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Hello from Southern Illinois

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Hello from Southern Illinois

Post  ckar0321 on Thu 16 Mar 2017 - 7:25

Greetings to all gardeners!

Charles here from near Rend Lake in Southern Illinois.

I have been gardening in this area for what will be my 7th year, and have a 52' x 25' (give or take) conventional row garden with several fence trellises.

Did my first tilling on 03/03, but it has since turned cold with biggest snowfall so far this year occurring on 03/13 with around 2" on the ground. Snow melted later that day, but lows have been in the lower 20's for the past two nights.

I have a row of radishes in the ground, and waiting to see whether they survived the freeze when I pull back the straw later today. Also garlic was planted last Thanksgiving and was doing well before the cold snap.

Looking to possibly convert some of my space to raised beds, and thought this forum might be a good place to start.

Biggest challenge here are the weeds (especially grasses) which I usually lose control of by July or so.

Hoping that raised beds will allow more production and better weed management in a smaller space, but will need to start with a limited approach -- too many projects and too little time...

Charles
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Re: Hello from Southern Illinois

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on Thu 16 Mar 2017 - 16:43

Welcome to the forum, Charles! glad you\'re here

I'm in central Pennsylvania, this is my 3rd year of square foot gardening. I converted more of my garden to raised beds this year partly because it does allow for better weed control. Using Mel's Mix (MM -- peat moss, vermiculite, and a blend of 5 finished composts) means you are starting with a weed-free substrate -- and creating something that it is easy to pull the weeds out of if/once weed seeds blow in.

If grasses are a problem then you will want to make sure the paths around your raised bed are not grass. I've had issues with creeping grasses at the borders of my boxes finding their way up and in. I believe more than one person here has recommended a layer or two of cardboard, covered with woodchips (do I have that right, guys?) for paths to help prevent that. Also, cardboard with overlap of a few inches between pieces, or weedblock, under the bed to make sure you kill the grass underneath it.  

You should definitely start small. Try a single 4x4 bed, grow some of the same vegetables in your regular garden, and compare the results at the end of the year. My experience is that my raised beds with Mel's Mix need more water than my in-ground garden areas, but this could be a quirk of what composts I used, the varieties of plants I chose, my climate, etc. -- but I definitely prefer watering a little more frequently over more/harder weeding!

Do you have a copy of the All New Square Foot Gardening book yet?
What is your favorite vegetable? (or maybe top five - I'd have a hard time picking one!)
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Re: Hello from Southern Illinois

Post  AtlantaMarie on Thu 16 Mar 2017 - 18:25

Hi Charles. Welcome from Atlanta, GA!

I know about that too many projects thing... And the raised beds WILL help with weed control. But you still have to stay on top of it. Mulch is your best friend...

Glad you're here! :-)
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Re: Hello from Southern Illinois

Post  Scorpio Rising on Thu 16 Mar 2017 - 19:12

@BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:Welcome to the forum, Charles! glad you\'re here

I'm in central Pennsylvania, this is my 3rd year of square foot gardening. I converted more of my garden to raised beds this year partly because it does allow for better weed control. Using Mel's Mix (MM -- peat moss, vermiculite, and a blend of 5 finished composts) means you are starting with a weed-free substrate -- and creating something that it is easy to pull the weeds out of if/once weed seeds blow in.

If grasses are a problem then you will want to make sure the paths around your raised bed are not grass. I've had issues with creeping grasses at the borders of my boxes finding their way up and in. I believe more than one person here has recommended a layer or two of cardboard, covered with woodchips (do I have that right, guys?) for paths to help prevent that. Also, cardboard with overlap of a few inches between pieces, or weedblock, under the bed to make sure you kill the grass underneath it.  

You should definitely start small. Try a single 4x4 bed, grow some of the same vegetables in your regular garden, and compare the results at the end of the year. My experience is that my raised beds with Mel's Mix need more water than my in-ground garden areas, but this could be a quirk of what composts I used, the varieties of plants I chose, my climate, etc. -- but I definitely prefer watering a little more frequently over more/harder weeding!

Do you have a copy of the All New Square Foot Gardening book yet?
What is your favorite vegetable? (or maybe top five - I'd have a hard time picking one!)
First off, Welcome!  

Beetles nailed it!  I have never converted a garden from conventional to SFG, but had done both before arriving at my present situation.  

In my experience, MMbeds do need more water, but they are in direct 24 hour sun...where my other areas get some shade.  

I do think you should get and read ANSFG, 2nd Ed.  it just takes a lot of the work out of the whole process.

Keep us posted?

glad you\'re here
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Re: Hello from Southern Illinois

Post  ralitaco on Thu 16 Mar 2017 - 20:52

Greetings from Coastal NC
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Re: Hello from Southern Illinois

Post  sanderson on Fri 17 Mar 2017 - 0:57

Charles,  Welcome to the Forum from California!  glad you\'re here I'm staggered by the amount of room you have for gardening.  Shocked It's slightly larger than my entire backyard.  Totally jealous.  I had to get out paper and pencil and I came up with 384 sq. ft. of square foot beds.  That allows for a recommended 3' wide walkway around the perimeter and 3' isles between the 12 beds, each 4' x 8'.  Imagine not having to ever till or weed this area again.

It's already been suggested that you read All New Square Foot Gardening, 1st or 2nd edition, by Mel Bartholomew, the Founder and author.  You will refer to the book so try to buy your own copy.  Level the area you want to start with.  Lay down cardboard or commercial weed fabric (my preference) over the whole working area.  Set your frames with 3' isles between and start making and filling with Mel's Mix.  Dump wood chips (or thick layer of bedding straw) in the isles.  No more dirt with its weeds.  No bed wider than 4' so you can reach everything without stepping into the beds.  The typical 4' x 4' and the longer but skinnier 2' x 8' beds are great to work with.  The only thing I change about SFG is that my beds are made from 2" x 8" boards or 2 tiers of 2" x 4" studs.  This allows a good 6" of Mel's Mix plus some headroom for straw mulch to keep the soil cool in the summer and reduce surface evaporation.

I hope Mr. Booker sees this post.  He will testify how great it is to SFG instead of row garden.  He posted a photo of the lot across the street that he used to row garden.  The current gardener had basically given up with all the grass and weeds that over took the row garden.

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Re: Hello from Southern Illinois

Post  MrBooker on Fri 17 Mar 2017 - 3:02

@ckar0321 wrote:Greetings to all gardeners!

Charles here from near Rend Lake in Southern Illinois.

I have been gardening in this area for what will be my 7th year, and have a 52' x 25' (give or take) conventional row garden with several fence trellises.

Did my first tilling on 03/03, but it has since turned cold with biggest snowfall so far this year occurring on 03/13 with around 2" on the ground. Snow melted later that day, but lows have been in the lower 20's for the past two nights.

I have a row of radishes in the ground, and waiting to see whether they survived the freeze when I pull back the straw later today. Also garlic was planted last Thanksgiving and was doing well before the cold snap.

Looking to possibly convert some of my space to raised beds, and thought this forum might be a good place to start.

Biggest challenge here are the weeds (especially grasses) which I usually lose control of by July or so.

Hoping that raised beds will allow more production and better weed management in a smaller space, but will need to start with a limited approach -- too many projects and too little time...

Charles
Greetings from Millstadt, Illinois neighbor. glad you\'re here to this forum.  I'm about 70 miles from you.   There's enough information on this site, you'll never have to look elsewhere.
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Former Southern Illinoisian

Post  mlpii66 on Thu 23 Mar 2017 - 18:04

Hello

I was raised in a small town between Marion and Carbondale.  I have never been able to grow tomatoes anywhere else that can capture the taste of a good black dirt S.I. tomato.  I'm in Idaho and they turned out OK last year but still lacking that S.I. "something".  Visited my family at Christmas and just couldn't get over the smell of that superior earth!

Best of luck to you.

Mark
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Re: Hello from Southern Illinois

Post  Scorpio Rising on Thu 23 Mar 2017 - 18:19

Oh yeah, you are in for a great season!  SFGing is A-Mazing!

No concerns about what is in your dirt--no dirt!

Mel's Mix!  Vermiculite, peat, and at least 5 types of compost, you will get the bestest tasting WHATEVER you ever grew!

cheers cherry
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Re: Hello from Southern Illinois

Post  MrBooker on Fri 24 Mar 2017 - 1:23

@mlpii66 wrote:Hello

I was raised in a small town between Marion and Carbondale.  I have never been able to grow tomatoes anywhere else that can capture the taste of a good black dirt S.I. tomato.  I'm in Idaho and they turned out OK last year but still lacking that S.I. "something".  Visited my family at Christmas and just couldn't get over the smell of that superior earth!

Best of luck to you.

Mark
You are correct about the S/W Illinois soil. Even though I have raised beds, I also have one special place where I grow tomatoes "in ground" and there IS a difference.

I live in Millstadt, Illinois near Belleville. It's a small farming town rich in German history. I live across from the old feed mill built back in mid 1800's and still operating today. They say, well over 100 years ago, farmers used to bring their grain to the mill in horse drawn wagons. They would sell their grain and party all night and stay at the "Millstadt hotel", also still open today.

    I guess you'd say we're just a town full of beer drinking, redneck, flag flying folks.
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Re: Hello from Southern Illinois

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