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Spring may just have sprung....

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Spring may just have sprung....

Post  Jeff Buffington on 3/8/2010, 3:16 am

Well, the weatherman says it's headed into the low 80's over the next few days. Anyone planning on building their first SFG, or doing their spring plantings?

I'm totally new to this, so I'm still working on my first two boxes (4x8's)... but I'm quite curious as to what others may be planning. That, and I'd like to see a little more activity in this forum! Smile

Personally, I think I need to pick up another bag of Vermiculite before I get started. I have one bag (4 cu ft), and a bale of compressed peat (says 3.0 cu/ft compressed), as well as 4 bags of compost/manure (labeled just as 40lb bags) and a bin full of composted material to work with.

I've got my first two boxes built... even laid out the weed fabric for the first... but I think I'm going to put some cardboard down underneath... just to keep out those evil weeds. They overran my garden last year, and I'm apprehensive about them returning again this year.

Last year, I had a ton of sweet banana peppers.. canned quite a few. I'm still looking for some good recipies for canning them. I have not been able to find the recipe my mother used to use... but I do recall the peppers being "sweet" to the taste and not so much sour (or vinegary.)

The formula I did follow used quite a bit of sugar, and they seem to taste pretty close to what I was looking for. I added a habenero to a couple of the jars to add some heat to them. So far so good, but I'm always looking to improve on them. Would love to hear some more good recipies for them; especially for canning!

I only got a couple pickings of beans. We gave some to friends, and I managed to can one small jar. I'm hoping to get a bunch more this year. Perhaps we'll try that jar out sometime this summer... I'm curious as to how well I did with 'em. I did have an issue with ants invading my garden last year; the beans seemed to be their number one target. Any ideas about how to combat that?

My tomatoes were eaten alive... literally. Some really ugly and mean looking bugs chewed the heck out of everything. I sprayed every "natural" pesticide I could find on those puppies, but they just couldn't handle the onslaught. Do I really need to put SevinDust on everyday? :o

I hope I'll have some help combating them this year! I think we managed to get 3 tomatoes out of the four plants we had growing, before those pests invaded and destroyed the remainder.

Other things I tried... cucumbers never quite managed to reach fruition. I got 2 decent ones, and one that I probably should've thrown on the compost pile. Cucumber & Onion salad is a personal favorite of mine... so I'd love to hear ideas on how to help them out. I'm going to try them again, and perhaps some of the pickling kind too.

I'm planning on documenting my efforts this season... so, we'll see how I do. Any thoughts or suggestions, by all means let me know!

Thanks guys n' gals!

Jeff in St. Cloud
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First box is full of Mel's Mix

Post  Jeff Buffington on 3/10/2010, 12:28 am



Well, I filled up my first 4x8 box with Mel's Mix. As I posed in another message, I'm not sure I did the mix altogether right. Still, what I had is well blended... but only filled one of my 4x8's (with a little left to put into the other to keep the weed fabric in place.)

Not sure if you can tell from this pic, but the area I'm putting my first sets of boxes is over last years garden area. I had an odd surprise last month with some leaf lettuce sprouting up despite the record cold temps we had. I'm thinking about letting it grow and harvesting it before putting a 4x4 in that same spot.

The soil here had been "improved"... I spent a few bucks last year on putting peat and compost here, but the weeds took over eventually and everything went haywire. I'm (obviously) switching to the SFG method this year... and will likely add many more boxes as I go on. Still, I just can't bring myself to sacrifice something good growing. Smile

I couldn't get my hands on any cardboard, so I opted to stick with the newspaper underneath the weed fabric. I'm hoping the newspaper will keep the weeds at bay long enough for them to die out, and the weed fabric will prevent them from creeping back. I didn't put a thick layer, just a single sheet over the entire area, before putting the weed block down. I'm hoping that the combination of the two will equate to the cardboard, etc.

Future squares may have some cardboard involved tho... as I do sometimes have access to large pieces of it (through work.) There's an area over my septic tank that I'd really love to cover, since the only thing that ever grows there are weeds!



Other than the leaf lettuce, citrus trees, and the Fire Ant mounds... nothing is really growing yet. I suspect the warmer weather we're getting this week will change that a bit. Ironically, one of the reasons I never put a garden where this 'weed patch' is was because there is literally no soil... it's merely small rocks/pebbles this stuff is groing in... and it likes to spread. It even managed to infect an empty pot. I hate this plant!! Evil or Very Mad Anyone know what is best to kill (or even mame) it?

Lastly, here's a odd snapshot... it was dark by the time I was done mixing and filling... so I took a picture in the dark, using nothing but my 18v flashlight... the flash on my camera stopped working last month. Sad (Time for a new one, I reckon')



Just call me the Midnight Gardener...
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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  boffer on 3/10/2010, 1:08 am

LMAO

I realize it's dark, and you're using a flashlight for a flash....but dude, that is the ugliest stuff I have ever seen in a SFG box!!!!
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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  Jeff Buffington on 3/10/2010, 1:52 am

boffer wrote:LMAO

I realize it's dark, and you're using a flashlight for a flash....but dude, that is the ugliest stuff I have ever seen in a SFG box!!!!

:LOL: Well, I'll try to take a picture in the morning....

I have a few pics of the mixing process.....

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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/15/2010, 1:07 am

I just had to tell you!! Donna made a nice comment on my itty-bitty video! I had to tell someone and you are the only other person I know who watches her.

Deborah ....feeling kewl ...thanks for listening!
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FL Gardening

Post  bjwinterton on 3/15/2010, 8:27 pm

Thanks for sharing your photos. I'm curious to see others go through this process. I've got my boxes made, but haven't placed them in the garden yet or made the soil. I am hoping that I have success with SFG, I've tried gardening in the south before never with much luck. I can't wait to start planting.

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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  Jeff Buffington on 3/20/2010, 11:22 pm

Lavender Debs wrote:I just had to tell you!! Donna made a nice comment on my itty-bitty video! I had to tell someone and you are the only other person I know who watches her.

Deborah ....feeling kewl ...thanks for listening!
That's awesome!

I was at the big orange box store today when spring officially sprung... the guy there even said to everybody in the aisle, "Happy Spring!" Laughing

Anyways, I picked up some more compost, another bale of peat moss, as well as a few collections of plants. Got a few 9-packs of sweet peas, jalepenos, tomatoes, and a couple of the peat-pots of banana peppers, green pepper, and a habenero. Also got seeds for more sweet banana peppers (I love them!) I also got the planting bulbs for yellow and red onions at Tractor Supply. Of course, I still have all my leftover seeds from last year.

Mixed up a new batch of Mel's mix... looks much better, and a lot more like the stuff the plants I bought came in. I used most of the Vermiculite on the new batch, but saved a bit for the existing soil that had the medium grade stuff mixed into it... it looked much better too. Then I mixed the old and new.

Now on to planting!! *Does Snoopy Happy Dance*
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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  Jeff Buffington on 3/20/2010, 11:27 pm

bjwinterton wrote:Thanks for sharing your photos. I'm curious to see others go through this process. I've got my boxes made, but haven't placed them in the garden yet or made the soil. I am hoping that I have success with SFG, I've tried gardening in the south before never with much luck. I can't wait to start planting.

Well, this is my first time with the whole SFG method.. so I'm right there with you!

I've had the boxes made for a while, but just got enough Mel's mix (or as close as I could manage) to fill up both boxes. The biggest problem I've had is finding inexpensive wood to make my grids out of. Furring strips are just too wide, and the thinner stuff is sold by linear feet (much more expensive.)

So, I found some poly-twine stuff I'm going to try. I'm going to go ahead and put some deck screws in on all sides so I can replace the twine as needed. Wish me luck!
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More pix

Post  Jeff Buffington on 3/24/2010, 8:45 pm

Here's my lettuce that grew from out of nowhere... I had planted it last year and had little success... then this stuff popped up about a month or so ago. Checked the packet.. looks like it might be time to pick it..



And here's my boxes with some plants in 'em... finally!

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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  Jeff Buffington on 3/24/2010, 9:05 pm

Here's a closeup of my mix... I'm sure it's not the best, but this is my first time so.. Very Happy

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Beautiful boxes

Post  bjwinterton on 3/24/2010, 9:07 pm

I love the idea of the screws and the rope marking the squares. You've got things planted already! I'm so jealous.

I caught my toddler taking his bucket and filling it with Mel's Mix out of my garden boxes and dumping it into the sand box. I will need to find a solution so that doesn't happen again.

Love the pictures.

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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  Jeff Buffington on 3/24/2010, 9:36 pm

bjwinterton wrote:I love the idea of the screws and the rope marking the squares.

Well, I debated with myself about getting lath, using 1x's, buying cheap blinds, etc... but, ultimately I decided the grid was for my benefit and cost was a factor. The twine I got is a poly-twine, so I'm not really sure how well it will hold up, but at least I can "repair" it easily, as is necessary; and it was cheap compared to lath (sold by linear foot?!?) Plus, I can use it for other purposes in the garden.

One thing I might do is replace the screws with shorter ones... I used the same screws to put the boxes together, and they weren't all that cheap. I did pre-drill my holes (learned the hard way that predrilling helps.)

You've got things planted already! I'm so jealous.
Yeah.. we actually started to warm up. Weatherman said this morning should be our last foray into the 40's until Fall.

I caught my toddler taking his bucket and filling it with Mel's Mix out of my garden boxes and dumping it into the sand box. I will need to find a solution so that doesn't happen again.
Ack! Well, mine is 13... so I'm more concerned about him stealing my bamboo sticks to use for arrows, or my 1x's for swords.

Love the pictures.
Thanks! I'm trying to document my first attempt at a SFG. I'm sure I'm not doing everything right, but hopefully I'll learn.
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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  choksaw on 3/25/2010, 12:12 am

Best way to learn is hands on and doing it you can only get so much information from a book the rest is practical use and trial and error im in the same boat as you cause this is my first year with SFG and only my 2nd season in florida so i still have alot to learn but thats whats great about the forums we are all pretty much here to help each other out with knowledge and ideas and general information
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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  Jeff Buffington on 3/25/2010, 12:22 am

choksaw wrote:Best way to learn is hands on and doing it you can only get so much information from a book the rest is practical use and trial and error
Well, last year was my first time truly gardening. I had tried some container tomatoes before with limited success. Last year I managed to get a good crop of banana peppers, and a few beans, but little else. My wife keeps chastising me about it.

im in the same boat as you cause this is my first year with SFG and only my 2nd season in florida so i still have alot to learn but thats whats great about the forums we are all pretty much here to help each other out with knowledge and ideas and general information

Well, I've been here since 1982, any have only managed to escape a handful of times.. hiddenID

Neverless, the biggest problems I had last year were insects and weeds. The bugs ate everything good, and the weeds choked the rest out. I'm hopeful that this year will be a bit better... and I have a camera on hand to take pix of the offenders, just in case! lol!
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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  choksaw on 3/25/2010, 12:24 am

Theres a good article in GROW magazine about good bugs and bad bugs its the new 1 just out vol 3 i like thta magazine alot it has some great information in it for a magazine
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New pics

Post  Jeff Buffington on 3/29/2010, 1:16 pm

We got quite a bit of rain over the weekend and today.. this is back near my compost bin..


Here's my SFG.. you can see the water nearly surrounding one of my boxes!


Starting to see some stuff popping through..



So not a whole lot to look at yet... but hopefully by the end of the week I'll see some more growth.

Still not sure what I'm going to do for trellising yet. I was thinking about getting some 2x4's or 2x2's and building a structure affixed to the boxes. Or, doing the conduit thing. I haven't been able to find the premade net at the big box stores, yet. 🐷
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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  choksaw on 3/29/2010, 2:34 pm

Wow looks like you got alot more rain then i did but glad to see that the veggies are comeing through gratz i found the netting in the garden center i think by the burpee seed display not sure but it was at lowes i have also seen it at Walmart in their garen center by the plant stake and cage display outside i dont go to home depot too often so not sure about them good luck and keep us posted
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More pix!

Post  Jeff Buffington on 4/2/2010, 12:06 am

Most of the water has drained away...




Radishes and beans are starting to grow..





Of course my onions (red and yellow) are both growing as well...





So... things are progressing. Still need to plant some more things. Might even pick up some more 2x6's, Vermiculite and the rest... and make a few more boxes. Perhaps I'll make a couple of 4x4's. I'd like to plant some corn.. but I ran into problems last year with one of our summer storms, so, I'm going to try some of the things mentioned in the SFG book.
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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  choksaw on 4/2/2010, 12:45 am

Glad to hear Lake Buffington is under control and some of those veggies are coming in great i have 8 peachs and cream corn planted and they are coming in nicely my first attempt at corn down here in florida, used to grow amazing corn in NJ the old fasioned way row gardening (heresey i know) but we had 6 ft stalks of what was called salt and pepper corn maybe it was a regional term becaus ei cant seem to find it anywhere peachs and cream was the closest. Good luck with things to come and keep us updated
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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  Jeff Buffington on 4/2/2010, 1:20 am

choksaw wrote:Glad to hear Lake Buffington is under control and some of those veggies are coming in great i have 8 peachs and cream corn planted and they are coming in nicely my first attempt at corn down here in florida, used to grow amazing corn in NJ the old fasioned way row gardening (heresey i know) but we had 6 ft stalks of what was called salt and pepper corn maybe it was a regional term becaus ei cant seem to find it anywhere peachs and cream was the closest. Good luck with things to come and keep us updated
I've got some Sweet White corn... tried it last year, but the summer storms blew it over (and that was using the 'traditional' method of gardening.) That really sucked (or perhaps 'blowed' would be more accurate? Razz )... as I love fresh boiled corn on the cob.

I was thinking about creating a 4x4 just for corn. Need more materials first though. Better not let the wife catch me... rofl

What did or are you planning on doing for supporting them? I saw the comments in the book about horrizontally mounting chicken wire or some such stuff.
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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  choksaw on 4/2/2010, 1:39 am

as this is my first attempt with corn and with SFG the thought of support never crossed my mind, i never needed to NJ hmmmmmmm now the gears are spinning for corn supports for next season guess il just have to improvise for this season
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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  Jeff Buffington on 4/2/2010, 1:54 am

choksaw wrote:as this is my first attempt with corn and with SFG the thought of support never crossed my mind, i never needed to NJ hmmmmmmm now the gears are spinning for corn supports for next season guess il just have to improvise for this season

I don't know about on the coasts... but when the sea breezes meet here (in the middle, so to speak), we can get some hellatious downdrafts or straight-line winds. They tend to be brief, much like the afternoon thunderstorms themselves, and typically happen right at the beginning of such a storm.

Obviously, nothing can prevent the onslaught of hurricane force winds blowing for hours on end, but if something can help with those brief but powerful downdrafts.. would be great.

I'm particularly worried because of what I encountered last year, and the fact that it was not SFG but rather traditional method using enhanced soil (no depth limits, more compacted soil, etc.) and still wound up losing the whole crop. I know the soil with SFG is much more "friable," so to me that translates to them being able to be uprooted easier.

According to the book, the stalks will grow through the mesh and gain some added support.. but it'd be neat to hear from some who might have had some success with this stuff. What a Face
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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  choksaw on 4/2/2010, 1:36 pm

Im gonna have to take my chances this year but was brain storming the idea last night after i read your post and i came up with a possable solution for next season or for my next crop of corn we should be able to get 2 seasons down here right?
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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  Jeff Buffington on 4/2/2010, 3:17 pm

choksaw wrote:Im gonna have to take my chances this year but was brain storming the idea last night after i read your post and i came up with a possable solution for next season or for my next crop of corn we should be able to get 2 seasons down here right?
Yeah, I believe we can get two seasons. Zellwood Corn Festival is coming up on May 28-30th.

Last year we probably could've had 3 with how long we went before the first freeze. It was a hot October! sunny

Actually, found this here:

Sweet corn seeds can be planted any time from August through April, depending on the specific production region. However, growers usually plant in north Florida from February to April, in central Florida from January to April, and in south Florida from October to March. Standard spacing allows for approximately 30 inches between rows, with seeds typically planted about one inch deep, 6-8 inches apart. Maximum plant population is approximately 24,000-32,000 plants per acre. A total of 64-90 days elapses from seeding to harvest. Sweet corn is wind pollinated, so isolation of varieties must occur to produce desired characteristics. Typically, a distance of at least 300 feet is needed to avoid cross-pollination.
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Re: Spring may just have sprung....

Post  choksaw on 4/2/2010, 4:05 pm

excelent article thanx for the news i will work on my new invention for the next crop and report with pics as to how it works out. I think with you putting that thought in my head and my polish engineering skills i might have just stumbled upon a new gizmo/gadget for the SFG garden
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