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New to SFG in NY

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New to SFG in NY

Post  Amy22 on 3/14/2014, 10:02 pm

Hello everybody,
I am completely new to SFG, but I just rented a community garden plot and I can't wait to try it.  My friend's kids are going to help me too.  I was hoping some experienced users might have some suggestions for people who are confined to community gardens.  A few questions I have:

- My garden already has raised beds (4 x 12 feet) that are already filled with dirt.  Installing a SFG grid would mean drilling into the sides of the box which isn't really mine. It doesn't feel right to just permanently install something that I only have for a season; what if the person next year in the box wants to do rows? 

-Obviously I won't be able to fill my box with Mel's mix as they've already filled it.  Do I need to change anything with the normal potting soil that they have?  (I don't know exactly what's in it, although I did email the director mention SFG)

-Any suggestions on easy vegatables for first timers?  Ive grown salad greens out of a patio container but that's about it.  Do i need to restrict myself to plants labeled "for containers"
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Re: New to SFG in NY

Post  sanderson on 3/15/2014, 1:17 am

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

Your 4 x 12 bed sounds wonderful. You will be able to grow all kinds of veggies. I'll try to answer your questions, and I know other folks will chime in. The more information you can provide, the better the answers.

1. You don't have to attach your grids to the box. Just make them durable. They will be your guide for planting. At the end of the season, you can fold them up and take them home.

2. I don't know if you can remove a little of the dirt or not. How many inches do you have from the dirt to the top of the box? Hopefully you will be able to add some good compost, especially composted manure, maybe a little vermiculite or fluffed peat moss. Anything to help the dirt. Hopefully the Director can give you some info on the soil. Or if they let you, maybe add another temporary layer of wood to give it more head room.

3. Don't worry about "easy" things to plant. They don't have to be "for containers." Just jump in with what ever you like to eat. Corn? Tomatoes? Kale or chard? leafy lettuce, radishes, carrots, onions, garlic, green beans? Cucumber, snow peas, peppers? Maybe SFG folks in your area can suggest hardy varieties. Can you add trellises to the boxes? I imagine others will be adding trellises. The simple trellises in the book All New Square Foot Gardening are easy on the budget.

This is just a possible planting starting at one end, 4 squares across = one band (1' x 4'). Two bands of corn, 1 of leafy greens, 1 of carrots and garlic, 1 of cucumbers, 1 of (2 inner squares) leafy lettuces and radishes (2 outer squares), 1 of bush green beans (I love Dragon Tongue because of their interesting coloring), 1 of bush peas, 1 of trellised, vertically trained tomatoes (3 planted in the 4 squares) and 1 of 4 peppers. In the last 2 bands, you can plant 3 zucchini or yellow squash. Or maybe you want cantaloupe or baby watermelons. Just decide what you want to try.

What is the north-s-e-w orientation of your box. That will determine where you plant what and where the trellises need to be set up. I'm picturing the trellises going across the 4' width for tomatoes, vining beans. or on both sides of the corn for wind protection.

Oh, what I wouldn't give for a 4 x 12 box!
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Re: New to SFG in NY

Post  Amy22 on 3/15/2014, 1:32 am

The 12' side faces north on my box.  The trellises look beautiful and the book makes them look very easy.  I think I will hold off on that until next year.  I was initially planning to hit the park seed catalog or the seed packets at Wal-mart but I today discovered a local farmer who sells heirloom open pollinated seeds meant specifically to thrive in the northeast.  They cost more than the stuff at walmart but you can't beat local in my mind, especially fromm growers who know all the special needs of my area.  They usually have a stall at the farmers market so I hope I can pin them down and ask for some input.
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Re: New to SFG in NY

Post  quiltbea on 3/15/2014, 1:34 pm

Amy, welcome to the forum.

I've grown both at home and the community garden.  Get some bagged composted manure and rake that into the top 3 or 4" in your bed.  Then on top you can always add 2 or 3" of compost to the top of the box.  Rake it in.  If you have more space, add more compost. 

Do NOT double dig and bring the old soil to the top.  You'll also be bringing up dormant weed seeds.  Work with the top 3 or 4" of soil only.  Its when you are transplanting that you can dig down deep enough to transplant any seedlings and soften the soil around the plant's immediate area and add a couple more handsful of compost to the hole. 

Even if your boxes are only 4 inches high or even if they are only marking your space, the soil below just needs improving which it will by adding manure and compost to the top several inches.
 
As for marking you can get some nylon tomato twine and tacks.  Mark with the twine and tack it to the top of your boxes at each end.  Makes perfectly nice grids.

Grow what you like to eat.  Put the tall stuff along the 12' along the north side, like tomatoes and cukes or peas.  Use the cages for cukes and peas and stakes or cages for the tomatoes.  Nothing then is permanent and you can take them home and store them away at the end of the season.  Plant peppers, eggplant or Swiss chard and other mid-size crops in front of those.  Then shorter ones in front of those.

Corn can be an iffy thing.  If you don't have a block with 4 stalks across, there's less chance of pollination, even by hand.  But if you really want to try some, do so.  You learn by trying.

Easy stuff?   Try radishes, lettuces, Asian greens, and the ever faithful tomato.  The first listed can be sown direct seeds into the garden and the tomato can be bought at the store.

Its your first year.  Just get started and try what you like.  Look to this forum for tips on specific crops if you have questions.  Enjoy the experience.
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Re: New to SFG in NY

Post  walshevak on 3/15/2014, 7:49 pm

@Amy22 wrote:The 12' side faces north on my box.  The trellises look beautiful and the book makes them look very easy.  I think I will hold off on that until next year.  I was initially planning to hit the park seed catalog or the seed packets at Wal-mart but I today discovered a local farmer who sells heirloom open pollinated seeds meant specifically to thrive in the northeast.  They cost more than the stuff at walmart but you can't beat local in my mind, especially fromm growers who know all the special needs of my area.  They usually have a stall at the farmers market so I hope I can pin them down and ask for some input.

Excellent idea to get seeds that a know to do well in your area and growing hints from the source.  Mix their ideas up with the SFG method even though you can't have Mel's Mix. 

Kay

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Re: New to SFG in NY

Post  jimmy cee on 3/16/2014, 10:40 pm

Here's an idea for your grids, I used plastic coated clothes wire.
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