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Adjacent squares?

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Adjacent squares?

Post  kamigh on 10/6/2014, 9:47 pm

Just wanted to get an idea of where people stand on planting the same type of plants next to each other as opposed to following Mel's advice of mixing up the squares. This was my first year SFG and I tried to follow his advice as closely as possible, even though it was almost painful for me to mix things up like that. 
I don't think I'll mix my crops up like that again, for several reasons.
1. Aesthetically, I don't like the way it looks.
2. The squash bugs found ALL my squash, regardless of their non-adjacent squares.
3. I think it's easier to take care of the plants (prune) and harvest if like plants are together.

I will keep things like tomatoes separated in corners, because they need some extra room, but I'm thinking of keeping my peppers, peas, beans, etc, together unless someone can give me a compelling reason not to.
What do you do?
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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  camprn on 10/6/2014, 10:04 pm

I plant for the needs (feeding, water, pest control) of the plants. So, a box of tomatoes, a box or several squares of brassicas all together. Etc.


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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/6/2014, 10:17 pm

I like keeping things together for the most part. It makes it easier to apply pesticides on exactly the plant that needs them and avoid spillover onto the wrong plants. I think that's important when applying pesticides on leaf crops that I wouldn't want to spill over onto fruiting crops that bees visit, or vice-versa.

I also don't like bending and stooping up and down any more than I have to. Dealing with plants that have the same height and same grooming needs keeps all the change-ups to a minimum.

Plus, if a few plants fairly close together are all tall or all short, they are unlikely to shade each other out. Start mixing the tall ones and short ones, and the short ones might not thrive.
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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  boffer on 10/7/2014, 3:09 am

There are pros and cons to both ways.  I do both ways, but I'm more partial to mixing things up.  The idea being  not to put all my eggs in one basket.

1. Every once in a while, I get one box that is a dud-everything in the box grows poorly.  I don't have a clue why; maybe I forgot to replenish the compost.  If all my broccoli was in a dud box, I wouldn't have any at all.  Spreading things out reduces the loss.  

2. We all deal with different types of bug problems.  Rather than trying to cover boxes with netting, I  spread similar plants around.  The bugs pick out a few plants at one end of the garden, and leave the rest alone.  It works for me.

3. I think of spreading similar plants around as 'comparison planting'.  It's a valuable diagnostic tool when I have a problem.  I try to plant in various environments:  In MM or  compost on the ground or  pots, table tops or ground, less or more sun, hoop house or cold frame, inside under lights or outside, greenhouse or outside.  When an issue arises, it's much easier to identify the problem.

That's what I do, but you'll have to experiment to find out what works best for you.
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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  sanderson on 10/7/2014, 5:55 am

Karla, Everyone does things differently, usually after trial and error. I tend to do what Camp does for the most part and for the same reasons. Like types with like needs. And like you, I think it looks neater. Like Marc mentioned, not shading a short plant behind a tall one. But, like Boffer, I will tuck a square of this or that around so I get at least one successful square. Garlic and onions comes to mind. And tomatoes like you, in corners. But also some things in pots or buckets (peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant) so I can move them around as the sun moves through the seasons, and in and out of the greenhouse.

Have you posted any photos? I can't remember seeing them. We would love to see your first year garden. Very Happy


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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  yolos on 10/7/2014, 7:32 pm

@camprn wrote:I plant for the needs (feeding, water, pest control) of the plants. So, a box of tomatoes, a box or several squares of brassicas all together. Etc.

+1, also a box of corn, a box of tomatoes, a box of brassicas, a box of peas, a box of lettuce etc.  But if the aphids appear on one pea plant, the whole box will be shortly attacked.
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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  boffer on 10/7/2014, 7:43 pm

@yolos wrote:...But if the aphids appear on one pea plant, the whole box will be shortly attacked.

You get aphids on your peas? I'm constantly battling aphids on my peppers, but I never get them on my peas. Interesting!
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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  camprn on 10/7/2014, 7:53 pm

@boffer wrote:
@yolos wrote:...But if the aphids appear on one pea plant, the whole box will be shortly attacked.

You get aphids on your peas?  I'm constantly battling aphids on my peppers, but I never get them on my peas.  Interesting!
I have found trap plants are very effective for aphid control.

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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  Denese on 10/7/2014, 9:41 pm

Unfortunately, my pea plants got attacked by aphids in all 4 of my new boxes.  I had the netting in front of the pea plants over the rest of the bed, and I think they weren't getting enough room to spread out more, and by the time I realized there were aphids, the plants were almost devastated.  I used neem oil, and it has helped, but out of 16 squares of peas, I've only gotten 2 meals. Very disappointing.  Also, I've found that I too, will go back to planting 1 crop per box.  My new ones were planted with alternating crops per square, except the peas.  The smaller plants have been literally overshadowed by the larger ones, even though I put what I thought were the larger ones around the edges.  Overall, my harvest has been okay, but there has definitely been a learning curve.
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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  yolos on 10/7/2014, 10:30 pm

@boffer wrote:
@yolos wrote:...But if the aphids appear on one pea plant, the whole box will be shortly attacked.

You get aphids on your peas?  I'm constantly battling aphids on my peppers, but I never get them on my peas.  Interesting!

My southern peas only.  Pinkeye Purple Hull peas.  All over them.  The aphids (brown) found them in 3 out of the four places I planted them.  Little black ants running up and down the vines.  I am assuming they were farming the aphids.  The only thing the aphids bothered.
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Adjacent squares

Post  GloriaG on 10/7/2014, 11:53 pm

Interesting - I also had aphids on my peas this year for the first time.  Usually I have a problem with them attacking the tomatoes and melons.

My boxes are large enough that I generally plant two or three different vegetables in the same box but I group them all by type.  That gives me the ability to put a popular vegetable like bush beans in more than one box, but still keeps them grouped together for easy care within the box.  So far, it's worked for me.  I tried mixing the squares in the beginning and found it too difficult to maintain.

Boffer - what trap plants do you use for aphids?

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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  boffer on 10/8/2014, 12:08 am

Camprn mentioned trap crops.  I haven't intentionally planted them.

Aphids are the only pest that I haven't been able to control with the hunt and squish method.   In my greenhouse and indoors, I finally broke down and started using an aerosol pyrethrin spray from Doktor Doom.  It works great with just a quick dusting spray.
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Adjacent squares

Post  GloriaG on 10/8/2014, 12:30 am

Ooops - sorry about that.  But I do appreciate the info on the pyrethrin spray.  I haven't tried that yet. Thanks

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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  kamigh on 10/9/2014, 1:30 pm

Thanks everyone for the input.  I hadn't even thought (consciously anyway) about the big plants shading the little plants, which ended up being one of my problems this year.  AND I had 'trap plants' that I didn't do on purpose, but certainly helped.  I thanked that poor chewed up eggplant every day for taking one for the team, and now that mostly everything else is gone from the garden, that once sad, poor little eggplant has 3 beautiful little fruits on it!
I now feel much better about unapologetically planting my snap peas, broccoli and cabbage in blocks!
Also, I know I have pictures from my garden in it's most beautiful glory from June/Julyish, I'll find them in the next day or two and post :-)  It got a little ugly after that (Texas heat will do that) but now I've pulled out all the dead and am looking forward to my fall/winter garden!
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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  sanderson on 10/9/2014, 9:23 pm

I'm sorry to add to the aphid stories.  I have to add that I have aphids on my corn!!  Ants running up and down the stalks.  Neem didn't even budge them.  Must find Doctor Doom.  I won't be composting corn stalks and leaves any more so I don't fell I'm breaking my a la natural 'organic' efforts.

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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  walshevak on 10/11/2014, 11:29 am

I also have to add to the aphid saga.  My 4 squares of long beans were black with aphids.  Didn't respond to washing off with blasts of water, neem or soapy spray.   Needless to say, no beans for me this year.  A later planting of Kentucky Wonders in another box just didn't thrive. Not aphids just failure of the entire box to thrive.  Beans, Kale, chard, parsley and onions.  Had early spinach, lettuce and snap peas in that box that did just ok and was replenished with homemade compost .

But to get back on topic,  I also like to group plants according to needs.  IE, brassicas and chard in one or two beds that I can cover with tulle. Alternating squares because kale and collards take more room than chard.   Flowering, fruiting plants in beds that I can spay early before the bees are out.  All my tomatoes in buckets against a trellis.  Squash on outside squares so they can fall over and not crowd the middle.  Peas, melons, and beans in 4 block sections on the north or east side trellises.  Same with cukes unless they are in buckets. Carrots and onions in middle squares because they don't need much care until harvest. 

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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 10/13/2014, 8:47 am

I had cowpeas that the aphids & ants went after.  I pulled them and sprinkled heavily with cinnamon and keep a close eye on everything around them for a while.  Thankfully they didn't move elsewhere.
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Re: Adjacent squares?

Post  plantoid on 10/14/2014, 7:41 pm

I would say that what you intend to do with your crops has a big bearing on how close you follow Mel's regime.  So I follow Mel's sound advice of modifying the theory to suit my  local conditions.

For instance :-


 If you are into canning or freezing and getting a couple of batches of that crop a year canned then a complete bed of the crop may well be the way to go.
 For it will all be treated for pests in one go & harvesting say carrots will not expose the rest of your carrots in the bed to carrot root fly attack . Where as if you only pull ...say ... three carrots for a meal out of a 16 sown  growing square . you'll have a good chance of the flies attacking the remaining carrots in that square. 
Same often applies with the bigger bulbing onions in my beds. I now have a permanently dedicated onion bed & garlic that will run for a good 50 years .


 Some of my interspersed crops that closely follow  Mel's planting suggestions have quite different withdrawal periods for pest control substances .  So in many cases I found that I could not spray anything on the pests or if I did the crop that had the longest with drawl period had gone long past its best before the withdrawal period was up .    Strawberries and peas  beans come to mind ,the almost ripe strawberries were looking at a 14 day withdrawal time but the peas & beans in the same or adjacent beds were getting hammered with pea moth and bean weevils .
 My Brassica's planted in single squares at the rate of one or two plants per a nine  square bed got slaughtered with cabbage white butterfly caterpillars.  There were so many I could not keep up with picking them off or squashing the eggs .
 So I resorted to a bug spray to knock them on the head,  that stopped me harvesting newly ripe tomatoes six days later as the tom withdrawal period was also a 14 day one , whereas the brassica period is only  5 days .
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