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Lower Rio Grande Valley School Farm/Garden

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Lower Rio Grande Valley School Farm/Garden

Post  FarmerTuley on 11/17/2011, 4:17 pm

Howdy from Deep South Texas!

I am a farmer for a charter school called IDEA and I am just re-starting their garden. I have 10,240 sq. feet of planting land and am in the process of converting it all to raised beds. I do have some rows as of now because I needed to get some produce going. (I supply the cafeteria with lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and anything else they want to use in their daily cooking.

I have a question about that large of a scale garden. I calculated the amount of vermiculite needed and at 8 cu ft/100 sq feet it ran somewhere around 5k at an estimated 6.00 a cu ft. My soil is quite the clay pool and hardpan bottom and so I know amendments are needed badly. Even at 4 cu ft/100 square feet it runs 2.5k.

I want to incorporate the SQF method into my garden as much as possible because I am able to have more data (yields, water usage, amendment requirements, etc.), but I fear that the cost to do it Mel's way is prohibitively expensive.

I would love to hear some ideas about ways to incorporate SQF into my garden more and more. And as a preview here are some images of what I have done in the past month.

Day 1


After a month



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Re: Lower Rio Grande Valley School Farm/Garden

Post  janezee on 11/17/2011, 7:59 pm

Wow!!!!
Did you work night and day? I'm impressed.
As Mel says, 1/5th the space means lots less money, water, and amendments needed, I found it expensive to set up, but I'm not spending any more money for years. I think they call that amortization. Wink





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Re: Lower Rio Grande Valley School Farm/Garden

Post  boffer on 11/17/2011, 8:33 pm

Welcome to the forum.

Pretty ambitious undertaking! Here's what I would do. In foreign countries where vermiculite is unheard of or prohibitively expensive, Mel suggests growing in a 5 way compost mix. The same 5 different types of compost that you would use in your Mel's Mix. With a little creativity and hustle, you might be able to round up all the compostables you need for years to come for free. Some schools with smaller SFG gardens get the kids involved with the composting processes.

I would start a half dozen boxes with MM to learn about it. I would plant things like greens, carrots, radishes ie the smaller stuff that gets planted close together.

Be sure to read the ALL NEW SFG book. There's a lot of info that you won't find on the web site or this forum.

Good luck in your endeavor.
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Re: Lower Rio Grande Valley School Farm/Garden

Post  elliephant on 11/30/2011, 10:11 am

Wow! How very awesome! I'm in McAllen and have had a lot of success with adding double the amount of compost, so I would definitely focus on getting as much compost in there as you can. I hope you keep us updated on your success. I'd love to come over and see your setup one of these days.

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Re: Lower Rio Grande Valley School Farm/Garden

Post  FarmerTuley on 11/30/2011, 11:29 am

The previous farmer used a lot of cow manure. The farm had been resting for around 9 months or so, though I was finding basil and parsley plants still pretty active. As for the compost, I used the McAllen Composting Facilities premium compost for another community garden I started at North Mission Church of Christ. I was disappointed because I a.) either got the junk compost instead or b.) mcallen's premium compost still has wires, toys, and various other non-compostable pieces in it.

I have started my own composting in the back with a three slot system I learned from Brett Markham (Mini Farming on 1/4 acre). I won't have enough to cover the whole area so I am looking at buying in bulk somewhere else than McAllen.

I would like to turn it all into raised beds but just checked out prices and I'm looking at a couple grand just in wood, not to mention screws, compost, vermiculite, and peat moss. Also, I priced out the drip irrigation system and realize I need to start working on grants to get any of this done. But as for production, raised beds beat rows hands down in terms of weeding, fertilizing, etc. SQF beats raised beds by adding more control to the bed (i.e. soil construction and accurate yields)


And if you would like to come take a look and help out one day or something feel free to contact me at the school email. I would love to have the help!

justin.tuley@ideapublicschools.org

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Re: Lower Rio Grande Valley School Farm/Garden

Post  elliephant on 11/30/2011, 1:29 pm

That's a bummer that you had all that junk in the compost. I've being buying that same stuff for the past couple of years and have found a couple of the strips you peel off the milk jugs to open them (kwim?) but that's it, and only a couple. I add in a few other types as I can afford it, but use the city stuff for the bulk of my compost and stuff does grow well in it.

It would be great fun to come out and help one of these days! It'll be after the holidays before I'd be able to, but I'll look forward to it! There's only so much I can do in my little backyard and with SFG being so easy, sometimes I run out of things to do...ok, not really Wink I have 3 kids 5 and under, so always plenty to do! But I'll leave them at home with Daddy when I come out there!

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American Heart Association School Gardens

Post  carolann.hennen on 11/30/2011, 1:30 pm

The American Heart Association has a school garden program. Look them up on the web and get in touch. They are wonderful at helping school gardens with funding, raised beds, supplies, etc.
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Re: Lower Rio Grande Valley School Farm/Garden

Post  FarmerTuley on 12/1/2011, 10:41 am

\
by carolann.hennen on 11/30/2011, 12:30 pmThe
American Heart Association has a school garden program. Look them up
on the web and get in touch. They are wonderful at helping school
gardens with funding, raised beds, supplies, etc.

That sounds awesome! I will check it out soon.

And Elliephant, just let me know when you want to come out and perhaps we can get a group to do it so a lot can get done in a day.

-Back to the Farm

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