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From Iowa with a question or 20 :)

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From Iowa with a question or 20 :)

Post  stripesmom on 5/4/2011, 8:39 am

Hi Everyone, I've been reading the forum for awhile, trying to soak up all the information I can. I want to thank you all for sharing such a lot of good information! I do have a couple of questions though and hope you can help me.

I have 3 boxes so far. Two boxes are 2x8 and one is 4x4. I'm wondering with the 2x8's how long should I make the pvc for a wagon cover? I cut it at 8 ft and they look kind of oblong standing there. I am thinking of cutting them to 7 ft. and see if that makes a better fit. I used electrical strap inside of the box to help keep them in place. Where my boxes are, it's always windy. I'm wondering if the hoops where closer to the ground, if they would be sturdier.

I've had row gardens before and my bush beans get pretty big. I'm having a hard time getting my head around having 9 in a square-they just seem to need more room on top than that. Have you planted 9 in a square? I will probably put them on the outside, so they have a little more growing room, but still....?

I will have my boxes filled by the end of the day and start planting tomorrow. Would planting lettuce, radishes and all the other spring crops be too late now? If I could taste a green pea, I sure would love that. I've not eaten a fresh pea for so long, I can't remember when it was. But, I don't want to start it, if it's going to end up being more of a pain that a pleasure. Thanks for any help Very Happy
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stripesmom

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Re: From Iowa with a question or 20 :)

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 5/4/2011, 10:22 am

stripesmom wrote:Hi Everyone, I've been reading the forum for awhile, trying to soak up all the information I can. I want to thank you all for sharing such a lot of good information! I do have a couple of questions though and hope you can help me.

First of all, welcome! Glad you've decided to come out of the shadows and jump in with us! As you know, we are crazy about the process of SFG and we love to help others learning the concept (not that we are experts either...lol).

stripesmom wrote:I have 3 boxes so far. Two boxes are 2x8 and one is 4x4. I'm wondering with the 2x8's how long should I make the pvc for a wagon cover? I cut it at 8 ft and they look kind of oblong standing there. I am thinking of cutting them to 7 ft. and see if that makes a better fit. I used electrical strap inside of the box to help keep them in place. Where my boxes are, it's always windy. I'm wondering if the hoops where closer to the ground, if they would be sturdier.

I have a 4 foot wide box and didn't like the looks of mine either. So, I cut a foot off mine, and they are still pretty tall. I think I'd cut them in half for a 2 foot box. Remember, they are super cheap. So, if you decide that is too short, you can always buy more for a few bucks. Or, you could just take one and start cutting a foot off of it and trying it...then, adjusting further until you get the length you want. Then, cut the rest to match.

But, I think you are right. The lower to the ground the sturdier they are. In fact, I just like the looks of the lower ones anyway. I plan to cut mine again this summer or fall. I feel that the lower they are, the less air there is to trap and the heat retention may be a little better. But, who knows.

stripesmom wrote:I've had row gardens before and my bush beans get pretty big. I'm having a hard time getting my head around having 9 in a square-they just seem to need more room on top than that. Have you planted 9 in a square? I will probably put them on the outside, so they have a little more growing room, but still....?

Again, I'm with you. But, I did so last year, and they were fine. They were really packed in there, but I was very pleased with their output. In general, I don't mess much with Mel's spacing. If anything, I put more in than he recommends....like lettuces because I harvest them so frequently.

stripesmom wrote:I will have my boxes filled by the end of the day and start planting tomorrow. Would planting lettuce, radishes and all the other spring crops be too late now? If I could taste a green pea, I sure would love that. I've not eaten a fresh pea for so long, I can't remember when it was. But, I don't want to start it, if it's going to end up being more of a pain that a pleasure. Thanks for any help Very Happy

They are just seeds, and we are all having a cool spring this year. I don't think it would be crazy to plant them right now. I use a lot of "slow to bolt" lettuces and can get them well into summer each year.....temps into the 90s. But, I have some areas of dappled shade and that definitely helps my cooler season guys hold on. If you have straight sunshine in your SFG plot, maybe look for a place with dappled shade and build a 3x3 in the future for salad summer crops? Also, swiss chard handles heat really well, and it constantly gets compared to spinach in case you like spinach. Just harvest the tender, young leaves.

I wouldn't hesitate to plant carrots and radishes. Mulching does wonders for them when it starts to get hot. But, I still think we are a ways away from the crazy hot summer heat. I've heard mulching peas works well, too.

I hope some of that helped. And, I hope we see more of you soon!
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Re: From Iowa with a question or 20 :)

Post  stripesmom on 5/4/2011, 3:26 pm

Thank you for your thoughtful reply BYBGardener. You make a lot of sense. I think the only thing I'm concerned about are peas, so may leave them for next year. I have tried to grow them before when it was later and they didn't produce much.

I did cut another foot off the pvc pipe and it looks better. I'm going to keep experimenting with them. I also thought that having them lower would help hold in the heat.

Today, I finished the mix. Yesterday, I opened the first bag of vermiculite (got it from Menard's in the insulation section) and it was the size of coffee grounds. Today, I opened the second bag and it was the size of pebbles. So, I mixed that like your suppose to, then put in a portion of the small stuff I mixed yesterday to try to mix it all up. What a day. This mixing could be a challenge on the Biggest Loser. I can tell my abs are not in to it, lol. Although, I must say, I do feel better than I have in a long time. And, I beat the rain!

I have never eaten swiss chard. My mom use to grow it and the folks really liked it. I do enjoy spinach, fresh in a salad or cooked. I have a couple of squares for chard and the seeds have been soaking in water for two days. I didn't intend to soak them that long, I just didn't realize how long it would take to finish the boxes up. But, the seeds are sprouting, so I will plant them as soon as I get some square feet measured off. Which I intend to do-hopefully today.
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Re: From Iowa with a question or 20 :)

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 5/4/2011, 3:34 pm

Sounds great. Good luck with finishing things off. The thing to remember is it's a one-time thing with each box. After that, never again. Tilling soil used to be an annual thing, and it seemed as rough as mixing soils to me.

If you could get a picture up for us, that would be great. I'm sure all the hard work deserves some bragging!
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Re: From Iowa with a question or 20 :)

Post  stripesmom on 5/4/2011, 3:48 pm

Yes, it does beat tilling. Also, I'm sure the weeding is nothing like it is in a row garden. Our dirt is so hard here, I can't believe any thing grew in it. I went out to push some stakes in the ground (to show DH where the rubarb is and not to mow it this time) and couldn't push them in the ground. I had to hammer them in. Most ground in Iowa is nice and black. When they filled this yard, they apparently didn't care that it was clay.

I am taking pictures, but I still don't have a digital camera, just disposable from Walmart. It might take awhile before I go through 27 pictures. Then again, maybe not. I will post as soon as I can though Very Happy .
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Re: From Iowa with a question or 20 :)

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