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Rookie in Chicago

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Rookie in Chicago

Post  leahray on 3/3/2010, 3:53 pm

My name is Leah, and I'm planning to make my first square foot garden this year. I have a tiny yard, but full sun, and am eager to see how well I can grow veggies. I've grown tomatoes and herbs in the past, and am eager to take things much further. I'm about to measure my yard and start designing my boxes & garden.

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Re: Rookie in Chicago

Post  Theresa on 3/3/2010, 4:49 pm

Hi Leah!

Welcome to the SFG forum!

I'm near Mt. Vernon Illinois, south of you a ways. This will be our 4th year of SFGing.
It's a great way to garden, and I'm still learning!

What do you plant on growing this year in your garden?

Theresa

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First Year Chicago Garden

Post  leahray on 3/3/2010, 10:11 pm

Thanks for your reply! I would like to plant vegetables. My husband is a great cook, and I'm giving lots of thought to what we eat most. Zuccini, broccoli, carrots and spinach are certainly staples. I also love peas, and he loves tomatoes. He has made a special request of at least one icebox watermelon, or other smaller watermelon plant. Asparagus is another favorite, although I don't know if I can take the giant fronds. With a very small yard, the aesthetics of the garden are important. We spend lots of time out back in the summer, hanging out and barbequeing.

We typically grow lots and lots of herbs--three kinds of basil, five kinds of thyme, rosemary, mint and more--and I've always weaved them into flowerbeds or put a few in pots. We also grow tomatoes, although they didn't do all that well last year. We also tried squash, and got a few before a borer took over.

Any tips? I am almost through reading the SFG book, and have eagerly played with the online garden planning tool at gardeners.com

leahray

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Re: Rookie in Chicago

Post  Theresa on 3/3/2010, 10:42 pm

Well it sounds like you've got a plan!

I like to grow my tomatoes up, and remove all the side suckers, keeping it to one main stem and I just tie the main stem to a stake. That way the tomato plant will grow up and not spread out taking up less space in the SFG. We had lots of tomatoes. Here is a picture of some of them, so you can see how we did it. The one in the picture is a medium size tomato, but we had the big ones too and they did good.



Theresa

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Thank you for the photos!!

Post  leahray on 3/4/2010, 12:57 am

Wow! Your garden is gorgeous! I am definitely going to do some more proactive pruning on our tomatoes this year. We typically let them get rather crazy, and it is a big fat mess.

And the zinnias mixed into your garden are simply lovely.

Thank you so much for corresponding with me. I am so eager to get going on this new method; can't wait to see how it all works out!

leahray

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Re: Rookie in Chicago

Post  happyfrog on 3/5/2010, 7:12 am

welcome to the boards!

and you're gonna LOVE sfg! my one suggestion - DO NOT cut corners when making the mel's mix. you'll be so glad you followed the instructions. my gardens are a dream, whereas some of my friends who cut a few corners here and there when putting their boxes together have more problems to contend with.

and future years - you're gonna LOVE the ease of sfg! i managed to plant peas yesterday in less than 10 minutes - and that included talking on the phone to a friend during that time. *grin* the hardest part for me was shoveling the snow on and around my boxes - once that was done, the sun melted the rest and my dirt was all soft and friable - and the surrounding ground hard and solid. .. so my peas are probably in a week or so EARLIER than anyone else! (i'm in central ohio)

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Re: Rookie in Chicago

Post  leahray on 3/6/2010, 11:55 pm

Thanks for the tips, Betty Ann! I have to confess: I was trolling local garden shops today to see if they had vermiculite, peat, etc. out for display... I've got to price out the Mel's Mix. That said: I will do it right. It's a matter of how much will work for the first year. I'm hoping to have two boxes, maybe three. One next to my house, 2 x 8, and one next to my garage, 2 x 8. If that works, I'm thinking a portable salad box that I can move around my patio. somewhere in the realm of 1 x 3, would round things out. We'll see how it goes.

Thanks so much for the ideas and support!

leahray

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Re: Rookie in Chicago

Post  mckr3441 on 3/7/2010, 9:21 pm

Hi Leah. Welcome to the Forums. My DH and I frequently pass through Chicago on our way from Ohio to visit our daughter in WI. I'm happy to hear that you have full sunshine in your yard. You are lucky!

Thinking of your patio box, a 1x3 might be moveable (if your Hubby is a big strong guy) but moving it in my yard would be impossible, I think. I solved the moving problem be putting wheels under my box and it works wonderfully. It also attracts many surprised compliments. We actually screwed the wheels onto the plywood bottom. I'm considering trying to attach some kind of a wagon handle to it this year to make it even easier to move. We have to push it now to follow the sun as we have a lot of trees and shade.

Eager to hear about your progress.

mckr3441

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Re: Rookie in Chicago

Post  leahray on 3/8/2010, 4:58 pm

Clarie, that's a great idea! Wheels it will be. We have a concrete patio that I'm always trying to cover with pots and flowers, so a portable lettuce box seems like a good idea. Wheels will make it much easier. I have a vision of a lettuce wagon now!

Thanks again for your support.

leahray

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Here's the Plan

Post  leahray on 3/12/2010, 8:38 pm

Okay: I've made a garden plan, and posted it to my blog here http://bit.ly/c2sYVm

I'm hoping to do two boxes: one next to my house, and one next to my garage. I'd love any ideas you all have on it!


leahray

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The new girl

Post  mountainmaiden on 3/12/2010, 9:51 pm

Hi everyone I am mountainmaiden in live in very northern VT. We still have plenty of snow so we are just enjoying the lettuce that we have grown this winter under lights. But it won't be long before we can start seedlings. I read the original SFG books a few years ago but didn't get the mix right and have never had great luck. I am really looking forward to the new boxes that my husband is making and starting with Mel's mix. We will have them right in front of the house because it gets the most sun and warmth for our short growing season. I am loving reading about all of you starting your seeds already and it already feels like Spring even though we built a snowman in the yard yesterday. I am looking forward to reading all of your wonderful posts. We live at 1900 feet so it stays cool with frosts until almost June. Root crops love it here. a

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Re: Rookie in Chicago

Post  mckr3441 on 3/13/2010, 10:44 am

Welcome Mountain Maiden I thought I had it bad...our snow just melted this week and wouldn't you know it, a johnny-jump-up bloomed!

When you put your boxes in front of the house, put a sign near them saying that they are Authentic SFG Gardens so your neighbors can see and be jealous! Of course, you'll have to make sure you use the grid, otherwise it's not authentic.

Keep coming back to the forums and I hope spring comes soon for you.

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Re: Rookie in Chicago

Post  mckr3441 on 3/13/2010, 11:33 am

Leah... I just "came back" from your website. LOVE it, your spreadsheet and your garden plan. I left a comment there.

I've just layed out the plants for my boxes using some kind of software. Now I have to check my thinking against Mel's book to make sure I'm not making any drastic mistakes. We're just building our 4x4 and still can't figure out where to put it! We have a small yard that looks large. Just a small flat grassy space that my DH refuses to give up to garden boxes! About six or eight feet around the grass and drive are on a slope and ofen in shade. Hmm. What to do. I'm either going to put the box on wheels or wait until the frame is built and place it around (maybe on some grass) and try to convince him that it will be okay over the grass. I now have one each of a 2x4 and 2x6.

Happy planning.

mckr3441

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The boxes, year one!

Post  leahray on 5/8/2010, 1:59 pm

-Ta-dah! Here are our two SFG boxes. Whoa, Nellie, it took some serious elbow grease to get it all done, but we won't care if the veggies grow well. The surprises for me were: how long it took to mix the Mel's mix (just lots of work, basically, but easy to do), and of course, how many trips to Home Depot we managed to need to make. But: planting is a breeze, and I'm pleased with how things look so far.

Staring at places where I've planted peas, beets, and head lettuce that have yet to sprout is making me nuts. I have two peas that are indeed coming up, and lots of leaf lettuce. But there are six peas yet to surface, and the head lettuce is simply hiding out. It's killing me.

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Re: Rookie in Chicago

Post  Ha-v-v on 5/8/2010, 2:34 pm

Excellent job there!! Love your planning Smile
Ha-v-v

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Re: Rookie in Chicago

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