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How much to buy?

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How much to buy?

Post  ryanscott1981 on 3/3/2011, 10:30 pm

My student council at my school has decided to do an organic garden this year. How much of each of peat moss, vermiculite, and compost should I buy for 2 boxes?

Also, do I need to do anything different to grow carrots in a SFG??

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Re: How much to buy?

Post  ashort on 3/3/2011, 10:48 pm

Depends.... what size are the boxes? multiply length x width x depth (all measured in feet i.e. - 6 inches = .5 feet). Divide the total cubic feet by 3 and buy that much of each. Unless you are growing short carrrots, you will want a deeper than "normal" box.

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Re: How much to buy?

Post  Megan on 3/3/2011, 10:54 pm

@ryanscott1981 wrote:My student council at my school has decided to do an organic garden this year. How much of each of peat moss, vermiculite, and compost should I buy for 2 boxes?

Also, do I need to do anything different to grow carrots in a SFG??

Hey there, Ryanscot1981! So glad that your student council is interested in organic gardening, and that you have turned to SFG as a possible solution. We would be delighted to help in any way we can.

Peat is sold in compressed bales, so you want to go by the "fluffed" measurement, not the bale measurement. And as for the remaining requirements, box size (length, width and depth) would be really useful information so that we can help you. For 2 boxes, make sure to keep at least 3 feet clear as a walk-way between the boxes, too.

As already said, some carrots need more depth than standard, but that begs the question of how you'll be building your boxes in the first place. Please give us some more information, let us know what your Student Council is hoping to do. Is this a test garden to teach organic gardening, or a pilot project for your cafeteria, and/or something else?

Happy gardening, and welcome once again! flower

Megan

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School organic garden

Post  ryanscott1981 on 3/4/2011, 7:27 am

We are planning on building our boxes 4x4x8 in order to fit the carrots in. We are planting 4 crops this year; lettuce, spinach, radishes, and carrots. We will also be planting a beneficial an insectary mix amongst the veggies.

Our goal is to harvest enough to let our school and possibly the community taste test the "fruits of our labor". That being said, I wonder if we should do 3 boxes?

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STUCO boxes

Post  ander217 on 3/4/2011, 7:57 am

Welcome to the forum, Ryanscot. That's a great project for your student council.

Generally, a mixture made from 4 cu. ft. of coarse vermiculite, 4 cu. ft. of "fluffed" peat moss, and 4 cu. ft. of compost will fill a 4' x 4' x 12" bed with some settling over the summer. If your boxes are only 8" deep, you should have mix left over.

Since most veggies grow fine within the top six inches of Mel's Mix and don't put their roots down further, another trick if you are using deeper boxes is to fill the bottom extra inches with a cheaper filler material in order to stretch the more expensive Mel's Mix. Here in southeast Missouri I use composted rice hulls which are free for the hauling from a local rice mill. I have a 12" deep box, and I layer 6" of rice hulls in the bottom, then top with 6" of Mel's Mix.

Another trick for growing deeper crops is to make a 6" deep box, then make additional 6" open-bottomed frames which can be set on top of only one or two squares. Those frames can then be filled with extra Mel's Mix, rather than filling an entire box where the extra depth isn't needed. Those small frames are called "Top hats" and they are set right on top of the grids.

One more question - will you be tending your garden during the summer, or only until school is out? The crops you have listed are all cool weather crops. Lettuce, radishes, spinach, and carrots are planted in the cool spring weather, and with the exception of carrots, they should all be harvested by the time summer temps arrive. Carrots are slower growers. You might consider adding a trellis to the north side of your beds and planting tomatoes. Those will produce all summer long, and I don't think there's anything that's easier to grow than a cherry tomato. You can follow the lettuce, radishes, and spinach with things such as green beans, blackeyed peas, cucumbers, or even watermelons. Then in the fall those things can be pulled after harvest and their squares replanted with lettuce and radishes again, or cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, turnips, etc. Any cooler spring crop can also be grown in the fall. Three-season gardening makes a much greater harvest possible from the same amount of space. Just remember to add a trowelful of compost before replanting each square.

If you plant a square of Nantes carrots on April 15th you can participate in our carrot contest here on the forum.

Good luck with your project and keep us posted on how it grows.


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Re: How much to buy?

Post  miinva on 3/4/2011, 8:04 am

I'm surprised no one shared the link to the Mel's Mix Calculator. Remember that it's very important that you use five kinds of compost mixed together to make sure your soil has a wide variety of nutrients. It can be difficult to find five, but it's definitely worth it.

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Re: MM Calculator

Post  ander217 on 3/4/2011, 8:26 am

I totally forgot about the calculator. Glad you're on the ball, Miinva.


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Re: How much to buy?

Post  Megan on 3/4/2011, 8:25 pm

Swiss chard is something I would REALLY recommend. It is extremely easy to grow, grows from spring through frost and in the right climate or with protection, can over-winter for a spring harvest the next year. (After that last spring harvest, it'll be done, so you need to plant new each year.) It is cut-and-come again, meaning that you can harvest some outer leaves of each plant and the plant just keeps on growing. I had 3 squares of chard last year and had more than I knew what to do with! If you get the rainbow variety, it's really pretty, too...the leaves are green but the stems/veins can be red, pink, yellow, white, etc.

Pole beans would be a nice addition, too. They do not have pollination issues, and they go up, not out and (if they are all like the type I planted last year) you can just plant them and let them go until fall. I grew them for the first time last year and (okay, call me weird) but I thought they were very pretty. Nice flowers in little clusters, and you can watch the beans as they set out and mature. The pods dry out on their own and you can shell them and make a big ol' pot of chili. I got just under 3 cups of dry beans from half a square, not counting MANY beans I harvested as green beans and ate that way or canned. You don't need to make a trellis for them... bamboo poles are very cheap at a Big Box store (think, teepee) or some other construct. (Note: If using as green beans, be careful, because if picked late, they will quickly teach you why green beans were once called "string beans"!)

Basil is another good crop to take you through summer into early fall. It is easy to grow and could provide you with lots and lots of pesto! (I make mine without the nuts to save on calories and cost, and add cheese only at the table.)


Last edited by Megan on 3/4/2011, 8:34 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: How much to buy?

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 3/4/2011, 8:32 pm

I would recommend you guys buy the book, too. Even if it's only a copy or two to share and pass around. The principles and concepts in the book are worth their weights in gold. It would be a great investment to leave behind to other STUCO's to follow you and expand on your groundwork. (Maybe the SFG Foundation would invest in you? And, perhaps, if the idea takes off, your teacher/sponsor becomes a certified teacher to carry on what you guys are courageously starting? I am not making any promises, because I have no authority, but it may be worth asking.)

Not to mention, it would uphold Mel's mission of feeding the world. You guys lay the foundation....like great leaders do....and pave the way for the next generation of leadership to pick up the ball and run with it to the next level.

You just don't know what you will inspire. A horticulturist, a botanist, a possible Nobel Prize winner. Seriously, the sky is the limit for you guys at your ages. DO IT BIG!!!

And, stay in touch with us to let us know how you are doing. The book will be an invaluable resource for the "easy" questions. But, we are here to bounce ideas off of that aren't addressed in the book. Remember, someone has probably tried it and failed. So, they can likely save you the effort. Any questions are great here, but giving everyone a base of knowledge just seems like an efficient way to lift everyone's education level the fastest.

Welcome to you and your school!

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Thank you

Post  ryanscott1981 on 3/4/2011, 10:10 pm

I really appreciate everyone's comments. I'm very excited about the garden and the possibility of an organic garden catching hold at my school. In a country that has gone gaga over testing, I feel its essential to get our students back to the basics. It's quite sad that most kids have no idea where their food comes from or how it is grown.

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Re: How much to buy?

Post  Megan on 3/4/2011, 10:33 pm

Ryan, I have no idea of your budget or how it's all going to be set up, but here's another idea for you:

I don't know if your school has a website, but many do, these days. You could assign someone(s) to take pictures of progress every day, or even once a week, and post them along with comments and observations. Webcam/video updates are another possibility. Any of those would be a great way to draw the attention of fellow students, parents and your community at large!

Another thing: Document the problems (if any) along with the successes. Crops can and do fail, even with what you think are perfect conditions, and that is a part of life. A very big one, back in the day when one's continued survival depended upon success! And you can always learn from those mistakes and move forward from there. That is a big part of this forum: We share not only our successes, but our mistakes and disasters, because somewhere out there, someone else may benefit from hearing about them.

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Re: How much to buy?

Post  middlemamma on 3/4/2011, 11:53 pm

@BackyardBirdGardner wrote:I would recommend you guys buy the book, too. Even if it's only a copy or two to share and pass around. The principles and concepts in the book are worth their weights in gold.

+100 I agree...the book is a small investment really...


Maybe the SFG Foundation would invest in you? And, perhaps, if the idea takes off, your teacher/sponsor becomes a certified teacher to carry on what you guys are courageously starting? I am not making any promises, because I have no authority, but it may be worth asking.

Great way to think outside the box BBG....I wouldn't have thought to suggest this but it absolutely is an avenue to pursue....and if that isn't a possibility don't give up....find out if there are other organizations that might help to support your cause...No harm in asking. All they can say is no. Then try the next on your list. Maybe a local master gardeners chapter or something of that sort would love to support you...you never know who will help you in your endeavor until you ask.

You just don't know what you will inspire. A horticulturist, a botanist, a possible Nobel Prize winner. Seriously, the sky is the limit for you guys at your ages. DO IT BIG!!!

Absolutely, do not ever underestimate the power you have to influence. Here is a story of a young girl who grew a cabbage once and it turned into a community and school garden that feeds the homeless! http://www.americantowns.com/sc/charleston/heroes/katie-stagliano-young-girl-grows-a-40lb-cabbage-that-inspires-a-community-to-get-serious-about-gardening

It's quite sad that most kids have no idea where their food comes from or how it is grown.

It is and I applaud you for doing something about it!

to the forum we are so GLAD you are here....

Middlemamma

PS Go to the members tab and look up posts by our beloved member Josh....his threads will inspire you and give you some wonderful ideas! And he just turned 16!

middlemamma
 
 

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Re: How much to buy?

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