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I want/need help planning

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I want/need help planning

Post  chexmix on 7/9/2010, 8:56 pm

This year was a test run to see how we enjoyed gardening the SFG way. We loved it. We had/have 2 - 4x4, 2 - 3x4 and 2 - 2x4 boxes. We put those is the corner of an area but have lots more room to expand. The total area is 30 feet x 36 feet with a chain link fence completly around it. Of course I want to add LOTS more boxes so that I can add more veggies that we love and be able to can some also. This space gets FULL sun with NO shade at all.

A few things to note. There is fence behind the back of the chain link. During the spring and summer the kudzoo is extreamly bad. The swing set is gone. This area will be a completly clean slate when we do this. All the stuff on the ground in the pictures will be gone due to weeds and briars (weed cloth didn't stop them).





This picture is to show the fence behind the fence. For those laughing at my snow fall picture that is a rare thing here in Southern Alabama. So gotta have proof that it happened.


Here are my thoughts on the boxes and spacing. PLEASE, give me your imput on what you would do or change. I want this to be right but I am not great on companion planting or designing.

1. Leave 4 foot space empty around inside perimater of fence. This would give me a walk path between fence and boxes. Giving me 26 feet by 32 feet to put my boxes.

2. Leave 3 feet of space between each box or would 4 feet be better?

3. ALL boxes will be TT. (For tomatoes, corn, okra and climbing veggies, how far off the ground would you go?) We have field mice/rats that come into the area and want to eleminate some of thier distruction.

4. What is your prefered size box? I'm thinking of doing some 2x12 feet long boxes for things like tomatoes and peppers. What are your thoughts on this size box? Would you do it smaller in length? Would you do 3 or 4 x12 instead? I will also do a few 4x4, 3x3 and 2x2 boxes.

Your thoughts, ideas and comments are welcomed and appreciated. I want to get this done so that I can do some falling planting.
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Re: I want/need help planning

Post  Chopper on 7/10/2010, 3:59 am

I was recently thinking that a 2 X 10 or 12 would be handy for some items - especially things you want to grow in bulk. It is actually part of my black and cranberry beans and black-eyed peas plan.

For tall items I think a foot above the ground would be enough. My corn and tomatoes and pole beans and squash are already taller than I am and much taller would make them hard to harvest.

I think 3 feet between boxes is plenty. Not less than that though.

To figure out where to put everything, I always use an excel doc and count each square as a square - I even resize them so they are actual squares. It lets me lay it out and move it around without breaking out into a sweat.

It looks like a great space!

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Re: I want/need help planning

Post  Megan on 7/10/2010, 7:04 am

Love your snow photo! Smile

This is my first year at SFG, so I really don't have any advice on box sizing for you, and I don't know how high off the ground a TT needs to be to deter rodents. You might want to plan to be able to bring a small stepladder into the SFG and maneuver it, though. My pole beans could easily have topped 9-10' if I'd let them.

The excel spreadsheet is a great idea. I would go one further, though. If it was my garden, I'd print out (or draw) a large grid that scales exactly to your space. Then cut out your various, proposed box sizes (to same scale) and move them around to see how they fit.

Also... if you plan to irrigate, keep those needs in mind while you're laying out your boxes. You will probably need to put some of the lines underground (or at least covered / protected from being stepped on) as they pass between boxes. I used a thicker, hard plastic tubing to pass the line through, and got it down under the mulch.
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Re: I want/need help planning

Post  chexmix on 7/10/2010, 2:32 pm

Thanks for the ideas so far. I have drawn it out on graph paper. Excel might be the easier route though (Thanks Chopper).

The idea of cutting out boxes and moving them around sounds good though. I think I will try it.

I will have a drip system in place. I have it on my boxes now and it works great. I did forget about the lines though, thanks for the reminder Megan.
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Re: I want/need help planning

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 7/11/2010, 8:13 am

Enjoy your new gardening space. You might want to limit the number of small boxes, I do not think they retain water as much. Having just spent 6 weeks without rain I am much more aware of that. You will like your wide paths. Happy gardening.

Patty in Yorktown
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Re: I want/need help planning

Post  quiltbea on 7/11/2010, 10:18 am

What great advice you've been given.
The only things I would add:

1. Go for fairly narrow-width boxes. I have 4 by 4s now and wish they were 3 x 6s instead. Leaning over that far to water or weed isn't fun for your back, especially as the years add up.

2. If your paths between boxes aren't going to be gravel or sand, make sure its wide enuf for a mower so you can mow any grass and weeds that grow there.

Good luck. You're going to love the bonanza you'll get.
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Re: I want/need help planning

Post  boffer on 7/11/2010, 10:29 am

Hi,

Rah-rah table tops! cheers

If I understand correctly, a 4 foot walkway next to the fence would leave you a working space of 22x28?

Definitely a minimum of 3 feet of walking space if boxes are on the ground. For TTs they only need to be big enough to walk through EXCEPT for the one thing everyone forgets about-the plants grow big and move into the walkway space. Plan your planting or walkway space accordingly.

I only have one 4x4 box. I think it is the perfect size for doing a 'covered wagon'. On my longer boxes, it's too awkward reaching in past the second row. I'm starting to use more 1x4 boxes for beans and peas. They can be moved around-stuck here and there. I have a 2x12 that I enjoy tending, but I can't tell you why!

You don't want to get the taller plants in boxes too high off the ground-they'll become a challenge to harvest. My boxes are different heights; this is what has evolved for me: carrots and parsnips box: 40 inches, broc, brussels, and cauli: 26-28 inches, tall stuff on the ground, everything else at 36 inches which is typical kitchen counter height.

Have fun!

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Vining crops?

Post  ander217 on 7/11/2010, 7:02 pm

Boffer, what do you do with your vining crops? Put them on the ground and train to trellises, or plant them on TT and let them spill over to the ground?
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Re: I want/need help planning

Post  boffer on 7/11/2010, 7:30 pm

Peas and beans on the ground. Cukes and squash hang over the sides of the TTs just fine, and if the vines get too long, I shoo them under the table out of the way.

Determinate tomatoes are easy in TTs. This is the first year I'm trying indeterminates-mostly by accident. I started feeling desperate about our cool/wet spring so I stuck peppers and toms in the only cold frame space I had available which was a TT covered wagon. I put two Brandywines in, so I'm training them up and across the PVC hoops-I'm pretty sure they'll start growing downwards when they reach the peak. I only have a few small green fruit at this point-c'mon summer!
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Re: I want/need help planning

Post  chexmix on 7/12/2010, 11:54 pm

Thanks for all the tips. Going to TT will be an experience but one I'm sure I will love. Boffer because of your raving and showing off of you TT is what swayed me this way. Will be glad to get it all converted.
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Re: I want/need help planning

Post  chocolatepop on 7/13/2010, 12:07 am

All I can say is AWESOME!!

I have only one TT right now, but will build another in a few years with my strawberry box rots out.

The TT I have is 2.5ft by 6ft. I also have a 2x8 box (on the ground) for my indet(vining) tomatoes) put it this way. I built a 7 ft trellis for it so I know I'm gonna need a ladder, so what another foot to raise it up

I would certainly go with long and skinny, with a min of 3ft between boxes, and actually maybe, depending on how tall your fence is(??), use it to your advantage, butt a box up to it and use it for the climbing stuff.

Im excited for you. have you decided on material between/under your boxes?
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Re: I want/need help planning

Post  chexmix on 7/13/2010, 12:22 am

The fence is only 4 feet high. The only problem with putting the boxes next to the fence it that the dogs will eat the veggies if they can get to them. They did that this year with the cucumbers I planted and let go on the fence.

I haven't quite figured out what to put under/between my boxes yet. Since I'm doing this all at one time I'm trying to watch my cost as well. For a while I might just have black 6 mil plastic because that is what is going down on the ground. Before it all happens though I will have it all planned out.
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Re: I want/need help planning

Post  chocolatepop on 7/13/2010, 12:33 am

ahh, ive gotcha, puppy dogs the eaters.

I think some weed cloth and pea rocks would look nice and be effective. but mulch would look nice also, just need replacing.

Your a lucky gardener!!
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Field mice/voles

Post  ander217 on 7/13/2010, 5:23 pm

I have several 1' x 8' boxes next to our 3' fence and trellises. I stapled weed barrier to the bottoms and placed them on the ground on thick layers of newspapers. The voles decimated the box which had peas and carrots growing in it.

Next year anything touching the ground will have wire on the bottom, but I think they can still run up the wooden sides into the boxes. To be really safe I think they should be placed on TT's or covered with some type of wire fencing. (And I'm not convinced the little varmints can't climb up onto Table Tops! It seems likely they can go anywhere a mouse can go.)
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