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Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

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Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  Nomadic1 on 9/8/2016, 11:53 am

Hi everyone,
I'm an American in Rome (+20 years now), but tentatively will be gardening in a town near Rieti (1.5 hours from where I live). You gotta love long distance gardening... or maybe just gardening?  Wink Logistically, I don't plan on going up more than about once a month(spring to late fall), except more in August/harvest times.  Though other family will go up at different times in decent weather.  SFG beds an inherently easier to maintain than traditional gardens.
SFG is new to me, but I've already read a tremendous amount about it, incl., Mel's book. . My wifes' family has a place up there and a detached garden (1/4 acre?) her dad used to tend (too old now) with some fruit trees, raspberry bushes (tied up like grape vines) et al. more than enough room for 1-4 raised beds though 5 fruit tress weren't well placed.He also did traditional gardening, mostly tomatoes. They also live in Rome.  Since we're heading into the fall (though still beach weather here, for another month or 2 actually sunny sorry, not to rub it in).  I'm just working out the whats, hows and wheres for next season.  No running water on site, he always used a rain barrel (think HUGE water tank) and filled it from a relatively close stream by pumping it (gas powered) when there wasn't enough rain water collected from the roof of the small storage building on the property.  But the sister is seriously considering putting in a municipal water line (for agricultural use) and if she does, I'll move ahead as she suggested I re-develop the garden, but everything hinges on that as pumping the water is no longer feasible due to nasty barrier overgrowth of adjacent railroad land... which the external path ran alongside of.
So municipal water supply; water timer; slightly buried soaker hose in raised bed, the walls of which will probably be made from cinder blocks as I like the holes/idea of planting strawberries or maybe carrots, onions or something! Plus the holes on the ends/corners can be easily fitted with pvc pipe to create a removable cover, as may needed for various circumstances. I'm leaning towards 12" height, but might settle for 6", we'll see as the block sizes are different here; I can always add another row of blocks on top!  I already figured out how I will deal with the abundant snails... electric fence (9 volt battery & wire strips) mounted around the sides of the bed.  While SFG doesn't require mulch, I will probably put down plastic mulch, not for the weeds of which I don't expect many... if any, but to keep out cats Twisted Evil from using the sfg bed as their toilet (btw, I like cats, not their poo in my garden though.. and I'm in fact slightly allergic to cats) and also to conserve water (less evaporation) since sfg beds need more water. Mostly black plastic, but I will lay red plastic mulch for the strawberries & tomatoes, as university studies prove it helps.  I'll cover most of the garden (non sfg parts) with pine needles that I can collect for free in the vast pine forests near the beach here as weeds were a problem this spring and they had to pay someone to come cut them.  In fact, if I go up again this fall, I might just do that so it's done for next spring!I can just see the toll booth keeper getting on the phone with the cops about some guy in a car overflowing with big bulky garbage bags... of some plant material. Laughing   I spent several days in August doing maintenance on the raspberries/fruit trees and some pruning and much general straightening up, seeing where the sun came up/set; tracked shade. I'm definitely keeping the sfg bed organic.  I'm leaning towards an initial 4x8 bed (or maybe 2 - 4x4s), but might do a single 4x4 instead, as a proof of concept, as I might need to convince family that it works! 
Well, I think I covered everything. Sorry for the message length Embarassed , but I figured I'd just put it all out there now in this intro message... for those who might be interested!?  I'll keep you posted, when there's something new to report!

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Re: Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  sanderson on 9/8/2016, 12:28 pm

Hi Nomadic, Welcome to the Forum from California, U.S. glad you\'re here Thank you for such a good and thorough introduction of your plans. It sounds like you are doing the research before initiating.

It's just a coincidence that I live in a Mediterranean climate belt 1,000s of miles away from you. Tomatoes, peppers, grapes and melons. Mild winters so I can grow kale, Swiss chard, garlic, onions, broccoli, etc., during the winter with minimum protection during hard freezes. In the hot summer, I use cut up wheat straw as mulch on the beds, plus a semi-shade cloth over head when the temps get above 100*F.

We love photos so please post photos of your journey. You can keep using this same thread as your own. If you have any question, please feel free to ask away if you can't find an answer through the Search box or just want to run something by us. Again, Welcome. Very Happy


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Thanks for the welcome Sanderson

Post  Nomadic1 on 9/8/2016, 1:49 pm

Actually here in Rome we've got very mild winters, rarely snow, and the summers rarely if ever see 100.  Blessed in that its' west faces the sea and various mountains have its' N & E back, against many storms/arctic blasts.  But the SFG is going to be subject to snow in the winter, as it's in the mountains in the north near Rieti.  A neighbor said he planted his tomatoes 3x Shocked this spring/year as they had hail, then torrential rain another time that flooded his garden out.  I'm confident the SFG (raised bed, with possibility to add various coverings) will help me avoid unusually harsh weather.  Though, since I don't live THERE (abt an hour and a half away), I will have to hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Wink

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Re: Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  trolleydriver on 9/8/2016, 2:00 pm

Welcome Nomadic from Ottawa, Canada 

The people on this forum are very knowledgeable, always willing to answer questions and provide advice. I am sure you will enjoy being part of the group and providing your own input to this great forum.

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Thanks trolleydriver!

Post  Nomadic1 on 9/8/2016, 2:23 pm

Yes I look forward being part of this group.  We're all grubbing in the dirt.... ummm Mel's Mix  Wink together, for some choice, tasty morsels!

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Re: Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  Kelejan on 9/8/2016, 3:51 pm

glad you\'re here Nomadic1  happy hi

from Kelejan :canada: in British Columbia, Canada.

What do you mean, might be interested?

We certainly are interested.  Yours is a bit more unusual than what most of us do; fancy looking after your stuff once a month? I take it is several days at a time, get everything cleared up and planted, then back again in a month's time to clear up and weed and back in a month's time to harvest, and clear and plant etc. etc.

Perhaps you can re-word your title to something like "Nomadic's Diary in Italy." so that it can easily be found? 

I think we are going to enjoy this.

As sanderson has said, keep this thread as your own, that will give you a good record of what you have accomplished each year and what can be done better etc.

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Re: Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  Scorpio Rising on 9/8/2016, 9:30 pm

Hey there Nomad, from Ohio in USA!  Great Lakes/Midwest.   glad you\'re here   Glad you came on board! The watering thing might be an issue, depending upon the heartiness of what you are planting.  

Water here is a BIG deal  in spring . When seedlings or seeds are in.  The have to be moist to germinate.  Might need to give that some thought.

Otherwise, glad you are here...we can help! TONS of super informed, experienced SFGers here in a variety of climates!  cheers

You will definitely have some food coming your way!

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Re: Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  Scorpio Rising on 9/8/2016, 9:32 pm

@Nomadic1 wrote:es I look forward being part of this group.  We're all grubbing in the dirt.... ummm Mel's Mix  Wink  To together, for some choice, tasty morsels!
Mel's Mix never disappoints.  EVER!  sunnycheersbounce


Last edited by Scorpio Rising on 9/8/2016, 9:34 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Idk)

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Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  Nomadic1 on 9/9/2016, 1:11 am

Thanks for the suggestions everyone. 
Kelejan, as per your suggestion, I just tried to rename this thread:

Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

And I know I saw edit function before, but it seems to have disappeared?   What am I missing? thinking

Thanks!

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Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  Nomadic1 on 9/9/2016, 1:14 am

I think I just answered my own question, seems you can only edit right after the post... as I did with the last post.
I don't see a way for me to change the title of this thread.

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Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  Kelejan on 9/9/2016, 1:30 am

How's that?  I hope it works.

Edited to add:  I see it does not work. 

Sanderson:  HELP!

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Re: Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  plantoid on 9/9/2016, 1:51 am

Hi Nomad ,
 You mention cinder blocks & conserving water . I suspect that the two are at odds with each other  in a dry climate .

 Cinder block will tend to wick away water as fast as a four inch drain  ,unless it is sealed on the internal faces ,.
Perhaps plastic sheet draped over the side walls inside & out .  Bitumen paint etc or steel galv. sheets on the inside walls sort of thing .

Hopefully some one will come on line who gardens similarly & gives their view/solutions to such things .

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cinder blocks & water

Post  Nomadic1 on 9/9/2016, 2:12 am

Thanks much for the observation plantoid, in fact I thought about that as well.  As I didn't want the pressure of the main bed to cause soil material weeping on the external sides of the blocks (I don't want to mortar them in place in case I need to move the bed), I already read a way to avoid that (and the wicking as you mention) is to run plastic (the same weed barrier I plan to put at the bottom) up the sides to the inside base, but not quite to the top as I don't want to see the plastic; so I'll tuck it in just under the top block.  I won't run it end to end (i.e., I'll leave a seam at the inside bottom edges) or I'll be doing SFG hydroponics! Laughing    I also originally thought I'd run strips of the plastic on the inside of the block holes(on the outer side at least)... but perhaps a narrow plastic bag with both ends open would work better for those.  As I said I was thinking strawberries which would be permanent.  Carrots or onions would mean having to deal with the bag/plastic falling in perhaps.  So on the fly, now I'm thinking about flexible plastic panels I can slip in top to bottom before putting dirt in the block holes. It'll weep/wick at the corners of each hole, but the majority of water should remain for the plants?!  A work/planning in progress!  Thanks again for the observation.

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Re: Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  sanderson on 9/9/2016, 2:41 am

Ask and ye shall receive! Mods and Admin can edit for folks after the 30 min (?) limit.

I know that Brainchasm in scorching Las Vegas, NV, used cinder blocks for his beds.  He filled the holes with mix for little herbs and flowers.  Now, I don't think he did anything to the blocks except line the bottom and up the sides with weed fabric.  He did install driplines for the beds that also dripped into the cinder block holes.  He did very well during the summer.

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blocks, wicking and edits!

Post  Nomadic1 on 9/9/2016, 4:53 am

Thank you Sanderson for the edit/explanation!  Very Happy

Well the weather for my sfg is obviously nothing like NV! So I might be just fine with fabric on the bottom and maybe the outer inside of the holes, as I had originally theorized. I was also going to go with a drip line for the holes, as I had already immediately realized the drip/sweating hose I plan to use for the bed wouldn't work efficiently across/inside those confined block spaces.  Thanks for the input/confirmation!

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Re: Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  sfg4uKim on 9/9/2016, 6:07 pm

I must have deleted my first post instead of posting it.

Welcome from central Maryland.

I lived a total of 4 years in the Brindisi area (San Vito dei Normanni Air Station) - 18 months from 1977-79 when I was 18 YO, 13 months back in the US and then again from 1980-1983. We had our first son in Ospedali di Suma.

My mom's family is from Sulmona -- just a couple hours east of Rome.

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Re: Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  AtlantaMarie on 9/10/2016, 8:45 am

Hi Nomadic1. Welcome from Atlanta, GA. Sounds like you're going to have a lot of work and a lot of fun!

Looking forward to seeing your photos....

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Thanks for the welcome sfg4uKim

Post  Nomadic1 on 9/10/2016, 8:48 am

We've all been there carefully drafting an email or message to post and then poof! Maybe it would up in your drafts?
Nearest to Sulmona I've visited is Aquila 34 miles to the North... or maybe Ovindoli. So many beautiful towns in Italy... so little time... even after all these years!
So what do you miss most about Italy?

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Re: Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  sfg4uKim on 9/10/2016, 11:11 am

If you get a chance, and haven't been, Civita di Bagnoregio is wonderful and not too far from Rome.

LOL when we know there is "plenty of time" we tend not to tour the local area. When we were in Italy and Germany we made the most of our limited time. My German friends who lived in California for three years saw almost as much of the US as I have -- and I've lived in quite a few places.

I guess I miss the food and gelato the most. Laughing   I DON'T miss the strikes. Rolling Eyes

A funny story about a trip to Venice with my mom. We left her at a little bar while looking for transportation. We come back just a few minutes later and there was an empty shot glass in front of her and the smiling bartender was pouring her another. She loved her amaretto and I asked the bartender how many she had consumed. The answer was SIX! The rest of the day she said in a slurred voice, "It was just 35 cents a glass! I did the math. Can you believe it? Just 35 cents!" Venice is not the best place to have a drunk 60 YO woman on your hands with all the cobble stones and boat travel.

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Re: Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  countrynaturals on 9/10/2016, 11:40 am

happy hi from Northern California, not too far from Sanderson. I'm a newbie, so I can't add much to the discussion, but I'll chime in when I can.

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Re: Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

Post  sanderson on 9/11/2016, 7:55 pm

Nomadic, I re-read your post and thought I would mention that some folks use pine needles as mulch.

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Thanks everyone for the replies

Post  Nomadic1 on 9/12/2016, 5:17 am

Thank you sanderson for the comment about the pine needles. Aside from deciding to use them to keep weeds down outside the sfg as I mentioned, I wasn't going to use them inside as I specifically wanted the plastic to keep out cats.  Alternatively, I might just use a removable screen, but I won't bother building more than one size and that one I would make would reflect the plants highest growth, as I have limited storage outside of season.Since I was considering building one anyway to protect against birds, critters (that might chomp on seeds/seedlings as well as colder temps early spring and maybe prolong the season by adding/subtracting/substituting cover materials, but leaving the main screening, that might be more efficient.  In that case, I could go with the pine needles which aside from keeping the few weeds away, it would also add nutrients to the mix.  Only the green needles are acidic and I'd be collecting the dried brown ones.  But I'm a little concerned about introducing organisms/bacteria that might negatively impact the sfg if I use them there.  Undecided.  I talked to my sister in law yesterday about the water re-iterating, no direct water, no garden. She said she plans to make some calls this week about what's involved in arranging it.  Bureaucracy is an art here!

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