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Back to Basics

Post  deriter on 1/29/2015, 10:36 am

Well folks, we have moved from the country and back to town.  We had 2.3 acres in the country and now we have a lot that is 75 x 100.  So I have to plan the garden spot very carefully.  I have a tree in the back yard that will shade the garden in the early afternoon.  Then get late afternoon sunshine for a little bit.  Not sure just how much sun and shade as we moved here in October so will have to wait till the tree leafs out to see just how much shade there will be.


The thing is, we have black dirt here and I am going to try going back to the dirt style of gardening, but using the square foot planting methods.  Will you folks ban me from this web site?  I still have my square foot boxes, but wanted to try this soil.  We had such poor/bad soil were we were before.  But I figured with the soil being good, that it would be much cheaper to go back to the dirt.


Your thoughts please.

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  donnainzone5 on 1/29/2015, 11:11 am

I don't think you'd be banned here--although the dirt method generally entails more work, as well as weeds.

Why not try an experiment:  use some of that black dirt in a container or two vs. a container or two of Mel's Mix, and I think you'll have your answer, one way or the other.  You could even do this experiment indoors, before you begin your actual garden.

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  quiltbea on 1/29/2015, 11:41 am

I certainly won't ban you.  I started with top soil and a few amendments some years back but the SFG method from Mel's first book.  I've stretched myself a bit since then but still have perennial berms for asparagus and strawberries, and in the 3rd one I try all sorts of things; corn, potatoes, glad bulbs, extra plants.  My nine 4 x 4's are rotated each year and its been a fun adventure.  And I even put containers in my flower beds for herbs, tomatoes and peppers and have done well there.  I like to experiment so you're likely to find my methods get tweeked now and then.
Whatever you do, enjoy your garden, grow what you like best, and even if you get more shade than you like, there's always the brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc.) and greens.

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Turan on 1/29/2015, 12:20 pm

I never converted to the ANSFG.  My soil is too good to bother with MM.  I use many of the organizing ideas I learned in his original book back in the 80s.  My aim is to garden.  Welcome to here and enjoy!

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  has55 on 1/29/2015, 1:06 pm

deriter, I won't ban you, but would like to share my experience about your idea. 

I used the MM formula because the it basically weed free. WEEDS, that's what took over my soil or wasted my time getting rid of them.The MM formula did not help with my water problem. By that been resolved  with addition of coco coir and wooden mulched on top, which I learned from great suggestion from the great people on this forum that were willing to be open and share there results. 
This forum provides that kind of atmosphere.
I was an organic gardener for 3 years. My 4000 sq ft is rich and crumbly from years of adding leaves, horse manure and rotating green manure crop, compost tea and grass and leaf mulched for weed control . At the start I had solid red clay soil/dirt and would get water logged after the rains and sealed the surface preventing air circulation in the soil. so I had to cracked the soil around the plants with a hand hoe. the same with weeding. very time consuming.. 
but as the red clay became rich sandy loam soil, the plants grew very large, very beautiful with little insect problems or diseases.  the water logging stopped.  it can rain and rain and rain and never water logged . but I had one  problem still-WEED SEEDS/seedling. The dreaded WEED SEEDs. they are there in the thousands/millions.
at the beginning of my SFG journey, I moved the rich soil into some of my SFG beds and had the same results. great plants, but had to weed. grass mulched help tremendously, but never got rid of them.
Soooooo, I went all the way with the MM formula except for the additional amendments mention above. I took out the rich soil, put in back into the old farming field and applied the MM formula. it has been such a time saver and no frustration. do I still get weeds. Yes, but I can count them on my hands and toes. I guess it comes in on the wind. I have noticed since adding the BTE wood method to the SFG my weed count is almost nil. will see this year.
By the way, welcome.Smile

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  CapeCoddess on 1/29/2015, 1:26 pm

I use all different medium - MM, old school SFG and soil.  Most are covered with woodchips and/or seaweed.  I put grids on my ANSFG's only, but am considering them for my old school's this year.  I like the way the crops are inter-planted with the squares.  I think it confuses the pests.

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  mschaef on 1/29/2015, 1:34 pm

I won't ban you either. Why not look into the first sfg book by mel as it helps you fix your soil but uses the grids to help things stay a little organized.

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  deriter on 1/29/2015, 7:48 pm

I am so glad to hear that you folks won't ban me.  To tell you the truth, I did not think that would happen as there are just so many good people here.  We still have some common ground, we like to garden.  And I may very well start the sfg on a smaller scale to make comparisons and maybe get the boxes up on legs to save on the ole back a little.  And this would get away from the grass too.  We'll just see how it goes.

I am a little embarrassed about this thing though.  I forgot about the weeds.  Now how could one ever forget that.  I know that I did not have a lot of weeds with the square foot method before, but I did continue to fight the grass coming up from underneath.  Never got that figured out.  Probably be fighting both weeds and grass now. 

I am so glad to hear a few of you are still growing some garden in the soil.  At least maybe I will have someone to talk to. Very Happy

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Kelejan on 1/29/2015, 8:41 pm

glad you\'re here   deriter.  Everyone has said what I agree with so enjoy yourself here.

SFG is a great way to garden, but we all like to experiment a little, especially as some of us are on a tight budget.  happy hi

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  quiltbea on 1/29/2015, 9:53 pm

To cut back on weeds, don't double-dig or till your garden or dig down deep and turn over the soil.  You'll just be bringing up dormant weed seeds where the sun can germinate them.  Weed regularly by raking over the top inch or so of soil only unless you're pulling up a deeper root.  When you don't walk on your soil, it keeps it from compacting and easy to plant seeds and transplant seedlings without digging deep.   And don't forget to add that rich compost to the hole after you harvest a plant or add compost to the transplant hole or on top when you sow seeds.

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  sanderson on 1/29/2015, 11:37 pm

We all have something in common, wanting to grow healthy food. Plus, pests, diseases, hot sun, seedlings, etc. Very Happy

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  has55 on 1/30/2015, 10:09 am

@sanderson wrote:We all have something in common, wanting to grow healthy food.  Plus, pests, diseases, hot sun, seedlings, etc. Very Happy
+1

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  deriter on 1/30/2015, 1:12 pm

Too late quiltbea.  I tilled up a spot in December.  Here in Iowa, that does not happen often.  We had a few days of 40 and 50's so the frost went out and I jumped on that and got it tilled.  I have really eyed that lasagna type where you put layers straw and things plus compost.  That looks good to me also.  May give that a try at some point too.

At 68 years old, I had better be getting this all figured out don't cha think?

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Turan on 1/30/2015, 1:49 pm

deriter, Here in Montana I have fields thawing as well and buds on trees swelling.  It is January for crying out loud!  Any rate, I don't know when your planting season starts, but after tilling you can follow a lot of what QB was saying.  Wait for the soil to get a blanket of just germinated weed sprouts.  Stir that top inch to turn them to mulch and then plant your own seeds, or transplant.  This is a place where lots of transplants works well.  You can lightly mulch with anything from newspaper to grass clippings to straw etc and that will stop more weeds from germinating.  Add more mulch as plants grow etc.  Enjoy the dirt!

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  sanderson on 1/30/2015, 1:51 pm

deriter, As another young senior who started SFG in boxes 2 years ago, I agree it's a good time to get the garden in a position for the future. You mentioned a tree. The roots may eventually discover the rich gardening soil and come up through the bottom of the boxes. Three of us raised our boxes off the ground last year. Just a thought on the boxes. Enjoy your journey, and post photos! We love photos!

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Turan on 1/30/2015, 1:59 pm

PS, I wanted to add that the close growing of plants in SFG out competes most annual weeds.  Ma Nature hates a vacuum, if you do not plant in a spot she surely will.  Most of my annual weeds now a days are cilantro, orach, dill, sunflowers, broccoli raab, vegys I let go to seed and spread. 
Perrenial weeds like quack grass is a whole nuther matter.  They tunnel up from below through anything.

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  deriter on 2/8/2016, 12:46 pm

Holy cow, its a year later and a lot has happened since then.  I had a very good crop of tomatoes that we canned and gave away.  We had a pretty good crop of green beans that we canned also.  This black soil is awesome.  

The onions, cabbage, peppers, not so good.  I planted the peppers alongside of the tomatoes and I think they did not get enough sunshine.  The onions, well just not sure about them.  I never have been able to grow the large onions.  Got some new plans for that this spring.  The cabbage was ok, just not great.

Overall, I am pretty well satisfied with last year.  One thing that may help some is that I ended up cutting the tree that was shading the garden.  But having said that, I put a shed out there that will shade the garden some, just like what the house does.  So I don't see much change there.

Now I have a question for you all.  I have been saving a bunch of checks, receipts, etc.  Do think I can just till that stuff into the ground this spring?  What issues do you see with this?

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  AtlantaMarie on 2/8/2016, 1:40 pm

If it's shiny paper, don't do it. Anything else should be fine.

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  sanderson on 2/8/2016, 1:59 pm

Do you still have some SFG boxes along with the row garden? Any comparison between the crops from the 2 methods. You could always convert the row garden slowly by building boxes over the rows (max 4 ft wide) and top with compost. That should give you the best of your good black soil and SFG. ?? No more rototilling.

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  deriter on 2/8/2016, 2:24 pm

I did not use any sfg boxes last year.  Everything was planted in the dirt, but not in rows as in a traditional garden.  I used more of a wide row/sfg methods.  I tilled the ground to 4 feet wide.  I planted everything more accordingly to the sfg method except the tomatoes were in a row but were tied to a fence made from concrete reinforcement wire.  I also grew the cucumbers on that fence as well.

The biggest problem was the onions getting weeds.  Think I will mulch them in this year.  I don't want to have any bare ground showing if possible.

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Zmoore on 2/8/2016, 3:13 pm

@deriter wrote:..Now I have a question for you all.  I have been saving a bunch of checks, receipts, etc.  Do think I can just till that stuff into the ground this spring?  What issues do you see with this?
I'm not sure about directly.  I have some concerns about that, BUT I can tell you I have used SHREDDED checks,receipts, etc from home and office in my compost piles and I have been pleased with how well it quickly breaks down.  As AtlantaMarie says, avoid the "shiny" stuff and I think the other "rule of thumb" is colored ink.  Generally the high glossy inks and paper like used in magazines, avoid, newspaper print and receipts are fine.  Newspaper or checks can have colored ink, but typically I don't think it's the same "high gloss" ink like in magazines.  Anyway, I've used them in in compost piles, but as I said SHREDDED, I think the smaller "bits" helps it to break down faster.  

However, I use it in a compost pile first and let it mix and mingle and break down, THEN throw it on the garden.  Sounds like you're talking about "direct sow", so to speak.  Paper is a high carbon source and when you put it directly in the soil "raw" it should start to interact with existing nitrogen sources in the ground and breaking down.  Eventually it will end up storing the nitrogen in a plant available form (compost), but I don't think you want it competing for the same nitrogen source while you have plants in the ground also.

I think the answer is "yes", just get it in the ground well in advance of planting to give it a chance to break down before you plant and the smaller you shred or break the "raw" paper up the quicker it will deteriorate.  Paper and black ink generally attract worms also, they'll help you break it down Smile   I imagine the "shredded" comment is not an issue as for security reasons alone you wouldn't want to put whole checks or receipts in the ground only to have the wind carry a stray one or two away for someone else to find.  

On my own personnel experience I rank things from banana peel to leaves.  Banana peel being quickest to break down, it goes from "there it is" to... gone, pretty quick.  Leaves are on the "you're still here? end of the spectrum with egg shells, human hair, and saw dust.  Shredded paper fits just under banana peel and other raw vegetable matter on that end.

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  jjkimmyandericsmom on 3/22/2016, 10:55 am

@CapeCoddess wrote:I use all different medium - MM, old school SFG and soil.  Most are covered with woodchips and/or seaweed.  I put grids on my ANSFG's only, but am considering them for my old school's this year.  I like the way the crops are inter-planted with the squares.  I think it confuses the pests.

CC

Seaweed? I have never heard of using seaweed. /how does it work? The salt does not hurt the plants?

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  deriter on 3/22/2016, 11:19 am

I should have mentioned that all the checks, receipts, etc. are shredded.

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  CapeCoddess on 3/22/2016, 1:06 pm

@jjkimmyandericsmom wrote:
@CapeCoddess wrote:I use all different medium - MM, old school SFG and soil.  Most are covered with woodchips and/or seaweed.  I put grids on my ANSFG's only, but am considering them for my old school's this year.  I like the way the crops are inter-planted with the squares.  I think it confuses the pests.

CC

Seaweed? I have never heard of using seaweed. /how does it work? The salt does not hurt the plants?

Not yet, but then I usually gather it after a storm when it's piled up on the beach so the rains may have rinsed it. I don't know but I don't worry about it.

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  sanderson on 3/22/2016, 9:05 pm

JJ,  Oh, yes, seaweed/kelp for composting! Very Happy CA Pacific coast seaweed seems to be heavily coated with sand, but I rinse it off and chop it into 6" pieces.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t12481-kelp-meal?highlight=sea+weed+kelp

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t19020-sea-weed-kelp-cn-ratio-for-composting-caluclations?highlight=sea+weed+kelp

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