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Newbie in San Antonio

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Newbie in San Antonio

Post  rllaysatx on 2/28/2011, 4:42 pm

Howdy All,

I'm just starting out In San Antonio Texas, and have a couple of questions. I am on a budget and I do not have Mel's book, yet. I have it reserved at the library, but there are a few holds before me. So maybe my questions are answered in the book.

Question 1)

I am concerned about possible crowding in my planned garden.I plan on starting out simple with one 4x4 box and 4 crops:
4 squares tomatoes
4 squares leaf lettuces
4 squares cucumbers
4 squares summer squash & zucchini.

Is this too much for one 4x4 box?

Question 2)

I've been looking online and seeing a lot of you-tube videos that help a lot. I always see that when a trellis is used, there is only one per box. Is this a hard and fast rule, or could you have more than one trellis in a 4x4?

Question 3)

Are there any recommended additions to Mel's Mix for South Central Texas?

Thank y'all for your help.

rllaysatx

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Location : San Antonio, Texas

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Re: Newbie in San Antonio

Post  elliephant on 2/28/2011, 4:57 pm

It's the zucchini/summer squash that will be too crowded/crowd the others out. They take up a lot more room than one square. Most are bush plants and the book recommends 1 per 9 squares Shocked Personally, I've grown them in their own 2x2 boxes. Are yours a vining variety (still 1 per 2 squares). I think part of the concern with trellising on more than one side is shading, but that's probably more of a benefit than a concern for you in San Antonio. The other concern would be reaching things. How were you thinking of doing it? I like a lot of trellis veggies, so most of my boxes are 2 by 8 or 10, so that all along the long edge I run a trellis.

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Re: Newbie in San Antonio

Post  quiltbea on 2/28/2011, 4:59 pm

Welcome to the group.

I'll try to help a little here.

The zucchini will take 9 squares so I'd find something else instead. Its not a vining plant that will grow up a trellis and out of your way. The squash I find need more than one square as well.
Tomatoes do well with one square because they grow upwards. You can stake them or use strings tied to a bar across the top and train them up the string.

Can you see the garden twine I used to string my tomatoes? It runs from a bar across the top of the green 7-ft fence posts I use for trellises, to the base of the plant. Every week you just bend the top of the tomato around the twine a full turn.

We put trellises on only one side so we can reach all the plants in the bed. If you put trellises on 2 sides, you are hampered by them. You have to be able to get to all your plants easily. Keep the trellises on one side, the north side, of your box so they don't shade out the other plants.

You could put peppers in place of the zucchini and squash or eggplants instead. Just a suggestion.

Good luck and happy gardening. You'll love it, I'm sure.
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Re: Newbie in San Antonio

Post  Goosegirl on 2/28/2011, 6:14 pm

Another suggestion is to put the zucchini/summer squash in their own containers outside the 4x4 box.instead of taking up the precious squares. I have 2 small half-barrels that I got on clearance for dirt cheap at the end of the season last year that I am going to put my zukes in and display at the ends of my boxes. They would probably do fine in a large bucket as well!

TC
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Re: Newbie in San Antonio

Post  ashort on 2/28/2011, 10:55 pm

Welcome fellow Texican... Very Happy
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Re: Newbie in San Antonio

Post  kimbertangleknot on 2/28/2011, 11:41 pm

Welcome!

I would suggest that the squash and zuke go elsewhere, quite big they will get. I can understand about being on a budget, but if all else fails and you can't find another container to put them in, the ground is always free.

The cukes could pose a problem as well. They seem to be very sensitive to getting mold/mildew if they get wet from watering, so it's a good idea that when you plant them, that you can easily get at the base of the plant. They don't need to be trellised, but they are usually a vining plant. They can just sprawl over the sides if you want, but if you live in a buggy area they might do better being raised off the ground slightly.

Leaf lettuce grows great, but doesn't always like high heat and intense sun light. So, be prepared to think of another crop that might go there, once the growing season is done, to use all the squares you can. Peppers are always a good choice.

If you want to save even more money, try the seed exchange here on the forum. I know I have lots of seeds still, just sent out 3 more "orders" today =) If you're leery of starting indoors try direct sowing outside right away. It might take a little longer, but it can be argued that both methods yield the same results in the end. Or if you want to venture and try it, buy the plastic cups and use those to start seeds in. Some of them are pretty good quality for cheap and can be put through the dishwasher.

If you're going to make Mel's Mix, you'll already have the needed stuff to make your own seed starting mix so there wouldn't be an extra cost in that dept.
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Re: Newbie in San Antonio

Post  Furbalsmom on 3/1/2011, 4:20 am

@rllaysatx wrote:Howdy All,

I'm just starting out In San Antonio Texas, and have a couple of questions. I am on a budget and I do not have Mel's book, yet. I have it reserved at the library, but there are a few holds before me. So maybe my questions are answered in the book.

Question 1)

I am concerned about possible crowding in my planned garden.I plan on starting out simple with one 4x4 box and 4 crops:
4 squares tomatoes
4 squares leaf lettuces
4 squares cucumbers
4 squares summer squash & zucchini.

Is this too much for one 4x4 box?

Question 2)

I've been looking online and seeing a lot of you-tube videos that help a lot. I always see that when a trellis is used, there is only one per box. Is this a hard and fast rule, or could you have more than one trellis in a 4x4?

Question 3)

Are there any recommended additions to Mel's Mix for South Central Texas?

Thank y'all for your help.

Rllaysatx

We are so glad you found us.

Boy, that really sounds like alot for a 4 X 4, just because some are your plants are real space hogs. I don't know about your space limitations in your garden area, but have you considered changing the layout of your garden to perhaps a 2 X 8, oriented so that one long side faces North? Then you could have 8 ft of trellis and at least get a llittle more of your crops up off the ground. It is still 16 Square Feet.

I did find ONE variety of a vining zucchini from Territorial Seed Co, but most are bush style. Even as a vine, I think the zucchini and squash still need two squares each.

I have to agree with Quiltbea, it would probably be too restricting to have trellises on more than one side of your garden.

This sample may not work for you, but it will give you an idea of what I was suggesting.


NORTH SIDE WITH TRELLIS NORTH SIDE WITH TRELLIS
ONE
SQUASH
CUCUMBERTOMATOTOMATOTOMATOTOMATOCUCUMBERONE
ZUCCHINI
LETTUCE BUSH BEANLETTUCE PEPPERHERBSLETTUCE PEPPERHERBSLETTUCE BUSH BEAN

You probaly won't have a long lettuce season, just as Kimbertangleknot suggested, but when the lettuce is gone, you could put in some lower growing, warm weather plants, whether they are peppers, eggplants or bush beans.

Perhaps this will give you another option.

Again, Welcome. Please keep us posted on the progress of your garden. And we love pictures!
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Welcome

Post  ander217 on 3/1/2011, 7:09 am

Welcome to the forum, rllay. Ah, San Antonio - that has a special place in my heart. A group of us drove down there in the 1970s for a friend's wedding, and I came home engaged to be married to my husband of 36 years. I think there must be romance in the air down there, or something.

It sounds as though you are getting a good start on your first SFG. I agree with the above posts regarding spacing and trellises. There were a few threads last year about using a different blend of Mel's Mix in Texas - if memory serves there was a problem with using so much peat in the hot, dry climate, and I believe someone had worked with Mel on making a different blend. You can use the search feature to check it out. Others said the original mix was okay as long as you made certain to soak it well before mixing, and keep it well watered. Once peat dries out it is difficult to hydrate again using only irrigation.

You should plant your lettuce really early as it becomes bitter in warm temperatures. Mel suggests doing succession planting for things such as lettuce and radishes. Plant only half of one square, then two weeks later plant the other half, two weeks later plant half of another square, and so forth. Otherwise, you will have lots of lettuce ready to harvest all at once, and then two or three weeks later it's all gone. You can extend the lettuce season by planting varieties that will take a little more heat, such as Red Sails, and providing some shade for your lettuce plants will extend the season a few more days when temperatures heat up.

A lot of people plant a spring SFG of the cooler crops such as lettuce, radishes, carrots, beets, greens, peas, spinach, onions, kohlrabi, etc. When those are harvested they add more compost to the squares and replant with warm season crops such as tomatoes, peppers, green beans, field peas, eggplant, melons, squash, corn, and cucumbers. When some of those crops are finished, such as green beans or field peas, you can plant a fall crop of cooler crops again, as well as brassicas such as cabbage, broccoli, collards, etc. All of those might not grow well in your area, but you can probably check with local gardeners to see which crops grow best there, and the best planting times for each.

I hope you can read the book soon. I'm guessing you could be planting lettuce now in your region.
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Thank You for you reponses

Post  rllaysatx on 3/1/2011, 9:28 pm

Howdy Y'all,

Thank you all (all y'all in 'Texas-speak') for your responses. I will take the zuccini/summer squash out of my box. I plan on replacing with green peppers and something else yet to be determined.

I got lucky, the library has the SFG book ready for me. I'll pick it up tomorrow. I think it is the older version, though. I may have to break down and get the newer one eventually.


@elliephant - Thank you for the hint on using 2x8/2x10 boxes.
I am going to try that this fall, against my back fence (chain link) and use the fence as a trellis.


@quiltbea - I like the trellis idea! How did you attach the top bar? weld? lash with rope/wire? I do plan planting green peppers and something else in place of the zucchini/squash.


@Goosegirl - Yes, I plan on using large containers with Mel's Mix. Is that a hairless cat in your pic?


@ashort - Thank you!!


@ kimbertangleknot - thanks for the hints with cukes. I was thinking that the tomatoes would probable provide some shade for the lettuce. I think I need to learn more about the seed swapping idea.



@furbalsmom - I am thinking about 2x8 eventually. Bush beans, hmmmm..., now that's a possibility!


@ander217 - Yeah, there is magic in the air! They say that God Blessed Texas... I'm hydrating my peat, and it does take some work to get the water worked in, I never knew. Great idea on the staggered planting of the lettuce. I need to study your ideas on the 3 different plantings over 2 seasons - very intriguing. I checked the Farmers Almanac online for planting by the moon, and for my area, the lettuce
dates are March 4th - 15th. Can't wait.

rllaysatx

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RE: Thank You for you reponses

Post  Goosegirl on 3/2/2011, 7:33 am

@rllaysatx wrote:@Goosegirl - Is that a hairless cat in your pic?

Yep! That is my little bare blue boy Panther.
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Re: Newbie in San Antonio

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