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Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

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Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  Blackrose on 10/23/2010, 11:17 pm

I have NO patience and couldn't resist starting my spring SFG plan. Laughing

I have laid out a grid in Excel and started playing around with the placement of my veggies. I'm trying to place them based on Companion Planting as much as possible following a couple of sites about it that I found. I've also expanded my SFG from this year. I've gone from One 4x3 to Two 4x3 and Three 4x4.

I'm just wondering if I could get some feedback from all you more experienced Gardeners/SFGers out there.

Here is a link to my spreadsheet: Click Here

I hope I set the permissions correctly so everyone can view the file.

Thank you in advance for any advice you can provide.

flower

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  quiltbea on 10/24/2010, 12:27 am

I would suggest moving your plants around so that you don't have the same plants next to each other, except for corn, peppers and tomatoes which can benefit from such nearness.
Corn and tomatoes for pollination and peppers because they enjoy touching shoulders with their fellow peppers.
I put several of the same plants together this year as an experiment but the more I learn about rotating crops, it should be more beneficial to put several crops interspersed with each other instead. When your garden is a 4 by 4 square, you need to keep them mixed up a bit more. It also benefits such crops as radishes and lettuce which you can stick in wherever you find a spot open and some shade where lettuce is concerned.
Another benefit is small plant, large plant, small plant, etc so the squares have room to grow the larger plants.
Then next year when you plant your new crops, you'll put them in new squares according to the best rotation so you don't deplete your soil.
Rotation hints:
Root crops like carrots, onions, and salad crops follow cukes, squash, zucchini.
Cuke, squash, zucchini follow tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.
Toms, peppers and eggplants follow cabbage, caulliflower, broccoli, turnips.
Cabbage, Cauli, brocc and turnips follow peas.
Peas follow potatoes.
Potatoes follow sweet corn.
Sweet corn follows beans
Beans follow the root crops in the first line above.
If you aren't growing some of the above, just eliminate that rotation and move to the next group.
The above rotation info supplied by Eliot Coleman, a noted gardening author and home gardener in northern Maine and developer of the soil block method.

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  acara on 10/24/2010, 7:26 am

I'm not "experienced" but FWIW ...


Depending on the variety, the current cuke locations are going to give you fits .... might want to consider putting those on the back-outside corners.

Basil is something I harvest from continuously through the growing season (the little leaves are much tasier IMHO) and you usually have to "pinch" basil when it first starts, to keep it "round and bushy" (technical term ..LOL Very Happy ). Maybe consider moving the basil to the front of sides, since you'll be working with it quite a bit ???

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  Megan on 10/24/2010, 8:02 am

I would put the corn in a 2x2 arrangement, both so it can help to pollinate each other and so they can help each other stand up against the wind.

I agree with acara about the cucumbers, I would put those in outside squares.

I would swap the basil and the carrots... the carrots will be "hanging out" for quite a while, whereas you'll want to get at the basil. (It may not be the best companion planting, but it would be much more convenient.)

I regretted planting my tomatoes adjacent to peppers this year. The tomatoes ended up shading out the peppers to a certain extent.

Are you planning on growing the thyme as an annual? If so, it will do great in your SFG. Around here, it is a perennial and I keep it in my landscaping beds. It finally got a good hold this year (probably because I put the watering system in) and now I have two great big clumps of it, one "English" thyme and a smaller clump of amazingly heady Orange thyme.

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  boffer on 10/24/2010, 8:24 am

It is always suggested that corn be planted in 'blocks' and not rows for pollination purposes, as Megan said. Corn is fun and usually easy to grow, but with 4 squares you might get enough harvest for two meals. Only you can decide if that is the best use of those squares.

Like Bea mentioned, I have heard that peppers like to snuggle, and I plant accordingly. When planting multiple squares of a veggie, I like to spread them around to different boxes. It's the 'don't put all your eggs in one basket' concept.

If I tried to consider companion planting and yearly rotation patterns at the same time, my head would explode! So I do the next best thing...neither! cheers

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 10/24/2010, 8:35 am

Good Morning,

I will weigh in on the opposite side of the recommendation on mixing things up more. The more I mix things up the more I loose veggies. It is much easier to miss a square of a green veggie in all of the foliage. It also makes it easier to replant when you have a finished crop, I find the big veggie next to small veggie means the small veggie never sees the sun. I still rotate my crops, but not on a square by square basis, I do box by box (and not every year. I try.) No two gardeners ever garden the same, so if it pleases you then plant it. Happy day dreaming.

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  Blackrose on 10/24/2010, 9:36 am

Wow! Thank you all for the information. Where do I start?

@quiltbea wrote:I would suggest moving your plants around so that you don't have the same plants next to each other, except for corn, peppers and tomatoes which can benefit from such nearness.
Corn and tomatoes for pollination and peppers because they enjoy touching shoulders with their fellow peppers.
I put several of the same plants together this year as an experiment but the more I learn about rotating crops, it should be more beneficial to put several crops interspersed with each other instead.

I can definitely plant the corn more in a "block" fashion as suggested by Megan and boffer. This is my first year growing corn, so I wasn't aware that it is more beneficial to plant it this way. I have placed the Tomatoes, Peppers and Basil all together because they are good companions as you suggested. As for everything else, what could happen to them by planting together? I was trying to keep like plants close together for organization purposes. If I'm adding more compost into a square before replanting in a square, do I need to worry as much about crop rotation?

@acara wrote:Depending on the variety, the current cuke locations are going to give you fits .... might want to consider putting those on the back-outside corners. Maybe consider moving the basil to the front of sides, since you'll be working with it quite a bit ???

My thoughts on putting the cukes where I did is I thought maybe they could grow up the corn like a trellis, like people sometime do with beans. Would the corn not be strong enough to support it or would the cuke plants grow too big before the corn grows big enough? I placed the basil where I did so it will be beneficial to the tomatoes and peppers. Will it still be close enough to the tomatoes if I move the basil to the front more? I'm not entirely sure how "close" a companion plant has to be to actually be a companion. Laughing

@Megan wrote:I regretted planting my tomatoes adjacent to peppers this year. The tomatoes ended up shading out the peppers to a certain extent. Are you planning on growing the thyme as an annual? If so, it will do great in your SFG.

I'm hoping I won't run into this problem with the placement of my SFG. I'm planning on placing it at a diagonal angle to the sun so the Tomatoes won't shade anything in front of them. Yes, I was thinking of planting the Thyme as an annual or transplanting it to my perennial garden at the end of the season.

@boffer wrote:Corn is fun and usually easy to grow, but with 4 squares you might get enough harvest for two meals. Only you can decide if that is the best use of those squares.

The corn is an experiment for me this year. If it does well, I will probably devote an entire box to it next year.

@boffer wrote:It's the 'don't put all your eggs in one basket' concept.

I can appreciate this, however even though I am expanding my SFG greatly next year, I'm not sure I have enough room to put this concept into action and still get the variety that I want.

@Patty from Yorktown wrote:I will weigh in on the opposite side of the recommendation on mixing things up more. The more I mix things up the more I loose veggies. It is much easier to miss a square of a green veggie in all of the foliage. It also makes it easier to replant when you have a finished crop

This is how I did it this year and it seemed to work for me. However, I also didn't companion plant and I think that may be why my onions did so terrible. I planted them next to beans. Live and learn. I'm one to keep things organized and grouped together. I'm hoping that by planting the marigolds, borage, petunias and sunflowers, I can attract predator insects and deter the pests. That way, I won't have to worry as much about planting things in groups.

Thank you everyone for your input and advice! I don't know what I would do if I didn't have all of you to bounce ideas off. Very Happy

And again I say, WOW! You are all amazing!

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  Megan on 10/24/2010, 9:51 am

@Blackrose wrote:
My thoughts on putting the cukes where I did is I thought maybe they could grow up the corn like a trellis, like people sometime do with beans. Would the corn not be strong enough to support it or would the cuke plants grow too big before the corn grows big enough? I placed the basil where I did so it will be beneficial to the tomatoes and peppers. Will it still be close enough to the tomatoes if I move the basil to the front more? I'm not entirely sure how "close" a companion plant has to be to actually be a companion. Laughing

I tried a "Three Sisters" planting arrangement this year with corn, pole beans and squash. It was a good thing I put up a trellis anyway, because what happened was the beans grew much faster than the corn did. (My fault, I'm sure.) And, well, you saw what happened with the rampicante. Twisted Evil

Depending on the size of the cuke AND the size of the corn (and how fast/well the corn grows) the corn might be able to carry the cukes, but, maybe not. I successfully trained fairly large cukes on my amaranth -- similar in habit to corn -- but found that the amaranth itself needed staking. My suggestion is don't rely on the corn as a support... you need a trellis or a cage of some sort. Plus, the corn might not grow fast enough for support. "Knee high by Fourth of July" is what I go by for corn. Mine was 5-6 feet tall by then, but my cuke vines were way bigger than that.

I grew my basil in a row "in front" of my tomatoes, and that worked out well. I could reach past the basil to get at the tomatoes.

I have to agree with Patty that I like my varieties in blocks, for the most part. It helps me keep track of what I have, for one thing. Though I did spot a few things all over the place, like onions and radishes.

I did a lot of reading about companion planting this spring, and the one concept that remains with me is that you really need to find out WHY a plant is a good companion for another. In some cases, it might attract a predatory insect, or do something good for the soil... so there, you'd want it right next to the plant you're trying to protect. BUT... sometimes, it's a sacrificial kind of companion, and needs to be planted further away. For example, I read nasturtiums were good for tomato plants, so I planted one right between my Cherokee Purple and Gold Medal tomatoes. It was only late summer when I found out *why* nasturtiums are a companion plant for tomatoes, though.... they attract aphids!!! Agghhh!!!!! Fortunately I didn't have any aphid troubles at all, but that could have been a disaster. (Way to plant an aphid magnet next to your tomatoes, Megan... duhh!!!! Rolling Eyes)

Happy planning! flower

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  quiltbea on 10/24/2010, 10:27 am

Every gardener has needs that differ from another.
If you like to plant in blocks, try it.
I did with several things this year, but I think I'd like to mix them up next time so that my soil isn't drained of specific nutrients by a specific plant.
It also gives the bugs a harder time to find all the plants they prefer. If one plant is destroyed by an insect, it won't find the same plant next door to also destroy.

I put my smaller plants to the east of larger ones so they get the sun first, except for spinach and lettuce which I want shaded naturally as best I can but I can always resort to covers of cheesecloth for shade.

Megan.....I thought I might try to plant the Three Sisters (corn, bean and squash plantings) in one of my two rear berms next year. Corn, beans and small pie pumpkins in the same plot. Its another experiment for me. From you experience, I guess I should start the corn earlier so they can support the beans better.

Remember, if it doesn't quite work out how you like it one year, you can easily change it the next year. That's one of the best things about SFG.

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  Blackrose on 10/24/2010, 10:30 am

I think I may do a little bit of rearranging based on everyone's advice.

  • Put the corn in a 2x2 block

  • Move the cukes to the back of that box and mount a trellis

  • Swap the plants in the top left 4x4 with the plants in the bottom left 4x4. The top left 4x4 will be about 12" deep. I'm thinking I could plant long carrots instead of the little fingers.

  • I may move the tomatoes, basil and peppers around a bit to make it easier to get at everything while still keeping with companion planting


@Megan wrote:(Way to plant an aphid magnet next to your tomatoes, Megan... duhh!!!! )

As I always say, "live and learn". I'm glad the nasturtiums didn't actually attract the aphids to your tomatoes. What I would be wondering is if it would have made a difference planting the nasturtiums away from your tomatoes. The aphids in your neighbourhood obviously don't like them. Smile

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  Megan on 10/24/2010, 10:32 am

@quiltbea wrote:Every gardener has needs that differ from another.
If you like to plant in blocks, try it.
I did with several things this year, but I think I'd like to mix them up next time so that my soil isn't drained of specific nutrients by a specific plant.
It also gives the bugs a harder time to find all the plants they prefer. If one plant is destroyed by an insect, it won't find the same plant next door to also destroy.

I sort of go on the theory that "next door" is one square away, or a few feet away, for a hungry insect.... probably won't make much difference. But, like you say, it is different for everyone.

Megan.....I thought I might try to plant the Three Sisters (corn, bean and squash plantings) in one of my two rear berms next year. Corn, beans and small pie pumpkins in the same plot. Its another experiment for me. From you experience, I guess I should start the corn earlier so they can support the beans better.

Definitely start the corn early, and pick a tall variety, too. My pole beans could have easily grown to 10 feet, had my trellis been big enough.

Remember, if it doesn't quite work out how you like it one year, you can easily change it the next year. That's one of the best things about SFG.
Absolutely! Very Happy flower

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  Megan on 10/24/2010, 10:34 am

@Blackrose wrote:
@Megan wrote:(Way to plant an aphid magnet next to your tomatoes, Megan... duhh!!!! )

As I always say, "live and learn". I'm glad the nasturtiums didn't actually attract the aphids to your tomatoes. What I would be wondering is if it would have made a difference planting the nasturtiums away from your tomatoes. The aphids in your neighbourhood obviously don't like them. Smile

Had there been an aphid problem, it would have made much more sense to plant the nasturtiums away from the tomatoes, I think.

I had a horrible problem with flea beetles early this spring. If I can get my boxes going next year in the back yard, I am going to plant a whole lot of Japanese mustard well away from everything else, to try to keep them away from the rest of my plants.

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  camprn on 10/24/2010, 10:46 am

The way I use companion planting regarding pests in the garden is two-fold, to repel and attract.
Planting the nasturtium close to other things WILL attract aphids, TO the nasturtium, thus keeping them off your vegetables, or at least that is the theory. Lupines are another very attractive plant for aphids, tho I do not recommend planting lupines in the vegetable garden.
Other plants are repellant to insects and will stay away, thus keeping them away form your vegetables, or whatever.

Additionally, some plants will encourage the growth of others.
just my $0.02.

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  quiltbea on 10/24/2010, 11:15 am

megan......To deter flea beetles, use floating row cover over the plants. I used it to cover my 8 cabbages and it worked great. The flea beetles that had arrived, went elsewhhere.

Here are some cabbages heading up in July with the row cover turned back.
The sun and rain go thru the row cover so the plants continue to thrive beneath it.
The variety here is Super Red 80, a mini version, but they fit just fine in one square without crowding out their neighbor.

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  Megan on 10/24/2010, 11:26 am

Wow. You just made me realize I don't have to worry about what my backyard looks like! Woo hoo!!!!!!

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  acara on 10/24/2010, 11:33 am

My thoughts on putting the cukes where I did is I thought maybe they could grow up the corn like a trellis, like people sometime do with beans. Would the corn not be strong enough to support it or would the cuke plants grow too big before the corn grows big enough?

Unfortunately I'd have to bet against you on that one.

I just had to tension wire my outrigger trellis this week, so I'm fairly confident the corn won't hold a loaded cuke vine.

If a single cuke vine will flex a 4' section of 1" PVC, it's most likely going to pulverize yr corn stalks

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  middlemamma on 10/25/2010, 3:21 am

I have been planning next spring since I saw the first seeds pop up this past summer. Instantly I needed more boxes and a better "plan" LOL.

We started with four 4X4 boxes. Smile We are adding 2 more this spring and two 3X3's.

Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed and I am already wondering if that is going to be enough. Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed

I went and picked up a bunch of free semi truck tires and I plan to put them around the backyard in various spots with flowers and maybe some other plants. I know tires probably seem so tacky to some folks, but I think they are adorable with flowers in them. Embarassed I would love to find some red wagons too and throw some morning glory's or something in them.

We are in the process of figuring out where in the yard to put the 4 hops plants and figuring out what in the world they can climb on. I have a little archway I am going to put runner beans on.

We are also trying to figure out an inexpensive set up to start my seedlings in Jan...grow lights are astronomical and we simply cannot afford them. *shrug* so working on that. Smile

Ahhhhhh...addicted isn’t the right word. Obsessed is more like it!

I have a little diagram like you that I made in Publisher, it's great for daydreaming on the crappy days at work. Very Happy


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Tire planters

Post  ander217 on 10/25/2010, 8:46 am

@middlemamma wrote:I went and picked up a bunch of free semi truck tires and I plan to put them around the backyard in various spots with flowers and maybe some other plants. I know tires probably seem so tacky to some folks, but I think they are adorable with flowers in them.

Jennie, check out this link: http://www.felderrushing.net/
Scroll down on the left and see the photo of the tire planter garden.

And of course, there are the old "petal planters" made from tires, but they require the addition of pink flamingoes for authenticity. Smile

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  CarolynPhillips on 10/25/2010, 9:43 am

just had to add about tires-------there is a company in town with giant
Earth Movers tires and I want one so bad......you know--those tires that are bigger than your car. What would I grow in it?= The biggest tomato plant you ever saw.

I have a nice supply of graph paper and I bet I change my garden design at least once a week. Rolling Eyes

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  quiltbea on 10/25/2010, 10:44 am

I don't think I'd take a chance growing foodstuff in a tire. I've heard bad news about the rubber affecting food.
For flowers, it sounds like a good plan. And the ones I've seen painted white were lovely.

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  CarolynPhillips on 10/25/2010, 12:11 pm

about 20 years ago i grew tomatoes in tires. that was a long time ago.
it was the best poison i ever ate but i have no idea how many years it has shortened my life.
Have fun with those tires. (tomato tires----maybe thats why i am mental)

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  Old Hippie on 10/25/2010, 12:50 pm

Carolyn, I want one of those gigantic tires to use for a pond but I am not looking forward to digging the hole for it when I find one! :!: :!: Those things would take a LOT of MM and you would need a ladder to get up there to tend your tomato plant. I read in Mother Earth News (my hippie go to source) that if you want to use tires for growing food stuff just put a liner in it first.

Mamma, I don't think using tires is tacky at all. Well, okay sort of, but you are recycling stuff that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Way to go city girlie! You are catching on!

As for grow lights......if you haunt second hand stores, Habitat for Humanity Restore or advertise on Freecycle for 4 ft. fluorescent light fixtures you should be able to find some for cheap or better yet FREE! You can buy just the grow light tubes at Home Depot and garden centres. It is much cheaper than buying the whole grow light fixtures. AND again, you are recycling!! If you want to you can plug them in to a timer like the ones you can put your Christmas lights on. They are relatively inexpensive and that way you can use them for more than one thing.

GK


Last edited by Old Hippie on 10/25/2010, 12:56 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : forgot to add some stuff)

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  WardinWake on 10/25/2010, 2:16 pm

Howdy Folks:

I might be pushing spring just a bit, but, today I seeded a 4X4 with two types of spinach and a 3X5 with carrots.

Who knows! They just might grow.

Seed is cheap. Very Happy

God Bless, Ward and Mary.

WardinWake

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  Furbalsmom on 10/25/2010, 2:27 pm

MiddleMamma, about those hops:

I have never tried to grow them in a SFG, but I have concerns that they would be successful in a SFG because of their MASSIVE root systems.

We grew a few root cuttings of Willamette and Cascade in a half barrel and in less than 3 years they grew out of the bottom of the half barrel, starting growing out of the ground along the south wall of our house, where the half barrel was placed, and split the half barrel open. They also need a good support system because they grow 13 - 18 feet high and won't bloom unless they are up in the air.

Our son was so pleased to be able to harvest the hops for his home brew. They are well worth growing, I am just not sure about using SFG boxes.

BTW, Idaho is the third larget producer of Hops in the USA, after OR and WA.

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

Post  middlemamma on 10/25/2010, 3:21 pm

Thanks for the ideas GK!

Furbalsmom....Smile Hi!

We don't plan to use SFG to do the hops...they are going right in the ground...I kind of don't see the point of putting semi-permanent plants in a SFG...Smile I just don't know what we are going to grow them ON...that is where our big dilemma is.

Thanks for caring enough to let me know your experience!

middlemamma
 
 

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Re: Planning for Spring... Already?? I must be addicted!

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