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New gardener with some questions

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New gardener with some questions

Post  Juergen on 1/26/2011, 2:12 am

Hi,

I'm new at SFG and I will start my first garden in March. We live in Germany and have about 50 qm meadow, and I'm not sure what to do with the ground. I would like to keep it as it is, put a wire netting on it, then a mulch film and then the box. Does this sound allright?

And we would like to make something similar to a hotbed, so I'm looking for a simple way to cover the box. Now I found a sandpit (1,2 x 1,2) with a roof (http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B003CRZ5WQ/ref=s9_simh_gw_p21_d0_i3?pf_rd_m=A3JWKAKR8XB7XF&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0ZKD7NVAMJ8ZDR45FNSR&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=463375173&pf_rd_i=301128)

why not using this? I would replace the roof with garden foil and can have it in any height, so it will warm my plants in March...

Is there any reason not to do this?

Juergen


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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  LaFee on 1/26/2011, 2:38 am

Guten morgen, Juergen! Wo kommen Sie aus?

Welcome to the forum! I'm LaFee, the host for the European forums - my garden is in the Paris region.

Your plan sounds fine - the sandbox will give you 16 squares (each square is 0,3 -- 1 foot) -- so it won't be a big garden, but should be enough to give you some nice salads.

I don't know that you need the wire netting under the box -- do you have problems with animals or very strong weeds? If not, then it would be easier (and cheaper!) to not use it.

Do you have plans to keep that just as a box to grow things through the cold weather, or will you have another box in your meadow to grow more vegetables?

Welcome again...you will find lots of kind people here who are happy to help answer all your questions.

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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  Juergen on 1/26/2011, 7:24 am

Salut LaFee,

we have enough place for at least 6 of such boxes, but we want to start with three. Cause we have voles, I will use the wire netting. We are two adults and a 5 year old child (she will plant strawberries and flowers).

Because of the difficult weather, I hope that the sandbox with a transparent roof will help to start early in the year and last year, we had snow until May, so the roof will prevent the plants from the snow as well. But we will plant the whole year in these boxes.

I believe Paris has a similar weather to us, do you need to cover your plants in March or April? Or with strong rain, isn't it helpful to have sometimes something to cover the plants?

Juergen


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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  LaFee on 1/26/2011, 7:51 am

Ah...yes, there are plenty of other folks who have had to put down wire netting for the voles (so far, I've escaped...but I'm crossing my fingers!)

I would make a roof quite low to the top of the box, if only so that you don't have to try to keep so much air warm...the roof of the sandbox is quite high, and the warm air will all go near the roof, and not near your plants! I have seen plenty of small "greenhouses" at the French stores like Obi and Praktiker - they're usually not very expensive (around 25 euros), and last year I bought a small one with a metal frame at Lidl for 25 euros (it's very heavy-duty, and I have had it over my box all winter. I have just a few lettuce and some carrots just sprouting in it right now.) It even stood strong when we had 15cm of snow in December.

You don't say where in Germany you are, so I can't say if I'm warmer than you, but I used gardening fleece last year to protect my seedlings from the frost until April when it finally began to get warm. By then, the ground wasn't so cold anymore, but I needed just to protect the leaves from the frost....and I was *very* happy to have it when we had lots of hail in one very bad storm. I don't find I have any problem with rain -- the excess just drains from the bottom of the box, although the fleece or my little house would be good when the seedlings are very small, just for more protection.

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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  Juergen on 1/26/2011, 9:38 am

We live near Marburg, this is about 80 km in the north of Frankfurt. We live in a 200 year old former farm and our landlord gives us the meadow for free.

The roof of the sandbox is height adjustable, so it can be moved complete to the bottom in the beginning and higher it as necessary (there are three pictures: http://www.amazon.de/Sandkasten-Sandkiste-wetterfest-Abdeckung-Dachh%C3%B6he/dp/B003CRZ5WQ/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1296052406&sr=8-4).

Tomatoes loves a rove as well, don't they?

I will have a look at the greenhouses, that's a good idea.

Juergen

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Welcome

Post  ander217 on 1/26/2011, 9:46 am

Welcome to the forum, Juergen. It sounds as though you are making great plans.

I'm one who also has to deal with voles. Is Juicy Fruit chewing gum available there? We tried many, many things to get rid of the voles in our garden, but we received a packet of onions from a seed company which included a paper on how to plant and care for them. It mentioned that if voles are a problem, to try Juicy Fruit gum, and without touching it with your bare hands, roll pieces up and drop into their holes. It took about three packages to do the trick, but so far we haven't seen them in the garden. (Keeping my fingers crossed they don't return in spring.)

I look forward to hearing more about your garden. We love seeing photos, too.

glad you\'re here



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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  Juergen on 1/27/2011, 5:44 am

@ander217 wrote:
I'm one who also has to deal with voles. Is Juicy Fruit chewing gum available there? We tried many, many things to get rid of the voles in our garden, but we received a packet of onions from a seed company which included a paper on how to plant and care for them. It mentioned that if voles are a problem, to try Juicy Fruit gum, and without touching it with your bare hands, roll pieces up and drop into their holes. It took about three packages to do the trick, but so far we haven't seen them in the garden. (Keeping my fingers crossed they don't return in spring.)


Hi and thank you for this funny tip, yes we have Juicy Fruit gum and I'll try it.

When my first box is ready, I'll post some pictures.

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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  kimbertangleknot on 1/27/2011, 12:18 pm

@Juergen wrote:We live near Marburg, this is about 80 km in the north of Frankfurt. We live in a 200 year old former farm and our landlord gives us the meadow for free.

The roof of the sandbox is height adjustable, so it can be moved complete to the bottom in the beginning and higher it as necessary (there are three pictures: http://www.amazon.de/Sandkasten-Sandkiste-wetterfest-Abdeckung-Dachh%C3%B6he/dp/B003CRZ5WQ/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1296052406&sr=8-4).

Tomatoes loves a rove as well, don't they?

I will have a look at the greenhouses, that's a good idea.

Juergen

Wow, a meadow for free. That's so cool. And that box from amazon is awesome. I've never seen something like that before. Happy growing and much luck getting rid of the voles!

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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  Juergen on 1/29/2011, 3:47 am

Hi, and thank you all for your comments.

I have one more question: shall I take off the grass under the boxes, or keep the ground as it is?

Juergen

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grass under the boxes

Post  ander217 on 1/29/2011, 5:10 am

That depends, Juergen. Here we have something called bermuda grass which spreads by rhizomes and can run for several feet underground before popping up in the middle of a box. It is tough enough to grow through any little nook or cranny it can find, so we have to put down thick layers of newspaper, sand, straw, etc. or else remove the top layer of sod before setting our boxes.

Some people in other regions report they do fine with just stapling weed barrier to the bottoms of their boxes and placing right on the grass. I think the consensus is to at least put some layers of newspapers or other mulch underneath.

Boffer keeps telling me if I'd switch to table top boxes (TT's) that I wouldn't have to worry about bermuda grass. One more season of fighting it and he may just convince me.

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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  camprn on 1/29/2011, 9:12 am

I removed the sod/grass before I put the boxes in place. I am quite happy with the results. Very Happy Link to photo


Last edited by camprn on 1/29/2011, 4:34 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added link to photo)

camprn

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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  LaFee on 1/29/2011, 2:54 pm

I didn't remove the grass when I built my boxes, and while I've had a stray weed or two, it's been very easy to keep up with.

The Continent doesn't have the nasty invasive grasses that the US deals with, for the most part. I think there were a couple of folks in the UK who had issues with nasty weeds, but it's not been a problem for me here.

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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  quiltbea on 1/29/2011, 3:23 pm

I rented a sod cutter and my son removed the lawn before I started. I didn't want to have any more issues than necessary when I started.



I didn't use any weed barrier at the time, just filled with loam.
I haven't had any bad weed problems in 2 years but I have had grass growing in my beds this last year. As soon as I can this spring I will layer my beds with 3 sheets of wet newspaper, spread compost on top and then sow seeds and seedlings at the proper times. Its just an extra insurance before gardening this spring.

When its time to plant or sow, the newspaper will have discouraged many grass and weeds and I can plant right thru the disintegrating paper, according to Lee Reich who wrote the book, Weedless Gardening. I'll try it and let you know how it works for me.

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Sun in the West

Post  Juergen on 2/6/2011, 3:27 am

Thank you all for your help. I've already learned a lot from this forum and a few days ago the postman delivered (after 7 weeks) Mel's book (the newer one) and I've started to study it.

We have started planning what we want to plant and found a basic question:

Our meadow has a 20 feet high barn in the East, a 30 feet high barn in the South, a few trees in the North and it's free to the West.
In spring we will have sun at 2 pm and in summer at about 12 pm. In the morning we have shadow.

Mel writes, that tomatoes - for example - need full sun, does this mean that tomatoes will grow only in a garden with full time sun?

Is our meadow a place where only plants will grow, which don't need full time sun?


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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  LaFee on 2/6/2011, 4:11 am

If it's free to the west, Juergen, you should be okay -- our sunset is so late here in Europe that even if they don't get sun until noon, they'll still have sun for 8-9 hours (or more) during the summer...and that is what counts as full sun.

My garden is next to a wall (we're in a town) and I had all the tomatoes we could eat and give away (I grew Moneymaker that I bought at Lidl last year - I intend to have coeur de boeuf/ox heart and cherry tomatoes this year, too).

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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  Juergen on 2/6/2011, 4:30 am

Oh, thank you LaFee, this information makes me happy and we are free to plan our garden.

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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  FarmerValerie on 2/6/2011, 9:38 am

Juergun, I'm in the US, and I live in TX, the sun we get here is so strong, that we have to watch that 8 hour recommended sun. We did a few trials in different areas, and noticed that our peppers and tomatoes did far better with only 6 hours of sun, than those with 8, but then again, we also have a lot of high temp days. So although 8 hours is recommended, some do just fine with only 6 hours, try it and see.

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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  LaFee on 2/6/2011, 1:14 pm

Valerie, we're somewhere north of Nova Scotia as far as latitude goes...so our sun isn't ever gonna be even remotely as strong as yours, and we need all the hours we get in the summer to make our veggies grow!

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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  FarmerValerie on 2/6/2011, 1:17 pm

Oh, I understand completely, and your temps are not nearly as high as ours, nor is the humidity. I wonder if SFG boxes on wheels would help?

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Re: New gardener with some questions

Post  LaFee on 2/6/2011, 1:27 pm

I had all the tomatoes I could eat and give away last summer, and *still* lost about 10 lbs of tomatoes when the late blight hit when I wasn't looking...

A stationary SFG is no problem...but shielding it isn't a concern.

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