6" of MM with weed fabric on the bottom.

Can I make one more pitch / plead about not blending the lower dirt and the upper new MM?? Your finished boxes will be 13" tall. Allow 6" for MM, at least 1" for mulch, leaving 6" to fill at the bottom. Depending on where you gather the garden dirt, you may accidentally introduce root starter weeds and other weed seeds. A barrier of weed cloth, newspapers or cardboard really should be laid on top of the native dirt. Or, put a vertical divider on one of the boxes, filling one half like I described and the other half with 12" of MM (with weed fabric underneath). You will then have a dedicated area of a few square feet for deep root crops.

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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  camprn on 2/10/2014, 8:36 pm

Have faith! Mel's Mix with quality compost works wonders!!!

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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  sanderson on 2/10/2014, 8:59 pm

At OSH, I over heard a pH conversation between an employees and a man who turned out to be a Univ. Ag Professor.  I stepped up to listen and learn.  When I told the Prof that I used SFG, he looked at me like I was a little girl!  I tried to impress that it is a really easy way for backyard gardeners to successfully grow veggies. After he left, the employee stated that he himself used square foot gardening!  He gets his cow manure for composting at the Univ. and said I could come with him next time.  To introduce me to the dairy cow guys.  Supper excited to get non-composted dairy parlor manure for my new compost bin.

Have faith that SFG really works.
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sanderson

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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

Post  boffer on 2/10/2014, 9:04 pm

rabbithutch wrote:...May I take this chance to ask about TTs?  I saw your gallery and really liked the metal framing you made for your TTs.  I might try that idea after I get my feet wet in ground level SFGs.  When you make them, what size hardware cloth do you use?  I have some 1/2" and some 1/4" and wondered if the opening size makes any difference.  Also, does it matter what sort of weed block cloth you put over the hardware cloth?
Chicken wire wasn't strong enough; ¼ inch was overkill; ½ inch was just right.  

Any type of weed cloth should work.  One member switched to 6 mil plastic instead of weed cloth to slow down the high evaporation rate he was getting in his climate.  I've retro-fitted some of my boxes with  1 inch foil-faced foamboard in place of the weed cloth to see if it would keep my MM a little warmer  during my typically cool summer nights.
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Re: Looking for Feedback - New SFG'r

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