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New to gardening....

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New to gardening....

Post  dansamy on 5/10/2010, 6:31 pm

It started with a Boy Scout project. Really. It did. We built a 4x4 box for my son for his BS gardening badge. He had to plant 3 veggies from seedlings, 3 from seeds, 3 flowers from seedlings and 3 from seeds. So, we built a box and bought "garden soil" for it. This was prior to buying the SFG book. Those plants are just gonna have to suck it up and make do! (We don't have topsoil here. We have clay. Red clay. Which you can't get out of clothing. No matter what you wash it with.)

I had been thinking about starting a little garden for a while. My son's project just kind of ignited that fire a little more. We bought lumber and we have built a box 3x12. (I know the book is negative towards 3ft wide boxes, but that's what fits where this box has space available to put it. I plan to plant accordingly.) If the 3ft wide box poses a problem, our next one will be built 2ft wide.

Now for an actual introduction....

My name is Amy. I am married and have 3 children. We live in lower Alabama. We're probably 50-75 miles from the coast. I think our "zone" would be 8A. I'm not even sure what that means! This is my first foray into trying to actually keep a plant alive. I plan to plant my new box tomorrow and Wednesday. And we'll see what we get!

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Re: New to gardening....

Post  camprn on 5/10/2010, 6:58 pm

glad you\'re here It's a strange affliction, wanting to grow lots of plants. Welcome to the mysterious and rewarding , though at times aggravating, world of gardening. Cheers!
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Re: New to gardening....

Post  Wyldflower on 5/10/2010, 7:07 pm

Welcome, Dansamy... It's amazing how hard that gardening "bug" can bite!

No worries about a three-foot wide box.... there's nothing wrong with that. The only thing, I think, that Mel said was NOT to make your boxes wider than four feet. Anything wider would be difficult to reach the middle squares. I've got a three-foot wide box, and it works well for me. OH... are your boxes up against a wall or a fence and you can only reach them from one side? In that case, this may be an adventure!

Do what works!
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Re: New to gardening....

Post  timwardell on 5/10/2010, 10:25 pm

Welcome to the world of SFG! I have a raised bed that is 3' wide and 24' long and can assure you that 3 feet works just fine. Granted I have access from both sides... if your's is up against a wall or fence, just be sure to plant the tall stuff in back and short stuff in front.
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Re: New to gardening....

Post  timwardell on 5/10/2010, 10:27 pm

One more thing... if you want some local area specific advice, check out the Regional Forums by going to the main forum page and scrolling down a bit. You'll see one for Coastal & Tropical South. There should be other coastal SFGers there that you can get help from.
Best of luck with your garden! Very Happy
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Merit badges gone wild

Post  SirTravers on 5/10/2010, 11:47 pm

I can attest to the merit badges gone wild. My brother and I did rabbit raising merit badge. That turned into a 3 or 4 year ordeal, but we had plenty of compost material and plenty to eat as we did gardening at the same time haha! Welcome to the group. Smile

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Re: New to gardening....

Post  Shoda on 5/11/2010, 1:07 pm

Welcome to the forum! Our family has done a little bit of vegetable growing in the past but it was my twins 4-H group that really got us started! I think your 3' wide beds will be great especially for the kids. We went with 4' wide just because I wanted as much garden space as possible but the middle of the beds are a bit of a reach even for me!

How old are your kids? My three are 10, 10, and 15. (Yup, twins)

We look forward to hearing more about your garden. Please post pictures if you get a chance!
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Re: New to gardening....

Post  dansamy on 5/12/2010, 1:58 am

DS10, DD9 and DS8. The eldest is in BS. The youngest is still in Cubs. In the Boy Scout box, we have:

  • 2 tomato plants, which if they bear anything at all will be way more tomatoes than we normally eat! (Except my dd, she'll eat them like you would any other fruit. Plain, raw...just bite it and chew.)
  • 1 burpless bush cucumber hybrid. The label claims it will only vine about 2'
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 strawberry plants, which I don't expect to do very much this year since we are so late starting this project
  • some mixed wildflowers and marigolds
  • some carrot seeds
  • some cilantro seeds (it'll be a miracle if any of the seeds actually sprout, much less provide any edibles)

We did not divide the Scout box into any squares or plan anything at all regarding it. Pretty much, DH asked DS what he wanted to plant and that's what they planted. The only planning that went into it was building a sturdy box.

My 3x12 box is indeed by the house. There's a small space behind it but certainly not a 3ft wide path. I needed it to not jut in front of the steps by too much. If it proves too difficult to tend plants in the rear row, we'll make it into 2 rows deep by spacing future plantings a little wider. It'll be 24 large squares instead of 36 smaller ones. They'll just have a little more room. In it, I have planted:

  • 8 squares corn
  • 1 square lima beans
  • 1 square radishes
  • 3 squares cabbage
  • 2 squares string beans
  • 2 squares purple hull peas
  • 2 squares lettuce
  • 1 square endive
  • 1 square thyme
  • 2 squares chard
  • 2 squares squash
  • 1 square eggplant
  • 3 squares okra
  • 1 square cantelope
  • 4 squares watermelon (which is just one planting of watermelon in the center of the 4 squares. It's on one end of the box.
  • I'm missing 2 squares that I can't recall off the top of my head. I'm not going outside in the middle of the night to look!


I'll be thrilled if any of it even sprouts. Like I said, I've never deliberately attempted to grow anything. I can kill an air plant. Some of that stuff is a little late in our season to really do much. I think the okra will probably die. I picked out the best looking seedlings from the store, but they were still sort of pitiful. It amazes me that our forefathers were able to keep themselves fed with far less information and technology than we have. I know that it was due to the fact that they had to plant 10x what was needed because they'd only harvest 10-20% of the crop and that was considered a good crop. When I read about soil pH, nitrogen, acid, etc, my eyes glaze over! I'd have starved 100 years ago!

I know I need trellises and cages for the cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and melons. What about okra? Will it need support? A whole cage or just a stick? (That's if it lives!)

And is it just me, but does 1 square foot look awfully tiny?

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Re: New to gardening....

Post  WardinWake on 5/12/2010, 5:59 am

I know I
need trellises and cages for the cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and melons.
What about okra? Will it need support? A whole cage or just a stick?
(That's if it lives!)

And is it just me, but does 1 square foot
look awfully tiny?

Howdy Amy:

Yep, one square foot does look small. However, it works! And the grids show you just how much you can grow in a small space.

Okra does not need any support. In the south they can grow up to 7 feet tall and will be just fine as a free standing plant.

God Bless, Ward.


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