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Hello from central NY

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  littlesapphire on 1/19/2016, 7:28 pm

Mel, I know what you mean about not trusting the zones.  I'm technically in zone 5, but I've had several zone 5 plants die off the last couple of years.  So now I buy zone 4 plants whenever possible.

Sounds like you have a lot of garden building to do!  New gardens are fun, but I don't enjoy all the hard work that goes into them!  At least SFG is a lot easier than an in ground garden, right? 

Can't wait to see what your garden plan looks like Smile

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  MelF77 on 1/19/2016, 7:48 pm

I bought bush beans this year to save more vertical space for other stuff I prefer to grow up. As for the work, it shouldn't be too bad. My hubby builds the bed for me and I am finally springing for a rototiller this year. I do prefer tilling the ground beneath the bed first Before I put it down.

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  Scorpio Rising on 1/19/2016, 7:54 pm

Mel ,what do you grow vertically?

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  sanderson on 1/20/2016, 1:55 am

@MelF77 wrote:I am finally springing for a rototiller this year. I do prefer tilling the ground beneath the bed first Before I put it down.
Just a question, why do you want to till first?  No need to ever have to do it.  If weedy, start collecting cardboard to lay on the ground.  Then set the boxes on top and line with weed fabric.  Cover the cardboard in the isles with wood chips, gravel, etc.  Boxes can be set directly on brick or cement patios, driveways, or suspended in the air as in Table Tops. Another thing against rototilling first is that the ground will eventually sink and you may be left with pot holes that will fill up with water during the rainy season. Right now is a good time (or when the snow melts) to see where the low spots are and either fill in or avoid those locations.

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  Scorpio Rising on 1/20/2016, 6:24 am

I don't trust the zones either, especially for perennials. I am technically a zone 6a, but always go with zone 5 or lower for trees, shrubs, bushes, perennials basically. I have need burned too many times, especially with tender perennials like mums, lavender, etc.

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  MelF77 on 1/20/2016, 7:16 am

@sanderson wrote:
@MelF77 wrote:I am finally springing for a rototiller this year. I do prefer tilling the ground beneath the bed first Before I put it down.
Just a question, why do you want to till first?  No need to ever have to do it.  If weedy, start collecting cardboard to lay on the ground.  Then set the boxes on top and line with weed fabric.  Cover the cardboard in the isles with wood chips, gravel, etc.  Boxes can be set directly on brick or cement patios, driveways, or suspended in the air as in Table Tops.  Another thing against rototilling first is that the ground will eventually sink and you may be left with pot holes that will fill up with water during the rainy season.  Right now is a good time (or when the snow melts) to see where the low spots are and either fill in or avoid those locations.
Hi Sanderson

I have tried both just placing at least a 6" box on a bed of cardboard before filling and double digging under a 10" high box. I was very impressed by how much better the deeper rooted stuff did in the tilled box. I don't suggest anybody has to do it like this, but after seeing 1 season in the tilled box, I will repeat that with each new box I put in. I only do it once before I put the box down, After that I don't really mess with mixing the soil, just topdressing after cleaning the bed up or lightly raking organic fertilizers in. 
It is a lot more work double digging, that's why I'm buying an electric rototiller, so costs wise it isn't a lot because it's electric and I don't need anything powerfull because it's such a small area, just the boxs footprint.

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  MelF77 on 1/20/2016, 7:19 am

@Scorpio Rising wrote:Mel ,what do you grow vertically?
I have only grown tomatoes, pumpkins, winter squash and cucumbers so far vertically. I grow A LOT of different tomatoes though, so that's where most of my vertical space goes. I also would like to try and double my cucumbers plants this year.

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  trolleydriver on 1/20/2016, 1:34 pm

MelF, I'm a bit confused on what you are going to do with your SFG beds. Are you going to use Mel's Mix (MM) in the boxes or regular soil? Are you putting a weed barrier at the bottom of the SFG box before loading it with MM? Does rototilling the soil below the SFG box improve the drainage? As well, what are you top dressing with and why do you need organic fertilzer? Per Mel's book you just need to add good compost each time you replant a square.

It seems that from a SFG perspective you are making unnecessary work for yourself. SFG is designed to cut down on the labor and ongoing costs. As someone said, you can put an SFG box on top of concrete if you want to.

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  sanderson on 1/20/2016, 3:10 pm

I went back to the very beginning of this post regarding the compost that you always buy. I'm wondering why you get better results from double digging the dirt underneath so I'm thinking nutrients. Do you know what the compost is made from? Are there 5 different composting products in it including at least one manure? Are there visible wood chips? With the room you have for the garden, you may be able to build compost bins and make your own compost in the future. You would be able to control the ingredients, maybe make a drive to the coast for some seaweed for trace elements?

10" deep beds should be deep enough for almost anything you want to grow, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, etc. You can always add top hats to areas for deep root veggies if you want more height.

This is your garden. You have found what works the best for you. We respect your gardening style, folks, including me, are just thinking of how to make less work for you. Go Girl!!

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  MelF77 on 1/20/2016, 3:33 pm

Again, this is what I prefer to do, does not mean anybody needs to do it this way. I noticed a difference so I will keep doing it like this.

Yes, I put the mix together myself, heavy on the composted manure though, I didn't start adding vermiculite until 2 years ago. I don't need a weed barrier and never had. Before I tilled I went 2-3 layers of cardboard wet down under the boxes. Only 1 box I have done was 6" high, the rest I believe I did 10" or 12" high, so drainage was never really a problem for me, even with getting lots of rain. 

If I was just growing like greens or such, regular compost top dressing should be fine, but I like to grow heavy feeders, like tomatoes, summer/winter squash and such. Big on the tomatoes. I personally don't feel compost is enough. I use the premium veg, tomato by Dr. Earth. The past summer while we were debating on selling that house, I went and also added to my raised beds dolomite & azomite after watching some youtube videos. After we decided to put our house up for sale, I gave away ALL of my started heirloom/op tomatoes and just threw some basic romas in 1 bed. I think I had 3 romas and 2 cherries. Out of the 3 romas, 7 fruit had BER, that was it. This past summer was the best I ever had for tomatoes. I couldn't believe how well the romas did. I have grown basic romas before as my husband likes drier tomatoes, but they never did well for me until this past summer. This roma bed was 1 I had tilled underneath and it was either 8 or 10" high. 

I know I seem to be going overboard and it does cost me more, plus the work, but since doing these extra things I have been very happy so I will continue to do so.

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  sanderson on 1/20/2016, 4:43 pm

Very Happy

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  trolleydriver on 1/20/2016, 6:03 pm

MelF ... Many thanks for providing the detailed information about what works for you. By the way, I hope my questions did not come across the wrong way (i.e., as criticism). I just want to understand what you are doing as I like to learn new things and experiment. Last year was my first year with SFG and I had good success following what Mel wrote in his "All New Square Foot Gardening" book. I have not tried tomatoes yet in my SFG but that is a goal for the coming summer.

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  MelF77 on 1/20/2016, 6:14 pm

@trolleydriver wrote:MelF ... Many thanks for providing the detailed information about what works for you. By the way, I hope my questions did not come across the wrong way (i.e., as criticism). I just want to understand what you are doing as I like to learn new things and experiment. Last year was my first year with SFG and I had good success following what Mel wrote in his "All New Square Foot Gardening" book. I have not tried tomatoes yet in my SFG but that is a goal for the coming summer.
I use the sqf spacing, but do the other things slightly different. If your doing indeterminates, you really can do 1 plant per sqf but you have to prune to 1 stem. Great way to fit in many varieties.

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  MelF77 on 1/20/2016, 6:41 pm

@sanderson wrote:  With the room you have for the garden, you may be able to build compost bins and make your own compost in the future. 
I do have 2 bins that I set up as soon as we moved in. They should be enough to top dress, but to initialy fill the boxs I will need to have compost dumped. The place I order from has a 3 mix compost of leaf, mushroom and manure. Withe the other stuff I put in I think I'm covered. I bought bulk amounts off amazon last year and I only use a little at a time, should last me awhile.

I actually wish I could afford to do 2ft high beds so My male dog would just pee on the sides, not actually in the bed. I'm gonna have to think of something to deter him.

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  Scorpio Rising on 1/20/2016, 11:09 pm

@MelF77 wrote:
@Scorpio Rising wrote:Mel ,what do you grow vertically?
I have only grown tomatoes, pumpkins, winter squash and cucumbers so far vertically. I grow A LOT of different tomatoes though, so that's where most of my vertical space goes. I also would like to try and double my cucumbers plants this year.

NIce! I grew 4 Brandywines on poles and 2 Yukon gold potatoes in a 6 foot long x 18 inch width by 12 inch deep window box, and they did fine. I do think the extra depth for the deep feeders is helpful, but not necessary. I didn't have any of my own compost last year to use. Used blood and bone meal as a mix in. Had great results.

This method is pretty forgiving for wiggle room. Whatever you have (as in my set-up!) or what your priorities are (lots of roots, deep feeders, etc.) can go in a SFG with excellent results!

Also, I really messed up last summer and did not put in a single cucumber.....wah!

TD, you really really will LOVE those maters like your own kids! OK, no, not really, but they are THE highlight of the short summer gardens that us northerners cherish!!! And, for me, and my failed pepper year last year, I will cherish the peppers....fingers crossed sunny

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  MelF77 on 1/21/2016, 6:54 am

TD, you really really will LOVE those maters like your own kids! OK, no, not really, but they are THE highlight of the short summer gardens that us northerners cherish!!! And, for me, and my failed pepper year last year, I will cherish the peppers....fingers crossed 

Yes, I do cherish the tomatoes. I don't buy the fresh from the store and just wait until summer to grow my own. Nothing compares to a sun warmed tomato in the garden or real vine ripened tomato sandwichs.

Every year I have a hard time with my peppers. I am going to start them extra early for my zone this weekend, to have bigger plants. I was waiting for a trade to come in the mail and it arrived 2 days ago. Has all the hot peppers I'm trying this year. Hots are going in pots on the driveway and I'm still on the fence on whether my sweets are going in the ground. I'm gonna try to get 12 plants of the sweet peppers to see if it helps with just growing more plants to get more of a harvest?

Good luck to you Smile

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  AtlantaMarie on 1/21/2016, 7:55 am

I actually wish I could afford to do 2ft high beds so My male dog would just pee on the sides, not actually in the bed. I'm gonna have to think of something to deter him.[/quote]

Sounds kinda gross, but you might try peeing on them yourself. Stopped our dogs cold from peeing on the doghouse! Worked for about 6 months...

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  Scorpio Rising on 1/21/2016, 8:00 am

I usually do just fine with about 4 peppers total, put 2 in last year due to limited SF, and my typically prolific sweet banana got eaten down to a nubbin. So put in a late entry from Walmart, some Bonnie type bell, and got nada. Neither one even grew. thinking

Good thought to do some containers! I love a good jalapeño!

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  jimmy cee on 1/21/2016, 8:25 am

@AtlantaMarie wrote:I actually wish I could afford to do 2ft high beds so My male dog would just pee on the sides, not actually in the bed. I'm gonna have to think of something to deter him.

Rub his nose in it, whack him on the rump with a rolled up newspaper, he'll get the message then after a while.

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  MelF77 on 1/21/2016, 10:51 am

Sounds kinda gross, but you might try peeing on them yourself. Stopped our dogs cold from peeing on the doghouse! Worked for about 6 months...

Doesn't sound gross at all. I used human urine years ago to "try" Laughing Laughing Laughing to deter deer. 
May try this for the dog and will be tying pie pans every 4' or so. Greyhounds are very skittish and both may be enough. 

Good thought to do some containers! I love a good jalapeño!

Unless your in a warmer climate/longer season than me or using really high beds, I have read Hot peppers do better with abuse, underwatering and such. Containers fit that bill well. I have kept them alive, but don't get much of a harvest. Plus if I want to extend the harvest I can pull the pot with pepper plant instead and keep under my lights. I have HO t5's and plant leds. With both I should have no problem with keeping the plants alive even possible flowering till the following season. Have also read, which makes sense, that 2yr old plants produce a lot more than 1 year old plants. More of a reason to pull indoors if I like them. I may put my mild chilis in the ground in the flower beds though and keep the pots for the med-hot ones.

With the variety of med-hot that I am growing this year, I want to dry some, fire roast some to freeze or can and try my hand at some sauces. Should be exciting. At this new house, we have a double driveway that widens to a 4 car width and no trees right next to it. May keep the figs on the driveway as well since there's room, but I will have to keep my eye on the figs being watered.

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Re: Hello from central NY

Post  MelF77 on 1/21/2016, 10:59 am

Correction, years ago I did 1 of the purple small hot peppers in a foot high bed in the  corner and that 1 plant did produce well for me.

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Re: Hello from central NY

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