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Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

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

Post  LaFee on 8/22/2010, 11:24 pm

I wouldn't in any way use this year as an accurate judge of any garden technique in the Deep South. I have friends all across the Deep South from the Carolinas, through Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas -- and no matter whether they're using hydroponics, SFG, or traditional row gardening, organic or industrial,the pest populations are above normal, the temperatures are above normal, and therefore the average plant health and yield is quite a bit below normal.

Seems all anybody can do is muddle through the rest of the hot weather, and wipe the slate clean and start over. Look at the bright side...you'll be growing tomatoes and lettuce when the rest of us are still shoveling snow and fondly perusing the seed catalogs.

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SFG in Deep South

Post  trustinhart on 8/23/2010, 2:14 pm

Oh, I love my SFG and my zone. This has been such a trip this year. Thanks for all the cool ideas about the water gardens. But BTW, we have a bat colony living inside our closed gutter system. Hence, no great prob with mosquitos. We counted last night . We saw 82 leave the building. Boy, if I could get to that guano, just think of how much richer my compost would be....(maybe outght to figger out a way to get to it!! lol)

Love the forum and you guys too. I may not answer every day, but I'm here, soaking it all up.


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

Post  camprn on 8/23/2010, 3:23 pm

trustinhart wrote:Oh, I love my SFG and my zone. This has been such a trip this year. Thanks for all the cool ideas about the water gardens. But BTW, we have a bat colony living inside our closed gutter system. Hence, no great prob with mosquitos. We counted last night . We saw 82 leave the building. Boy, if I could get to that guano, just think of how much richer my compost would be....(maybe outght to figger out a way to get to it!! lol)

Love the forum and you guys too. I may not answer every day, but I'm here, soaking it all up.Kari
I think it was Bullfrogbabe that said in an earlier thread about how female bats set up maternity nest areas during the summer but then hibernate in other areas during the winter. If that is the case, you may yet get your guano! alrighta
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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  CarolynPhillips on 9/17/2010, 11:15 pm

I am a month late posting a reply---but i just joined so ---- What a Face

I live one hour north of Birmingham. It is not much different here than what it is in
Birmingham. but---I can say this----I do have to do a lot of watering starting mid summer. which is why I like my beds just a tad deeper than 6 inches. The more
water retaining soil I have---the better my plants do.
As for growing tomatoes Vertically ----one every square foot------I love it.
but at the same time-----I love my caged tomatoes too.
Most of all the SFG, I like it when it comes to the small plants like, radishes, carrots, lettuce.........etc........... but when it comes to big plants---I think each gardener has to decide how much their own big plants are goin to get and always give it plenty of space
to grow with plenty of air circulation.

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

Post  acara on 9/18/2010, 6:37 am

Im new to SFG, but not to growing & have been fighting the weather down here my whole life....brutal summers are just the way of life.

Some things that may help ....

Exposure, location, containers, water, selection & maintenance

Exposure/Location ...... probably #2/3 on the list. My SE and West exposure beds might as well be two complete different countries/growing zones. I can kill stuff in a couple days by moving it to another location. There are also sweet-spots in each location where a plant will do well, while another plant of same type thats 3' away will struggle. A log/plant diary is a big help in increasing awareness on this & the sweet spots will become evident.
This was the primary reason I went to all container gardening .... sometimes it might take several relocations to determine what location/enviroment factors are best for a plant.

Water ...probably #1.
More than one of two ..."opps I forgot" is a death sentence down here. Automated irrigation and watering times are a godsend. Time & type are critical.
For time (at least for me) ... some time between 7-9am and again at 6pm, unless it rained(rain sensor is another good investment down here). Anything applied between 10-5 in my area is just evaporating. Any earlier and the plants are drooping by 3pm ... any later and the soil stays moist overnight & your battling fungus/disease.
As far as type, drip irrigation is the key IMHO. It ugly & a pain to set up, but applying the water localized to the root system, keeping the leaves dry and training the roots to go down to get their water, instead of branching out, is critical to survival in the South for plants. Show me a plant that didn't do well down here & summer and I'll bet you there are either no roots (overwatering or random watering) or the root pad is 10-20 times the width you would suspect, but the root mat isn't any deeper to 1/2 to 1".....so the atmosphere is drawing out the water faster than the roots can get it. This also contributes to spacing problems & is usually the culprit when you plants don't do well in the published/recommeded spacings.
Personally, I dont have a single "classic" sprinkler left anywhere in my yard ... the "spray-spray-spray & pray" Mid-South Florida watering technique is just too expensive and innefficient. I can do better with 2x daily waterings from a localized 2GPH or 4GPH dripper than I can with a full water truck Very Happy

Selection ..... there is a reason why we have the UGLIEST home & garden centers in the world. Go look at the seed display in a Deep South store;

- Always neat & well stocked (because nobody buys it). It's all very pretty on the package ... but it just doesnt grow well down here. $1.25 for a seed packet, plus supplies, wait a couple of weeks, transplant ..1:100 chance of getting something thats still alive a month later ... or $2.99 for something I can drive home, have in the ground in an hour and have a 50/50 chance of it still being around a month later ??? Doesn't take a rocket-scientist or an accountant to guess which way most people are going down in this area.
- You'll see the same folks, buying the same seed packs, EVERY WEEKEND ....and it's not because they have 10 acre planting lots and are staggering their plantings tongue
- Nothing on the seed rack can be found out in the transplants/live plant section.
- You will find the same classic and boring plants at every store, at the same time every year. If you see something "new and exciting"... it either just arrived, or it's on the "reduced/50% off" rack, because it's been in the Deep South for more than a week & isn't doing so hot.
I used to go into garden/nursery stores when I traveled and see the most beautiful types and varieties of plants in the stores up North & in other climate zones and think Southern stores must be stocked by complete idiots, or lazy people with no imagination.
Up North ....beautiful flowers/plants as far as the eye could see, in multiple varieties/strains, seed isles (not rounders or pop-up displays) with dozens of people scrambling to grab the last packet of something, 50% of the "popular" items out of stock & tons of stuff I had never seen in a Florida store.

I now know the reason for that ... and that the garden stores down here do a pretty good job of only bringing it what will survive longer than a week.

I'm not saying that you can't grow just about anything down here, at any time of the year, if you know what your doing (and lucky) ..... but I suspect the nursery/landscape industry down here is not successful because everyone loves (and is sucessful) planting/growing everything imaginable ....it's because 99% of us are buying/planting/killing it faster than they can grow it and ship it in Wink

Sometime you just have to come to peace with the fact that you give up some variety, when you gain the longer growing season in the South. I'd give my right arm to have some of the plant varieties/gardens I see onthe forums here ...gorgeous ...just not achievable in the South (with my skillset/experience).

For my part ... seeds are a no-no. I'd have to start 100 to get 1 surviving plant after 3 months (mostly due to sun & bugs killing them). My stupidity, enviroment, hateful garden gnomes ...I dunno, but I go with transplants wherever possible.
Just like everyone else, I have moments of weakness & buy some "exotic" or something I haven't seen/planted before. In my moment of weakness, I buy three!!!! .... hoping that some variant of location/enviroment/growing style will somehow triumph over the laws/challenges of Deep-South gardening. Care to guess how that turns out Embarassed

As far as maintenance ...the stuff that can survive down here, you need to stay on top of...... at least daily.

SFG for me has been exausting in the Deep South. I know better than most what will grow down here, figured out the irrigation trick a few years ago, know the sweet spots in my yard and the SFG techniques/media work well. End result is that by 4 x 4 SFG box is prolific (so far). However, I've had to get out there almost twice a daily to inspect/trim/prune/stake/trellis my plants....probably less time than I previously spent shopping/buying/planting/fertilizing/medicating/weeding/excavating dead stuff though & definately more enjoyable. I've got 2 week old stuff thats had to be pruned/trained almost daily with at least a dozen ties on it ..... when it grows down here, it grows fast.

Point of all this being ...... keep the faith. Deep South gardening is as challenging as any other location (we just don't have to dig up boulders to plant our garden or shovel snow off the top of the SFG box to start the season).
SFG is good, but nothing is good enough to overcome the soil/sun/heat/pest challenges of the deep South.

Sounds like all you need is a less brutal summer and a few minor tweaks to get your SFG garden up and running to your expectations though .....hang in there.

If it helps any I'm in zone 9a & I've got almost all tomato's, cukes and melons going in my SFG right now & growing 1-4" daily ...with not issues (knock-on-wood) and I'm as dumb as a bag of hammers when it comes to SFG, but I had a lot of help from the folks here.
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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

Post  davidclubb on 10/30/2010, 5:37 pm

Dear CPN, the reason your bed dries out is due to the extremely close spacing of your tomato plants. I just turned 40 in September, and I remember a lesson from one of my science teachers in high school. Tomatoes actually consumer more water than a watermelon. You can tell this by seeing how much brighter a tomato is than a watermelon. You should replant the other tomato vines except for one as starter vines for other gardening projects, or sell the excess tomatoes, if you have any. The recommended spacing, as mentioned is only one vine or bush per square foot, not one every inch. Don't give up so soon, and you will experience great success with SFG.
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Re: Some things to consider about SFG in the Deep South

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