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Ready to get started in Texas

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Ready to get started in Texas

Post  drradcliffe on 2/23/2015, 9:15 am

I'm Dawn and I live near Houston, Texas.  Hot and muggy!  I'm looking forward to starting my first SFG and learning through this forum.

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Re: Ready to get started in Texas

Post  sanderson on 2/23/2015, 12:54 pm

Hi, Dawn, Welcome to the Forum! glad you\'re here You have come to the right place for support! We are a gabby group, and the folks are happy to help you get going. Have you read All New Square Foot Gardening, 1st or 2nd Edition, by Mel Bartholomew? Getting 5 different types / sources of compost seems to be the hardest part of getting started. Please feel free to ask questions. And, we love photos!!

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Re: Ready to get started in Texas

Post  AtlantaMarie on 2/24/2015, 8:25 pm

Hi Dawn.  Wecome from Atlanta, GA.  You'll find quite a few folks from TX here.

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Re: Ready to get started in Texas

Post  has55 on 2/24/2015, 8:35 pm

Welcome Dawn, from Denton, Tx outside of Dallas, tx.

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Hi Dawn

Post  taywood on 2/26/2015, 12:21 pm

I'm Irene and I'm NW of Houston..near Lake Conroe.  I know what you mean when you say you are ready to get started...me too.  I've already started some of my seeds inside and I'm preparing my SFG outside.  Hope to see you on here!!  It's always nice to have others that are local.

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Last years mess and this years trial

Post  scruffyfeathers on 3/25/2016, 7:24 pm

Hats off to Michael Cochran. Last year I lost most of my top soil and amendments because my garden would not drain properly. Actually, it wouldn’t drain at all. I purchased the property last year and was very anxious to start a large garden. I soon discovered I could only scratch the surface with my tiller. To make matters worse, I had a severe drainage problem.



It wasn’t barren land by any means. Reed grass and cat-tails flourished easily reaching seven feet tall. Unfortunately, there was no market for them. Moreover, the ubiquitous deep and long lasting puddles strongly suggested tadpoles and guppies may be a suitable cash crop but I wanted veggies: Corn, Tomato, beans and such.







On the 26th of February Mike Cochran answered my ad and came by to give me a price for the work I needed done. It’s a ¼ acre of land so Mike suggested we try using his sub-soiler rather than a turn plow . He set the depth at 20 inches to cut deep into the hard packed clay. His tractor never even grunted as the ground heaved with each pass.



After Mike left I set the depth guide on my pull behind tiller at ten inches and followed the cuts Mike made in the clay. He had made two passes in the East/West direction so my little 638RL pulled the tiller with ease. It was slow going, but the clay pulverized into fine granules. It looked great but I knew unless I added some wood chips and compost the clay would undoubtedly form a non-permeable lakebed after just a few rains.



For more than a year I had collected 186 yards of wood chips and 16 yards of compost so I dressed each row with a liberal topping of the aged chips and tilled them into the clay. Next I topped each row with some rich compost and tilled that in. It was looking good. The following day I went to Akins and purchased 1,200 pounds of lime. According to the county agent, I should use no less as the PH was at 5.3 so I tilled the lime as well. Admittedly, that’s a lot of tilling. Some may fault me with being a bit over zealous. Not so. It is doubtful there were any bio colonies living in that clay. Besides, I learned last year that a heavy dew could cause a run off of any amendments near the surface. I had an extreme problem so I figured it would be best to really work the organic matter into the clay as deep and best I could.



The initial ground braking Mike had done looked challenging but now it was taking shape. Looking good. Several days later it rained. Last year even after a light drizzle my unwanted lake would reach full pool in just a matter of minutes. This was a torrential downpour. Every ten minutes I would look out the window expecting to see the water level rise in my back yard. It didn’t appear. As a further test the following night it rained again and by the sound of the drops pounding on the roof I suspect it was an even harder rain than the day before.



Morning’s light would certainly reveal if Mike’s suggestion to use a sub soiler held merit. Brenda and I got up at our usual time and started our coffee at 6:00 O’clock on the dot. It seemed as though the rising sun took forever to dissolve the twilight. Brenda was becoming rather annoyed as every five to ten minutes I would get up from the table and squint while looking out the window trying to force the shadows of the night to recede.



Mike’s sub soiler seemed to do the trick. Not a single puddle. My drainage problem had been solved. Now it is time to see just how green my thumb is. Thanks, Mike, things are really looking great here!

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Re: Ready to get started in Texas

Post  Scorpio Rising on 3/25/2016, 10:28 pm

Yay! What is a sub soiler thinking

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Re: Ready to get started in Texas

Post  No_Such_Reality on 3/25/2016, 10:51 pm

@Scorpio Rising wrote:Yay!  What is a sub soiler thinking

A specialized hard pan breaking deep plow.

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Re: Ready to get started in Texas

Post  ralitaco on 3/26/2016, 1:01 am

@drradcliffe wrote:I'm Dawn and I live near Houston, Texas.  Hot and muggy!  I'm looking forward to starting my first SFG and learning through this forum.

Dawn, Welcome from NC. You have come to the right place. Everyone that posts has been super helpful and nice and I know I have learned a ton through this forum.

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Re: Ready to get started in Texas

Post  sanderson on 3/26/2016, 2:42 am

Scruffy, What an improvement! Will you be topping those rows with manures and more compost, maybe another inch or two of wood chips as mulch, this season or next? You can transform that clay pond to something beautiful. Keep us posted. PS: Still have your little helper?

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Re: Ready to get started in Texas

Post  Scorpio Rising on 3/26/2016, 7:46 am

@No_Such_Reality wrote:
@Scorpio Rising wrote:Yay!  What is a sub soiler thinking

A specialized hard pan breaking deep plow.

Thanks, NSR!

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Re: Ready to get started in Texas

Post  AtlantaMarie on 3/27/2016, 8:45 am

Scruffy, I'm really looking forward to seeing what you can do with it now!!

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sub soiler.

Post  scruffyfeathers on 3/27/2016, 9:27 am

@Scorpio Rising wrote:Yay!  What is a sub soiler thinking

A sub soiler is an implement that digs straight down as much as 24 inches. I was reading material Mike had given me where a lot of truck farms are getting away from plowing and tilling so they use the sub soiler. There are lots of informative pros and cons in many articles.



My land had an old auto body shop on it and the vast area of my garden was used as a parking lot so the compaction was intense. The sub soiler ripped through it as though it was nothing and opened a pathway for rain to penetrate well below the compacted clay.

 

It looks like a single tooth of a ripper but it is about three feet in length and can be set at various depths

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Pee-wee, chips and manure

Post  scruffyfeathers on 3/27/2016, 9:44 am

@sanderson wrote:Scruffy,  What an improvement!  Will you be topping those rows with manures and more compost, maybe another inch or two of wood chips as mulch, this season or next?  You can transform that clay pond to something beautiful.  Keep us posted.  PS:  Still have your little helper?

Hey Sanderson,


Most importantly, yes, I still have Pee-Wee. He turned out to be such a great field hand and machine operator that Brenda and I elected to keep him on.



Yes again on your other questions. I still have about 40 yards of aged wood ships and about three yards of compost currently cooking. I followed your suggestion and have cardboard under the woodchips in the asiles. I also collected about 800 pounds of coffee grounds during the winter months. Just this week I made a deal with two riding stables that have agreed to give me all the manure I need providing once I start a stall, I must finish it. Not a problem as I have plenty of space around here to store it and let it age.



Regarding the wood chips. An older neighbor (in his mid 80’s) told me that if I scattered “dry dog food” in layers amongst the chips and keep them moist that it helps break down the chips faster. I was skeptical so tried it on a small pile of chips. It worked just like he said it would.



As it is, to feed Pee-Wee’s brothers and sisters I already buy 600 pounds of dry food each month at a special price. If I can get the dry food cheeper I will consider getting enough to break down more chips.



I have an agreement with Asplundh and a local Tree service to empty their trucks when ever they are in the area. I never know when they will show up, but they are continuing to stop by and I have yet to tell them I have enough. I figure in two or three years this red clay will be a thing of the past.

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Where I am going with this.

Post  scruffyfeathers on 3/27/2016, 9:53 am

@AtlantaMarie wrote:Scruffy, I'm really looking forward to seeing what you can do with it now!!
Hey AtlantaMarie,

Las year's garden was not a completer failure but I did loose a lot of crops.  Plus, just about everything I planted came p "stunted".  It tasted good, but my ears of corn looked more like Okra and my melons never got larger than soft balls.

I lost all my onions and squash.  Cukes survived but did poorly.  The main thing that I have learned here is how to care for the plants and the soil.  I do expect this year to be better than last, but I suspect it will take another year of preparation before I can really make a go at this.

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Asparagus Bed

Post  scruffyfeathers on 3/27/2016, 10:35 am

@AtlantaMarie wrote:Scruffy, I'm really looking forward to seeing what you can do with it now!!
Oh, I almost forgot, url=https://servimg.com/view/19235712/86][/url]


On the South side of the house I get full sun year round. I was going to place my winter garden here but opted for an Asparagus patch instead. Mike cut a 16’ x 40’ area with the sub-soiler here as well.



While I do have red clay here too, it wasn’t as tightly compacted as the garden area. Even so, I went berserk with the compost and chips in this area as well. I added so much that it raised the rows about 10 inches above grade so I spread chips around the border and in the aisles to creates a raised bed without wood planks or sides.



I planted 126 two year and three year Asparagus crowns here just a few weeks ago. Already more than 50% have risen and each day I see a few more breaking the surface.



In the upper right hand corner I transplanted 5 Brussel Sprout plants from the garden. I had originally planted them in the wrong section of the garden where they didn’t get any direct winter sun so they were badly stunted. In just a few weeks they have grown at least a foot and the little sprouts are forming all over them. I will post a close up picture later today.

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Winter Garden

Post  scruffyfeathers on 3/27/2016, 2:22 pm

@AtlantaMarie wrote:Scruffy, I'm really looking forward to seeing what you can do with it now!!

Here are a few pictures of the Brussel sprouts I mentioned.    I planted them last August in a really bad spot.url=https://servimg.com/view/19235712/89][/url] The sun was still high in the sky when I chose a location for my winter garden. By the time my cole plants took hold the sun had shifted behind the tree line and from then on my winter garden only got filtered sun a few hours of the day with no direct sun at all.



In February when Mike cut my Asparagus bed I figured I had nothing to lose by transplanting the Brussel sprouts in the full sun. I had removed most of the older sprouts from the stalk as they had started to open. These pictures show mostly new sprouts.



My garden runs true East and West so during the summer I get full sun at least 10 hours a day. However, on the south side of the garden I have a very high tree line that blocks more than 60% of my garden from getting any winter sun. Next fall I will move my winter garden to the North side of the garden where it will get at least 6 hours of winter direct sun as the Southside tree line will not block the sun at that location. This is where I planted my carrots and they did really great.url=https://servimg.com/view/19235712/90][/url]

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Re: Ready to get started in Texas

Post  AtlantaMarie on 3/28/2016, 7:14 am

THAT is terrific!!

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Re: Ready to get started in Texas

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