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Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

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Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  MrBooker on Sun 6 Aug - 13:00

Some of the reason is due to my health and the rest of it is, I spent just over $900 this year on bagged compost and a ton of other stuff for SFG.  last year, I spent even more.
         
It's not just the money. Maybe I'm doing something wrong but it seems like it's just more work for me, not counting tripling the water bill.
 
I know this year was hard on everyone with the plus 100 degree temps. It was the worst year of gardening I've ever had. Most of my tomato's are gone and my peppers are shriveling up and dying. Carrot tops turned brown and died. I'm just not going to water 2 or 3 times a day.

Most of you remember the pics of the garden across the street I posted.  They had no way to water that garden and this year, they have to best looking garden in town without EVER watering.

TREE ROOTS.....??  I had to remove all of the MM out of four boxes to remove the tree roots and that's hard work. I had to rebuild the boxes, put  plywood bottoms in them and raise them up off the ground.

Wife and I have decided to keep only a few 4x8's and the rest will go back into in-ground garden. I will keep posting on this site. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from SFG. It works for some folks. Guess I'm just old fashioned....    I shall return..  happy hi
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  Scorpio Rising on Sun 6 Aug - 18:15

Hey, it happens.  You had a bunch of squares, right, Mr. B?  Maybe it was just too many?  You (in my neck of the woods) don't have to water the in-dirt garden as much as any container, including SFG.  The core of my SFG is in a wet spot in my yard, by default mostly due to a tree that fell and left a crater which I surrounded by my original re-purposed window boxes.  They are Deeep.

Please stick around.  Maybe some things will work better in the SFG, and others in the ground.  Experiment and let us know!  I might hypothesize spring and fall crops might work in the SFG but the heat of summer stuff might like the added insulation of Earth. 

happy hi
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  countrynaturals on Sun 6 Aug - 19:29

MrBooker wrote:I know this year was hard on everyone with the plus 100 degree temps. It was the worst year of gardening I've ever had. Most of my tomato's are gone and my peppers are shriveling up and dying. Carrot tops turned brown and died. I'm just not going to water 2 or 3 times a day.
 This is only my 2nd year, so I can't really rate it, but this summer was even more bleak than last year. Sad When it gets over 100 I have to water twice a day. When it gets over 105 I have to water 3 times a day. Going out in the heat to water just about does me in. I wear a cooling towel ($5 at Walmart) or get into the hot tub first and go under, then water in my wet bathing suit and wet hair. Sometimes the heat builds up in my body and I can't get out of my chair the next day. Sad Everything's still alive for me, but it mostly looks spent. It's like most of of my plants used up their resources fighting the heat and having nothing left to produce crops. I'm going to try top-dressing everything with homemade compost and see if I can rejuvenate these poor babies. It is definitely discouraging to spend all that money, time, and energy, and have so little to show for it. I definitely feel your pain, Mr. B.Sad Sad Sad
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  countrynaturals on Sun 6 Aug - 19:32

Scorpio Rising wrote:Please stick around.  Maybe some things will work better in the SFG, and others in the ground.  Experiment and let us know!  I might hypothesize spring and fall crops might work in the SFG but the heat of summer stuff might like the added insulation of Earth. 

happy hi
I have in-ground, containers, and sfg -- all shaded. Nothing helps when it gets over 105.  Sad
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  plantoid on Sun 6 Aug - 19:48

I hear your pain Mr B ,
 The depth of the bed helps tremendously in hot weather & that's why the neighbours garden flourished un watered
A 2 or 3 foot deep 4x4 bed will hold the moisture far better than a six inch deep one that has a wooden floor that will also wick away any water in the bed .

 Lining or sealing the inside of the bed box will also help in retaining the water so will mulching the surface of a square once the germinated seeds are showing through to about an inch tall .
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  MrBooker on Mon 7 Aug - 4:20

Scorpio Rising wrote:Hey, it happens.  You had a bunch of squares, right, Mr. B?  Maybe it was just too many?  You (in my neck of the woods) don't have to water the in-dirt garden as much as any container, including SFG.  The core of my SFG is in a wet spot in my yard, by default mostly due to a tree that fell and left a crater which I surrounded by my original re-purposed window boxes.  They are Deeep.

Please stick around.  Maybe some things will work better in the SFG, and others in the ground.  Experiment and let us know!  I might hypothesize spring and fall crops might work in the SFG but the heat of summer stuff might like the added insulation of Earth. 

happy hi
Yes, I think having too many boxes was part of the problem. I have about 13 boxes, most of them are 4x8's. I'm going to keep no more than three of the 4x8's. One just for tomato's, one for peppers and the other for greens.

   I'm 71 and have had a garden all of my adult life. Even as a child, us kids worked in our huge garden. We thought we hated it then but looking back, I guess we were learning to garden.

  My peppers are doing fair but everything else was stricken by the hot, 100 degree temps for such a long period of time, they just couldn't take it. I planted the peppers really close together and I guess they shaded each other enough to survive.

   Last year I had a great fall garden and planning another (down sized) this year. I've already planted cabbage in one end of a 4x8.

   It's going to be a lot of work getting rid of the other boxes and all the MM. I'm going to put them on Craigslist and see if I can give them away. Hopefully, someone else can get started in SFG.
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  llama momma on Mon 7 Aug - 10:51

Mr. Booker

I'm in my  7th year of square foot gardening.
900 dollars Whoa, that is too much in my humble opinion.  I never paid for any compost ingredients except once I bought some soy meal or something to make one hot compost heap when I was in a hurry for more compost.

My understanding is you should buy compost ingredients if you need it in the first year.  At the same time begin making your own compost =  and a far more economical adventure.  Your own fresh well made compost will be superior to anything on the market.  My first year was one 8x4 box, one foot deep and filled with old llama manure that turned to soil consistency. Plus about one wheel barrow of compost.  Thrilled with the results. My point is it didn't  take much compost for great results, just some great compost !

The secret to square foot gardening I believe is to understand that you will be limited in the boxes you successfully sustain = to the amount of excellent compost you can produce one year at a time. 

I expanded to 10 boxes total BUT---My big mistake?  Too many boxes so I went too crazy making compost to support my expansion.  Knocked one hip out of place, which shortened one leg resulted in irritating arthritis in my knee, and nudged some spine joints out of alignment.   Please don't do that to yourself !  Oh but I had 5 full beautiful wooden pallet sections all 4 foot tall and 4 foot wide, filled with fantastic compost.  Been using that for nearly 2 years while I still recover from 'compost injuries', all that shoveling and forking ingredients one thrust at a time...

This Autumn I plan to remove some boxes and condense others in an effort to reduce overall effort and increase efficiency. Just grow what I truly love. Last thought, I use mostly 1 foot deep boxes due to full sunlight, over 15 hours/day by mid June.

Moral, only compost an amount you need to support your boxes.
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  sanderson on Mon 7 Aug - 14:52

Mr. Booker,  I'm sorry.  Sad You did such a great job developing the SFG, raising some of the beds, building the hoops, the compost bins, etc.  I think Llama momma had a good point:
The secret to square foot gardening I believe is to understand that you will be limited in the boxes you successfully sustain = to the amount of excellent compost you can produce one year at a time.
I have the maximum number of squares for which I can make compost at this age.  I no longer can make two 3'x3'x3' bins of compost during the scorching summer.  It will have to be just one or two in the winter.  It took 5 summers and 4 winters to get to the current number of beds I have, and it's no where as many as you have!!  Another thing I had to build up to was the shade cloths for everything, except the 1' x 50' strip of amended dirt which is shaded the last half of the day.  I think a thick layer of bedding straw mulch is another mandatory addition to survive summer.  And, the automatic drip system really helps.

Instead of getting rid of the extra beds, what about perforating* the weed fabric and using those as a tidy row garden?  Grow things don't need "sanitary" compost (I use sanitary to the point that heated compost can be).  Corn, vining beans, peas, cucumbers and winter squash, extra tomatoes, that won't touch the soil.  Zinnia, daffodils, holly hock, etc.?  Just pile up fall leaves and manure on them in the fall and let nature break them down in a cool compost manner.

Use your SFG beds for raw veggies and root veggies like lettuce, carrots, beets, kale, Swiss Chard, etc.  Things you want to clean.

*For perforating, I'm thinking of the heavy metal stick used to break up hard pan, a pointed shovel or army folding shovel, pick mattock, etc.

PS: I had to use some bagged compost this spring and it didn't hold moisture as well as the chunky home-made compost I top-dressed with. thinking

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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on Mon 7 Aug - 18:34

Having a tree roots plus that much heat puts you between a rock and a hard place because the solutions for each oppose each other: air gap means you have less potential for water retention, heat means you need more water retention.

For me, the OSFG requires less watering due to the clay content of my soil, and I'm ok with the trade-off of more weeds since it's only part of my garden.

Containers (and I would count raised beds with an air gap as containers) seem to require water at least once a day. My 9 sub-irrigated planters need that daily effort, and sometimes it's hard to convince myself to do. I can't imagine the effort involved in doing that for 13 beds, especially if you get so little to show for it. I only manage to water the SIPs every single day because they produce.

I'd say definitely cut back and don't feel too bad about it - but definitely keep a few beds and stay on the forum!
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  Scorpio Rising on Mon 7 Aug - 20:11

MrBooker wrote:
Scorpio Rising wrote:Hey, it happens.  You had a bunch of squares, right, Mr. B?  Maybe it was just too many?  You (in my neck of the woods) don't have to water the in-dirt garden as much as any container, including SFG.  The core of my SFG is in a wet spot in my yard, by default mostly due to a tree that fell and left a crater which I surrounded by my original re-purposed window boxes.  They are Deeep.

Please stick around.  Maybe some things will work better in the SFG, and others in the ground.  Experiment and let us know!  I might hypothesize spring and fall crops might work in the SFG but the heat of summer stuff might like the added insulation of Earth. 

happy hi
Yes, I think having too many boxes was part of the problem. I have about 13 boxes, most of them are 4x8's. I'm going to keep no more than three of the 4x8's. One just for tomato's, one for peppers and the other for greens.

   I'm 71 and have had a garden all of my adult life. Even as a child, us kids worked in our huge garden. We thought we hated it then but looking back, I guess we were learning to garden.

  My peppers are doing fair but everything else was stricken by the hot, 100 degree temps for such a long period of time, they just couldn't take it. I planted the peppers really close together and I guess they shaded each other enough to survive.

   Last year I had a great fall garden and planning another (down sized) this year. I've already planted cabbage in one end of a 4x8.

   It's going to be a lot of work getting rid of the other boxes and all the MM. I'm going to put them on Craigslist and see if I can give them away. Hopefully, someone else can get started in SFG.
Agree.  Just like Beetles said:  Cut back and don't feel bad about it!  This I supposed to be fun!  and yummy!  Sanderson has some good ideas; converting those boxes to just in betweeners, where you put corn, squash, etc.  

I support you wholeheartedly.  And I love love love Green Ice lettuce!  I love you  You decide what works for you, and we will be here!
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  Turan on Mon 7 Aug - 20:16

I am curious if you are cutting back on gardening or just on SFG? If your intention is to rototill a plot, thus slowing the tree roots from year to year, why not incorporate your MM into that plot? You can use SFG concepts (intensive gardening) wide rows. You also can incorporate deep mulching as well. Your learning about SFG is a set of tools to use as you see fit.
We will be curious to see how your garden evolves.

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Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  GloriaG on Tue 8 Aug - 18:55

MrBooker,

I'm sorry that you've had such a frustrating experience with your SFG. 

From personal experience plus everything I've read you are already past the "hard part" of this process.  The first two years are always both a learning curve and a time to get the garden performing at it's peak. 

Having said that, I applaud you for taking the time to step back.  Perhaps in re-evaluating your garden you'll be able to find what works best for you.

Like you, my husband is 71, we live in a very hot climate and we're not interested in "hard work" gardening.  We have about 450 square feet of SFG garden and our costs run about $300 per year for compost, peat moss and vermiculite.  In the first couple of years the expenses were MUCH higher because we had so much compost to purchase - easily $1,000 or more annually. 

We've come a long way since our first 4' x 4' bed a little over 7 years ago.  Along the way we probably made every mistake possible and as a result learned quite a bit.  But in the end we felt the SFG program, with a few "tweaks", had merit for us.
Our garden now produces enough food (well over 500 lbs annually) to feed and store for our family and guests all year, plus make pickles, relish, etc. to use as gifts.

We do grow vegetables in season, use 12" deep beds (smaller dries out too fast) and water deeply every other day.  But truly our biggest job now is picking and processing the produce that we grow in the garden.

I hope you find the best solution for your garden.
Good luck and Happy Gardening.
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  countrynaturals on Tue 8 Aug - 21:56

GloriaG wrote:MrBooker,

I'm sorry that you've had such a frustrating experience with your SFG. 

From personal experience plus everything I've read you are already past the "hard part" of this process.  The first two years are always both a learning curve and a time to get the garden performing at it's peak. 

Having said that, I applaud you for taking the time to step back.  Perhaps in re-evaluating your garden you'll be able to find what works best for you.

Like you, my husband is 71, we live in a very hot climate and we're not interested in "hard work" gardening.  We have about 450 square feet of SFG garden and our costs run about $300 per year for compost, peat moss and vermiculite.  In the first couple of years the expenses were MUCH higher because we had so much compost to purchase - easily $1,000 or more annually. 

We've come a long way since our first 4' x 4' bed a little over 7 years ago.  Along the way we probably made every mistake possible and as a result learned quite a bit.  But in the end we felt the SFG program, with a few "tweaks", had merit for us.
Our garden now produces enough food (well over 500 lbs annually) to feed and store for our family and guests all year, plus make pickles, relish, etc. to use as gifts.

We do grow vegetables in season, use 12" deep beds (smaller dries out too fast) and water deeply every other day.  But truly our biggest job now is picking and processing the produce that we grow in the garden.

I hope you find the best solution for your garden.
Good luck and Happy Gardening.
Gloria
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  MrBooker on Wed 9 Aug - 4:26

Thanks for the comments and good advise. Cutting back was a spur of the moment decision and I feel pretty good about it. The guy I gave the beds and MM to said he needed them to help him make ends meet. One of the beds was full of carrots and the other, full of beets.
    
He pulled them all up and said he was going to freeze them and was very thankful to get them. How cool is that?

I will still have two above ground 4x8s and two in-ground, framed in 4x8s plus 14 large containers. Now maybe I can produce enough homemade compost to supply everything.

   I had so many boxes, It was getting to the point where I was looking for things to plant just so I could fill all the squares. Now I know I will have only enough room to plant things we eat.

  At first, I was thinking about getting another Troybilt rear tine tiller and do a small  in-ground garden. Then, I thought..... "NOT".

I'll be posting some pics today.....
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  MrBooker on Wed 9 Aug - 4:33

Scorpio Rising wrote:
MrBooker wrote:
Scorpio Rising wrote:Hey, it happens.  You had a bunch of squares, right, Mr. B?  Maybe it was just too many?  You (in my neck of the woods) don't have to water the in-dirt garden as much as any container, including SFG.  The core of my SFG is in a wet spot in my yard, by default mostly due to a tree that fell and left a crater which I surrounded by my original re-purposed window boxes.  They are Deeep.

Please stick around.  Maybe some things will work better in the SFG, and others in the ground.  Experiment and let us know!  I might hypothesize spring and fall crops might work in the SFG but the heat of summer stuff might like the added insulation of Earth. 

happy hi
Yes, I think having too many boxes was part of the problem. I have about 13 boxes, most of them are 4x8's. I'm going to keep no more than three of the 4x8's. One just for tomato's, one for peppers and the other for greens.

   I'm 71 and have had a garden all of my adult life. Even as a child, us kids worked in our huge garden. We thought we hated it then but looking back, I guess we were learning to garden.

  My peppers are doing fair but everything else was stricken by the hot, 100 degree temps for such a long period of time, they just couldn't take it. I planted the peppers really close together and I guess they shaded each other enough to survive.

   Last year I had a great fall garden and planning another (down sized) this year. I've already planted cabbage in one end of a 4x8.

   It's going to be a lot of work getting rid of the other boxes and all the MM. I'm going to put them on Craigslist and see if I can give them away. Hopefully, someone else can get started in SFG.
Agree.  Just like Beetles said:  Cut back and don't feel bad about it!  This I supposed to be fun!  and yummy!  Sanderson has some good ideas; converting those boxes to just in betweeners, where you put corn, squash, etc.  

I support you wholeheartedly.  And I love love love Green Ice lettuce!  I love you  You decide what works for you, and we will be here!
"I support you wholeheartedly.  And I love love love Green Ice lettuce!    You decide what works for you, and we will be here!"

Thanks for your support and knew you'd like the green ice lettuce.
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  countrynaturals on Wed 9 Aug - 11:17

MrBooker wrote:Thanks for the comments and good advise. Cutting back was a spur of the moment decision and I feel pretty good about it. The guy I gave the beds and MM to said he needed them to help him make ends meet. One of the beds was full of carrots and the other, full of beets.
    
He pulled them all up and said he was going to freeze them and was very thankful to get them. How cool is that?
This is my favorite part of the story. I love you
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  trolleydriver on Wed 9 Aug - 11:43

countrynaturals wrote:
MrBooker wrote:Thanks for the comments and good advise. Cutting back was a spur of the moment decision and I feel pretty good about it. The guy I gave the beds and MM to said he needed them to help him make ends meet. One of the beds was full of carrots and the other, full of beets.
    
He pulled them all up and said he was going to freeze them and was very thankful to get them. How cool is that?
This is my favorite part of the story. I love you
Definitely a +1.

Well done MrB and thanks for sharing that good deed with us. We need more of those positive actions in our world.

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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  sanderson on Wed 9 Aug - 12:39

I love you

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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  Scorpio Rising on Wed 9 Aug - 22:25

Love it!  That is super cool!  Mr B, you got it goin'on!cheers
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  Kelejan on Sat 12 Aug - 0:10

Mr. B. I can certainly feel for all the hard work and expense you gave incurred in starting your gardening.

For myself, I know I have reached the limit of my gardening, in spite of all the dreams I had of turning over all my lawn to square foot  beds.  I did start small, two beds of 4x4 and had success with them for some years. Then added more 6x3s as that suited my arm length etc.  Of course, I am forgetting that I am getting older and this year with the miserable spring and endless hot summer things have got on top of me somewhat.

But, yesterday the heat abated and I felt much better so was able to do a bit outside, early in the morning and some more later in the evening.  As I still have plenty of food canned and also in the freezer and some dried, I will take it easy this fall and hopefully be able to get my garden winterized so that I do not have too much preparation work to do next spring.

I think that many of us as beginners go at it full tilt and perhaps get burned out.

Take care, Mr. Booker.
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  MrBooker on Sat 12 Aug - 6:22

Kelejan wrote:Mr. B. I can certainly feel for all the hard work and expense you gave incurred in starting your gardening.

For myself, I know I have reached the limit of my gardening, in spite of all the dreams I had of turning over all my lawn to square foot  beds.  I did start small, two beds of 4x4 and had success with them for some years. Then added more 6x3s as that suited my arm length etc.  Of course, I am forgetting that I am getting older and this year with the miserable spring and endless hot summer things have got on top of me somewhat.

But, yesterday the heat abated and I felt much better so was able to do a bit outside, early in the morning and some more later in the evening.  As I still have plenty of food canned and also in the freezer and some dried, I will take it easy this fall and hopefully be able to get my garden winterized so that I do not have too much preparation work to do next spring.

I think that many of us as beginners go at it full tilt and perhaps get burned out.

Take care, Mr. Booker.
Hi  KelejanYup, I just over did it. Last years was one of the best years I've ever had in gardening. This year was one of the worst with all of the heat and no rain. I found myself in the garden most of the day mulching and watering. My wife said to me, " I thought this was supposed to be a hobby". I had about 13 beds altogether


  I'm going to keep one 4x8 on one side of my yard and one the other and two 4x8's in the circle drive. Plus I'll still have my 14 half barrels and totes. It's kind of sad when I go out in the back yard and see all the bare spots where my beds used to be. It's not the end of everything for me. Just a new beginning.


  Going out today and start my fall garden. It's time in my area to plant turnips, radish, cabbage and the like.
  Plenty of pics to come later........  
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  sanderson on Sat 12 Aug - 12:13

Mr. Booker, I sent you a PM. Don't want you to feel sad. Wink

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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  MrBooker on Sun 13 Aug - 7:08

This is what it looked like a few weeks ago.


After giving most of my beds away, this is what it looks like now. The bed in the center of pic will be gone today. I'm keeping only two 4x8s in this part of my yard. The bare spots are where the other beds were.


  These are my 14 Barrels and tubs so I will still have enough to keep me busy.


  I planted some cabbage yesterday and will plant turnips and other goodies today.


Sweet taters coming along ok.

I think I just got a little carried away with the 13 or 14 beds I had. Once I had so many beds, the garden started to suffer. It got too difficult to keep watered and keep up with making compost. In my case, bigger is not always better.

   By cutting back, I'll be able to produce enough good compost and keep things watered and mulched. After all, gardening is supposed to be relaxing. When it starts to consume most of your free time and turns into a job, it's time to let some of it go.

  I just hope I have the will power in the spring to keep from building more boxes. We all know how that SFG virus can strike and there's only one thing the doctor can prescribe.......  "Build two more boxes and call me tomorrow"  What a Face
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  has55 on Sun 13 Aug - 17:56

MrBooker wrote:
  I just hope I have the will power in the spring to keep from building more boxes. We all know how that SFG virus can strike and there's only one thing the doctor can prescribe.......  "Build two more boxes and call me tomorrow"  What a Face
We definitely can relate to SFG Spring Fever. Keep us posted.
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

Post  Scorpio Rising on Sun 13 Aug - 18:08

Like I said, Mr. B, grow what you will eat!  No more.  Whatever you like, and I remember having this convo with you when you joined!!!!
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Re: Cutting back on my SFG about 75%

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