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Starting Over

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Starting Over

Post  happytheman on 8/15/2010, 6:00 am

Well summer is far from over here in Va. but parts of the garden have all but played out their cards. I think in large part due to the lack of moisture in July. I asked several questions regarding watering issues early in the season when I realized hot and dry were going to be the norm for this summer. And even now in mid August we are only getting spotty afternoon thundershowers.
Anyways, as an experiment I'm building 3 new plots with Mel's Mix to see if there is anything magical to his suggestions!
Years back I was guilty of throwing in a bag of Vermiculite here or there throughout the garden, and also a bale or two of Peat. Back in the day Mel would recommend leaf mold which I would also add into the soil each fall.
But I think the overall combination of Va clay coupled with years of only sporatically adding manure and other organic materials has left my soil depleted.
Thus my experiment for this fall. I've bought enough "stuff" to mix up 3 4x4 boxes. My intentions is to grow some greens etc. and see how it goes. Based on my results I may end up pulling all of the soil from my current 12x12 plots (2ea) and starting from scratch with them. I just think I never got the proper "mix" by adding a bag here a bag there. I also think Mel's Mix (from what I've read) will hold moisture a lot better than my current soil mix.
This could get rather expensive, however if the results speak for themselves then it's a no brainer. Anyone else "started from scratch?"

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Re: Starting Over

Post  Chopper on 8/15/2010, 4:52 pm

I had a so-so garden off to the side of the house. It didn't produce
much and was a pain to work in. When I got started with SFG I just
plopped my boxes on the grass behind my kitchen, filled 'em with store
bought everything and went from there. That is as from scratch as you
get. I have found that store bought compost can be lacking so I do not
hesitate to add nutrients if needed. In the meantime, I am busy
building my own compost.

Are you going to take your 12X12 space and go with SFG there?


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Re: Starting Over

Post  happytheman on 8/15/2010, 6:35 pm

One 12x12 area is "boxed" in and basically SFG format, the other not. It's the soil issue I'm mostly dealing with thus the idea to simply "start" over, with enough basic material (vermiculite, peat, compost) to build 3 plots to experiment with first before converting the rest over to full Mel's mix.
Did you put the "weed" mat down first? or simply spray for weeds before adding the mix.

happytheman

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Re: Starting Over

Post  Chopper on 8/15/2010, 6:39 pm

@happytheman wrote:
Did you put the "weed" mat down first? or simply spray for weeds before adding the mix.

Neither. In my naivete I just mowed low and plopped them down. The grass we have is not a very invasive or aggressive grass and so far has not been a problem. I was just lucky there.

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Re: Starting Over

Post  kiwirose on 8/15/2010, 9:53 pm

@happytheman wrote:One 12x12 area is "boxed" in and basically SFG format, the other not. It's the soil issue I'm mostly dealing with thus the idea to simply "start" over, with enough basic material (vermiculite, peat, compost) to build 3 plots to experiment with first before converting the rest over to full Mel's mix.
Did you put the "weed" mat down first? or simply spray for weeds before adding the mix.

one of my boxes did not have a weed mat (my first, andI was so excited I forgot), the rest of mine have weed mats. I found that the one without the weed mat had a few weeds but nothing horrific. My other boxes (4 of them) that do have weed mats did really well till the deer trampled in them, then I swear that they trampled in seeds from our lawn as it seems that the only places that weeds appeared were in their footprints I blame the deer (and it was only one type of weed - very strange).

I found that one of my gardens was insanely suited for leafy greens - and another would probably follow suit - the beans had wonderful leaves and poor bean production. other gardens produced lovely fruit - different compost mixture - but I couldn't tell you what combo I used. all in all it balanced out and I was thrilled with the results though

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Re: Starting Over

Post  Megan on 8/19/2010, 8:27 pm

How is it going, happytheman? Have the recent thunderstorms helped with your watering troubles?

I started mostly from scratch this spring and have had overall great results despite not using pure MM. I wasn't able to find a lot of different composts this spring so ended up with vermiculite, peat moss, sterilized cow manure/hummus, and some of that lovely VA red clay.
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Re: Starting Over

Post  happytheman on 8/19/2010, 10:24 pm

@Megan wrote:How is it going, happytheman? Have the recent thunderstorms helped with your watering troubles?

I started mostly from scratch this spring and have had overall great results despite not using pure MM. I wasn't able to find a lot of different composts this spring so ended up with vermiculite, peat moss, sterilized cow manure/hummus, and some of that lovely VA red clay.
Well things certainly turned around in August with lot's of afternoon rain showers! Picking Okra like crazy (first time I've tried that).
Hopefully the lettuce, spinach, collards and broccoli I just planted in my new box with Mel's Mix will bring forth abundance! I'm liking what I see so far. As mentioned above I never truly "mixed" all of the ingredients together in the correct proportions in the past. Sure I'd add a bag of Vermiculite here or there, and dig in a bag of Peat, and I was always heavy with the leaf mold (old SFG book recipe).
But from the looks of this 4x4 box I made recently coupled with the correct mix Mel calls for, I'm looking at "black gold" for soil.
I'll keep you posted as August turns into September.

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Re: Starting Over

Post  Megan on 8/19/2010, 10:52 pm

Excellent, and yay for okra and the rest!

I am hoping to get a few fall crops in, too. (Even though my tomatoes and peppers are only now starting to come in, and my tomatillos still have a way to go.) The one big surprise for me was the Swiss chard. I thought it would be gone with the rest of the spring crops but it is still hanging in there like the Energizer bunny.

I look forward to hearing your updates! And for September I want to do a Mid-Atlantic update round-up, too. But if you (or anyone else reading this) has something to share now, by all means please do! Smile
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Re: Starting Over

Post  vfclead on 8/20/2010, 9:21 am

I'm glad to hear you all are experiencing late blooming crops as well. I was disappointed all summer that my tomato, pepper & bean plants were producing next to nothing, but lo & behold, I've had a sudden spurt of veggies in the past 2 weeks. Now if I could just figure out what is getting to my ever-bearing strawberries, life would be great. Every one that has gone red has had a bite taken out of it by the time I got to pick. I have netting over them and a fence around the box - not sure what creature has figured out how to navigate the spaces in the netting 😢

I have some type of worm eating a large percentage of my tomatoes, however. I've looked at pics of tomato worms and these ain't them. These are small, skinny black worm-like things - under a 1/2 inch in length and smaller than a millimeter in diameter. They are piercing the skin and living in the tomato eating it from the inside out. I've tossed out more tomatoes than I've brought in due to these little buggers. Mad

I'm planning on mixing in some compost in one of my boxes and planting some lettuce next week. We'll see what the fall will hold!

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Re: Starting Over

Post  camprn on 8/20/2010, 9:29 am

@vfclead wrote: Now if I could just figure out what is getting to my ever-bearing strawberries, life would be great. Every one that has gone red has had a bite taken out of it by the time I got to pick. I have netting over them and a fence around the box - not sure what creature has figured out how to navigate the spaces in the netting 😢
It might be slugs, they love strawberries.

@vfclead wrote:I have some type of worm eating a large percentage of my tomatoes, however. I've looked at pics of tomato worms and these ain't them. These are small, skinny black worm-like things - under a 1/2 inch in length and smaller than a millimeter in diameter. They are piercing the skin and living in the tomato eating it from the inside out. I've tossed out more tomatoes than I've brought in due to these little buggers. Mad
You might find using diatomaceous earth helpful for the wormy caterpillars.
Click this link. Very Happy
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Re: Starting Over

Post  Megan on 8/20/2010, 6:50 pm

My tomatoes and peppers are really, really slow because I started them from seed in-ground this spring, and they took FOREVER to sprout. (I tried to start some indoors, too, but I did so very in-expertly and...long story short, the in-ground ones looked a lot healthier so I just let them go.) The tomato plants are almost 6 feet tall and lots of greenies. I have gotten one good ripe one off the Cherokee, and another BEAUTY that split when ripe and molded up during all the torrential rains recently Sad The Black Cherry tomato seems to be getting into production mode. The Gold Medal is acting like a princess and still all green.

My pole beans are doing great, I have lost track of what harvest I'm on, 5th, 6th? The pole limas have vanished under the rampicante, I know they are under there but I guess I'll just be getting dried beans from them this fall.

Sorry to hear about your worm problems. My tomatoes seem completely untroubled so far (knock on wood!) but my strawberries, too, are getting munched on. My Genovese basil keeps trying to bolt and I guess it's time to give up and make pesto. (I'd been hoping to have fresh basil PLUS fresh tomatoes... guess it's not meant to be, this year!)
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