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BIG garden

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BIG garden

Post  ltrapp on 6/21/2011, 11:04 pm

Hello all. I was just curious I have a very large garden and plan on being here on this property for at least the next 20 years! Ok right now it's till the day I die, I can see the benefits of having raised beds, and using Mel's mix, but I also have a very large garden. I know, I know that's not really an issue, but this is my issue. My soil sucks and rather then just importing stuff to put on top of it I'd really like to work at improving the soil it's self. Do any of you do this?

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Re: BIG garden

Post  camprn on 6/21/2011, 11:18 pm

Two words: homemade compost. Very Happy OH! And welcome to the forum!

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Re: BIG garden

Post  quiltbea on 6/21/2011, 11:31 pm

I'm a great believer in Mother Nature and I think improving the soil is the perfect way to go so I say 'Go for it.'

I started with garden loam, peat moss, composted manure, some amendments like greensand, limestone, bonemeal, and bloodmeal and improved every year from there.
In the fall I bury dry brown leaves in my beds for the worms to feed for the winter.

Adding more compost every year continues to improve it.
Compost, compost, compost can't be beat.

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Re: BIG garden

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/21/2011, 11:39 pm

To answer your question of "do we (and by that I mean do I)?" the answer is HECK NO. I read the book and was hooked. I don't mess with SFG. I don't try and change my dirt. I took the easy road and built on top of my "sucky" soil. After reading The All New SFG, why would I create more work for myself? Besides, SFG consolidates all the "large garden" space, too. I'm a pretty coachable guy, though, and don't like to reinvent things when someone has a better way. I am a copycat by nature.

You will likely get better responses in the Non-SFG subforum. This isn't really the place to talk about soil amending your existing garden.

General SFG is exclusively for SFG techniques. Put the question in it's rightful place and we'll do all we can to help you out.

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Re: BIG garden

Post  Barkie on 6/22/2011, 8:29 am

I assume this thread is in the right ie Non-SFG section now? So --- firstly welcome to the forum. You'll find it a great resource, especially about growing food the SFG way.

I do both SFG bed gardening and grow in the garden as well.

The bottom left of my garden is where I'm planting intensively shrubs, food and flowers. Plenty of composted manure in there. I will add some home made compost to the holes whenever I plant again unless it is a long term structural plant which also needs a little bonemeal. I use an organic slow release fertiliser in the top few inches if necessary as well.

The top left part of the garden is for some fruit bushes etc so I'll just remove weed roots and rocks from where I'm planting and add plenty of composted manure and a little bonemeal to the planting holes.

Some of the top right and some of the bottom right side are where my SFG beds are or are going to be. The top right is really poor, just a thin layer of clay and sandy clay soil over rocks.

I think the best plan with a larger garden is to just improve where you need to and how you need to so that you can grow what you want where you want it and in the rest of it plant things that will grow in what you have got and don't need much looking after. That way regardless of it's larger size you can have a beautiful and productive garden that fits your budget and the amount of time you have to spend on the routine maintenance.

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Re: BIG garden

Post  littlejo on 6/22/2011, 11:47 am

SFG will change the way you garden for sure, but growing a lg amt. of food can be grown in a small amt. of space.

I've grown a large garden for years and have just a few hints.

1. Tilling does nothing except bringing rocks, weeds, and more bad soil to the top.
2. Mark off the growing areas and rows. Make 4 ft. wide rows. Do not walk on beds!
3. Amend/add to only the planting areas. Pull weeds only in the planting area.
4. Cover the walkwaysto keep weeds down. Paper, plastic, or mulch if you have it.
5. Plant just like a square foot garden. 1, 4, 9, 16 to each sq ft.just like in the book. The closeness will help with the weeding and the plants will shade themselves.

I don't know what you grow, but will use corn as an example.
100 ft of row, planted 1 per ft is normal. If you plant 4 per ft, you can plant 128 in a 4 ft row , 8ft. long. then, when the corn is about 4 inches tall, plant pole beans in between the corn plants, which will climb on the corn.

128 corn stalks x 2.5 ears per stalk is 320 ears of corn!!

I am new to SFG, but my hubby planted corn in the "big" garden, and we have had no rain and high heat, so it's not doing so good. I planted 1 4x8 bed of corn in my SFG. Time will tell how this turns out!

Good luck,
Jo

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Re: BIG garden

Post  extremesoccermom on 6/22/2011, 2:55 pm

I started my gardening way before every hearing of SFG. I started with flowerbeds everywhere I could find room, then found a need to add vegetables to the beds. Slowly they became all vegetables. They did ok but not great they were just in my soil with fall leaves left where they fell or added from other parts of the yard.
I decided to try the raised beds a/ to keep the dogs out (didn't work exactly) and b/ so that I could try different soils. I built 4 5x10 beds but quickly found I needed to fence them off from the rest of the yard because the dogs thought they were great play areas. After some internet searching I found all kinds of expensive formulas but we decided to head to the "dirt" lot by our home. We have a pick up so we purchased 2 truck loads of clean dirt and 1 truck load of compost (I did compost myself but did not have enough it was later I found out we purchased brown compost only). The garden did a little better but still not what I wanted and I only had enough dirt for 2 of my beds.
More searching brought me to lasagna gardening and SFG. The third bed is half and half to determine which would work better. Last year the lasagna garden did better but the SFG really sounded like the way to go. This year we added chicken, rabbit, and worms to our household and the castings that go with them. I have since amended the first 2 beds with a batch of MM because I was not about to take the soil back out. Also I found the dirt and compost would bake into a hard layer which was difficult to work but the MM was to loose to support some of my plants. I have found this year I am very happy with my mix of good old dirt, MM, and extra compost as needed along with shreds of paper for mulch.
I am still experimenting and learning.

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Re: BIG garden

Post  Furbalsmom on 6/22/2011, 5:17 pm



I see the benefits of having raised beds, and using Mel's mix, but I also have a very large garden. I know, I know that's not really an issue, but this is my issue. My soil sucks and rather then just importing stuff to put on top of it I'd really like to work at improving the soil it's self. Do any of you do this?

ltrapp

If you are intending to amend (improve) your native soil, instead of starting with a perfect soil like Mel's Mix that you find in ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING, look for the original Square Foot Gardening Book printed in the early 80's. The information is there, but I really think if you try the ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING method and Mel's Mix, you will be hooked.




When reading the book, you will find you can grow just as much in much less space with MUCH less work, water, fertilizer and next to no weeds.



Try it, You'll like it!

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Re: BIG garden

Post  ltrapp on 6/22/2011, 11:19 pm

Thanks for all the responses and sorry I didn't post this in the correct spot right away!

I have 20 acres and have a TON of space to put a garden. My husband and I seem to come from a somewhat different background then most who "discover" SFG. We plant a large garden for a few reasons. First we LOVE to garden, and just watch plants grow, we use it to teach the kids about the lifecycle, and where our food comes from. We also love to eat the fresh food, which is the second reason. Ok now for the real reason that we have such a large garden about 30 x 40 sq feet give or take about 5 feet! We want to can as much of our harvest as possible for winter, once relatives who live close found out we were gardening and wanted to put a harvest by, we got "orders" from them to help them supplement their food supply as well! So we're growing for about 5 families now including our own! Just glad they have all volunteered to help can everything!

Thanks so much for making me feel welcome! I can't wait to learn and to also learn how to put SFG practices into motion and see what happens!

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Re: BIG garden

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/23/2011, 12:14 am

I understand your reason. I also thought there may be a "bigger" reason....money.

1200 sq ft is a lot of space. Heck, it's the size of the average house. But, you realize SFG cuts the space by 80%, right? That equates to only 240 squares of SFG. Or, a 10x24 garden plot. At $4/sqft (which is on the high side), you are looking at under $1000 to be completely setup, virtually forever, at that size. Several of our members have over 300 squares they manage.

If that is too steep, as for many it would be, you could just slowly convert as your budget allows. Imagine all the weeds you cut back on? The time? The water bill you could save? The fertilizers you would save on? All to get the same production from 240 sq ft! Eventually, convert all 1200 sq ft and you can feed more than 20 families in the same patch of dirt. Now, how big are your dreams?

Amending your existing soil, across 1200 sq feet will cost so much more in the long run it's not even funny. You are really missing the concept of SFG, imo.

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Re: BIG garden

Post  middlemamma on 6/23/2011, 12:37 am

What he said....

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Re: BIG garden

Post  Squat_Johnson on 6/23/2011, 1:59 pm

I formerly had a large row garden. 80% of my time was spent plowing, tilling, hoeing and sweating. I would get to plant and harvest occasionally. In my climate, you can't work the soil too early, or it will be a lot of hard packed dirt clods. I could only get started after May, and then only if it was dry enough. This year I was planting peas in late Feb. That's 2 1/2 months of head start. By May, I was eating head lettuce.

After my beds are setup (there is a building phase, which is a lot of work), I now spend that time either planting, composting or harvesting. I now have no row garden. I have all SFG, 396 squares.

Just put down the hoe, and step away ;-)

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Re: BIG garden

Post  pattipan on 6/23/2011, 2:57 pm

@Squat_Johnson wrote:I formerly had a large row garden. 80% of my time was spent plowing, tilling, hoeing and sweating...
Just put down the hoe, and step away ;-)

Amen, brother.
pattipan (former row gardener)

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Re: BIG garden

Post  westie42 on 6/23/2011, 2:59 pm

My regular non engineered garden was 1925 square feet until I sat 104 squares of SFG in it with thoughts of adding more. To me there are likes and dislikes for both methods of gardening. It is not at all certain I will ever completely convert to SFG. I kind of like the dirt God gave me to work in. If I were only to do SFG and had all that extra time on my hands. I could sit in coffee shops and spend money getting fat and otherwise unhealthy. I would have time to buy a membership at a health club or spa and equip myself in fashion to go there for the exercise I used to get for free in my garden. So far for one I can't get off the idea of maintaining a more optimal healthy balance in life. Oh after the first two times hoeing it only takes 10 minutes every few days to have a bragabley clean garden.

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Re: BIG garden

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