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3/12 in The STL

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3/12 in The STL

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 3/12/2011, 3:34 pm

Just thought I'd toss an update out there for what it's worth.

I have 16 squares up and running now. I plan on taking a two week stagger break. I was playing around earlier with seed starting and transplanting, and things kind of got out of hand because everything was working to some degree. With no failures to speak of, I am chewing up squares by the bunches and need to slow up a bit before I have no room for my initial plans.

The quickest way I've found to get plants in the garden is to start them indoors in vermiculite trays. Once they show up, I give them a day or two to get their "ears" open. Once they open enough for me to grab onto, I put them in the garden. I have yet to see any signs of shock after my fourth attempt and going back over two weeks now. And, I've seen some subfreezing temps at night.

But, I've also taken precautions for those that may not know. I have a hoophouse set up to keep frost off. I also am using a floating row cover of sorts inside the HH when a freeze is imminent. Also, if it matters, there are about 18 one gallon milk jugs inside that go under the floating row to trap as much of the daytime heat as possible. (However, I don't know how effective they are without a full day's worth of sunshine.)

Either way, here is what we have going. Hopefully, you get a pic to follow soon chronicling the method of seed starting. I have three broccoli squares, two cauliflower, two carrot squares, one snap pea square, two or three spinach squares, and now about seven lettuce squares. They all look fine, and some are a little bigger than the others. It's pretty easy to tell who the "new guys" are.

Mind you, this may all go busto at any given moment. My frost date isn't until April 7th or 15th depending on your source....and I first planted broccoli on February 23rd because I wasn't doing well with them indoors under the lights. I figured it was "go time," but the little plants have totally perservered, and are about 3-4 inches tall with 3-4 true leaves on them.

My reasoning for challenging the frost date was because of something I read back in January. I read a hoophouse can give you a full zone to possibly a zone and a half's worth of extended season on both ends, spring and fall. I did a lot of obsessing and calculated my new "start dates" for seedlings, and have been rolling for awhile.

I'll try to keep you all updated, but don't know if I'll do it with new threads or continuing this one. It kind of depends on the material I guess. Thanks for the read.
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Re: 3/12 in The STL

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 3/15/2011, 12:51 am

Snowed today...almost all day. Temps never got to 40F. Needless to say, I only opened the hoops to see what the overnight low was inside....it was 36F even though we got down to 33 outside. And, I didn't use a 2nd layer of plastic. Tonight is supposed to be colder yet....then, we bounce into some hardcore spring weather.......FINALLY! 60's and 70's for the foreseeable future, and overnight lows in the 40's and 50's. Time to air out this house!
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Re: 3/12 in The STL

Post  junebug on 3/17/2011, 10:28 pm

Wasn't that snow awful! Nobody was expecting that.

If I remember right, you said you live in Crestwood. I live about 30 miles SW of you down Hwy 30. It's far enough that my frost date in spring is later than yours. I live in Robertsville but the main town is right off 44. So I can't use my zip code to find my frost dates.

The hardest part for me right now is trying to decide how to set up the box. I think I might set it up as a 2x8. I want several climbing plants and 4 squares won't be enough. I'm a little limited on sunlight. I start getting shade in the early afternoon. Hmm. Maybe I should make 2 2x4's because of the shade.

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Re: 3/12 in The STL

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 3/18/2011, 12:57 pm

@junebug wrote:Wasn't that snow awful! Nobody was expecting that.

If I remember right, you said you live in Crestwood. I live about 30 miles SW of you down Hwy 30. It's far enough that my frost date in spring is later than yours. I live in Robertsville but the main town is right off 44. So I can't use my zip code to find my frost dates.

The hardest part for me right now is trying to decide how to set up the box. I think I might set it up as a 2x8. I want several climbing plants and 4 squares won't be enough. I'm a little limited on sunlight. I start getting shade in the early afternoon. Hmm. Maybe I should make 2 2x4's because of the shade.

Robertsville? How did you dodge the New Year's Eve tornado? I'm glad you sound well. Sheesh that was a terribly close call for us, too. But, it sounded to us like your town was just clobbered.

I know that the closer you get to the rivers around STL, the better protection you get from the "heat island" coupled with the water. So, it helps our frost dates better than someone a little farther "inland." Listen to me....lol....inland.....like we have a huge lake or ocean nearby. But, I think that's the climatology behind it.

Do you have a deck in the sunshine by chance? SFG is good for 1x4 or 2x2's with bottoms on a deck, too.

I have to run and get kids from school right now....but I'll try and get back to this a little later. I used to have a shady yard, too, and I know we can figure something out.
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Re: 3/12 in The STL

Post  junebug on 3/19/2011, 6:52 pm

The tornado hit a few miles away from us. I was riding that one out in the basement with my dog.

We have a porch that's really set up like a deck and it's covered so it only gets a couple of hours of morning sun. Our house is on a slope and the backyard is pretty small compared to the front. We have 7 1/2 acres and it's mostly wooded. I have a flower garden in the front and it gets probably 5 hours of sunlight before the house shades it.

We used to have an above ground pool in the backyard but we tore it down a couple of years ago. The spot is still very level and it gets about 5 hours of sun in summer. That's where I thought I'd set it up.

The best place for lots of sun is probably in the middle of my front yard or along the driveway. But then I would be too far from water.

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Re: 3/12 in The STL

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 3/20/2011, 9:39 am

The two options I see without seeing pictures are:

1- Where your pool was. 5 hours is dicey for tomatoes, but I bet they do "ok." Lettuce and some other early season crops likely would do fine. Lettuce can get down to 3-4 hours of sun from what I've read. And, your cooler seasons will likely be extended slightly by the lack of sun itself.

2- Out in the front yard with rain barrels. Obviously, that has a drought drawback...as well as aesthetics being in the front yard. Personally, I don't care what others think, but most people tend to at least a little. (I guess I do...a little, too.)

Maybe cutting down some trees? If they aren't terribly large? Where there's a will, there's a way.

Today, I must run out myself and buy my bird-netting. My darned dog uprooted my plantings TWICE yesterday. I was able to reset them into the ground, but have no idea how they will handle that being that they are so tender. We'll see.
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Re: 3/12 in The STL

Post  Megan on 3/20/2011, 6:51 pm

Junebug,

Glad you did not get a direct hit from that tornado, yikes!

Regarding the flower garden and the pool area, my first question would be: WHEN are those 5 hours of sunlight? Are they morning, or afternoon hours? Please correct me if I am wrong.... It sounds like the front yard gets morning light. You didn't say, but I'm guessing the pool is in the back yard, so it probably gets afternoon light.

Last year I built my first SFGs in my front yard, which are on the north side of my house and they got pretty much only afternoon direct light. I did successfully grow tomatoes. They didn't do all that well, but I'm not sure whether it was the light, the soil, or my skill. Probably all three, to be honest.... but I did get tomatoes!

The big thing about afternoon light is that your soil will warm up more slowly in the springtime. Using raised beds will help, but don't be surprised if your seeds are a little slower in sprouting. This did not hurt me at all (and if you want proof, I'll post you some pictures of my insanely over-grown garden from last year, lol! Laughing) but it does help to know what to expect.

Happy gardening! flower
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Re: 3/12 in The STL

Post  junebug on 3/21/2011, 11:00 am

Thanks for the suggestions. How frustrating for your dog to dig up your plantings. I hope they survive.

the hours of sunlight for the garden in front of the house are all morning hours (from shortly after sunrise until at least noon or 1:00). So that would be more than 5 hours in summer. The pool area gets sunlight from about 9 until 2 or so in the afternoon. At the peak of summer it would probably have sun until 3.

I'm going to have to see if it will work in that old pool area. My husband and I have had discussions about this and that's the only place we can both agree on.

Unless I dig up my flower garden and use that area...

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