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Experienced sfg garden plans

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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  boffer on 4/11/2011, 1:52 pm


Mel encourages people to start small in order to get off to a good start so that this new gardening thing called SFG becomes a life long endeavor, rather than just jumping on board another gardening fad for a while. I noticed that he glossed over the time factor involved in gardening. To be sure, he rightfully talks about all the time saved by eliminating weeding in rows, and many of us complain that we're bored with our SFG gardens because 'there's nothing to do' at the moment. But to shift from having no gardening at all in one's life, to having flourishing SFG gardens outside one's door, requires an adjustment of one's time commitments and priorities. I'm suggesting that it also requires a lifestyle change as well. Our conscious thoughts begin to change as we do our planning. We start seeing the world through a different lens as we learn that manure is like gold, the neighbor's leaves are to be coveted, and we contemplate drinking more coffee just for the grounds.

It's also true that the oddball people running the organic place down the road suddenly seem like interesting people worth having a chat with. And that talking with strangers in front of pallets of smelly bagged manure on a hot day at the big box store seems oddly ordinary. Then there's the "You know you're a SF gardener when" thread with hundreds of more ways forum members' perspectives and thinking are changing. And we haven't even gotten our hands dirty yet!

We have all that 'stuff' sitting in a pile, waiting for us to get busy. Some of us had to enlist the help of family and friends just to acquire the materials because we're so busy. Getting dirt under our fingernails while making MM is a sacrifice for some. Making a wooden box, is for some the biggest challenge of all because they've never had the opportunity or need to learn how before. We struggle at times to get the words in the book to make sense in real life. One way or another, we get some boxes put together, filled with MM, and a grid, and we rightfully feel proud. Have you noticed, we have thousands of pictures of SFG gardens on the forum, but no two look alike? We all read the same book, followed the same instructions, and have the same objective-to grow veggies. But each of us is getting there a little bit differently.

For some, this is where the fun part starts. For others, it starts to become a confusing blur as our palms get sweaty, our neuroses kick into overdrive, and we wonder why we bought the stupid book in the first place. We slave over charts and graphs and numbers, and lists of veggies that we just gotta plant, even though we never heard of them before. We will achieve perfection in our garden the first year because that is who we are and what we do.

Take a deep breath, it's time for a Dr. Phil moment here...can you hear him saying: "Folks, that just ain't gonna cut it."?

Backyard gardeners don't 'win'. Never have; never will. Better get used to it. Because, just as soon as you start to think you know what you're doing, just as soon as you start believing that you're going to have a better year than last year, just as soon as you realize that you planted the perfect garden...some gardening deity is going to come along and kick your butt! It might be weather, or bugs, or disease, or cheap compost, or on and on ad nauseam. There's no reason to be thinking you're in control out there in your pretty SFG boxes, because you're not. I've done everything 'right' and had poor harvests. I've done everything 'wrong' and had great harvests. I have come to accept that that's the way it is. I've learned to be grateful for what my garden does return to me, and not for what I wish it would return to me. I've learned that during harvest season my garden, and not me, decides what I'm having for supper, and that I'm happiest when I acknowledge that. Each year, my garden teaches me something new...or maybe it's more accurate to say that I learn something new about myself every year through gardening. By acknowledging that gardening is not a sprint, but a life long journey, I've been able to enjoy a side of me/a slice of life/a different view that I don't have much experience with, and I'm having a blast!

I remember the very first veggie seed I planted as an adult because it wasn't that long ago. My attitude was: "I'm gonna stick this seed in the ground, and see what happens". To this day, that is my attitude every time I put seeds into my MM. It eliminates any pressure to 'succeed'. It is a reminder that I'm not in control of everything that happens in the garden, so why fight it? It helps me to relax and let the garden come to me with what it will. That leaves room for surprise and wonderment and joy and fun year after year that is as special as the first year. Part of the extra time SFG gardening requires, is sitting on a bench amongst your boxes, helping your veggies grow. MM is wonderful stuff to be sure, but I find that my veggies grow even better when I'm able to sit with them for a few minutes every day. Talking and thinking is not required; my presence is all that's needed. It's been a lifestyle change for me; there could be one in your future too if you let it.

Back to the numbers, charts, and graphs that I can't help you with! Dizzygardener summed it up well. Planning a garden is a whole lot easier when you have more space to work with. I do get 3-4 harvests out of the squares that I plant lettuces, spinaches, and radishes in, but the rest of the squares generally get 1. With more boxes, I can set aside several in the spring, so they are empty and available when it's time to plant fall crops.

Each year my gardening evolves. I drop the stuff I don't like, repeat stuff I do like, and try a new thing or two. You may find that your reasons for gardening your second year, are quite different than your reasons for starting in the first place. I'm currently working towards having my own vegetables to eat year round. I'm not looking to be totally self-sufficient nor is the food budget a big priority. I had no idea this is where I'd end up! Nor did my wife plan on learning how to can. We went with the flow, and here we are.

I don't think much about what I put where. I know that every weekend for about 4 months, I'll be planting a square or two of lettuce or spinach. I know that during April and May I'll plant 15-20 squares of carrots; most of them in a deep box; some just scattered around; 3-4 different plantings. I know I'll plant the same amount of beets, scattered around; 3-4 different plantings. I'll plant 60-80 seed potatoes. 10-15 winter squashes. 200 corn seeds. 5-10 cukes. I've got 50 broccoli and 25 cauliflower plants in a SFG starter box, waiting to be transplanted. Then there's all the misc. stuff that gets added here and there. I'm still learning onions and garlic but their numbers are growing every year. I'll make my annual attempt at tomatoes and peppers, but, I can't get 'in' to them because my weather doesn't allow me to every year. I mostly grow the boring stuff that's easy to grow in my climate.

Crop rotation and companion planting are not on my radar screen. I suppose because of my mild, erratic summer weather, I don't have issues there.

Because I have room to spread out, I've never trellised my squashes. I'm going to try it this year just because I had some material around to make some custom trellises with. I'm not very into gardening, but I'm pretty good at making stuff for the garden.

And you are right...my compost pile is as full of it as I am. It's about six feet tall at the moment. It consists of leaves, cow manure, and mushroom compost. My neighbor will be bringing over horse manure soon. It will get all the grass I cut this summer from my half acre of lawn. I'm not very into gardening, but I just happen to have big boys dirt toys to turn my compost pile with, and playing in the 'dirt' is fun. By my count that's five. My chickie girls are working just as fast as they can to make enough chicken manure to put in the pile. The end of next winter I should have 6-7 yards of 6 way compost. I'll use some and give most of it away.

Last year, I gave my 28 year old son and his girlfriend a 55 gallon barrel full of MM, and some squash and cuke starts. I told them to dump the MM on the ground, and stick the starts in, 'just to see what happens'. I gave her the ALL NEW SFG book for Christmas. He recently emailed me a picture; he wanted me to see the SFG box he made; yep, it was a table top! darn funny

Don't sweat the small stuff. Silly mistakes will make great stories to tell when you're teaching your grandkids how to SFG!
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/11/2011, 2:06 pm

^^ Wish I was that eloquent ^^
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  Shoda on 4/11/2011, 2:06 pm

Wow... that was a long reply but very worth the read. Thanks for the good information!
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/11/2011, 2:14 pm

boffer wrote:Generally, engineers are left brained, and artists are right brained.
My statement is contradictory, but it best describes my relationship with gardening.


Actually (as much as I HATE to admit this) they have discovered that those who are right handed use the left side of their brain more, and those who are left handed tend to use the right side of their brain more, so only those who are left handed are in their right mind. As a righty I get a kick out of watching my left handed son writing and eating, oh boy and teaching him to tie his shoes.

Okay back to the OT from the OP.

I over plan, take stuff out there (maps and all) and change my mind, I'm a woman, it's my perrogative.
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  Old Hippie on 4/11/2011, 2:33 pm

Whoa!! That WAS a long one. Had to go for a coffee refill halfway through but it was definitely worth the read.

FarmerValerie wrote:

I over plan, take stuff out there (maps and all) and change my mind, I'm a woman, it's my perrogative.

And Val.....you are SOOOO right!!!! LOL!

Gwynn
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  staf74 on 4/11/2011, 5:32 pm

Boffer, smashing post. Puts a lot of things into perspective for sure. I think every new person to the forum should have to read this post as a pre-requisite to joining..... Very Happy
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  Goosegirl on 4/11/2011, 9:11 pm

BackyardBirdGardner wrote:^^ Wish I was that eloquent ^^


+1 WOW! flower
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Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  sherryeo on 4/11/2011, 9:43 pm

Boffer, Thank you so much for taking the time to tell us your story. It was inspiring and touching. Truthfully, for me, the reason I want to garden is because I truly enjoy communing with my gorgeous veggies. I loved checking them to see how they are doing every day. A seed sprouting, a new bloom or new little veggie coming on just thrills me beyond words. It has a very calming effect on me and I believe works better to help me keep on an even keel than would a psychiatrist (no offense to any psychiatrists out there!). I can be all stressed out from work and the minute I walk out to my garden, I firmly believe that my blood pressure probably goes down a measurable amount.

Thank you again for the wonderful post. I know there are many who will read it and be able to relate.
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  camprn on 4/11/2011, 10:05 pm

Boff, well done! That post is sticky worthy! What a Face
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  sceleste54 on 4/11/2011, 10:14 pm

Beautifully put Boffer !!! cheers cheers

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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  middlemamma on 4/12/2011, 12:42 am

Love your post Boffer.....awesome.
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  shannon1 on 4/12/2011, 5:34 am

Boffer you are a poet. I too send a lot of time in the garden just sitting in the garden keeping company with the plants. I live in an urban neighborhood and my garden is in the front of my house 9south side) so my neighbors kid me about watching the plants grow. My dear brother is building a table top box for me next week (will post pic) but down here tomatoes and peppers are what I grow best. It is hott in the 90's already so I am having a heck of a time finding things that can take it. Guess I will have to learn to like okra and mustard greens. for your words and getting me to step out of my "need" for perfection.
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  dizzygardener on 4/12/2011, 9:34 am

Wow Boffer! That was a truly great post. Thanks for sharing it with us!
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  staf74 on 4/12/2011, 9:48 am

Boffer for president :?:

Campaign slogan............."Changing America, one square foot at a time"
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/12/2011, 10:18 am

Boffer,

What an impressive post! It's true that gardening informs and transforms one's life.

Donna In Zone 10
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Mixed-Brain Dominance

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/12/2011, 10:21 am

I thought it was called being "bi-brained"!

Since I became aware of my condition, I've also come to realize that:

1. I often confuse people; and
2. It's true that left- and right-brained people frequently clash.

Is there a chapter of Mixed-Brain Dominance Anonymous?
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  martha on 4/12/2011, 12:54 pm

Sigh. I can't help it. I have to jump on the bandwagon.

Boffer....really well done.
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  Blackrose on 4/12/2011, 12:56 pm

staf74 wrote:"Changing America, one square foot at a time"

What a great idea for a T-Shirt!!
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  nancy on 4/12/2011, 1:23 pm

Hey boff - my fingernails are already dirty and stained! cheers

Sherry - I keep a word document titled "Citizen Scientist Journal". It's just over a year old and is 21 typed pages so far. (I type so much faster than I write, so I can say much more here.) This time of year I add to it 2-3 times a week. That way I can go back and see what I was doing this time last year and also to keep notes to myself about what is or isn't working this year and what I want to change.

I also keep an excel file with my beds plotted out. I go so far as to shade the different boxes / squares. Orange means the square is perrenial, green means it's been planted, blue means I know what will go there and it already has soil, and no shading means that box still needs to be filled. Below the diagram of boxes is the "legend". Nothing is set in stone - I change it when necessary - like when I have too many lettuces and end up sticking the extras in an empty square of a box I'm not using yet.

Then I also keep a piece of paper with a grid of the box. I pencil in what is in each square, how many, and the date it was planted. 1 page per box. I stick these into page protectors and take them to the garden with me. They are my go-between for the virtual and real worlds. It's possible I have too much time on my hands. Plus I really love to tinker with the keyboard. I don't trust either side of my brain. so between all of these methods, I'm actually growing something! Do whatever works for you. We are all so very different and have so many ways to make it work for us. sunny
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  shannon1 on 4/15/2011, 1:38 am

I like the T-shirt idea but how about "Changing the world one square foot at a time." I think Mel would like that, or should it be square meter?
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  bennyhannahmama on 5/8/2011, 9:09 pm

Boffer,
I finished my sfg several weeks ago (after several weeks of building, finding the perfect ingredients for the MM, etc.) and now am stuck. What should I put in my SFG? How many squares for each item? Where should I put each crop? Back and forth I go...first the book, then the website, then the planning software...oh wait, there's another free software. Then I cry because I'm so overwhelmed.

Your post has helped me immensely. I'm going to go to the store and make my purchases, come home and plant and see what happens!

Once I started with the whole gardening idea (I've never gardened in my life), I realized that it was in a way a metaphor for where I am in my life now...ready for some new growth. The fact that I keep getting "stuck" with my SFG also mimics my life...some new growth and then stuck for a bit...and so on.

Thanks again for your incredible words of wisdom!
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My third-year garden plans

Post  HoosierPlanter on 5/11/2011, 3:56 pm

I've got your OCD right here! Wink

Bed #1:

Bed #2:

Bed #3:

Bed #4:
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

Post  genes on 7/9/2012, 5:06 pm

what an interesting thread. Dont no how I missed it.
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Re: Experienced sfg garden plans

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