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Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

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Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  CPN on 8/18/2010, 5:54 pm

I have always piddled with a summer garden in one form or another. This year was my first SFG. This had been my experience.
1). First and foremost this had been the hotest and most humid summer I can remember.
2). The recomended amount of Mel's mix is not enough in the heat and humidty of the south. It dries out to fast.
3). All the roots on my plants are showing through the dirt.
4). I planted 8 tomato plants 1 inch apart as suggested in SFG book. I think this is too close together even if you prune to one stem. In the humidity of the south, disease runs rampid in plants this close together. No air circulation. And pruning to one stem decreases yield.
5). Bottom line is I have had the least amount of tomatoes I have ever had this year. I do think it had just been a bad year overall due to number
6). Also I planted a 4 x 8 bed. It was very hard to tend to in the middle.

I dont think I will be doing SFG next year. Especially not with my tomatoes. Although I was not impressed with my other crops as well.

Just my observations and opinions!

CPN

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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  julyXV on 8/18/2010, 6:17 pm

This is the beginning of your first post on the forum.

(sic) i just finished reading the book. First thought is I want to do this. Second thought. This is not going to work .
I guess it's become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  Aussie Girl on 8/18/2010, 7:14 pm

@CPN wrote:
4). I planted 8 tomato plants 1 inch apart as suggested in SFG book. I think this is too close together even if you prune to one stem. In the humidity of the south, disease runs rampid in plants this close together. No air circulation. And pruning to one stem decreases yield.

CPN

Hi CPN,

Sorry to here it's not working for you. Sad

I'm not sure where you read 1 inch per tomato plant, but it's supposed to be 1 plant per square foot. I'm in central QLD (very hot & humid) so I know there is no way tomato's would grow that close together.

I'm having great success with my cherry tomato's and I've just planted out my tomato seedlings.

If I were you, I'd give it another go but space them out to 1 per square foot. If in doubt about your spacings, just check your seed packet or the seedling tag (or ask on here) Very Happy

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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  Chopper on 8/18/2010, 7:38 pm

I concur about the tomatoes. Absolutely not recommended spacing. One per sf is a stretch.

I do not know why you see roots through the soil. I do not have that problem. It is very hot and dry here and I water daily but do not have issues with drying out. So, dunno.

I have had my first successful, productive garden EVER and I have been a veg garden aficionado forever. I would often try, but never got more than a few goodies out of the garden.

SFG works. I do not know your specific issues, but it works in your area. I am sorry it didn't work for you. The weed issues alone are worth the effort. I hope you find a gardening method that suits you. Gardening is certainly more fun when you get something at the end of the season!

I have also come to the conclusion that any box more than 4 feet in length I would lessen the width. 4X4 is ideal for tending, so I do understand about a 4X8 being a little harder to manage. For me, the longer, the less wide. I have a 6X3 that I love.

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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  Chopper on 8/18/2010, 9:21 pm

And specific to tomatoes - this is by far my best crop ever. By far. I have three in one box and 6 in another. One per sf and they are producing like crazy. I didn't do single brach but once they got to a decent size I did take out suckers. Even at that these are big bushes - some taller than me (the heirlooms - the hybrids stayed smaller).

I don't think your issues are area issues, I think it was a misinterpretation of the SFG guidelines. Maybe next year you can re-read and do both and see about yields then?

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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  Ha-v-v on 8/18/2010, 9:27 pm

Living here in the southwest of Mississippi, this is my best year of gardening even though I didnt reap a ton of tomatoes. My tomato plants flourished in the sq ft method!! So much so I cant manage them, they needed pruning for one and I planted in a 4x8 bed I will not do that again. I cant manage them and it is very discouraging. So, while I had some things I learned and discouraged by, I am still so happy that I finally had green lush tomato "bushes" while others lost theirs to blight, I too lost my plants to blight in previous years before spraying this year. I will use 2x what ever beds for tomatoes next time and the trellis will go in the middle of those 2 ft wide beds. If I had that much success just getting them to thrive like this I cant wait for next year. Now for my other tomatoes in the bed with the basils !!! They are doing well and fine because they have their own trellis system of pvc pipe.

Below is the pictures of the wild bush tomatoes


Below are the tomatoes with the basil bed, they have shot past the 8 ft mark of their trellis and the cherry tomatoes have produced all summer long, with now we are overloaded. The other tomatoes needed a bit more food I think, but they have rallied with their growth.


Oh !! I would plant these same tomatoes with almost 4 sq ft I Think but .. I will see. I will be making new tomato beds in a few weeks !! We have family coming to help out with our log home building and my cousin and I will work in the garden together. It will be so nice to have someone with me:)

I am now going to start collecting cardboard folks !! I cant take the weeds in the walk ways anymore .. can you hear bugs bunny "oooooo Im dyin " lololol
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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  Chopper on 8/18/2010, 9:36 pm

Now that you mention it Ha-v-v, I was thinking for things I want to grow in bulk - tomatoes, black beans, corn, etc that I might do a separate area of 2X8 boxes and rotate the big crop items in those.

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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  Ha-v-v on 8/18/2010, 9:41 pm

Now that you mention it Ha-v-v, I was thinking for things I want to grow in bulk - tomatoes, black beans, corn, etc that I might do a separate area of 2X8 boxes and rotate the big crop items in those.

Yes !!! I wanted bulk tomatoes. But with this I was bummed. I see it as learning curve I can over come. I thought the 2x8 boxes will be perfect. I am taking one 4x8 box and making it into 2 2x8 boxes for that purpose. But then with wanting to save seeds they say they should be 5 ft a part, soooo we will see and let that come to me later.
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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  CPN on 8/18/2010, 9:57 pm

LOL......Obviosuly I didn't plant my tomatoes one per inch. That was a typo. They are planted 1 per square foot. So I want be re-reading any books. Good to see that someone in SW Mississippi had good results. I am very happy all your hard work paid off. As for Southern California, your results don't compare to the conditions that we experience here in the deep south in regards to humidity and disease, as well as every bug known to man lives in Alabama. Im am glad that SFG has work so well for many. Just hadn't seem to work well for me.

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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  Ha-v-v on 8/18/2010, 10:25 pm

Im am glad that SFG has work so well for many. Just hadn't seem to work well for me.


Sorry you had such a tough time. I used more things to battle things this year as well. I used the blight spray. Im really glad I did. It's so constantly wet this summer. Im glad we had the rain mind you, I did little watering compared to row gardening in the past even in a rainy summer. They also needed more food than I gave them really. The rain came so often and hard it washed it away. I found dipel dust killed quite a few things. Dipel dust ingredient is BT (Bacillus thuingiensis) helped with the tomato horned worm, and squash vine borers if I was consistant. I will definitely give the tomato plants more than 1 sq foot per plant. My pepper plants are in the midst of those bushes of tomato plants. Cayenne kept on growing.( I dont know how they did but they did ) I am going to hack those back when I build the 2x8 beds. I hope to get some peppers then for the fall.
I plan to scale back so I dont have more discouragement from being overwhelmed next year. I overwhelmed myself. I could have fed more and didnt, didnt prune like I should have.

Maybe try one box of something next year? or scale back for fall to the bare minimum to see ? I know how it feels to work so hard and not get anywhere I thought I could be. My first year row gardening I had 9 Jalapeno plants, I harvested one jalapeno !!!! Im still so new at gardening. This was the year I learned about some weapons to use and some food ideas. I have access now to horse manure from a neighbor and our chicken poo, found rabbit poo just have to pick it up.
Hoping your next planting season is better for you Smile
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Re: Something to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  GloriaG on 8/19/2010, 10:04 am

CPN,

I'm new to SFG this year also. I live near Dallas it rained ALL spring, now our temperatures have held in the 100+ range for a month. No rain, horrible bugs, dogs that trampled by garden, soil that I'm not sure I got right, maybe not exactly the right fertilizer, etc., etc., etc.........

However - I have gotten some produce - maybe not what it will be in future, but some.

The thing is, if you give up after just one try you never really know what the possibilities are. There are a LOT of reasons why a garden will fail in one year - I'm sure you've experienced that with your regular row garden - but you persevered.

I'll bet that if you look at your SFG you'll find that there are some thing you could do differently next year to make it better - just as you did with your rows. It takes patience to be successful at anything new. I know you've done it before - so I know you can do it again!!! I hope you'll give it another try.

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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  CPN on 8/19/2010, 10:17 am

Thanks Gloria. I never say never! Smile

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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  Ha-v-v on 8/19/2010, 10:43 am

Thanks Gloria. I never say never! Smile

Im so glad! Let us know as you go, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Right know Im right there in the pits of what do I do now syndrome. This is me in the pits affraid :-D It takes me a long time to figure it out. I do know when I go to the stores now Im going to ask for as many boxes I can get. I do not want another planting season with more weeds in my walk ways than my beds.
Oh and have I bought the brussel sprout seeds or broccoli seeds yet ? No ! affraid
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Re: Something to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  GloriaG on 8/19/2010, 11:57 am

CPN - I'm so glad!

I hate to see you give up.
We'll just keep each other propped up as we learn more.
All my best.
Gloria

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Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  junequilt on 8/19/2010, 12:24 pm

CPN, I am sorry you've had such a bummer summer (gardening-wise, that is). I'm in the equally hot & humid southeast, and it has indeed been a wretched season for weather and bugs. I have to say, I don't know how farmers do it -- organic ones, at least. PLEASE don't give up, though!

For next year, would it be possible for you to redo that 4x8 bed as a 4x4 that is double-deep? I ask because we believe our plants benefited from the extra depth of our beds. They're 11" deep because we ordered the beds online and the company that makes them only sells in 5-1/2" high segments. We also have some 2x4 beds that are 8" high (we built those ourselves) and although the plants in those beds produced, none of them did as well as the plants in the 11" deep boxes.

Also, do you have a water garden? If not, for purposes of pest control, I would encourage you to create one, even if it's just a large pot with a single water plant (no pump, aeration, fountain, etc. needed).
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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  Chopper on 8/19/2010, 2:20 pm

@junequilt wrote:
Also, do you have a water garden? If not, for purposes of pest control, I would encourage you to create one, even if it's just a large pot with a single water plant (no pump, aeration, fountain, etc. needed).

How does a water garden help with pest control?

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SFG in Deep South

Post  trustinhart on 8/19/2010, 2:31 pm

Wouldn't a large pot full of water with just one water plant be a breeding ground for mosquitos?
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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  1chichi on 8/19/2010, 3:57 pm

I'm sorry it didn't work out.
Maybe you can try a smaller bed next year, and try a few new tips.

This is my 1st sfg, and I used this year as a learning experience.
My 4x7 bed has perforated black plastic mulch.
This helped to prevent compaction, erosion, drying out, and weeds taking over.
My 5 tomato plants produced very well!
However, next year I will not put more than 1 lone tomato plant in a sfg, because I couldn't keep them trimmed enough ...they took over the whole bed.
My 2 okra plants managed to get tall and survive, as did my callaloo.
Everything else was covered in tomatoes.

It rains almost everyday, and that washes the pesticides away. Now the worm/bugs/blight are out of control. affraid This morning, I cut mostly everything back. It's my attempt to get things under control, so maybe I can get a few tomatoes for fall harvest.
I fear it may be too late.

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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  junequilt on 8/19/2010, 4:19 pm

@trustinhart wrote:Wouldn't a large pot full of water with just one water plant be a breeding ground for mosquitos?

Nope -- just use Bt israeliensis. You can buy it as Mosquito Dunks at Lowe's or order pellets from Gardens Alive. We have 3 small water gardens and no larger a mosquito population than anyone else in the deep South, LOL! Less, maybe, because of the toads and dragonflies that breed in our in-ground water garden, which isn't much bigger than the pan of a good-sized wheelbarrow. The adult toads eat the adult mosquitoes -- along with whatever else they can wrap their tongues around. Nature in action, keeping balance!
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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  junequilt on 8/19/2010, 4:28 pm

How does a water garden help with pest control? [/quote]

Water gardens attract all kinds of great pest-eating predators -- dragonflies, damselflies, toads, frogs. This summer I've seen a lot of the darning needle dragonflies, which pleases me very much because they are known coloquially as "skeeter hawks." Try it and see!
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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  kshimpi on 8/19/2010, 8:26 pm

junequilt wrote:

Water gardens attract all kinds of great pest-eating predators -- dragonflies, damselflies, toads, frogs. This summer I've seen a lot of the darning needle dragonflies, which pleases me very much because they are known coloquially as "skeeter hawks." Try it and see!
--

This is definitely true around our swimming pool!
Kristan
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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  CPN on 8/19/2010, 8:47 pm

Yeah. I may have a modified SFG that works for me........ Another observation that I have noticed that really has nothing to do with SFG (I dont think) is problems with blooms. I have watched bloom after bloom just simpy fall off after a few days. I read something that said if temperatures remain high at night tomatoes dont set bloom. And we have had many nights in the 80's. Also, some will even have minut tomatoes after the flower dries up and then never swell to grow. Kinda strange. Just something else I have noticed this year. I do know that all the blooms falling off have dramatically decreased production.

CPN


Last edited by CPN on 8/19/2010, 9:03 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  Old Hippie on 8/19/2010, 8:52 pm

Okay, reading about your issues about gardening in the deep south makes me appreciate my Zone 3b a whole lot more. It always looks to me like those of you in warmer climates have it made. You just put stuff in the ground and it GROWS! No worrying about freak snowfalls in June or frost in July. And I have always been jealous because so many plants that we have to grow as annuals you all get to grow all year round. (Sigh!)

Yes we have bugs and viruses and so forth BUT...we have no poisonous snakes or toads or spiders in my neck of the woods. and no tropical storms either. It has been very hot and dry here most of the summer and our forecast for more fire, smoke and ash is a tad apocalyptic but in two more weeks or so I will have to be very watchful of the night time temperatures and be prepared to cover tomatoes and beans and cucs if I don't want to lose them to the first fall frosts. So I guess every gardener, no matter what zone has their own particular set of issues, whether it be plagues of pests or disease or crazy weather.

I am so sorry your garden was such a disappointment. I really love this SFG thing and I have gardened off and on for a number of years. Personally, I think a lot of the plants do better in deeper boxes so I made mine deeper. I intend to make them even deeper in the next couple of years to give my knees a break. (This getting older thing sucks!) My boxes are 4x4 and I even find it hard to reach the middle of those on some days. I like the sound of a 3x6 or 2x8 size.

And as far as weeds in the path go......I have hated weeding and hoeing the paths since I was a little kid and my mom used to make us work in the garden. It always seemed counter productive. So I have been a fan of cardboard and wood shavings, straw or grass clippings for the pathways for years. Newspaper works too, although it has a tendency to get blown away easier than the cardboard does. And every couple of years you just put it all in the compost bin......lots of nice browns there.....and put down fresh.

Please give it another go. I know you will get lots of great encouragement and ideas here.

All the best to you.

GK

PS........(holding right hand in the air) I promise not to complain about my growing zone again. Cross my heart.
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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  Ha-v-v on 8/22/2010, 9:24 am

PS........(holding right hand in the air) I promise not to complain about my growing zone again. Cross my heart.

lolol !!!
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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  sceleste54 on 8/22/2010, 4:52 pm

And on the water garden subject, if you can find some of the "old fashioned" guppies, without the fancy fins, you can put those in your water garden and they will eat any and all mosquito larva that hatch. Not only that but the toads and frogs will lay eggs in the water, you get to watch the tadpoles grow up, and then there's a whole new crop of hoppers to aid you in bug patrol !! I've been doing this with 5 gallon buckets for 3 years now, and it does help !!

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