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How's My Plan Look

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How's My Plan Look

Post  BigTerp on 3/3/2015, 12:58 pm

Hi all!! New to the forum and SFG in general. I'm planning a 4x4 SFG for this year. Am using 2" x 10" untreated whitewood for my SFG box and plan to replace my soil down 18-24" or so below my box with a local mulch mans "garden blend soil". It's a mix of compost and finely sifted top soil. For the top 6" or so of my box I plan to use homemade Mel's mix. Using all Mel's mix would get expensive pretty quickly!! Sound good so far?

Now, for some more specific questions....I'm trying to keep my garden productive all year. I'd like to grow and harvest my cool season plants and then replace with warm season plants. But I'm not sure if I'll have the time to grow and harvest my cool season plants before my warm season plant are ready to go in the ground? I'm in zone 6B and my first plantings will be sometime at the end of March/beginning of April, depending on when Spring finally decides to arrive. For my first plantings I'm going with the following:

Peas - 2 squares - direct sowed seeds
Brocolli - 2 squares - direct sowed seeds
Cauliflower - 2 squares (I hear it's hard to grow, might go with something different?)
Potatoes - 2 squares
Onions - 2 squares - mail ordered from Dixondale farms. I'm excited for these!! Very Happy
Head and leaf lettuce - 2 squares - direct sowed seeds
Carrots - 2 squares - direct sowed seeds
Spinach - 2 squares - direct sowed seeds

So with the above, is what I'm planning to directly sow OK? Or should I go with transplants? All of these a good cool season choice?

My second planting will be somewhere around the first of June. I plan the following:

Replace my peas with pole beans - direct sowed
Replace my brocolli with tomatoes - transplants
Replace my spinach with celery - transplants

I'm still considering a few other things for the summer portion of my garden as I'll have a few vacant squares, just haven't decided on what quite yet. 

My main concern is not giving my cool season plants enough time to grow and harvest before I'm ready to plant my peas, tomatoes, etc. Will this be able to work?

Any other advice you all have on what I'm planning to grow? Maybe I have something planned for spring that should be a summer crop, or visa versa? I used a few resources to estimate when I should be planting certain things based on my USDA zone (6B). I'm planning on my lettuce and carrots to produce throughout the summer. But not sure they will handle the heat?

Sorry for such a long post!! This is my first attempt at SFG, and I'm really trying to have a solid plan in place so I can a productive garden. Thanks for any and all help/advice/tips!!!!!

BigTerp

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Re: How's My Plan Look

Post  Goosegirl on 3/3/2015, 2:55 pm

welcome Big Terp! Sounds like you have some plans! My only suggestion for your cool weather crops is to start things like your broccoli and cauliflower with transplants instead of from seed. For your first season, it may help give you some leeway with your timing. You can make adjustments the next season. Also, if you can leave the broccoli and put the tomatoes in place of something else, you may get some extra side shoots of broccoli after your main head harvest.

Can't wait to see pics of your progress. We love pics of the building, as well as the planting and growing - hint, hint!

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Re: How's My Plan Look

Post  sanderson on 3/3/2015, 3:30 pm

BigTerp,  Welcome to the Forum from California!  glad you\'re here I will let folks in your area respond to growing cool and warm weather crops as they are familiar with what will work in the region/zone.

Maybe I don't understand correctly.  You want to try Square Foot Gardening but you are going to dig the dirt down under the box?  My question is why?  For SFG you just set the box on the ground and build up.  Of course, first place weed fabric on the ground.  Your 2" x 10" untreated is perfect!  Add 6" of Mel's Mix and there is still room for mulching for summer water retention.   For carrots and potatoes you can add a "top hat" and raise the level of MM just in those squares.  Have you read the book?  All New Square Foot Gardening, 1st or 2nd Edition, by Mel Bartholomew?  If not, I strongly recommend that you get hold of a copy.  It explains things so simply.  And, if you then have questions, please feel free to ask.  We are here to help.  Very Happy Also, use the Search box where you will find lots of topics, like compost, top hat, raised beds, table top, etc.

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Re: How's My Plan Look

Post  yolos on 3/3/2015, 9:51 pm

I am not in your zone and don't know the date of your first and last frost. Also, it depends on what variety of plants you are growing.  They have different Days to Maturity (DTM).

Concerning your planting of peas and then pole beans.
Peas - 2 squares - direct sowed seeds

Replace my peas with pole beans - direct sowed



Here is a sample of my DTM for peas and DTM for beans.

I planted Wando shell peas on 3/2/14 (4 weeks before my last frost date so a little early) and harvested my first peas on 5/18/14 and the last of the harvest on 6/1/14.  That breaks down to 77 days until my first harvest and 90 days until my last harvest from the time they were sown.  They took longer than the package says because I planted them so early trying to beat the heat.  The package said 68 DTM.

I planted Rattlesnake pole beans on 4/21/14 and harvested my first beans on 6/13/14 and they just kept on producing for weeks and weeks.  That is a DTM of 53 days.

So what you have to do is first figure out when your first and last frost dates are so you know how long your growing season is.  Then you have to pick out what variety of peas/beans you are going to grow.  The seed packages will give you an average days to maturity.  But that is usually not accurate depending on your weather.  For instance, in order for my peas to mature before the weather gets too hot, I have to plant them early when it is still cold.  Therefore, the DTM is longer than what is stated on the package.

In the back of the "All New Square Foot Gardening" book there are charts that would help you make some of these decisions.  For instance it says, Peas - DTM 10 weeks, Pole Beans - DTM 9 weeks.

Hope that helps you get started.  Maybe someone will come along and help with your other questions.

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Re: How's My Plan Look

Post  BigTerp on 3/4/2015, 9:07 am

Thanks for the responses, I appreciate it!!!

Good idea on getting my broccoli and cauliflower started from transplants. Will give me a head start and reduce DTM. I've revamped my SFG plan a bit. Go

With my warm season plants, if I'm a little behind getting them in because I'm still harvesting my cool season plants, that's not a problem right? Things like pole beans, celery and tomatoes grow will all summer. Or is my thinking wrong here?

My last frost date is around the middle of April. We currently have below freezing tempertures with a few inches of snow/ice on the ground. Calling for 6-10 inches of snow tomorrow now as well  :shock:Hopefully things will warm up quickly so I can get my garden set up and in place before the end of the month. Weather permitting, I'd like to have all my cool season plants in the ground by the end of the month. For my cool season plants that I plan to replace, I'll be looking for varieties that have a quicker DTM. Which should help.

Yes, I plan to replace my soil below my box mainly because I have clay type soil with tons of river rocks. I live right next to the local river, so my soil is pretty crappy. Doing some research I decided that getting all the rocks out and at least double turning the soil below my box will be beneficial, especially for my root vegetables. Would prefer to do that once and be done, instead of messing with top hats.

The 4 squares on the north side of my box with have a conduit trellis. I plan to grow my peas, beans and tomatoes on it. Which leads me to my next questions. I'd like 2 tomato plants. One cherry and one "regular". Can I plant each of these in one square, or will they require 2 squares each? I've read a bit about growing tomatoes on a trellis, but not sure if that's the best way to do it in a SFG or not?

Thanks again for all your help!!

BigTerp

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Re: How's My Plan Look

Post  BigTerp on 3/4/2015, 10:55 am

Oh, and speaking of pictures. Here is my DIY compost tumbler I started over the weekend. Just about finished with it.




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Re: How's My Plan Look

Post  Turan on 3/4/2015, 12:28 pm

Welcome, BigTerp!
If your intention is to make a good sub soil for your beds of compost soil mixture then add something to keep it draining well.  I would add a bag of sand down there.  Root vegetables like that anyways.  It is nice, not required but nice, to have deep friable soil that you do not have to worry about plants growing down into or getting mixed with you MM.  What to watch out for is roots from trees finding these nice pockets, or perennial grasses.

Tomato spacing depends a lot on the type, indeterminate versus determinate, and how dedicated and ruthless a pruner you are.  It is going to be interesting with the beans and tomatoes together.  I suspect they will all merge and the beans will wind through the tomatoes and the tomatoes will use all the trellis.  I give each tomato an area 2ft x 15 inches.  I plant basil and marigolds and lettuce under the tomatoes using the space while the tomatoes grow.  I have a suspicion but not experience that it would work well but not tidily to plant your 2 tomatoes  evenly spaced on the trellis and then plant beans across the whole row.  Use transplanted tomatoes and beans from seed so the tomatoes have a head start on the beans.  

All of which brings me to keeping is simple for your first year.  Plant a indeterminate tomato on the trellis and a bush/determinate variety in a bucket.  Fill the rest of the trellis with beans.  Prune the tomato on the trellis but cage the one in the bucket and find out what works for you.  

Here is to thawing ground!

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Re: How's My Plan Look

Post  BigTerp on 3/4/2015, 1:39 pm

Thanks for the suggestions.

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Re: How's My Plan Look

Post  sanderson on 3/4/2015, 2:18 pm

@BigTerp wrote:Oh, and speaking of pictures. Here is my DIY compost tumbler I started over the weekend. Just about finished with it.



Cool! Just don't fill it all the way or it won't mix when you turn it. Some folks even put a couple of baffles inside to help with the mixing. Like a dryer.

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Re: How's My Plan Look

Post  BigTerp on 3/4/2015, 2:46 pm

@Turan wrote:Welcome, BigTerp!
If your intention is to make a good sub soil for your beds of compost soil mixture then add something to keep it draining well.  I would add a bag of sand down there.  Root vegetables like that anyways.  It is nice, not required but nice, to have deep friable soil that you do not have to worry about plants growing down into or getting mixed with you MM.  What to watch out for is roots from trees finding these nice pockets, or perennial grasses.


If I dig down another 12-18" or so below ground level, where should I put my sand? As a layer all the way at the bottom, or mixed in with the new "garden blend" soil I plan to put below ground level?

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Re: How's My Plan Look

Post  Turan on 3/5/2015, 1:39 am

I would mix it with your new "garden blend" soil that you were intending to put there.  You just want to make sure that that lower layer is especially  good at draining, especially when digging a pit in clay soil.

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