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Newbie in Houston

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Newbie in Houston

Post  madamsolanum on 3/24/2011, 5:08 pm

Hi! I'm probably the only crazy person who has attempted SFG without having read THE BOOK. I was contemplating a veggie garden here in suburbia, and was simply going to spread black plastic over a portion of my backyard, kill off the very healthy and very thick grass, till it under, and start a garden the "old fashioned" way. Then I started reading on the net about SFG, and that seemed like such a simpler way. So I just sorta winged it by building a SFG with leftover bricks, 4' x 8', and filling it with 1/2 composted hummus and 1/2 topsoil, gridding it off, and planting it up. I know I didn't use Mel's Mix, but honestly, after reading about people having so much trouble finding the "right" vermiculite, I'm not so sure it wasn't a bad idea. The plants seem to be thriving, despite the lack of vermiculite. But next year, I'll probably add some, just to see if there is a difference. Especially in watering frequency. I do have a secret weapon, in that my husband has a horticulture degree. However, he was taught to grow crops on a large scale, like farming, and also very old-school, with pesticides, herbicides, etc. So we are both approaching the SFG with a bit of innocence and curiosity. We are about 2 months into it, and about to harvest our first zucchinis!! Very excited for that. I kept saying I was going to harvest the blossoms, stuff them ricotta, and fry them up, but I just can't bring myself to destroy the blooms! I need to toughen up, I guess. Anyway, I'm mostly excited about the tomatoes...I planted 3 varieties, 1 being a treasured heirloom Brandywine, the other 2 being a hybrid big boy and a rutgers--not too exciting, but safe for beginner gardening. I also planted sugar snap peas, spring onions, marigolds, spanish onions, and okra. I have tended that garden as if it were an infant child and quite often will just go out and gaze at it. It has brought me much peace and happiness. Hopefully it will also bring me some FOOD! Ha ha

madamsolanum

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  FarmerValerie on 3/24/2011, 5:20 pm

to SFG and the forum, we love newbies and love pictures too, we can't wait until you are able to post a few.

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  boffer on 3/24/2011, 5:25 pm

Welcome to the forum.

We have a lot of great people here. Some of them do SFG, and some of them don't. We always encourage everyone to read the book called ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING. Many libraries have it, or sometimes it can be found online on sale. One of the important messages from the creator of SFG, that you've missed out on by not having the book is this:

On page 87 of the ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING book, Mel wrote:
Mel's Mix is the most important, productive, essential, necessary, critical, major subject and is the backbone of the entire book and the Square Foot Gardening method!

That's the picture. Get it? It is the reason all other improvements are possible. So, please, pay attention, study, and learn everything in this chapter so you can make your Mel's Mix the best you can. This will allow you to automatically have all the other benefits and improvements that come so naturally to (the all new) SFG...

...Mel's Mix may be the most costly part of SFG, yet at the same time it is the most cost effective. How can it be both? The answer: if you try to skimp on this item, you'll be disappointed in all the rest. But, if you do it right, all the other advantages of SFG will fall into place and you will be the richest gardener on the block. Sorry to be so adamant, but this is really what makes SFG so different and successful. We have never had a failure of SFG except when someone decided to skimp on the ingredients to save a few bucks.


Happy gardening...I hope you have great growing weather this year.

boffer

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  madamsolanum on 3/24/2011, 5:30 pm

You may regret having asked for photos! I have many, many, MANY photos of this garden in various stages...my Facebook friends are probably sick of seeing them.

As soon as I figure out how to post pics, I'll do so. Looks fairly straight-forward...

Madam Solanum

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  madamsolanum on 3/24/2011, 5:39 pm

Boffer, I was expecting that type of reply, which is almost why I chose not to post on this forum. But, to each their own, and my garden (so far) is doing fine sans mix, so we'll see...

As I said before, I will probably re-do the soil next year, depending on how things work out this year. Gardening is a dynamic process, right? What works one year may not work the next, and we all have to adjust and tweak here and there.

Not only that,...but sometimes folks need a moment to adjust when someone moves their cheese. Know what I'm sayin'? Paradigms shifts don't always come easily.

Madam Solanum

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  FarmerValerie on 3/24/2011, 5:40 pm

Here is the link to the how to on photos. If you blog you can just put a few here, and then let us know you have more on your blog. You can add your blog to your signature.
Photos
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t843-how-to-post-pictures-from-your-personal-album
Add Signature
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3579-how-to-add-a-signature-to-your-post

You may want to also check in on your regional forum, I believe you would be Coastal and Tropical South, but you are also welcome on the Lower South any time! Weather in TX does not seem to pay any attention to where it is located. Last year we did not get snow in Texarkana area because we were too far north, poor Dallas got slammed.

FarmerValerie

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  madamsolanum on 3/24/2011, 5:54 pm

Lemme see if this works. Here's the first day of planting after we built the raised bed:


madamsolanum

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  madamsolanum on 3/24/2011, 5:59 pm

...and here it is 2 weeks later:



...and now 5 weeks after planting:



Here's my baby zuke:



Madam Solanum

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  boffer on 3/24/2011, 6:21 pm

@madamsolanum wrote:Boffer, I was expecting that type of reply, which is almost why I chose not to post on this forum. But, to each their own, and my garden (so far) is doing fine sans mix, so we'll see...

As I re-read my first post, I'm thinking that Mel's words sound rather harsh. And I'm thinking that there's a good reason for that: He, and the teachers that he has trained, are promoting a gardening system that he feels can feed the entire world. It is an integral system with key components designed to work together. When one leaves out a component, the system fails to perform to expectations. This forum is the official site of the ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING system. When new folks join, or when guests are lurking, it's important that they understand what SFG is. It's more than throwing a grid on some dirt, or a lasagna bed, or an old row garden.

Gardeners, being gardeners, are wont to pick and choose, take a little of this, a little of that, add a little here, take away some there, always looking for the Midas touch of gardening. That's what gardeners do. You're welcome here. You're welcome to talk about how you're doing your gardening. I look forward to seeing your pictures.

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  madamsolanum on 3/24/2011, 6:29 pm

This forum is the official site of the ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING system. When new folks join, or when guests are lurking, it's important that they understand what SFG is. It's more than throwing a grid on some dirt, or a lasagna bed, or an old row garden.

Why do I all of a sudden feel like a heathen that's walked into a church service?!?! Embarassed

LOL, Boffer, I'm saying that with a smile on my lips. I've been all over this website and in many of the forums, reading about how folks do and don't do what Mel says.

I also know how invaluable you are to this website, so I'll quit poking you with my sharp stick, and be nice.

Madam Solanum

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  boffer on 3/24/2011, 6:45 pm

Dang it, woman! I'm getting crotchety in my old age, and it took a lot out of me to be PC in my posts! :tiphat: Your boxes look great!

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  ashort on 3/24/2011, 8:16 pm

Welcome fellow Texan! Used to live in Kingwood and Beaumont - I do miss fishing the Gulf and bays and bayous.....

ashort

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  Dunkinjean on 3/24/2011, 9:11 pm

I love your garden!!

What are your teepee's made of?

Are you growing peas or beans or both?

Welcome!! bounce

Dunkinjean

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  Megan on 3/24/2011, 9:43 pm

Welcome to the forum and to SFG, Madam Solanum! glad you\'re here

I did a modified version of Mel's Mix last year myself, and my boxes grew extremely well anyway. I had the boxes in my front yard, so used landscaping timbers and dug into the existing soil and incorporated that into the mix. (It didn't hurt that this is all old farmland, of course.) Got weeds, of course, but not many and they were easy to pull out, but I nearly went barmy trying to pull out all the squigillion tiny pieces of sod leftover from the rototiller.

This year, I am doing it "right" as best I can, with pure MM in new boxes in my back yard (my HOA had a fit about the front yard, eventually). However... in reading Mel's "All new" SFG book, the one thing he really harps on is the grid. Without the grid, he says, it's not a SFG. He does not say anything of the sort with regard to the soil or mix you use. So, there's the gospel for ya. Wink

I think it's completely okay to do whatever it is you need to, want to, or can afford to do, regarding the MM. I'm there myself. I'm fortunate enough to make the investment right now, and hopefully it will pay off... but I'll still be testing my finished Mix with the Ag Extension office and seeing what they have to say.

Happy gardening! flower (And I want to see more pictures, too!)

Megan

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  genes on 3/24/2011, 10:40 pm

I am confused, please. How does one read Mel's words above and come to the conclusion that Mel's Mix is optional?

Agreed that Mel says without a grid one is not SFG. But that does not mean that the converse is true. I am confused. please.

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  Megan on 3/24/2011, 11:02 pm

@genes wrote:I am confused, please. How does one read Mel's words above and come to the conclusion that Mel's Mix is optional?

Agreed that Mel says without a grid one is not SFG. But that does not mean that the converse is true. I am confused. please.

Here is how I look at it. Others may disagree with me, and that is fine; I welcome the discussion.

My view is that you shouldn't let being unable to make "perfect" Mel's Mix stop you from trying the method. Do what you can, and see how it goes. Mel has put together his system in order to make it as easy as possible for everyone to go out there and build a box... but you can still get somewhere. It's all about the plants and, hopefully, the food which comes from those plants that helps you and your family live better. Will you quit because you can only find 4 composts instead of 5?? I hope not.

There are some parts of the world where you can't get sphagnum peat moss easily or at all, and we've seen some brilliant substitutions, coir for example. Same thing with vermiculite... Mel recommends it, but some people can't get it, or can't afford it, and perlite is a possible substitute.

Please understand that I write this with the very best of intentions. The typical home garden is a whirlwind of conditions and what, I think, Mel has done has tried to optimize our chances by giving us a GREAT recipe for success, but, I also think he would encourage you to do whatever you can to try to feed your family even if you can't follow that recipe exactly. "Shoot for the stars, and you may just get to the moon."


Last edited by Megan on 3/24/2011, 11:10 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  genes on 3/24/2011, 11:10 pm

Thank you, Miss Megan. You are saying it is OK to compromise easily from what Mel said. I misunderstood Mel. I understood him to say that his Mel's Mix was very important.

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  Megan on 3/24/2011, 11:14 pm

@genes wrote:Thank you, Miss Megan. You are saying it is OK to compromise easily from what Mel said. I misunderstood Mel. I understood him to say that his Mel's Mix was very important.

I do think Mel's Mix is very important. Use it if you can, by all means. But if you can't, do what you CAN. Do you see what I mean here??

I had some weeds last year and I also had some nutritional deficiencies in my "semi" mix which I had to deal with. I will be making the "real thing" this year for the first time, and am very excited about it. I can tell you that even last year, though, the soil felt absolutely wonderful in my hands... there is just nothing like it. (And I grew up on a farm.)

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  genes on 3/24/2011, 11:20 pm

I am sorry. I am having trouble. I was taught to do it right the first time. Save the money. Make the sacrifices I had to make it right first time. Is the SFG not worth doing right the first time.

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Re: Newbie in Houston

Post  Megan on 3/24/2011, 11:26 pm

If you have the means to follow the Mel's Mix formula the first time around, then yes, it's worth it. Smile

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