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Newbie in Central NY looking for advice

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Post  starduster303 on 4/3/2012, 4:25 pm

Hello everyone! sunny I am brand new to square foot gardening (just joined about a half an hour ago) and haven't gardened for a good many years. I live in Central NY north of the Finger Lakes, about 2 miles from Lake Ontario. After perusing my bills and available $, this morning, affraid I have come to the conclusion that I simply MUST put in a garden if I hope to survive. After a recent scare with colon cancer, organic is super important to me, so I'm hoping you all will have lots of hints to keep away pests and so forth. I have a friend that can help me with some cedar boards and I read a few of the other posts so I will use some nylon string for the grids. Obviously, being brand new to this, I have no compost, soil or anything else much besides the will to do it. pale
I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction. Last frost date around here is toward the end of May. I am hoping to have the boxes built this month (today is 3 April) and then will get working on the soil. What do you suggest I do for compost? Is it too late to add some sort of manure? I need to find the most cost effective way to do this, so going out and buying MM isn't doable for me at the moment. i should mention that I am no spring chicken and live alone with kids scattered far across the country, so I'm on my own with this project.
I'm hoping to build at least 4 boxes. Any thoughts or suggestions would be most welcome.
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Post  quiltbea on 4/3/2012, 5:22 pm

Welcome to the forum.

If you aren't going to start with the Mel's Mix method, then you need good soil in your boxes. Can you find rich garden loam available for a reasonable price? I'd amend that with some peat moss, some course vermiculite IF you can find it, and store-bought aged compost and aged cow manure and also greensand, rock phosphate and bloodmeal for your organic additives (follow directions on the containers). Its a beginning.

Level the area under your boxes. Either remove all the grass or layer the inside of the boxes with cardboard and layers of newspaper to keep out weeds. Many use weedbarrier if you can afford it.

While you're growing your food, you can put in a compost corner and save all your weeds and thinnings, fall leaves, mowed grasses, and kitchen waste in the pile to make your own rich compost for next year.

Its all doable. I started that way myself because I wasn't even aware of Mel's Mix at the time. You can keep adding to your boxes rich compost each year or add a few bags of the purchased Mel's Mix and before long you'll have a Mel's Mix garden.

Lots of good, sound advice around here on growing your foods. Can you get the 'All New Square Foot Gardening' book by Mel Bartholomew from your local library? Even the old one, 'Square Foot Gardening,' is full of great advice. They need to be read and notes taken. They'll help you immensely with how to grow your crops.

For fighting to keep your health, I'd be sure to grow the foods with the highest micronutrients, like Kale, Collards, Bok Choy, Spinach, Brussels Sprouts, Arugula, Cabbage, Romaine, Cauliflower, Green Pepper, Carrots, and the like and they all grow well in an SFG.

If you have questions, enter a key word in the Search function on the left and lots of posts will come up to help you. If you can't find the answer, come back and post your questions. Good luck.
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Post  starduster303 on 4/3/2012, 5:36 pm

I am hoping to be able to get at least a few bags of the MM, but know that I can't start off the way I'd really like to be able to do. Thanks for the tips on mixing the soil. Yes, I am going to put Mel's book on hold at the library. I have so much to learn!
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Post  chjbr63 on 4/3/2012, 7:00 pm

Welcome Newbie in Central NY looking for advice 396615 Josie

I did a Craigslist search Finger Lakes and there is lot of compost/manure for free on it. There should be an Agway close by you, they carry a lot of the stuff for the mix plus they can order most anything. The only part of the mix that is real expensive is the coarse vermiculite, peat is pretty cheap and compost can be free or cheap. If you need help with the labor most churches have volunteer programs or a couple of bucks for a high school kid. As for pests there are a lot of homemade remedies found on this forum plus companion planting will help.
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Post  sfg4uKim on 4/3/2012, 7:10 pm

In the ANSFG book, Mel talks about using 100% compost in countries where people can't find peat & vermiculite. IF you can find a GOOD source of organic compost (preferably in bulk which would be cheaper) you could do that until you have the finances to make MM.

Not sure if they sell it (didn't have time to read it) but New York Compost may help. Oh, and of course their use of "organic" just means "matter that has come from a once-living organism, is capable of decay or
the product of decay, or is composed of organic compound". It sure doesn't mean there aren't chemicals in it.

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