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Preparing for next year

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Preparing for next year

Post  hartge01 on 12/15/2010, 10:02 am

Greetings all,

I am completely new to any type of gardening, but hope to become somewhat proficient by the end of the next year for the following year. I have ordered Mel's books and have read quite a bit, but need a little help getting ready.

I have one 4x4 box set in the backyard in full sun. (Starting small)

I have it filled with compost and peat moss at almost 50/50. Probably a little higher on the compost side. I have a depth of about six inches. My situation doesn't allow for vermiculite and pearlite (sp?) isn't an option. I have TONS (figuratively) of compost available to me.

I currently have the box covered with plastic, a suggestion from a neighborhood gardener, and although not the preferred mix of growing medium, does anyone have any suggestions to get me started off for the planting season. Late February here in North Florida.

This appears to be a great forum and a wealth of knowledge.

Blessings,

Gary

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Re: Preparing for next year

Post  middlemamma on 12/15/2010, 2:01 pm

glad you\'re here

Glad to have you! You will love it here!

I think I would add more compost until you were at 2/3 compost and 1/3 moss. I have no good reason to suggest that...but after 1 year of using Mel's Mix and having a great year...and knowing that in countries where peat and vermiculite is not an option Mel suggests 100% compost...so that would be my suggestion.

Jennie

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Welcome

Post  ander217 on 12/15/2010, 2:10 pm

Welcome to the forum, Gary. We have several active members from your region who will probably have lots of suggestions for you.

I'm certainly no expert at Mel's Mix but my guess is that if you are omitting the vermiculite you should go higher on the compost and less on the peat moss, especially in your hot climate, - maybe more like 1/3 peat. You may have trouble keeping your current mix hydrated. Mel has suggested to people in other countries who do not have access to vermiculite and peat moss to grow in pure compost.

Any experts out there who have a more knowledgable answer?

How to start begins on what you want to grow. Some veggies do better when direct-seeded and others do better when started indoors as transplants. Are you planning on starting your own transplants or do you plan to buy them? Did you set up a trellis if you plan to grow vining crops such as indeterminate tomatoes or cucumbers?

Give us an idea of what you plan to grow and someone should be able to help.

The main thing is, don't stress over the details. If you're like the rest of us you'll have successes and failures, and some things such as weather and pests will be beyond your control, but next year will always be different and you learn as you go.

glad you\'re here

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Re: Preparing for next year

Post  acara on 12/15/2010, 2:34 pm

Congratulations on taking the first step ...

I'm probably one of the newer and least experienced SFG gardeners on the forum (first SFG box, a 4 x 4, is 14 weeks old), but based on you comment, I may be of some help;

I am completely new to any type of gardening,

I'd recommend deciding what you want to grow. Nothing exact, but rather whether you want to start with one thng, or many things, on your first box. Things seem to kinda fall into place once you take that initial step.

A big help for me when I started with my SFG was to utilize transplants from the box stores (or have another gardener give you some transplants). Yes, it's boring, lacks variety and cheats you out of the joy/satisfaction of seeing something grow from seed (if your into that) ... but it gives you a "hot start" on caring for the plants in the box, which is what we probably are all here for.

Transplants are also more robust & tolerant of mistakes than new seedlings ..... both to weather (which would be a concern for you in late-Feb Gainesville) and to the inevitable "ooooppps ... didn't know I wasn't supposed to do that".

I started by just buying 1 or 2 of everything I could get my hands on (until I got to 16 Very Happy ), stuck it in my box & I was off to the races.

Turns out I did the Mel's mix wrong, broke a few "companion planting" guidelines, made more work for myself by planting stuff in squares that created accessibility and shading issues for other plants ..... pretty much dorked it. Luckily the box was forgiving & still managed to reward my efforts on the first try

However, I learned a lot doing it, had a blast doing it & now I'm much more prepared for the next attempt.

I'm not saying don't start from seeds .... but it seemed to take a lot of the "pressure" off the first try when I just had to "stick it in the ground" and then just "keep it alive" & allowed me to focus on learning how the different varieties grew/developed.

I tried the "from seeds" thing once I had a few weeks of taking care of the SFG transplants under my belt ...... and I probably provided great amounts of humor to my friends here on the forum ... but I probably raised my blood pressure by 10 points too, with all the dumb things I did.

Just a suggestion though ..... there really aren't a lot of hard & fast rules on how to start...just have fun.


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Re: Preparing for next year

Post  boffer on 12/15/2010, 2:57 pm

If your neighbor is a veggie gardener, lucky for you!

I would make a list of what veggies you typically bring home from the store. Then cross-reference that with a list of veggies that your neighbor says are easy to grow in your climate. For the first year go with that, and maybe throw in a couple of fun, exotic, or oddball veggies for the heck of it. Be nosy and watch your neighbor to get an idea of planting times.

The important thing is to get started. Because until you do, you really don't know what you know and what you don't know! Wink




P.S. What is a Wishkernoogin?


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Thanks Everyone!

Post  hartge01 on 12/15/2010, 3:16 pm

Thank you all for your input, advice and struggles. I will definitely add compost to my mix. I am sure many of my concerns/fears will be answered once I get Mel's books for Christmas and actually get started. (Look for many more posts!) Very Happy

The suggestion to start with transplants is a good one. With transplants I will be able to concentrate on keeping them alive and getting a head start. I did plant some seeds last year in a small (3x3) cleared section of my backyard. I had "some" success, but outside of poking the ground with my finger and placing a seed in it, that was about all I did. Of course the daily caterpillar harvest and weed pulling took a lot of time, but I did get some beans, squash and cucumbers. I figure that was complete dumb luck! Like I said, I still consider myself a complete newbie, but now maybe I will have a plan, and some help!

As far as plant selection, I am thinking beans, tomatoes, onions, maybe a lettuce or cabbage. I guess I need to look at what is warm vs. cool weather crops. Not a wide variety at first and with only one garden, space is obviously a concern.

Outside of that all I need to do is keep it hidden from the home owners association!

Thank you everyone! This is great!

Gary

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What's a Wishkernoogin

Post  hartge01 on 12/15/2010, 3:22 pm

@boffer et al,

A Wishkernoogin is my eight year old. He blurted it out one day and it stuck as his nickname. We made shirts for each of us for his birthday one year that had "Team Wishkernoogoin" on them since wants to race bicycles one day and run cross country.

My neighbor is very friendly and is certainly willing to help. The suggestion about taking note of vegetables we buy is also a great idea..

Thanks,

Gary

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Re: Preparing for next year

Post  acara on 12/15/2010, 4:00 pm

Outside of that all I need to do is keep it hidden from the home owners association!


Now THAT is a task I am completely qualified to assist you with ...LOL

Or at least provide a sympathetic ear Sad

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Re: Preparing for next year

Post  camprn on 12/15/2010, 4:08 pm

+1 on the 2/3 compost:1.3 peat or sphagnum. Also for your area MULCH! to retain any moisture you put in the boxes.

glad you\'re here to the SFG Forum! All the back threads will be of some value to you! and will make good reading until the book comes in!

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Seeds v. transplants

Post  ander217 on 12/16/2010, 9:11 am

hartge01 (Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:16 pm) wrote:As far as plant selection, I am thinking beans, tomatoes, onions, maybe a lettuce or cabbage. I guess I need to look at what is warm vs. cool weather crops. Not a wide variety at first and with only one garden, space is obviously a concern.

Onions, lettuce, and cabbage are cool weather crops. In fact, you might have better luck with cabbage in the fall since it does better when maturing in cool weather. (Spray Dipel or Thuricide, an organic bacterial worm control to get rid of cabbage worms.) You can plant onions either as seeds, sets, or transplants. I prefer sets (small, dry, onion bulbs) in my area, although live transplants are a close second.

Lettuce does fine when direct-seeded although you can buy transplants. Leaf types do better in a warm climate than heading types, although I have good luck here with romaine and semi-heading types such as Buttercrunch or bibb. Lettuce gets bitter when the temps get too warm.

Beans - they are warm weather crops and can easily be direct-seeded. Are you talking green beans or dried beans? Bush or pole? Bush beans do well in the grids although they sometimes have to be tied to keep from crowding neighboring grids. You can grow pole beans on a trellis attached to the box.

Tomatoes are definitely warm weather. Acara or your neighbor can probably help you with good varieties for Florida. Some varieties are bred to withstand heat and humidity while others do better in cooler, shorter growing climes. Indeterminate varieties are vining and produce all season. They need to grow on a trellis. Determinate types are bush-like, and usually have a large crop of fruit and then produce little afterward. They don't need to be grown on a trellis, but they should be tied to a stake or fence to keep from falling over. Determinate types are usually labeled as such.

The good news about SFG is you can do three-season gardening in the same box. If you grow lettuce in the spring, when the weather warms and the lettuce bolts (goes to seed) or becomes bitter, pull it out, add more compost, and plant a warm-season crop such as beans. When the beans have spent themselves in late summer, pull them out, add more compost, and plant a fall cabbage plant in that grid. Beans won't use much nitrogen from the Mel's mix which will make the late cabbage happy, as well.

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Re: Preparing for next year

Post  acara on 12/16/2010, 9:29 am

I can help you with the tomatoes if needed, but I'm quite the rookie on the other stuff.

Luckily you live in the birthplace of most of the prominent hybrids (Univ Florida) ...

All these hybrids were developed either in your area, or just South of me & should do well.

Variety / Date of Released

Marglobe* 1925

Glovel* 1935

Newell, Cardinal King, Ruby Queen 1940

Manasota, Manahill 1949

Manalucie 1953

Homestead* 1953

Manalee 1954

Indian River 1958

Manapal 1960

Floralou 1962

Floradel 1965

Immokalee 1966

Tropi-Red, Tropi-Gro 1967

Tropic, Walther 1969

Florida MH-1 1971

Florida 556 1972

Flora-Dade 1976

Floramerica, Florida 1011, Walter PF, Calypso 1977

Burgis, Hayslip, FL2432, Florida 1A, 1B, 1C, FL Petite, FL Lanai, FL Basket 1981

Horizon, Suncoast 1985

Floragold Basket 1987

Micro-Tom, Solar Set 1989

Equinox, Florida 7547, 7481, Micro-Gold, vNeptune 1994

Florida 7771, Florida 7775, 7781, Micro-Tina*, Micro-Gemma* 1999

Florida 7946, 7804, 7692B 2002

Add in the newwer varieties like Better-Boy, Yellow boy, Solar fire, etc & you have quite the selection to chose from with hybrid tomatoes in our area.


FWIW, I'm not a big fan of any of the post-1994 hybrids ... but thats a matter of preference & completely based on my tastebuds. There is nothing "wrong" with hybrids & they are much easier to grow (and typically produce more) than the heirlooms


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Re: Preparing for next year

Post  SFGHQSTAFF on 1/7/2011, 12:25 pm

I just wanted to make a quick post and thank you all for the great attention you guys all give to our newcomers and doing so much in helping them succeed! You guys rock! Very Happy

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