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First Impressions of a Brand New SF Gardener

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First Impressions of a Brand New SF Gardener

Post  erbarnett on 10/3/2010, 1:04 pm

I planted my first SFG in late August 2010. Here are my impressions:

Since we live in a subdivision with a homeowners' association, I have to be careful what I add to the property, in order not to offend the neighbors. I have A SFG planted with beets, radishes, red lettuce, Swiss chard, turnips, cabbage, and blue and yellow pansies. My neighbor asked my wife if I were growing tulips. Another gave me a compliment also. I could easily have lied and convinced them that I was growing a bed of ornamental plants. The foliage on all the plants is attractive.

While I had to spend a lot of money ordering the vermiculite and the frames from the SFG Foundation, I am sure I will recoup the money in a few growing seasons.

Mel's Mix is the perfect growing medium for root crops. I had always been hesitant to plant root crops, because I had heard that they did not grow well in rocky soil. The radishes in the SFG were perfect. I can't wait to start the spring, summer, and fall crops for 2011.

The grid forces me to plant a much greater variety of crops I might not otherwise have planted.

My only criticism is that the Mel's Mix loses moisture so readily in the summer heat. However, I do have 12 hours or more of direct sun, so I need to expect some drying out.

Overall, I can only say one word: WOW!

Do other new SF Gardeners have comments about their experiences, either positive or negative?


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Re: First Impressions of a Brand New SF Gardener

Post  PNG_Grandma on 10/3/2010, 6:00 pm

We're new to SFG too and we planted Aug 1st. (see outsideasy posts about "more insects" and my Modesto, Central CA posts) We're lovin' it! I'm surprised to hear your Mel's Mix isn't holding water. The vermiculite should hold all the water you need. We've used a moisture meter to see how our garden boxes are comparing to others in our community garden site and we're doing just fine with moisture. Some of the other gardeners have over watered so much that their plants turned a bit yellowish until they added some nitrogen and greened 'em up again. We've had weird weather lately...102 less than a week ago, down to the 70s, back up to the 90s, and then some rain last night and this morning. So far the plants in my SFG and Al's SFG are growing well, almost in spite of those darned worms! Good luck with your new garden...share a bit of what you're growing with your neighbors and they'll probably want to build a SFG and join you! As Chopper said: "Gardens grow more than seeds"...and wow, THAT is the truth!! okay

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Re: First Impressions of a Brand New SF Gardener

Post  sfg4uKim on 10/3/2010, 8:15 pm

Hey erbarnett:

Did you remember to keep moistening the Mel's Mix as you were filling the box? (i.e., 1/3 mix, TONS of water, 1/3 mix, TONS of water, 1/3 mix, TONS of water?) The reason I ask is that's the problem my friend had. It's amazing how much water it sucks up and she was impatient. LOL

The SFG Foundation now has a drip irrigation system in several sizes on the web site.



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Re: First Impressions of a Brand New SF Gardener

Post  camprn on 10/3/2010, 8:31 pm

The drying of the MM was a factor for me this year too. I did use mulch for moisture retention.

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Moisture retention

Post  RoonieRoo on 10/4/2010, 10:48 am

This has been my first year using Mel's Mix and I had to figure out the moisture issue too. I did fine in Spring but when we hit end of July, August beginning of September and we are in our over 100's days, I had to water almost daily.

I had pulled some plants at the end of July or so since they were pretty much done from spring and let those boxes sit. But when I planted them up again, they had lost all the moisture due to no watering in the interim AND the 100 degree days. That meant that watering a ridiculous amount only moistened the top inch or so. That's when I had the "Aha!" moment about what I was doing wrong.

When you are building the bed, water it as you put it in to help make sure it is thoroughly moistened. That way, your regular watering really will suffice after planting. I suspect that we still have to water more in the summers if where you are is over 100 and not very humid.

Also, the next time I have squares that aren't going to be planted immediately, I'm going to keep watering them or mulch thickly to keep them from completely drying out.


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Re: First Impressions of a Brand New SF Gardener

Post  Megan on 10/4/2010, 5:03 pm

I've lived here for 10 years now and my traditional landscaping garden (flowers/herbs) has always burnt to a crisp in the summer if I don't water it, so I knew I'd need to water no matter what. I put in a low-flow misting system when I built my SFG beds and it worked out extremely well. Despite quite a lot of watering, at summer's peak the addition to our water bill was under $20/month. We were quite satisfied with the return on that investment in terms of veggies, herbs and more flowers than ever before, plus the irrigation system now adds value (however small) to the property.

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Re: First Impressions of a Brand New SF Gardener

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