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This is my third year with the SFG method.

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This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  Bayou Life on 4/20/2011, 12:48 am

And just gets better every year.

My new trellises.



My summer "spread".




Of course, child labor. This system gives my family lots of quality time. My kids really enjoy this.


Potatoes and beans.


Beans last week.


Beans this week.


Cukes.


Garlic, which is now almost ready.


The rest are filled with three separate plantings of tomatoes, peppers, basil, and eggplants. Carrots are planted down the center to help feed the tomato plants.




Strawberries.

These grew kinda funky, but the kids enjoyed them.


This is the first year that I take a shot at companion planting. So we'll see if I'm a believer in the end.

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  WardinWake on 4/20/2011, 4:15 am

Howdy Bayou:

So glad to see your garden. It looks great. For the folks in the deep South, what advice do you have for those just starting out in Square Foot Gardening?

God Bless, Ward and Mary.

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  Blackrose on 4/20/2011, 9:47 am

@Bayou Life wrote:And just gets better every year.

My new trellises.



Cukes.



Looks great!! cheers

I have a question regarding your Cuke trellis. It looks like it's just like the vertical trellis in Mel's book, but just installed at an angle. How did you get it to stay at that angle and does it work well? I'm thinking of building something similar for my cukes and summer squash and use it to shade my spinach and lettuce in the heat of summer, so I'm really interested to hear how you did it.

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  HPartin on 4/20/2011, 10:01 am

I have a question too Smile. Is your child labor putting out shredded newspaper and then straw on top? If so, why both?

Heidi

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  Bayou Life on 4/20/2011, 10:18 pm

Ward,
I guess off the top of my head, some of the advice I would give is:

1.  Don't give up.  My first year was a complete failure.  I didn't know about this forum, and boy, did I take a lick.  New sfg'ers that find this forum are already ten steps ahead.  Naturally, it gets easier with experience.

 I remember while transplanting that spring, my neighbor (an avid row gardener), said "that won't work, everything is too close".  Well I dropped the ball, and my neighbor gave me veggies. Sympathy I guess.  I thought about going back to the row garden, but what he said next made something click and started me on a mission.  He said, "I told you so.".  I sat and thought about everything I could have possibly done wrong, and corrected it.  Guess which neighbor was handing veggies over the fence last year.  While handing them over, I said, "I told YOU so!"

2.  In the heat and humidity down here.  Patrol your garden daily.  Not only checking for insects, but also inspect the for the start of disease.  The high humidity is a breeding ground for fungus and the spreading of bacteria and viruses.  When a problem is spotted, contact your parish/county agent, research the internet, or both.  Then fix it accordingly.

  Early  last spring, I was hit pretty hard with anthracnose.  I thought for sure my season was over, and it had not even started yet.  I immediately went to work diagnosing the problem and fixed it.  These pics are post-anthracnose.  The first pic is right after I finished trimming and  treating the problem.  Some pretty sickly looking plants to say the least.



This is about three weeks later.  To think, I almost gave up early.  I did end up at war with stink bugs later, but thats a whole different story.



3.  Mulch heavy to insulate your soil from that southern summer sun. It also keeps the soil at an even moisture.  That means less watering. Which in turn means less blossom drop, and more blossom setting on open pollinated plants.

4.  Don't be afraid to experiment and try different varieties of the same plants in your garden.  Matter of fact, this one I highly recommend to first and second year sfg'ers. Especially on the OP plants, as hybridizing is rare.  This gives you a chance to find out which does best in your area, and your garden in particular.

Last year, I had 15 tomato plants of 7 different varieties.  All hybrid plants.  While all of them did well early, the champs came out when the heat was on.  The top three will probably have squares in my boxes every year from here out.

This year I have 20 plants of 12 varieties.  My top three hybrids from the previous year each have two squares which are doing great right now.  The rest are heirlooms.  Some of those are already shining.  I'll go thru the same process with them, then those top varieties will earn their squares.  From there out, I can dabble with different varieties, just to build on the foundation that I have.

Other than that, I have limited experience, as I'm still learning also.  However, if I had an experience with something, and someone has the same problems, I'm more than happy to help.


Rose,
I was almost forced  to do this last year, only, it was not as severe an angle.  My foliage prevented me from comfortably reaching in to the boxes for harvest. So I created an angle to make room.  It worked great on the cukes and cantaloupe, as all the fruit dropped to the underside of the netting. It really didn't make a difference with beans, since those things go and grow in all directions. I'm pretty sure that this would work great to shade those plants.

Really all I did was jam the pipes in the ground at an angle close to what I wanted (mostly because I was working alone, and the earth was an extra pair of hands. I think it would do just fine without the stabbing in the ground).  Then I drilled a couple of holes in each leg of the pipes, and through the box, and used nuts and bolts to connect the two.  It's pretty strong considering how simple it is.  As you may be able to tell in the pic, it seems a little twisted.  That's because I cross my arms over the top of it, and it's become a lean and rest stop for me when I'm out there.



When I harvest my garlic, I plan on planting melons there.  I plan on doing the same thing with the trellis there also, but, I'm going to add a couple of "legs" to the high side of the trellis as an insurance policy if nothing else.  I have no doubt that it will hold the weight, but I'd rather be safe.


Heidi,
I started using the shredded newspaper to control the dollar weeds that would love to try and take over my boxes.  It packs down into a mat that the dollar weed just cannot get thru.  I found that straw just wasn't doing the job, as it stayed loose and moveable.  It didn't take long for me to decide that I didn't like the way the newspaper looked in my boxes, so I covered it with straw.  That was the original purpose of the straw, simply just aesthetics.  Thru that, I stumbled upon something.  My soil seems to stay moister and cooler with both layers, rather than one or the other.

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  duhh on 4/21/2011, 1:52 am

Great advise! Thanks for sharing with us!

Love your garden. You have some great ideas

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  Blackrose on 4/21/2011, 8:20 am

Thank you for the picture! That definitely clears it up for me. Part of the reason why I want the angled cucumber trellis is because my cucumbers are going to be in a table top SFG and it will be easier to reach. Maybe I can figure out a way to do something similar to yours using brackets, since I won't be able to stick it in the ground. :?:

thanks

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  dizzygardener on 4/21/2011, 11:00 am

Boy oh boy! That last post of yours is pure gold! Such fantastic advice. Thanks.

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  Weatherkid on 4/21/2011, 3:16 pm

Wow!! Excellent advice! You have a beautiful garden. Best of luck for 2011!

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  elliephant on 4/21/2011, 5:13 pm

Very curious as to what your top hybrid tomatoes were last year and what heirlooms are doing well for you this year; do tell!

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  clfraser on 4/21/2011, 6:00 pm

My garden seems to have been overtaken with pests of all kinds. Not sure if they are good or bad. You recommend watching for them, but what do you do to get rid of them. Some of my plants are starting to look holey and sickly. Any advice from your experience?

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  Bayou Life on 4/21/2011, 8:54 pm

Thanks for the compliments guys.  I hope it helps someone.

Good luck Rose.  Like I said, I just stabbed them in to help hold them in place while I bolted them.  I'm sure that the two bolts per side that i put would hold it just fine.

Ellie,
My top EARLY producer was an early girl.  It produced lots of tennis ball sized tomatoes early, and I still had tomatoes on it in the late summer.  But, it did quit setting flowers about mid summer.

Beefsteak did well also.  Producing a good yield, but that too stopped setting mid summer.  By then, there were still many growing.

And the longest lasting was creole.  Which is a hybrid developed by LSU, specifically for hot humid climates.  I had to clip the tops at 7 1/2 feet.  There was a reduction in fruit set after mid summer, but it did still set some here and there.  I believe it would have produced until the first frost, but the stink bugs invaded me.

NOTE:  the seeds of the creole tomato can be saved just like an heirloom.

If you like cherry tomatoes, the supersweet 100 grew fantastically in my garden.  So well in fact, that we couldn't keep up eating them, and there are 6 people in my household.  I planted two of those and they too had to be cropped at 7 1/2 ft.  They also lasted all summer, and were still setting flowers in the late summer and thru the stink bug infestation.

So far with the heirlooms, I have, what I'm hoping is a black krim that is just going crazy.  The plant is growing nicely with lots of flowers and the flowers are setting nicely.

I say hoping because these are the only three plants that my girlfriend bought from the nursery to transplant.  The rest of my plants this year are from seed.  Anyhow, one plant was regular leaved and the other two are potato leaved.  According to research, krims are regular leaved.  Whatever the potato leaf plants are, I hope I can save the seed, because as of right now, they are growing and setting lots of fruit.

Brandywine, so far, is my biggest disappointment.  I had to pull one because the leaves were starting to spot, and it was starting to look sick.  On another there are lots of flowers but no fruit yet.  I'm not going to give up on it just yet though.  I did plant seeds from two different seed companies for those.  Flowers aren't open on the second companies seeds yet. 

I also have Cherokee purple, yellow pear, an heirloom cherry, and beefmaster.  They weren't ready to transplant during my first planting, so they got planted on the second.  The plants are looking great, and it should be another week or two before the flowers open.


Cl,
Here is a website that might help you.

http://www.garden.org/pestlibrary/

One that I don't see on their list is the spotted cucumber beetle.  They did a number on my strawberries last year while we were visiting out of state.  It looked like someone used a hole puncher on my leaves.  On some, nothing was left but the stems and veins.

If you don't mind using a chemical pesticide, liquid sevin will get it under control, and it will do so very quickly with the majority of pests you encounter.  I don't like using chemicals, but I'm not afraid to if the infestation is bad enough.  I have to protect my investment.

An organic product that I use is neem oil.  It's a 3 in 1.  Pesticide, fungicide, and miticide.  Instead of waiting for something to happen this year, and then start applying it, I started using it preventively since I've planted.  It doesn't work like the liquid sevin though.  You won't see results right away.  It does something to the insects brain, and it literally forgets to eat and starves to death.  I even spray whats left, after I spray the plants, into the boxes.  It's said that it has fertilizing properties, and roots will suck it up and store it in the leaves.  Something takes a bite of the leaf, and they go senile soon after.  Japanese beetle, cucumber beetle and potato beetle are all present in my garden now, but they are not eating my leaves.  As of yet, I've had no cutworms or hornworm found in my garden.  Not to mention that's how I got rid of my anthracnose last year.

Anyhow, I cured the problem with the strawberries last year by first hitting it with liquid sevin until it was under control, then I maintained it with the neem.  I still have that strawberry plant, and I've eaten a handful of berries from it already this year.

Oh, I should add that the neem is only fatal to beneficial insects if sprayed directly on them. After it's applied, it only targets those that feed on your leaves. So don't spray when bees are active. Spraying in late evening is the best time, as the sun won't start cooking the fresh oiled plants.

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  CarolynPhillips on 4/21/2011, 10:53 pm

Very Nice Bayou and Great info.

I hear many times that people love the flavor of Brandywine but not much luck on production but my story is the very opposite. I always have a large production. It is one of my favorite tomatoes. But like most tomato plants==they don't pollinate very well after temps get around 95 to 100. Up until the high temps arrive---they produce very well. Hope yours gives you good results.

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/22/2011, 8:36 am

Bayou, I'm in NE TX, and would love a bit more info on the creole, what type of mater is it (roma, regular). Please keep keeping us up to date on your maters, especially those of us in the heat and humidity.

The only problem I've had with Yellow Pear, is it will take over if not pruned. It grows EVERYWHERE.

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  Bayou Life on 4/22/2011, 12:05 pm

Carolyn,
Do you save your seeds? Or just buy seeds and/or transplants to replant every year? I'm wondering if they might need a couple of replanting generations to "evolve" and acclimate to it's surroundings. Of course, that theory will not matter much for me, if none set for me to save the seeds. I've never ate one, but every time I hear of tomato flavor, brandywine and cherokee purple are the first names that come up. I think that's why I'm dissappointed right now, because I really would have liked them to do well. I'm waiting on the Cherokee buds to start opening now. Hopefully I'll have a little better luck with them.

Valerie,
It's a medium sized, beefsteakish (if thats even a word, lol) type tomato. It's pretty popular here, as it's one of the top varieties you will find at the farmers market. The local supermarkets also buy them from local gardeners. It is a very prolific plant with lots of foliage, and if not pruned, they will take over the surrounding squares, and possibly into the second squares away from them. Last year, I pruned them and only allowed the main stem to grow. Those branches on the main stem impeded on a square and a half all the way around it. I'm trying something new (for me at least) this year. I will allow the first four suckers to grow with the main stem and then prune off the rest off as they grow, then I'll clip the tops off at 6 feet. It's another experiment for me.

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  clfraser on 4/22/2011, 12:12 pm

Bayou,

Thanks for the advice on the pests. I am trying to determine how sever my problem is now, and will probably decide between the two options. Thanks for the help! Love your garden by the way.

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  HPartin on 4/22/2011, 12:39 pm

Bayou,

Do you purchase your Neem oil or do you mix it yourself?

Heidi

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Re: This is my third year with the SFG method.

Post  Bayou Life on 4/22/2011, 12:54 pm

You are very welcome. Good luck.

I buy the neem concentrate, which is available at the garden centers. Then mix two tablespoons of neem per gallon of water.

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