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first SFG success and a soil question

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first SFG success and a soil question

Post  Elaine on 9/26/2011, 2:40 pm

Fall is here and I can say that my very first SFG was a success and learning tool. I found vermiculite at the Ace Hardware, but I don't think it's coarse. It did work fine. On the north side I planted ichiban eggplant (2) and tomato (1). I also planted regular eggplant (2) that has not produced but one on each plant, never getting larger than a baseball. The marigolds took off - right over the parsley, cilantro and dill. The dill was planted two squares away but died before it got over 12" tall. The cilantro and parsley also died. Don't know why. I use flat leaf parsley every where in my flower garden, so no worries. The two ichiban's have feed the four of us well and now they are coming in like hot flies with more flowers yet! Also put in Basil (2) which did extremely well, cutting back is the answer. I'm letting one go to seed for next year.

I'm going to take out the marigolds and compost them. I'm afraid to take out the two non producing eggplants hoping that the cooler weather will encourage them to flower and produce. We have bees - just not a lot of the honey variety, though there's a beekeeper about 1/4 mile from the house.

In the regular garden I put in six roma plants and four different types of tomatoes along with zucchini,yellow squash, onions and potatoes. Zucchini and yellow squash died off before much of a harvest. Don't know why except too many squash bugs. The Romas are about done, I've taken out two that aren't producing well anymore. Besides all the fresh recipes, we canned 12 quarts and 24 pints. First attempt at canning! I did use the SFG layout for the tomato plants, etc. I also put the sides high though not in a contained box.

The ease of the SFG was hands down the winner! I did find it costly to get the different mixes but when figured into what all that eggplant would have cost, I still came ahead. The local farmer's market was charging $6.00 a pound for organic eggplant. I just harvested five pounds yesterday. I also received more compliments on the SFG than the other part of the garden - it just looks neater.

We have started to compost which should help next year. Everything that looked diseased - I gave to the city with the other yard trash -weeds.

I plan on putting the potatoes in a SFG set up next year and will be soon building the boxes for it.

For the current SFG I am replacing with some beans, lettuce, broccoli and cabbage.

Now the question. Can I take the garden soil from the 4' x 25' plot, mix in some equal parts vermiculite and peat to form the next SFG? Or will it be a disaster? We have clay soil that I mixed with well composted manure. It had good drainage and watering was reduced though not as little as the SFG took.

Thanks!
Elaine


Last edited by Elaine on 9/26/2011, 2:51 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : adding)

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Re: first SFG success and a soil question

Post  boffer on 9/26/2011, 3:50 pm

Welcome to the forum.
Elaine wrote: ... Can I take the garden soil from the 4' x 25' plot, mix in some equal parts vermiculite and peat to form the next SFG? Or will it be a disaster?...
If you use your own soil, chances are that stuff will grow. How well? Nobody knows for sure!

That's what SFG is all about: using the same method, that is proven to work well, anywhere in the world without worrying about existing soils: the nutrients, acidity, drainage, clay, sand, chemical residuals, etc. It makes sense that as soon as we start messing with the Mel's Mix recipe, the less we benefit from the integration of the components and techniques that comprise the SFG method.

I had two 4x25 beds when I started SFG five years ago. Each year I would add a couple boxes, by the book, and use a little less space in my existing beds. Next year, I will finally have all the original beds covered with weedcloth and SFG boxes.
cheers Mel's Mix is an investment that lasts a lifetime.
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Re: first SFG success and a soil question

Post  Kelejan on 9/26/2011, 4:48 pm

Elaine, Marigolds have quite large range from shot ones to really tall ones.

If you only purchased them from the garden centre without reading the label, then you need to read the labels as to how high they will grow.

Next year I am going to read the labels. lol.
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thanks!

Post  Elaine on 9/26/2011, 6:40 pm

boffer - thanks, I will just keep using the mix - it worked, I won't break it sunny I'll just keep using the one area for whatever until I have the boxes built. But I like to experiment, so I might try one box...

Kelejan - yep, supposed to be short - I bought my mom a couple of flats to put in her rose garden and had some left over - let's just say the mix won out - mine were twice as big and high as hers- next year, I'll keep it down Rolling Eyes

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Re: first SFG success and a soil question

Post  boffer on 9/26/2011, 6:54 pm

Elaine wrote:...But I like to experiment, so I might try one box...
It would be great if you could do side-by-side identically planted boxes, one with MM and one with your recipe. The SFG Foundation encourages that type of comparison, because sooner or later, somebody might find an improvement. You never know, it could be you!
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Re: first SFG success and a soil question

Post  Kelejan on 9/27/2011, 12:30 am

Elaine wrote:

Now the question. Can I take the garden soil from the 4' x 25' plot, mix in some equal parts vermiculite and peat to form the next SFG? Or will it be a disaster? We have clay soil that I mixed with well composted manure. It had good drainage and watering was reduced though not as little as the SFG took.



I would bet that it would not do as well as using MM, the reason being that soil is not the same as compost. Soil contains silt or sand as the foundation and it only has as much compost in it as the surroundings supply from Mother Nature. So the soil could contain very little nourishment compared with the one-third 100% compost component of MM.
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side by side

Post  Elaine on 9/27/2011, 8:44 am

I'll try the side by side comparison. For a control, I'll have to plant identical plants or seeds, and put in a drip irrigation so the water is controlled. I'll add the vermiculite and the peat moss to my existing soil mix. I'll have to get the pH reading. I think the big box stores sell the kits.

In my run I had added a mix of manure I smelled cow and horse (more astringent due to the higher acid) Even though the manure was mostly decomposed, I added some lime to counter act the horse manure. Believing if I could tell the difference, it must not be a year old. With my clay, the manure, lime and straw, I did get a sweet smelling soil. It must still be acidic as the tomatoes loved it. I topped with straw to keep any weed seeds out. I also put straw in the SFG. The SFG mix I did still smells better and did not attract the bugs as much but that could also be due to the plants I put in.

Would it behoove me to put some plastic over the "personal mix" to sterilize the soil? This is one thing that seems to be a correlation between the compost that I bought for my SFG.

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Re: first SFG success and a soil question

Post  Chopper on 9/27/2011, 2:31 pm

Elaine wrote:Can I take the garden soil from the 4' x 25' plot, mix in some equal parts vermiculite and peat to form the next SFG? Or will it be a disaster? We have clay soil that I mixed with well composted manure. It had good drainage and watering was reduced though not as little as the SFG took.

Thanks!
Elaine

You CAN do anything you want. LOL. But I do remember reading in the book that the whole point of not using your soil is why try to improve something (your soil) when you can simply have the best available right away. That was one of the major improvements over the old SFG book. Cut to the chase with superb growing medium rather than try to improve what is there. It is like having a cup of coffee with salt in it and trying to add enough sugar to make it good. Why not just throw the cup out and do it right the first time?

The other thing I can guarantee if you use your own soil is that it will harden in a way MM will not. Absolutely. So that is something to consider.

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Re: first SFG success and a soil question

Post  donnainzone5 on 9/27/2011, 3:10 pm

+1!



I've amended and amended the clay soil in my flower beds; the hard clay ALWAYS returns! In some of those beds, I finally resorted to putting down weed cloth and adding Mel's Mix. The plants are much happier.
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