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Second year doubts

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Second year doubts

Post  altagarden on 7/20/2010, 1:33 am

This is my second year square foot gardening. The first year was amazing. Since I am in Alberta Canada I stuck to mostly cool weather crops and squash and I was happy with the results. The only flop was onions.

By this time last year I was making salads out of the huge, happy garden and harvesting peas. BUT this year the lettuce is only 3 inches tall, spinach went to seed at 6 inches due to heat, peas only grew a foot (but are producing a little) and squashes/pumpkin are a month behind and might not catch up in our short season. Swiss chard and beets (new this year) still haven't even make it past the seedling stage. Just like last year, onions aren't growing and carrots are mostly tops.

We had a cold, wet spring, but it's been mostly hot and sunny this month. Looking at other veggie gardens in my neighborhood mine is in much worse shape. Stunted is the best word. Everyone says that I need fertilizer. I could always use more hours of sun since it's in shady yard, but moving it isn't an option.

Is Mel's Mix just not doing the job alone as promised? I added my extra scoop of compost into each square this year as instructed. I didn't add bone and blood meal, which I did last year on a lark because it was in the shed. Maybe that is the difference? It's really frustrating because Mel's Mix is expensive and if I still need to buy fertilizer what was the point of spending all that $$$?

PS: DStubbs in Atlantic Canada... I feel your pain!


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Re: Second year doubts

Post  Chopper on 7/20/2010, 2:08 am

Let me start by saying: with all of your variables, I do not know. But I was thinking about this recently. I think that with the crowding and the shallow soil that whatever you grow probably sucks up a lot of nutrients each go round. I have already decided that I am adding more than a handful of compost - pretty easy as everything settled - and adding some other things as well, blood and bone meal, a little epsom salts and probably some ironite, too. It only makes sense that you want the next group to have the same advantages as the first group.

Does anyone with multiple years of SFG experience have any comments?


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Re: Second year doubts

Post  LaFee on 7/20/2010, 6:06 am

I think everyone's had a tough year (all around the world!) this year -- a brutally long and cold winter, chased by a chilly, wet spring, followed by a hot, dry summer, and enough bugs and other meanieheads to make us all tear our hair out. It's been from one extreme to another all over the world this year.

It sure can't hurt to throw a little blood and/or bone meal on...but I think you've just got the same issues the rest of us have had.

My lettuce has suffered mightily by the Attack of the Frat Boy Slugs, right after the Invasion of the Cutworms...but on the whole, I'm really looking forward to a second box and doing this again next year.


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Post  ander217 on 7/20/2010, 6:31 am

I know how frustrating it is, Altagarden. I'm dealing with the same type of issues, and I've been gardening most of my life, although this is my first year of SFG.

I agree with LaFee - it's been a tough year all over.

What's been really strange for me is how spotty the growth seems to be. I planted four cucumber vines side by side in a 1' x 8' box next to a trellis. One vine is nearly to the top of the strings, and is (finally) producing cukes after it recovered from a heat wave. The vine next to it is half the size and blooms all the time but never sets fruit. The next vine is about a foot tall and hasn't grown in months and bloomed only a few times, never setting fruit. The fourth one is about the same as the second one. These are four different varieties of cukes, all of which have been great producers for me in the past. Apparently only one of the varieties has what it takes to make it through the year we've had.

One of my friends who row gardens says she's seeing the same thing. Her cukes in one section of her garden are producing well, while another variety planted at the other end of the row hasn't grown or set a single fruit. We're seeing the same thing with our watermelons.

I'm also seeing plants which have been sitting without new growth for months suddenly shoot up and begin producing.

I've never seen anything like this. So don't give up. Many of us are having issues this year.


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Re: Second year doubts

Post  cansaskgard on 7/20/2010, 10:45 am

Although this is not my second year for SFG, I still am having a good few issues myself with gardening as a whole this year. I am totally agreeing with most of the problems that most are seeing is this crazy weather patterns we have been seeing. It is causing quite the havic out there.

Things are just starting to grow well for me here but too late for some I feel... yes I may give them some booster shots Wink to see if I can get some increased growth happening. I have just picked my first broccoli, snap peas, swiss chard, romaine lettuce, and various herbs. Zucchini, other various squashes, cukes, melons, are trying their best but only zuc's are winning. I have now used Miracle grow (the least cause I did not want to give up and go as natural a possible) , epsom salts, fish emulsion, powdered milk, coffee grounds There is also a lack the good bugs for pollination this year.... so every morning I go out and see what I can do.

Between the cold, snow, wet, windy, then the attack of various bugs (which I am now happy to add that I have the slug farm under control thanks to some chemicals of sorts) we really did not have much of a chance.

I have a hot and a cold compost going now that I am making full use of so that next year I have some good stuff that I am going to fill to the brim all my boxes. Also, cold frames will be my friends next year as mine weren't built in time. I am also going to do some sheet composting over the late fall/winter/early spring on most of the beds and then turn it in with the MM. Anything I can find is going in my compost... Cool

Now depending where you are in AB, that rain, snow, or wind doesn't help no one...

Good luck to you! Very Happy

On the point of spotty growth... seen that here too with brocs, peas, corn, lettuce (and a few others) and have no idea what that is all about. I am clueless there.


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Post  altagarden on 7/20/2010, 4:08 pm

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions. It has been a very frustrating year as far as weather goes.

Certainly I will baby the garden a little more next spring. Add organic nutrients before planting, leave the greenhouse cages on longer, not overwater the onions etc.

2 questions:

If I add bone or blood meal to the garden do I have to be careful not to place it too close to the roots? Kind of hard with close spacing. Do I dig it in or just leave it on top?

Do yellow leaves on a zucchini squash plant usually mean too much water?


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Re: Second year doubts

Post  camprn on 7/20/2010, 6:54 pm

@altagarden wrote:If I add bone or blood meal to the garden do I have to be careful not to place it too close to the roots? Kind of hard with close spacing. Do I dig it in or just leave it on top?
I sprinkle it around the plant stalk 4 inches either side and then just lightly stir it into the top 1/2 inch of soil with my fingers or a hand cultivator, then water.

Are all the plant leaves yellow or just a few?


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Re: Second year doubts

Post  altagarden on 7/20/2010, 7:25 pm

Thanks. They are all a light green, some yellow, rather than the deep green of last year.


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yellow leaves

Post  ander217 on 7/21/2010, 8:50 am

Another cause of yellow leaves can be a nitrogen deficit.

I've just purchased my first bone meal to add to my boxes which show sluggish growth. I read online that bone meal can be poured directly next to seed potatoes when planting or it can be incorporated into the top layer of soil. I haven't tried it yet on anything.


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Post  altagarden on 8/9/2010, 4:46 pm

Just an update....things are looking better with lettuce, kale and other greens in my garden since side dressing with blood meal. I now have enough for salads of young greens. I pulled a bunch of spindly crap out and worked organic veggie food into the soil and blood meal. Planted lettuce and spinach seeds, which have sprouted in the shade. Will see if things grow better, but it's out of season.

Still no idea how to really help the poor root veggies. Put a little bone meal around them so that might help. I will leave the carrots in until the fall. Beets and onions are just wasting space in the garden and won't grow. One broccoli seems tall enough to produce, but the others are too small.

The peas are producing. Short vines but happy.


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Re: Second year doubts

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