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The Ultimate Test for SFG!

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The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  coot on 3/13/2010, 3:48 pm

Hello, all. My name is Coot, and I'm a plant killer.

I'm going to give this gardening thing one more try. I stumbled onto SFG on the internet a few months ago, got the book from the library and read most of it, bought my own copy, purchased seeds and planned out where the boxes are going to go, and am currently accumulating all the components of Mel's Mix.

Since I don't know if the location I've picked for my SFG will be a good choice, I'm going to build boxes with bottoms that I can move to a new location if necessary...has anyone attempted moving your boxes? I know the mix will be light, but light enough for two people to move?

Also, any advice/tips/warnings for building in boxes with bottoms?
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  happyfrog on 3/13/2010, 4:21 pm

hi! so glad you found the book on sfg! the 'secret' to success is in the mel's mix - follow this faithfully (1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 a blend of at least 5 different compost sources) and you'll have amazing results for the rest of your life! Smile

i don't have 'real' bottoms on my box - i just staple gun landscape fabric to the box frame, flip and then fill.

but i do plan on taking my dirt with me when we move (if we move instate, if out of state, i won't.) and i was fully intending to fill contractor trash bags with the dirt.

the dirt is very heavy when moist, not as heavy when dry.

i know my friend cassie (a sfg instructor) transports a 2x2 box all the time - has plywood bottom - it's not that heavy. if you have flat bed truck it would be easy i would think. . . the book gives great directions on attaching plywood bottoms.

i do hope this helps and welcome to the boards! glad you\'re here :wave:

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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  boffer on 3/13/2010, 4:30 pm

Hello, Coot, my name is boffer, and I was a plant killer until I joined SFG and began to discover the way...

A 4x4 box gets to be pretty heavy when the soil is saturated. Plan on hosting a BBQ so you'll have some extra hands to move it.

Some of us have boxes with bottoms that we've put wheels on. It works great for pushing the box around to follow the sun, or for small areas that serve more than one function.

I don't have at my fingertips at the moment, but I'll try to find a pic or two.
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  coot on 5/23/2010, 9:45 am

Here is one of my little 2x2 boxes. Not bad I think for someone who has never built anything before.

I am thoroughly enjoying my new hobby and find myself spending way more time outside. My radishes turned out really small even though I spaced them 2" apart but I was just happy at the thought of growing my own food. BTW, I roasted the radish greens in the same pan with a couple of chickens and carrots and they were delicious!

QUESTION: I have my boxes up against my white picket fence. Instead of trellises, what do you think of my idea of looping some fabric slings on the pickets for the vining plants to latch on to? I'm envisioning the plants traveling the length of the fence as far as they want to go, but I don't know if the vines need to stay close to the root.
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  boffer on 5/23/2010, 11:00 am

Good for you! It's always satisfying to accomplish something we've never done before. Vines can go up, down, and sideways as far as they want-they don't care.

Beans will 'cling' to nearly everything. Other stuff is not so easy. Depending on what you're growing, you might use the slings as a loop for the vines to grow through and be supported.
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  johnfromfl on 5/23/2010, 11:21 am

Coot....Great work for a SFG box builder. Happyfrog and I have weed cloth on the bottom of our boxes. Wish I had plywood for my bottoms. I'll be doing that next time. I like Boffer's idea of fastening wheels to move the frames.

Coot....good luck with your garden. Following Mel's directions from the book will have you gardening with a green thumb in no time.

Boffer....my topsoil garden sprouted a mushroom last night. I guess it is still decomposing. I am not sure where Scotts Topsoil got their compost from but am not taking a chance on eating the mushroom. It looks good though.

Happyfrog....Are you a dirt farmer?? I said I garden in dirt once to a friend that dealt with gardening. For me that was a big mistake. She corrected me real fast. Gardeners grow in soil. Se said dirt is what is on furniture. From what I read about composting, dirt can be composted. (just my opinion which isn't worth much.) I agree with you on being a dirt farmer.


Last edited by johnfromfl on 5/23/2010, 11:44 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  Ha-v-v on 5/23/2010, 11:39 am

Hi and welcome, Im new to sfg as well Smile When row gardening I took advantage of the fencing 2x4 inch dog wire 4 ft tall) all the time to use for a trellis. I figured I could save money this way Smile I too would use the picket fence to let things climb on. I use twine to tie up my plants, but that's because it's cheap and I usually have it on hand. I think the plants would look pretty with the white background and green plants going up. Keep the pictures coming !!
Ha-v-v
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  johnfromfl on 5/23/2010, 11:47 am

HA-V-V .......what is dog wire? I've never heard that term before. Is that something like poultry wire?
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  WardinWake on 5/25/2010, 11:38 am

Howdy Coot;

Glad to see another Virginia SFG on the forum. Mary and I are in Wake, VA (Middlesex County) and would love to have you come and visit. Maybe we could bat ideas around and viist a bit.

God Belss, Ward and Mary.
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  coot on 5/25/2010, 1:35 pm

Hey Ward,
You're always welcome so the next time you're up for a 3 hour trek, head on up to Haymarket !

Here's something curious (or maybe an interesting discovery):
I have all my boxes up on 5" legs, and no critter has eaten any of my plants yet. However, I had a spare bush tomato plant that I just stuck in the ground in my garden, and here's how it's doing after 3 days in the ground......see that greenish looking stick to the left of the white label?

rotten little booger!
Does this mean critters won't climb into an elevated box? Anyone know?
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  johnfromfl on 5/25/2010, 1:43 pm

For one thing....it's not cut worms. Could be a raccoon or opossum or maybe a field rat that need it for nesting. I think it's more of a field rat. I was infested with a family or two this winter. they ate some of my house plants and use them for nesting. I trained the rats not to eat peanut butter. It was bad for their health. It broke their necks. Yep....I'd say it was field rats.

I hate it when they do that. Set up a camera and tape your garden. You might learn what nasty things go on in the SFG.
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  Ha-v-v on 5/25/2010, 3:44 pm

HA-V-V .......what is dog wire? I've never heard that term before. Is
that something like poultry wire?
Ohhhh its dog fencing, when we were buying the fence for the property its what it was called "dog fencing" I did call it dog wire didnt I? The wire grids are 2''x4'' I have it 5ft and 3ft.

Dog wire lololol well thats what it does.. keeps the dogs in property and out of the garden Smile
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  johnfromfl on 5/25/2010, 6:52 pm

HA-v-v ....It might be a conditional use name for the fence. Guess like what you said, dog wire for dogs. I've seen it used as a regular fence.

And to think I learned something new today.
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  Megan on 5/25/2010, 7:07 pm

Hi there Coot. We are practically neighbors, I am in Manassas! Sorry to hear your tomato got munched. I haven't had any damage like that (knock on wood) but I am getting ready to blend up some hot peppers against the squirrels. I have gardened before but this is my first year at SFG. Your boxes are very nice!
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  coot on 5/25/2010, 11:28 pm

Hi Megan,
I think I saw a little bunny in my garden...or a rat with big ears. Oh well, I just hope he keeps his chompers off my other stuff. I'm going to build little chicken wire cages that sit on top of each box like the ones in Mel's book.
I've never SUCCESSFULLY gardened before, but then I never tried to understand plants either. I just seeded or stuck a plant in the ground and waited. A little water here and there, but nothing special. I thought compost was something hippies made, dirt was dirt, and only sissy plants needed fertilizer. No wonder everything died.
I still don't know a whole lot about gardening, but I spend a fair amount of time reading and researching.
Wish I lived in neighborhood like you. I have to "stealth-garden" in my back yard (darn commie HOA imposes limitations on veggie gardens). I guess if I have to resort to camouflage, I'll tape some artificial flowers to everything...."what vegetables?"......only flowers here, ma'am.
I want to make more boxes, but I'm determined to get free wood this time instead of shelling out $$ at Lowes. I keep looking for someone at constructions sites to talk to, but no luck so far.
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  graceypt on 5/26/2010, 1:01 am


This was my first 2x4 box with 3' legs and PVC with net for protection...(protection from animals and neighbors ).

My 2nd/3rd SFG boxes that are 4x4 in a vacant lot next to my apartment.

Last weekend, as I was watering my garden I almost missed this...my neighbor starting his garden on the left. Row gardening!
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  Chopper on 5/26/2010, 2:45 am

graceypt: very plucky of you to kind of do a squatters SFG. It will be interesting to see how it goes. Good luck.

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I also have a vacant lot next to me,

Post  kiwirose on 5/26/2010, 9:35 am

but I haven't been brave enough - I had planned to fill it with cucumbers, squash, melons, pumkins until I realized that just because I planted them, I would still need to water them and weed them and decided that they would all be better in my yard Smile However, when I win powerball tonight (a girl can dream cant she?) my husband and I will buy that lot and then I would install an irrigation system Smile

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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  Ha-v-v on 5/26/2010, 11:57 am

Kiwirose, what about a 5 gallon bucket at the end of each box, the bucket would be elevated to make a gravity fed drip system. If you put buckets out there for rain water to collect, you would have a water source all the time. Or just leave out a trash can for water? Was just thinking of ways Smile
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  Ha-v-v on 5/26/2010, 11:58 am

Graceypt, Your plants look great and what a great idea to utilize the space near you !! Love your pics.
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Re: The Ultimate Test for SFG!

Post  Wyldflower on 5/26/2010, 12:03 pm

What a great use for wasted land! And if there are any issues from the city/town about your using that property, moving your boxes (though difficult) will probably be much easier than your row-gardening neighbor - at least you'll be able to recover the soil mix that you're using. It'll be interesting to see the side-by-side comparison of the two gardens.
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