Square Foot Gardening Forum

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.


Search
 
 

Display results as :
 

 


Rechercher Advanced Search

Latest topics
» Second Year SFG in Canada
by BeetlesPerSqFt Today at 7:24 pm

» Garbanzo (Chickpeas, Cicer arietinum) and Kidney Beans
by BeetlesPerSqFt Today at 7:08 pm

» CANADIAN REGION: What are you doing December 2016
by trolleydriver Today at 5:28 pm

» CHALLENGE - Smallest possible footprint
by Kelejan Today at 5:19 pm

» TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
by trolleydriver Today at 4:51 pm

» GF Collard Greens, Kale Recipes
by BeetlesPerSqFt Today at 12:49 pm

» Butterfly Junction
by countrynaturals Today at 11:49 am

» 2016 SFG in Brooks, Ga
by sanderson Today at 11:48 am

» N&C Midwest: December 2016
by landarch Today at 9:29 am

» What are you eating from your garden today?
by llama momma Today at 5:10 am

» Holy snow Batman!
by llama momma Yesterday at 4:52 pm

» Tomato Tuesday 2016
by llama momma Yesterday at 4:35 pm

» New England, December 2016
by CapeCoddess Yesterday at 3:27 pm

» Bon fires on the Levee
by Cajun Cappy Yesterday at 12:17 pm

» Mid-South: December 2016
by Scorpio Rising 12/5/2016, 10:26 pm

» Mid-Atl - Dec 2016 - Seed Catalog ?
by Scorpio Rising 12/5/2016, 10:24 pm

» Gardening in Central Pennsylvania
by Scorpio Rising 12/5/2016, 10:21 pm

» 1st Seed Catalog Arrived :)
by Scorpio Rising 12/5/2016, 10:15 pm

» Amaranth
by countrynaturals 12/5/2016, 12:06 pm

» Northern California & Coastal Valleys - What are you doing this month?
by countrynaturals 12/5/2016, 12:03 pm

» Garlic: Freeze, thaw, and heave
by donnainzone5 12/5/2016, 11:14 am

» Live and learn
by jimmy cee 12/5/2016, 9:08 am

» AtlantaMarie's Garden
by countrynaturals 12/4/2016, 2:04 pm

» Mychorrhizae Fungi
by audrey.jeanne.roberts 12/4/2016, 1:28 pm

» December 2016 Avatar: Show your Winter Season Colors!
by Scorpio Rising 12/3/2016, 11:17 pm

» SFG not giving the results I expected
by No_Such_Reality 12/3/2016, 7:21 pm

» New Member
by trolleydriver 12/3/2016, 4:14 pm

» First season SFG results / lessons learned
by countrynaturals 12/3/2016, 10:36 am

» Eat Broccoli Leaves? Brussels Sprouts? Cauliflower?
by sanderson 12/3/2016, 2:55 am

» Winter's Coming!
by sanderson 12/3/2016, 2:53 am

Google

Search SFG Forum

Do we overthink????

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Do we overthink????

Post  scmelik on 6/15/2011, 1:08 pm

**Disclaimer** This is my first ever attempt at growing a garden and I have only read through Mels book twice so I still have a lot to learn.

Last night I was talking with my neighbor and admiring his garden and I started asking him some questions. His garden is your traditional style garden and is fairly substancial in size. This year was the first year that he planted it and just tilled it up about 6 weeks ago. I asked him if he tested or amended his soil at all, and he said no just tilled it up and planted. Let me tell you his plants are on FIRE, they are growing like crazy it makes my plants looks tiny.

Well it got me thinking, a HORRIBLE idea I know. I think that the idea of a small manageable garden is much better than the big take up your entire backyard garden. But I am curious as to whether or not we put to much emphasis on making the soil just perfect. I see post on here about people not being able to find 5 types of compost and replies that tell them they need to find 5. From what I have found in in stores the compost most stores sell is nothing special, I bought 7 different kinds and brands of compost this year and well all but 2 of them were full of peat and woodchips and the other two weren't full of them because they were straight manure (steer and chicken). Comparing how well his garden is growing in nothing but soil and how my is struggling in MM I just wonder if we over think the process of gardening more than it needs to be?

**DISCLAIMER** I could be WAY off based just thinking?????


scmelik

Posts : 137
Join date : 2011-01-16
Location : Brookings South Dakota

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/15/2011, 1:35 pm

You are correct. We overthink here....A LOT! But, that's part of the fun, honestly.

That said, I don't completely agree with your premise, either. Wait a year or two and your neighbor will be amending his soils. The first year I gardened, traditionally, things took off. The second year, I added topsoil from river bottoms....things took off. But, the minute I went slack on adding nutrients, whether it be organic or inorganic, the garden just pooped out. His will, too. Maybe not next year, but sometime relatively soon.

The beauty of SFG'ing and getting your soil right is simple. We don't worry about amending soils...other than adding compost to squares as we go. Virtually nothing goes wrong, nutritionally....ever. If you want 15 foot tomatoes, add tons of fertilizer to your SFG. Fertilizers will boost growth even more than regular MM. But, we don't need it. The concept of SFG is to get great growth, not world record growth, with minimal space, water, and effort. Mel never claims to have the best garden soil for growing massive plants. He claims to have the most efficient garden soil to date.

All soils need to be replenished. His is no exception. All soils grow things. His is no exception. But, I know who's will poop out first.

BackyardBirdGardner

Male Posts : 2727
Join date : 2010-12-25
Age : 42
Location : St. Louis, MO

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  boffer on 6/15/2011, 1:49 pm

A lot of people overthink it. More importantly, they forget, or choose to overlook, that SFG is a type of intensive gardening, and that one's attention to nutritional sources is paramount to the success of one's efforts.

Compost is the heart and soul of the SFG method. It is what feeds the plants. It is what eliminates the need for off the shelf fertilizers, amendments, and additives. It is a natural and normal part of life: poops and plants, that have been around and used for millenniums the way Mother Nature intended. It's just that now, we've become so far removed from our agricultural roots, and have been so careless with our natural resources, that things so basic as manure and rotted plant matter have become hard to find.

I read the book and thought: 'if 5 composts are enough, then 6 or 7 should be better'. Other people read the book, and thought: 'if 5 composts are enough, maybe 3 or 4 will work'. I don't know why it works that way. I thought hard for a while about how to get a compost system working that fits my needs, abilities, lifestyle, and time. That was 4 years ago, and I don't have to think anymore. Now that I know how, making compost is fun.

There are a few people who are lucky enough to live on fertile soil. Most are not. Your neighbor will still have to figure out the fertilizer game, and deal with the extra weeding, hoeing, and tilling. Other methods of gardening work; they just aren't as simple or easy as SFG.

boffer

Male Posts : 7392
Join date : 2010-02-26
Age : 63
Location : yelm, wa, usa

View user profile http://boffer.us/

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  Squat_Johnson on 6/15/2011, 4:32 pm

One big advantage I have over row gardeners is the ability to plant early. I just pulled my snow peas yesterday, they were 6' tall and turning brown. I have already harvested several gallons for the freezer. I planted them the last day of February. Where I live, you might have to get a tow truck for the tractor if you tried to plow in February. With Mel's mix, you can work the soil a bit with a trowel and plant anytime of year.

Another is lack of weeds. If you have clean compost, it should be weed free, the wind will always scatter a few, but it is much better. When I always turned soil in the row garder, it would pull up seeds from 2-3 years before, and there were weeds everwhere. That was half the gardening task, weeding. Now I concentrate on planting, harvesting, and managing bugs.

Squat_Johnson

Male Posts : 440
Join date : 2010-05-25
Location : Beaver Dam, Kentucky, zone 6a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  scooter on 6/15/2011, 5:13 pm

I can attest to the challenge of 5 composts. I was dead set on doing the first year to MM spec. 5 composts. No more, no less.

Compost 1 - Cow Manure. Easy. Everywhere sells this, big box stores, home improvement stores, ace hardware, walmart, nurseries, feed stores, you name it, everyone around here has cow manure.
Compost 2- Mushroom Compost - But just the 2nd compost was already showing issue... most places just had the Cow Manure. One big home improvement store happened to still have blended forest compost and mushroom compost from last year crazy cheap. So went this route.
Compost 3- Blended forest compost
Compost 4 - Posy Power - Compost 4 started to pose quite the challenge. One nursery recommended I use posy power, it was pictured in Mel's book so I went with it.
Compost 5 - Horse Manure - Uh oh. No one has any more composts for sale. I and the wife called almost everywhere we could think of in a 20 mile radius. Yes, we had some options at a few places - Earthworm Castings. Chickity Do Do. But we needed no less than 3 cu ft, and at $40/bag that was shy of a cu ft, and already being way over budget, I could not do it. Almost none of our neighbors garden, compost, etc so they were of no help there. Our community may have a composting program, I do not know, but after reading horror stores of herbicides, pesticides and who knows what in community compost, I was not going to risk it. But, we do know someone with a small horse farm and we were welcome to all the manure we could haul. So we went that route.

Finding vermiculite was a cakewalk compared to the compost.

Now... my boxes have weeds. Many of them. Not as many as maybe a inground row garden, but way more than just a few blowing in. Probably from the horse manure.

5 composts... yet I am having to fertilize due to nutrient issues. My tomatoes and peppers were pretty weak on growth till I added some tomato tone. Maybe due to the horse manure, cannot be sure.

We do compost. We are hoping by next year we will have plenty of homegrown compost to add back to these beds and maybe do more beds.

I don't fault the method - I think Mel is spot on, but the reality is, some people just may not be able to acquire 5 good composts for their MM, either due to cost or lack of availability.

scooter

Posts : 24
Join date : 2011-05-13
Location : Springfield, OH

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/15/2011, 5:55 pm

When it comes to weeds, I can attest. I put some compost in a little early this season. 5 days later, before the carrots germinated, I looked in that square and was just beside myself. Little crabgrass seedlings were sprouting in clumps.......the contaminated compost clumps of grass clippings from a client's yard! I've been weeding for three days. Now, I just take the entire clump and pitch it.

Row gardening, no matter how great it looks from afar, can find itself another victim. I won't ever go back to that kind of weeding!

BackyardBirdGardner

Male Posts : 2727
Join date : 2010-12-25
Age : 42
Location : St. Louis, MO

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  Denese on 6/15/2011, 6:01 pm

No No No No No !!!!!!!!!! You couldn't pay me to go back! Weeds BAD!!

Denese

Female Posts : 324
Join date : 2011-05-31
Age : 62
Location : Southeast Michigan

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  fiddleman on 6/15/2011, 7:34 pm

@scmelik wrote:**Disclaimer** This is my first ever attempt at growing a garden and I have only read through Mels book twice so I still have a lot to learn.
{snip}
Comparing how well his garden is growing in nothing but soil and how my is struggling in MM I just wonder if we over think the process of gardening more than it needs to be?

**DISCLAIMER** I could be WAY off based just thinking?????


Do we "over think" the gardening process? Some do probably. Some probably don't think enough. There are so many issues when comparing gardens (even your neighbors to yours) it is difficult to do a side by side comparison. If you had tilled your soil right next to your Mel's Mix and planted the same type of seed/plants perhaps you could come close, but in my experience a few feet of distance between beds can be the difference between blockbuster harvest and barely hanging on. Right now in my garden I have 5 beds- 4 4x4's and one 4 x 12. I have Squares of the exact same plants (raised from seed) in different beds. All of the Mel's Mix was mixed together in one Ginormous batch and used to fill the beds at the same time. Same weather, same Mel's Mix, and same nutrients. In one bed I have some Grand Rapids variety leaf lettuce doing well - about 8 inches in height. In another bed 4 feet away... the same variety planted the same day is going crazy... the plant is 12 inches high and has double the number of leaves. (delicious by the way).
So what is the difference? Haven't a clue; perhaps the way they were planted or thinned or one gets a bit more or less sun... maybe one square had a compost clump, who knows? It does go to show though how much a bit of one thing or another will change the outcome of a garden. I've been gardening for 30 years and can attest to how much a bit of cold or warm, water, or nutrients can change the way a garden responds.

Perhaps your compost wasn't as "done" as they said and is chewing through the nitrogen in the mix... or perhaps you didn't water it as much as needed. Maybe his plants came from a different nursery and/or were healthier to begin with or he got 1/2 hour more sun on his lot because his trees leaf out later than yours did... or visa versa. There are so many reasons gardens do well or don't it is hard to figure out why one garden is better than the next when you do a direct comparison. Point is if the Square foot garden isn't responding the way you think it should, check out the big three... water, nutrients, bugs. You can't drown plants when using Mel's mix if the boxes are able to drain... Nutrients can be used up with heavy feeders... tomatoes, vine plants like cukes, pumpkins, squash require more compost ... and bugs can be a real problem; they sap the strength of the plant even if they don't kill it-preventing the plant from being all it can be.

Do we over think gardening... probably we do a bit because we are nurturing types of people, those of us who garden for the love of gardening root for all of our babies in the soil (sorry for the pun).


Mark

fiddleman

Male Posts : 121
Join date : 2011-03-21
Location : Mid Michigan

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  scmelik on 6/15/2011, 8:26 pm

you all make great points and they are all points that I have brought up when I talk to people about SFG. I am not saying that SFG and MM are not correct but after doing a lot of reading of post on here some people try and make it way to hard and way harder than it has to be.

scmelik

Posts : 137
Join date : 2011-01-16
Location : Brookings South Dakota

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  boffer on 6/15/2011, 9:27 pm

@scmelik wrote:you all make great points and they are all points that I have brought up when I talk to people about SFG. I am not saying that SFG and MM are not correct but after doing a lot of reading of post on here some people try and make it way to hard and way harder than it has to be.

To the contrary, I think people try to make it easier than it is. After all, it's the American way.

I wish I could find the original quote from Old Hippie where she said that: 'isn't it a coincidence that the first time humans chose not to follow directions, it happened in a garden'.

Mel is promoting a gardening method whose components are dependent on one another. You can choose to take him at his word and do it by the book, or you can choose to continue to garden the way backyard gardeners have gardened since forever, by picking and choosing bits and pieces of every gardening fad that comes along.

Time will tell if SFG is a fad.

I chose to tackle the hard part when I started SFG by figuring out a compost system that works for me. I didn't make excuses, take short cuts, or cut corners. Since then, I twiddle my thumbs, keep my wallet in my pocket, and enjoy just sitting amongst my boxes.

It's unfortunate that the folks who follow the book don't have much to say about it on forum. It works; what else is there to say? Kinda boring.




boffer

Male Posts : 7392
Join date : 2010-02-26
Age : 63
Location : yelm, wa, usa

View user profile http://boffer.us/

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  camprn on 6/15/2011, 9:30 pm

@boffer wrote:

I chose to tackle the hard part when I started SFG by figuring out a compost system that works for me. I didn't make excuses, take short cuts, or cut corners. Since then, I twiddle my thumbs, keep my wallet in my pocket, and enjoy just sitting amongst my boxes.

camprn

Forum Moderator Certified SFG Teacher

Female Posts : 13983
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 54
Location : Keene, NH, USA ~ Zone 5a

View user profile http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-week

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  scmelik on 6/15/2011, 10:04 pm

good points boffer. Like I said I am new to all this and just thinking out loud. Maybe I am over thinking about over thinking haha

scmelik

Posts : 137
Join date : 2011-01-16
Location : Brookings South Dakota

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  altagarden on 6/16/2011, 12:43 am

This gardening method appealed to me because I was a newbie and everything was so clearly laid out from start to finish in Mel's book.

Where I live the ground is clay about 6 inches below the surface so I didn't think a traditional garden was really an option.

I have a new community garden plot with a raised bed, compost and dirt. And I have my backyard MM boxes. I will tell you what I prefer at the end of the summer, but right now I prefer my MM.

I am not totally happy with my MM because it was $$$ and I have found I have to add a $7 box of organic fertilizer and a $4 bag of sheep manure to it in the spring if I want healthy plants, especially root crops. I could've added my home compost, which is slowly composting in our cool climate, but this year it was still frozen when I got ready to plant the squares. That's why I love the mix. I can plant very early, when there is still snow in my backyard. And MM doesn't cake and get cement hard after rain like my community garden plot. This is year three for me and I really haven't done any weeding thanks to MM. I had mushroom problem once from overwatering.

Of course the community garden plot is in actual all-day sunshine, unlike my shady backyard. So I might pick it the winner on that alone! (And it's 12 inches deep, which is nice for root crops and potatoes.) But if I am in the hot sun weeding I won't be happy.




altagarden

Posts : 92
Join date : 2010-07-20
Location : Alberta, Canada

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  camprn on 6/16/2011, 6:35 am

@altagarden wrote:I could've added my home compost, which is slowly composting in our cool climate, but this year it was still frozen when I got ready to plant the squares. That's why I love the mix. I can plant very early, when there is still snow in my backyard.
Same here! I just end up adding all the compost in the autumn after I have done the fall cleanup. I have found the downside of this is that the cut worms can and will set up camp in the end of season prepped boxes. The current plan is to rake the surface of the boxes every few days until freeze.

camprn

Forum Moderator Certified SFG Teacher

Female Posts : 13983
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 54
Location : Keene, NH, USA ~ Zone 5a

View user profile http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-week

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  NHGardener on 6/16/2011, 7:27 am

I'd like to know more about the cutworms, because I was thinking the fall would be a great time to beef up the compost in the MM.

This has been a very educational thread.

I over-worry more than I overthink. So when it came to the 5 types of compost, I threw in a few more types. Everytime I saw a new bag, I collected it. It was almost an obsession - ha. However, my plants aren't doing great. And the one thing I am suspecting is that not all composts are alike. By gathering more composts, you are also taking more of a risk of getting a compost with filler or unfinished material that can deplete your garden of nutrients. And that's where I am today. Feeling like some of my compost may have been poor quality.

I plan to amend my mix after this growing season is over. My home-grown compost should be fairly ready by then. (Does it have to be 100% ready when mixing in in the fall?)

The short story is that I am a little suspicious of commercial compost products. And so, I think my first year of MM may not be stable enough for optimum growth - I'm thinking year 2 is going to be better, especially after I add my own compost.

I would love to see a study where they go thru bagged commercial compost and test them for nutrients, fillers, residues, and then publish those results. That would be really informative.

NHGardener

Female Posts : 2298
Join date : 2011-02-25
Age : 55
Location : Southern New Hampshire

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  mijejo on 6/16/2011, 8:18 am

I just read (from a link posted on this forum) that vegetable and fruit kitchen scraps can be applied directly to the garden if they are first processed in a blender. The author claims that they will not burn the plants and implies that their nutrients will be absorbed by the plants.

What do all of you "experts" think about this?

mijejo

Posts : 156
Join date : 2011-05-25
Location : Cincinnati, Ohio

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  NHGardener on 6/16/2011, 8:24 am

I hope the "experts" like that idea because it sure sounds easy, and easy is number one priority in my book - ha!

NHGardener

Female Posts : 2298
Join date : 2011-02-25
Age : 55
Location : Southern New Hampshire

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  TN_GARDENER on 6/16/2011, 5:07 pm

Using a blender doesn't sound too easy to me. They aren't the easiest things to clean. Especially if it's not one that's dedicated to the garden and can't stay in the yard.

I can't see myself breaking out the blender just about every day to chop up the scraps (and it's fairly normal for my family to have a handful or two of scraps every day). I guess I could keep em in the fridge/freezer and blend them up on the weekends, but naaah...throwing them in a compost pile is pretty darn easy.

TN_GARDENER

Posts : 228
Join date : 2011-06-16
Location : TN

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  NHGardener on 6/16/2011, 5:20 pm

@TN_GARDENER wrote:Using a blender doesn't sound too easy to me.

Well, actually, I was thinking of skipping that part. rofl

If you look up "lazy" in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of me.

NHGardener

Female Posts : 2298
Join date : 2011-02-25
Age : 55
Location : Southern New Hampshire

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  WendySue67 on 6/16/2011, 5:52 pm

I don't think the SFG method is over thought, but I certainly do have a problem of my own with over thinking everything! This is my first year with a garden of any kind and I check my garden 5 or more times a day (I expect to see growth, but it's probably like children...unless you don't see them for awhile you never realize how big they have gotten...), I see a couple of gnats and start freaking out about how to kill them...I find slugs in the lawn 6 feet from my garden and decide I better check the entire yard to make sure none are getting close....I'm driving myself a little batty.

I'm trying to change my ways now... morning and evening is the only time I'm going out. I'm trying to convince myself that these plants grew just fine without anyone babysitting them long before I came around... (Coincidentally, now that I've stopped fretting about my potatoes, they seem to be growing better.)

Also coincidentally, a friend of mine with a huge traditional garden (and she's been gardening for YEARS) has never been able to grow broccoli--it just doesn't work out for her. I have now cut a (somewhat small) head from four plants! I told her it had to be my MM that did the trick...

WendySue67

Posts : 37
Join date : 2011-04-11
Location : Riverton, Utah

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Do we overthink????

Post  Sponsored content Today at 9:02 pm


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum