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Starting Saturday

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Starting Saturday

Post  darold on 2/24/2011, 12:05 am

I just picked up the "new" version of SFG, have read through it, and am ready to apply those lessons this Saturday!

I live in Atlanta, and this will be my first garden. I started last spring with some basic herbs in outdoor containers that I sunk into the ground. That was ok, but this looks like it will not only look better but actually be more than just a minor supplement to my home and kitchen.

I have a plan drawn out for the space, but I will need to get a mockup done to share with you all. I have a few quick questions before I start this weekend.

1) I couldn't find recommended Spacing for certain plants I want to have. Rosemary (1/sq ft?), Mammoth Sunflower (again, I am assuming 1/sq ft), and Cotton (4+ / sq ft?), Bay Laurell (???) There are a lot of potential plants I would like to have that aren't in the book.

2) I am still researching and am afraid I may be a little late to start planting. It's a little overwhelming at times. I'd love to share my planned garden with the forum for advice. Is there a software you use to share your ideas? MS Paint will work, or I can use Photoshop on my mac, but that seems like overkill.

3)Finally, for one person, how long will a 4'x8' garden take to set up? Will this take more than a full day to build (no planting yet).


I apologize for the newbie Q's and realize I should have found the book sooner. Until picking it up, gardening seemed like too big of a time commitment. Now I am sure a nice SFG will be a great addition next to my front door. I can't wait to use the herbs and veggies in my food and to be able to cut some flowers for the girlfriend.

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  LentilSoup on 2/24/2011, 7:52 am

Hi darold! I'm a newb too, but I think I can help a bit. Others will surely add to / correct me.

Mel's enthusiasm in the book is VERY addictive, isn't it? Very Happy

1. Spacing. If using seed packets, look for instructions in 'thin to' x inches, that should really help. Other than that, I'm clueless. Someone Help!

2. Not too late! Even if you miss some cool weather / spring plantings, there's always the warm weather summer crop! As to software, hmmm, here on the 'Garden Plans' forum many seem to like using this http://www.gardeners.com/Kitchen-Garden-Planner/kgp_home,default,pg.html. I was going to start with it today, if I can find the time. Check out some of the posts in the Garden Plans forum here, and it looks like it has cool results.

Hey, if someone else has some more software suggestions, I'd like to check em out too!

3. No clue on build times. (haven't done mine yet, still too cold!) I would think though, that if you have to do any landscaping to correct for hills that would certainly extend the construction time.

I think you and I are REALLY looking forward to getting started. These folks here seem VERY helpful... And I'm jealous you get to start THIS weekend, have fun!

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  FarmerValerie on 2/24/2011, 9:00 am

Rosemary, YES 1 per square, and mine has gotten fairly tall, so back square.

I use plangarden.com to do my planning, you get a 45 day free trial, and then I purchased the three year membership for $36. I am very happy with my personal choice. It is saved online, and I can transfer to another year, keep track of harvest, and have a daily log I can make notes in.

Patty Moreno, who has done some SFG videos with Mel has a video on making her boxes, she makes it look simple, but you will want to figure on adding time to your first box, and it's video so there are edits. She makes her boxes taller so she can place a chicken tractor on top when that box is not in use.
http://www.youtube.com/user/GardenGirltv#p/search/3/mPrMvItUIuQ

Adding a hoop house.
http://www.youtube.com/user/GardenGirltv#p/u/54/rHkLjtM-CwE

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  elliephant on 2/24/2011, 9:01 am

1. I would definitely say 1 on the Rosemary since it's perennial and can get quite large (I think you're warm enough there for it to be perennial...have you looked into that?)

2. Don't forget fall! A lot of the cool weather crops actually do better in the fall than spring in warm climates.

3. Shouldn't take you more than a day. I can do it in a day with 3 helpers 5 and under.
Any don't worry about the noob questions. This board is quite friendly and answering noob questions makes us feel like we actually have learned a thing or two!

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  model a man on 2/24/2011, 9:26 am

yesterday I was at Costco and they sell a raised bed kit made by lifetime. It is made of some kind of thick plastic and comes with what looks like a clear drop cloth to cover the top with. it states you need to supply the weed block cloth and compost mix. it 4'x4' and cost is $99.99. this may help some who lack building skills and building tools. I just looked at the photos I took with my phone and the box states you get 2 4'x4' raised boxes and at my costco the item # is 545587. if I figure out how to get the pictures from my phone to my computer I will post the pictures
I found a link to the lifetime raised beds that costco sells and it states that they consulted with Mel on making these raised beds (way to go Mel)
http://blog.lifetime.com/article/356105/lifetimes-new-raised-garden-bed


Last edited by model a man on 2/24/2011, 9:48 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  FarmerValerie on 2/24/2011, 9:31 am

Elliephant, 3 helpers 5 and under, oh boy I remember those days. Although one of the 3 was usually a neighbor kid as my kids are 24, 22, 14 (boys) and 12 (my girl) so I never had more than 2 at a time of my own under 5. Have you seen the Sesame Street Seeds at Wal-Mart? I was planning on getting some, just for the packet, to make copies of and laminate, then put all over the garden for my grandson. I read a blog last week by a mom who did that, and her kids would get up each morning (both under 3) and head out to the garden with a small shopping cart their grandma bought them, and shop for veggies.

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  Odd Duck on 2/24/2011, 11:20 am

I can't answer all your questions, but I think we have a similar zone/climate, so I will try to answer what I can.

Rosemary can get to small bush size - 2-3" tall and across, so you might want to consider putting it in it's own space. It will take a couple years at least to get that large, so if you did a 2'x2' and started the rosemary in the center, you would have room around the edges for at least the first year or so, for some small stuff, or parsley, or something similar that is pulled every year. Or you could plant thyme as a low growing ground cover and have a nice mini herb bed. Rosemary is perennial in my area so it should also be in yours. Thyme should also be perennial for you.

Mammoth sunflower can be planted as close as 1' apart, but the sunflower growers that want the biggest possible heads, recommend at least 18". I did 1' and they did fine. Bay laurel is a tree, but can be kept small in a pot (where I have mine). I'm not sure how big it will get eventually, if not confined to a pot, but I suspect it would eventually take over and shade out anything else nearby. It is just borderline hardy to my area, so might be hardy or tender for you depending on your microclimate. I protect mine from frost either in my mini-greenhouse (Large, plastic-covered plant stands with Christmas lights inside, now on a thermostat. This gives it a hoop house effect - first time this year) or by bringing it indoors.

You will want to know your USDA hardiness zone and your AHS heat zone. Then you can look up the hardiness for any particular plant. This will also give you planting dates - almost all veggies and fruits planted are in comparison to first and last frost dates. There are a few exceptions in the south that don't work to just adapt the rules that apply to gardeners farther north - mostly in the allium family - onions, garlic, etc.

If you are considering planting any fruit trees, you will need to look at chill hours for your area and for the variety you want.

This will help with some of it
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t872-what-is-a-region-for-with-map

Here's heat zones http://gardeningplaces.com/heatzonemap/ just click on your state in the list.

This is a decent, quick explanation of chill hours if you want it
http://www.ehow.com/about_6742761_fruit-trees-chill-hours.html

There are many listings that are more in depth, if you just search the web.

I know this alone is loads of info, but take your time reading through it all. It will start to gel with time and if you read it multiple times. Each time you read through this stuff you will pick up more details. Just keep at it and ask questions, search plenty of sites and don't trust just 1 - make sure you cross reference with a local university's agricultural college info if possible.

It will come together for you, just be patient and persistent. Have fun with it!

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  quiltbea on 2/24/2011, 12:41 pm

darold,
I just wanted to welcome you to the group.

You've already had the answers you need above.

I started spring of 2009 with SFG and I love it. I can't wait to get going again this spring in cold, white snowed, Maine.

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  Furbalsmom on 2/24/2011, 12:51 pm

@darold wrote:I just picked up the "new" version of SFG, have read through it, and am ready to apply those lessons this Saturday!

I live in Atlanta, and this will be my first garden. I started last spring with some basic herbs in outdoor containers that I sunk into the ground. That was ok, but this looks like it will not only look better but actually be more than just a minor supplement to my home and kitchen.

I have a plan drawn out for the space, but I will need to get a mockup done to share with you all. I have a few quick questions before I start this weekend.

1) I couldn't find recommended Spacing for certain plants I want to have. Rosemary (1/sq ft?), Mammoth Sunflower (again, I am assuming 1/sq ft), and Cotton (4+ / sq ft?), Bay Laurell (???) There are a lot of potential plants I would like to have that aren't in the book.

2) I am still researching and am afraid I may be a little late to start planting. It's a little overwhelming at times. I'd love to share my planned garden with the forum for advice. Is there a software you use to share your ideas? MS Paint will work, or I can use Photoshop on my mac, but that seems like overkill.

3)Finally, for one person, how long will a 4'x8' garden take to set up? Will this take more than a full day to build (no planting yet).


I apologize for the newbie Q's and realize I should have found the book sooner. Until picking it up, gardening seemed like too big of a time commitment. Now I am sure a nice SFG will be a great addition next to my front door. I can't wait to use the herbs and veggies in my food and to be able to cut some flowers for the girlfriend.

Darold,

So nice to have you here. You will find this is a great bunch of people that are more than willing to help you out.

Spacing, I have both rosemary and bay laurel. I have no experience with cotton or sunflowers.
I agree with Odd Duck that depending on your area, the Rosemary can get 2 ft wide or more, but this also depends on the variety as one dwarf variety may only get 12 inches wide. Mine is about 5 years old and planted in a 24 inch pot. The rosemary is about 26 inches high and close to 40 inch spread with some branches that are over an inch at the base. I do have thyme planted on the side of the same pot and it trails down very nicely. (we normally don't get snow here, but you can see we got a little bit this morning)


I have had my bay laurel for only about 8 months and intend to plant it in a large pot. The variety I have is hardy in zones 8 - 11 and can grow 12 feet high. My variety is recommended to be put in pots to control the size.

I think one day is enough time to make a 4 X 4 bed, mix your ingredients and fill the box, assuming you don't have to level the area before installing your box.

One important piece of advice, when you are filling the box with Mel's Mix, place about 2 inches of mix in the box and water in before you add the next two inches. The reason is that it is hard to saturate the dry mix thoroughly unless you water as you go. Once it is hydrated, adding water to keep your plants healthy is not difficult.

Great that you are planting flowers for your girlfriend. Nice touch there.

Again, Welcome and plese keep us posted as to your progress.

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  darold on 2/24/2011, 9:00 pm

Thank you everyone for the warm welcome and speedy/quality responses.

I usually over research and become an expert on a new thing before diving in. However, with spring right around the corner, I wanted to get an early start on this one and learn as I go. Obviously, I expect to make some mistakes along the way, but hope they will be small and not too abundant.


I have decided on a 7'x4' garden. It will fit nicely in the space I have picked out. I am a little concerned with the amount of sun my property gets, but I will just have to adapt as best I can. Many many pictures to come soon.

After drawing up about a dozen possible layouts for the garden, I narrowed it down to three and selected a winner. I chose to do the 7'x4' garden because it will best use the space I have, have a clean look, and be large enough for me to grow into it as my hobby grows. I selected 8" wide pine because it was in my price range and I wanted to make sure I had enough depth. I know 6" may have been all I needed, but the ground under the planter is practically rock solid. I don't know how I will level it out.

In addition to the wood I picked up:
8 x 4" wood screws
Weed Cloth
4 cuft of Sphangum peat Moss (H.D. says this was the only Peat Moss they had)
1 cuft "premium" mushroom compost
Approx. 1/2 cuft Moo-nure Compost (These were the only two compost HD had)
Organic Choice Garden Soil (not on the Mels Mix list, but the employee was familiar with the SFG method and said that since not all the products on the list are readily available, this helps fill in the voids). PLEASE voice your opinions on this. I figured it couldn't hurt.


NOT Purchased:
- Wood Lathe Boards. They wanted .70c per foot. Seemed a little steep considering what you get. In an 7'x4' garden that adds up when I am sure there are cheaper alternatives.
- Other types of compost because they were not available. I may need to hit up Lowes to see what they have.
- Coarse VERMICULITE: They claim that this cannot be purchased by the public because it can be used to make bombs. Has anyone had any experience with this? Is there a substitute? I live in Atlanta, surely there is someplace I should be able to purchase it right?

I will begin the Rosemary in the garden with hopes that it will live to be a good sized bush that I can transplant to another section of my house. I love the smell and use a LOT of Rosemary in my cooking.



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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  darold on 2/24/2011, 9:07 pm

Here is where I am going to place the garden. You can see the rough size. Existing buried planters will need to be removed and the ground leveled. My house faces north and there are trees to the left (East) and rear (South) of the property that shade the space until roughly noon. Unfortunately, this is the best place I am willing to grow the veggies.




The right side of the entrance receives more sun, and I will consider a second garden dedicated to flowers there if this one meets my expectations.





Is this the Peat Moss I should use in Mels Mix? I hope so, since this was all Home Depot had.


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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  HPartin on 2/24/2011, 9:40 pm

My 2 cents Smile

Wooden Lathe/Lath (I don't know the difference)

Home Depot in my area had it a couple of different aisles. There was one that was way more expensive than the other. The cheap stuff was right next to the Lattice in the wood area. I paid 97 cents for 8 foot section. I had to really look at each one because they can be quite crooked. You may check and see if it is the same there. Sometimes I have to ask a couple of different workers to get the answer I need Smile. Sometimes I feel like I go there knowing too much.

I noticed here (Raleigh) that I had better luck in the local nurseries finding exactly what I need concerning Mel's Mix. There are some nurseries that are really gung-ho on square foot gardening and know exactly what you need. They are most definitely going to have more compost selections.

Local nurseries are also better equipped to answer local questions. Nursery people are just more knowledgeable about individual plants.

By the way, I don't own or work at a nursery Smile.

Heidi

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  boffer on 2/24/2011, 9:57 pm

Hi,

My 2¢ worth:

I know Mel strongly recommends grids made of anything but string. But a lot of us tried nylon string last year and had no complaints. It's easy, fast, and nearly free. I've tried different wood, plastic, and metal products for grids with OK success. But after using string last year in several new boxes, I'm sold on it and will eventually replace my other grids.

Use what's cheap or what you like the look of, but don't overlook string.

(purely speculation on my part: I wonder if Mel likes non-string grids because they show up in pictures better? thinking )

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  Furbalsmom on 2/24/2011, 9:58 pm

@darold wrote:
In addition to the wood I picked up:
8 x 4" wood screws
Weed Cloth
4 cuft of Sphangum peat Moss (H.D. says this was the only Peat Moss they had)
1 cuft "premium" mushroom compost
Approx. 1/2 cuft Moo-nure Compost (These were the only two compost HD had)
Organic Choice Garden Soil (not on the Mels Mix list, but the employee was familiar with the SFG method and said that since not all the products on the list are readily available, this helps fill in the voids). PLEASE voice your opinions on this. I figured it couldn't hurt.


NOT Purchased:
- Wood Lathe Boards. They wanted .70c per foot. Seemed a little steep considering what you get. In an 7'x4' garden that adds up when I am sure there are cheaper alternatives.
- Other types of compost because they were not available. I may need to hit up Lowes to see what they have.
- Coarse VERMICULITE: They claim that this cannot be purchased by the public because it can be used to make bombs. Has anyone had any experience with this? Is there a substitute? I live in Atlanta, surely there is someplace I should be able to purchase it right?

I will begin the Rosemary in the garden with hopes that it will live to be a good sized bush that I can transplant to another section of my house. I love the smell and use a LOT of Rosemary in my cooking.

The four Cu Ft of peat moss you bought is perfect. spaghnum peat moss is the same as peat moss, different titles only.
Because this is not baled, it will not be compacted, so you have 4 Cu ft.

Vermiculite - they (HD) are full of beans and other obnoxious stuff.
check out our vermiculite data base, which lists quite a few sources of vermiculite in Atlanta.
Vermiculite Data Base

You do want to try to get 5 types of compost, perhaps Lowes, Wal-Mart, or some of the vermiculite sources can help you out. We all sometimes have problems getting 5 different types, I had to go to three places, HD, Farm and Tractor and a County Co-Op store. Look for things like mushroom compost, composted cow manure, leaf compost, composted chicken manure, worm castings, composted horse manure, we have members that use composted rice hulls, and composted cotton something, Black Gold is a brand name . The main thing is you want different ingredients in the compost because the more types of ingredients, the better the nutrition is for you garden. Sometimes different brands may include additional ingredients.
The Organic Choice Garden Soil is a mystery unless you looked at the ingredients. Is it made of various compost ingredients or is it soil with amendments.
If you Can't obtain five types, work with what you have, you may be able to add other compost ingredients later when you replant things in your garden.

70 cent a foot sound awful expensive for wood lathe. Check out Lowes.

Glad you can find a place for your rosemary.

Remember, this will be fun!@

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 2/24/2011, 10:06 pm

Cute house, darold.

I would advise you to put the veggie garden where it gets more sun and the future "flower garden" on the other side. Veggies usually have a little higher sun requirment, and you can always find shade loving perennials like hostas, ferns, caladium (possibly in Atlanta), etc. You can't always find shade loving veggies. However, that said, you may have a longer growing season for lettuce, broccoli, and other cooler season veggies...like snap peas, too.

My old house faced north, too. And, I found my backyard and front yard were actually in different hardiness zones....with different frost dates. (I had planters right up against my house, too, on the north.) That shade, and the early spring sun angle, makes a difference. If you noticed the right side gets more sun, you will likely notice you get frost on the left more often than the right. That's one indicator that there are slightly different microclimates going on.....everybody has them....some more noticeable than others. Just keep an eye on things going forward. It won't likely make much of a difference to a veggie garden, but can with an annual or perennial garden.

As for time to build the garden from dirt to MM filled and grid on, with a 4x7-ish garden, plan on between half a day and a full day. It takes time to run to the material supply store and get the car/truck unloaded. And, then there is the time to build things. The good news is you won't ever have to build it again. And, you won't have to turn or till the soil again.....ever. It's a beautiful thing, and well worth the Saturday spent.

Welcome aboard.

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  camprn on 2/24/2011, 10:46 pm

@boffer wrote:

Use what's cheap or what you like the look of, but don't overlook string.

(purely speculation on my part: I wonder if Mel likes non-string grids because they show up in pictures better? )
+1

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  camprn on 2/24/2011, 11:11 pm

@darold wrote:
- Coarse VERMICULITE: They claim that this cannot be purchased by the public because it can be used to make bombs. Has anyone had any experience with this? Is there a substitute? I live in Atlanta, surely there is someplace I should be able to purchase it right?
Did someone actually tell you that about the public not buying vermiculite? Used to make bombs?

That is the best laugh I have had all day.

Vermiculite Database
this link is for the Vermiculite data base; perhaps there is a local vendor listed.
Perlite is an adequate substitute.

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  model a man on 2/25/2011, 1:02 am

I used string for my grids and really like it. I bought the string that masons use, it come in a big roll for around $4.00 and I did all 8 of my 4'x6' beds and had some left over

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 2/25/2011, 1:06 am

String ftw!!! Won't ever use anything else.

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  Megan on 2/25/2011, 1:08 am

Welcome, Darold! glad you\'re here

The one thing I can add to what has already been said is this: Check with your local Agricultural Extension office if you plan to grow cotton. Around here it is considered a cash crop and (I'm going to explain this badly as I don't fully understand it) if you get cotton pests and don't report / control them, you can get into big trouble.

Edit: Here is some backup.
http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=750
Then Pat Lemmerman, the seed buyer for Hastings calls to explain why the homegrown cottonseed well is so dry. “It’s illegal for homeowners to grow cotton in Georgia—and any other state where cotton is a cash crop—because of the boll weevil eradication program”
If you’re down South, contact your local Extension office and see if there’s the possibility of a permit.


Last edited by Megan on 2/25/2011, 1:16 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Adding another quote.)

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  boffer on 2/25/2011, 1:15 am

@BackyardBirdGardner wrote:String ftw!!! Won't ever use anything else.

Glad to see ftw has changed accepted meanings! Except...that makes me feel old Mad

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  model a man on 2/25/2011, 1:50 am

what does ftw mean?

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  middlemamma on 2/25/2011, 1:51 am

For the win! Smile

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  LentilSoup on 2/25/2011, 6:55 am

Man, I wish I had read more here before I bought my box materials... I haven't built the SFG yet though. String is sounding really good to me, and I have some of that mason's string... decisions, decisions... Smile

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Re: Starting Saturday

Post  LaFee on 2/25/2011, 8:34 am

a lot of us use coated clothesline, as it's weatherproof and UV-resistant, and it's considerably stronger than string.

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Re: Starting Saturday

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