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New from Peoria, IL

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New from Peoria, IL

Post  jseyfert3 on 3/11/2015, 11:39 pm

Hey all,

New here. I work as a cashier at Lowe's and was idling browsing the books one dead winter day and Mel's book caught my eye. I read it a bit, got interested, and ordered it from the library. I will be buying it soon, since I'm already renewed it once and I haven't started a single seed yet!

A little background: I grew up in a family that always had a vegetable garden, although most years (later on) it was rhubarb, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and that was about it. In the past my family had grown more but I think it just kind of died down a bit.

Fast forward, and after moving out and living in an apartment for a few years, I bought a house in August of 2013, and was excited that there was already a vegetable garden area, unused except for lots of weeds as they had moved out and the house had been empty since May. Last year I planted tomatoes, way too many of them, bell peppers, and jalapeno peppers, all from transplants (note a pattern here?). I ended up being gone except every few weekends on an internship, and the rabbits ate all my pepper plants before I could put up rabbit fence, and the last plants I thought were peppers turned out to be some sort of bush type weed or something. I then tried planting watermellon from a discounted seed pack at the end of June. They popped up after a few weeks and sat as brown plants a couple inches high for weeks on end, suddenly springing back to life and growing out too about 3-4 feet long just in time for the first frost of the year.

This year, with plans to try out SFG, as well as plant a few things in my traditional garden until I got a feel for it, me and my GF looked through VictorySeeds.com and bought $50 worth of seeds, exactly what Mel says NOT to do. Ah well, we'll give it a go and learn from it next year! Laughing 

We got basil, green beans, cauliflower, lettuce, parsley, spinach, endive, lavender, oregano, thyme, carrot, bell pepper, sunflowers, celery, sweet corn, popcorn, onion, sugar pumpkin, Jack O'Lantern pumpkin, tomato, sugar watermelon, hot pepper and blue flax, the last one thrown it since we were $1.50 short of free shipping. One thing I realized happens from buying what "looks good" is that I realized after the purchase that corn cross pollenizes and we won't be able to grow sweet corn and popcorn together, possibly not even in the same year. (Or maybe we can just stagger the start times so the pollination time doesn't match?)

I'm still looking and planning but I'm thinking we'll end up with two boxes this year. I picked up some cedar fence boards from Lowe's since they were just a little more expensive then plain 2x6x8's and I figured the cedar would last longer. I do plan on growing some stuff in the garden still, probably the corn and the pumpkins. Also got peat moss from Lowe's as I get 10% off but the local landscape supply/nursery sells vermiculite cheaper than Lowe's, as well as bulk compost (one a mix of cow manure and landscape waste, the other mushroom), 2 of the 5 types I need. I know the mix compost is $60 a ton, which I found is about 50 cubic feet (searching that is how I found this forum!), and you don't buy an entire ton, you drive in, they weigh your car, you shovel what you need and they weigh you on the way out and charge for the portion(s) you buy.

The seeds are in so a trip will be made to the nursery tomorrow after I get out of school to buy the vermiculite so I can start the 10 week before frost seeds (cauliflower and onion). Last frost date here is May 6th, so I found this book at the perfect time for getting things going early.

Can't wait to see everything come in this summer/fall, and looking forward to learning and sharing ideas here. And I love my DSLR and taking picture (when I have the time), so you will for sure see lots of picture updates on my progress and detailed pictures when I have questions.
Cheers!
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jseyfert3

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Location : Peoria, IL (USDA Zone 5a)

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Re: New from Peoria, IL

Post  sanderson on 3/12/2015, 3:20 am

jseyfert3, Welcome to the Forum from California! glad you\'re here I'm very happy for you. First, that you were able to buy a house. Second, that you have a garden area. bounce

Since the area had weeds, putting down weed fabric or cardboard, some kind of weed barrier will be important. Something some of us have had to deal with are roots from near by trees and shrubs. These plants LOVE Mel's Mix and will reach over and come up through the weed barrier! What a Face So, we have elevated our beds a few inches, safely out of reach. I predict that once you have tried the boxes, you will convert the rest of the garden to boxes. Even for corn and watermelons. Just makes things so much easier to clean, water, plant and actually becomes quite a pleasing looking area. To keep the weeds out of the the isles, place heavy duty weed barrier on the ground and cover with plain wood chips or other cover. Planting the 2 types of corn at different pollinating times sounds good. If you can spring for it, an irrigation system is good. One with a timer is even better so you can go out of town occasionally.

Another thing I would encourage is making your own compost. That way you can control what is in it and ensure multiple sources/types of ingredients. And peat moss, don't forget to fluff it before measuring. 4 cu feet compressed will fluff to almost 8 cu feet. If you buy commercially bagged compost, check for peat moss content. You may have to reduce the 1/3 part of peat moss accordingly. For vermiculite, try to get large coarse vermiculite. Medium will work also, just that coarse is nicer.

Please take photos of your journey. We love photos! And, if you have any questions, please ask. We are here to help you get going (and keep going).

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sanderson

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Re: New from Peoria, IL

Post  AtlantaMarie on 3/12/2015, 9:32 am

Hi Jesyfert3.  Welcome from Atlanta, GA!

Nice that you get the discount...  That will help in the long run, for sure.

Be sure to ask questions.  We just LOVE to give advice here... Razz
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Re: New from Peoria, IL

Post  jseyfert3 on 3/14/2015, 1:51 pm

@sanderson wrote:
Since the area had weeds, putting down weed fabric or cardboard, some kind of weed barrier will be important.  Something some of us have had to deal with are roots from near by trees and shrubs.  These plants LOVE Mel's Mix and will reach over and come up through the weed barrier! What a Face  So, we have elevated our beds a few inches, safely out of reach.  I predict that once you have tried the boxes, you will convert the rest of the garden to boxes.  Even for corn and watermelons.  Just makes things so much easier to clean, water, plant and actually becomes quite a pleasing looking area.  To keep the weeds out of the the isles, place heavy duty weed barrier on the ground and cover with plain wood chips or other cover.  Planting the 2 types of corn at different pollinating times sounds good.  If you can spring for it, an irrigation system is good.  One with a timer is even better so you can go out of town occasionally.  

Another thing I would encourage is making your own compost.  That way you can control what is in it and ensure multiple sources/types of ingredients.  And peat moss,  don't forget to fluff it before measuring.  4 cu feet compressed will fluff to almost 8 cu feet.  If you buy commercially bagged compost, check for peat moss content.  You may have to reduce the 1/3 part of peat moss accordingly.  For vermiculite, try to get large coarse vermiculite.  Medium will work also, just that coarse is nicer.
I'm actually planning to put the first boxes out front, in the front yard by the corner of my driveway and walkway to the house. But tree roots will be an issue when I start putting boxes in the garden area in the back, there are tree roots already I tear out while tilling. Raised boxes sound like a good idea.

An irrigation system won't happen, at least this year. Already spending enough to get going. Shocked

I do plan on making my own compost, in fact I have a worm composter almost built (just needs paint, today would be perfect to finish that). I wanted the worm composter as that will allow year round composting.

The local nursery only had medium grade vermiculite, so I got a 4 cubit foot bag for $30 and I'll use that for now.

I got a bunch (200 lbs) of "Better Earth Compost" at the local nursery, then 420 lbs of mushroom compost. Both $60/ton, so all told it was $30. The Better Earth Compost is 50% landscape waste and 50% cow manure, and has a lot of tiny sticks, so I will have to sift through it. The mushroom compost was not in a covered bay, so it was a bit wetter and so weighed more, and he dumped in a little more then the other stuff. Ah well, skidsteers are not precise measuring tools. Very Happy

Also got two 150 W equivalent CFL lights (40 W, soft white, 2720 Lumens) from Lowe's with the clamp on reflectors for the seedlings. Have not started the seedlings yet, that will happen this afternoon.

I should probably post a thread detailing my adventures, with pictures, where I can ask questions in a more proper location. Smile
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jseyfert3

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Re: New from Peoria, IL

Post  Kelejan on 3/14/2015, 4:42 pm

:welcome:jseyfert3 happy hi from Kelejan of Canada.
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