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Post  jmsieglaff on 4/15/2012, 10:01 pm

Hello,

I'm new to the forum and wanted to post a few pictures.

We bought a house a couple years ago that had an 8'x8' timber lined garden. The soil was pretty good, a bit too much clay if I dug deep enough. Last winter I stumbled on the SFG method, so I basically gave it a try within part of that garden last summer. I thought it was a success so I decided to go all-in and redo my garden last fall and finish it this spring.

I made 4 4'x4' plots with 8"x8"x16" split faced construction block with 2 foot paths. To the existing soil which was pretty good I added some compost and peat moss. I filled all the holes of the blocks with compost and soil. You can see rabbit guard fence around each bed. For vertical supports I used 1/2" electric conduit, elbow connectors, and cattle panels. I cut the cattle panels to size (the panels are 52" wide, so I cut them to 5' height). I wove the conduit through the cattle panel and connected the conduit with the elbows. The frames are placed over 3' rebar that is pounded into the ground. You'll also see an extra bed off the deck that is 12'x2' (but no vertical support on that bed). Below are pictures!

So what am I growing?
lettuce (leaf and bibb), radishes, radicchio, onions, garlic, spinach, swiss chard, peas, tomatoes, tomatillos, bell peppers, serrano peppers, broccoli, winter squash, vining summer squash. In the holes of the blocks will go marigolds and nasturtiums and a few herbs. What's missing? Green beans.........the Japanese beetles just make me too angry!

I hope the pictures can help give someone an idea or at least some viewing enjoyment.

Justin

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Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG Tulips12
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Post  JennAndCompany on 4/15/2012, 10:54 pm

Welcome Justin!

I just discovered the forum yesterday. It seems like a great place to share about SFG.

Your squares look great - nice a sturdy!!

Happy Gardening!
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Post  marc-in-pa on 4/15/2012, 11:26 pm

Wow! What a great set up. Nice job and welcome!!!
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Post  kittykat on 4/16/2012, 9:58 pm

Very pretty! So organized!

Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG 582897 Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG 582897 Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG 582897
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Post  trukrebew on 4/16/2012, 10:31 pm

Hi Justin,
welcome
It's great to see someone putting up pictures right away! I like your plan of putting marigolds and herbs around your squares. The marigolds will do well to keep some pests away.

I do have one question, though. With that rabbit fencing up, how can you comfortably reach into your squares? :scratch:
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Post  jmsieglaff on 4/17/2012, 4:14 pm

Thanks for the compliments.

I've also got a new 18'x3' asparagus raised bed along the side of my garage. The first shoots emerged yesterday!

I don't have a problem reaching into the squares. The fencing is 2' high, but when I installed it I dug down along the blocks and placed the fencing down maybe 6" from the top of the blocks. Additionally, my paths are raised up maybe 1/2 way up the blocks so I'm able to reach in better. For the 4 middle squares of each plot I'm stretching a good amount, but I just pull weeds when they are small and I'm planting things that either don't get harvested often or will grow upward in those squares (onions, peppers, broccoli, etc.)

Justin
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Post  CharlesB on 4/17/2012, 4:48 pm

Well done!
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Post  doneal on 4/17/2012, 6:42 pm

Someone post on here last week that concrete blocks was made from fly ash and it was harmful to humans and that it would leach from the blocks into your vegetables , not sure but maybe who every it was will reply, I remember the post was about using the blocks to plant strawberries.
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Post  elysia on 4/17/2012, 7:13 pm

this was the post that I saw regarding this:Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG Empty

"CINDER BLOCKS MAY CONTAIN METALS

Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG Empty chuckbaugh on 4/12/2012, 1:00 pm




Strawberry pyramid with cinderblocks looks very cool, but it is NOT worth the health risk.
Concrete Blocks may contain fly ash which is OK to use in construction, but the heavy metals will leach into the soil through water, or worse, the plant roots could be in direct contact with dangerous levels of heavy metals. You do NOT want to consume the heavy metals in fly ash concrete. PLEASE consider this before using this in your garden.

As a point of reference, I am a microbiologist, growing soil probiotics (beneficial bacteria and beneficial fungi) that help plants grow bigger and faster. My laboratory does microbial testing for concrete additive manufacturers. "

It was under the topic "strawberry pyramid - opinions/help". :scratch:
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Post  CharlesB on 4/18/2012, 9:41 am

Do your own research on Fly Ash before ripping your garden apart. (Not like I think you would do that based on one message board post.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fly_ash#Exposure_concerns

I see no issue with it.
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Post  1airdoc on 4/18/2012, 10:05 am

Your new gardens look great! There are LOTS and lots of gardening experts who describe and recommend the use of cement blocks for raised bed gardens - just google those topics and you'll find many pages about it, some written by master gardeners and other experts. The main safety concerns they usually express relate to whether there is paint on the blocks, not what the blocks are made of. One thing to be aware of, however, is that the blocks are porous, therefore you will probably have water your garden more frequently.

Of note is that your beautiful beds are not filled with Mel's Mix. You already mentioned weeds, which would not be much of an issue with Mel's Mix, and you may also find you are disappointed with productivity in the intensive gardening possible with SFG, unless you are using Mel's Mix.

Consider ways you may continue to amend your soil mixture to make it more like MM, or possibly consider replacing the soil in at least one box each year until you can get them all filled with MM.

Good luck with your new plots!
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Post  Unmutual on 4/18/2012, 11:40 am

Well, as far as fly ash goes, I'll take my chances with the concrete blocks(and apparently some compost I bought too). You can't make your garden 100% heavy metal/toxin free. These things occur in nature and are a part of nature. What matters is the level of concentration.

According to http://www.greenbuildermag.com/News/Green-Building/The-Truth-About-Fly-Ash , the fly ash in concrete is bound to the portland cement. Unfortunately, I have no idea where their biases lay. But the EPA is looking at treating fly ash as toxic, so this might change.
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Post  jmsieglaff on 4/18/2012, 9:21 pm

@CharlesB wrote:Do your own research on Fly Ash before ripping your garden apart. (Not like I think you would do that based on one message board post.)

Thanks everyone. I'm good with my concrete blocks. I'm sure you can find a potential issue with nearly any material for a raised bed (treated lumber, tires, whatever).

Regarding my soil, I think it's quite good. Like I said I did SFG in the big garden last year (two rows of squares 3'x8' with a path in the middle 2'. I did it because I wanted to see if I liked the results and it did well. My soil should be even better this year. The thing I like most about SFG is maximizing food per unit area, which for me having limited space is the most important.
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Post  GWN on 4/18/2012, 10:18 pm



I've also got a new 18'x3' asparagus raised bed along the side of my garage. The first shoots emerged yesterday!
Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG 3170584802
Mine emerged yesterday too, SOOO exciting what zone are you in...?
I also use cattle panels heavily as well, LOVE THEM


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Post  jmsieglaff on 4/18/2012, 10:35 pm

@GWN wrote:
I've also got a new 18'x3' asparagus raised bed along the side of my garage. The first shoots emerged yesterday!
Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG 3170584802
Mine emerged yesterday too, SOOO exciting what zone are you in...?
I also use cattle panels heavily as well, LOVE THEM

I'm 5a as well. The spot I put them does not get full sun, it gets sun from around noon onward. But the sun it gets is very intense (direct sun + reflected off the siding on the garage). I think that should serve it well. I planted the crowns ~6" deep.
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Post  GWN on 4/18/2012, 10:47 pm

The spot I put them does not get full sun
Ditto...
I was thrilled today to see well formed 2 inch asparagus spears. I have been checking for weeks now, but perhaps like my mother says, "the watch pot never boils"
I took yesterday off.

I took the cattle panels and bent them over for my raised bedsConstruction Block and Cattle Panel SFG Dsc_0142
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Post  jmsieglaff on 4/18/2012, 10:51 pm

I know what you mean about checking every day and nothing nothing nothing and finally one pokes through. Now I'm up to three tiny spears (I planted 18 crowns). I planted mine on March 20 with our really warm March the soil warmed up quickly and I was adding soil that was warm as well. Our April average temp thus far as actually been cooler than our March [though still a bit above 'normal'].

And I love those cattle panels like that. If I had the room I do them that way in a heartbeat!
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Post  GWN on 4/18/2012, 11:14 pm

I planted mine last year.
I planted 4 crowns and I grew another 10 plants from seed.
They all grew last year, but whether they would make it through the winter has been the other thing.
So Sounds like lots more asparagus in the world now.

One thing you CAN do with our present cattle panels, is ..... in the fall when the weather turns cold, you can put plastic over the whole thing and provide some protection for your tomatoes and peppers....
At least that is what i am going to do
WELCOME

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Post  jmsieglaff on 4/29/2012, 9:06 pm

So I've been gardening for a while, but this is the first year I'm doing tomatoes and peppers from seed. These are my pepper, tomato, and tomatillo seedlings. The tomatoes will go outside mid-May and peppers closer to Memorial Day weekend.

Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG Plants10
Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG Plants11

My setup for growing these is: fridgetop for germination. After they emerge they're in a cold frame during the day and in the basement at night until the cold frame stays above 50F at night, which hasn't happened since these germinated. For cold cloudy days they've been up against a south facing patio door.

The pepper seeds were planted March 23 and germinated April 3-8. The tomatoes seeds were planted March 31 and germinated April 5-8. The tomatillo seeds were planted the same day and emerged April 10-15.

They seem to be doing well, we'll see how my setup does for growth rate for the recommend seed starting dates for my frost date and can adjust next year.
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Post  JustMe on 4/29/2012, 11:02 pm

Fabulous set-up. I'm in SE Wisconsin.

Our asparagus has been up for a few weeks, but I did plant more today. Starting to rethink my 2x2 bed (new this year, I removed them from my original 4x8 bed) with 4 plants/square after seeing your huge bed.
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Post  jmsieglaff on 5/14/2012, 10:02 pm

I figured I'd share some more pictures of the SFG...this time as they are filling instead of mainly empty....harvested 1/2 lb of spinach and 1/2 lb of lettuce today, should do another similar harvest tomorrow (cut individual leaves). Also have harvested 32 radishes so far.

Below: Broccolini, swiss chard, onions, garlic, and broccoli rabe (where winter squash seeds will be planted soon) Flowers and herbs are going in the blocks.
Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG Mother11

Below: Tomatillos with some radish tucked between. To come: Peppers and winter squash (along the trellis)
Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG Mother12

Below: Tomatoes (sun gold, black krim, celebrity, tough boy), radishes tucked between, and cucumber seeds along the trellis.
Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG Mother13

Below: Peas along the trelis, spinach in the outer squares and peppers will go in the middle 4 squares.
Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG Mother14

Below: 2x12' bed with onions on the ends and 1/2 bibb lettuce and 1/2 green leaf.
Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG Mother15

Below: 3x18' asparagus bed in its first year and seemingly doing well.
Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG Mother16
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Post  jmsieglaff on 6/12/2012, 10:17 pm

About a month has past since I updated how my new construction block and cattle panel trellis garden is going, so I thought I'd share some more pictures. The trellises really aren't getting a workout yet (aside from the peas), but that will be changing in the coming weeks. I'd love to hear what ya think.

Here is a large shot of all 4 beds:
Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG 06-11-10

A couple close ups of the northeast bed (closest in picture above). Along the trellis are buttercup squash and some radishes (I had some broccoli rabe there earlier). Garlic and onions in the middle and 6 squares of broccoli in the front and 2 squares of swiss chard.
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In the southeast bed there are two tomatillo plants and various peppers. Along the trellis is one plant of butternut squash and two of trombonico squash which I'm growing for summer squash (although I might let one go to see how we like it for a winter squash) and a few radishes. I haven't grown this squash before, I like the way the leaves look.
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In the southwest bed I've got 4 peppers in the center squares and super sugar snap peas along the trellis, which are producing very nicely right now. The empty squares are where the spinach plants were. I pulled them this past weekend since they were going to seed, but they produced wonderfully. Looking forward to their return in the fall. I'm a bit concerned with the peppers in this bed, they are kind of green-ish yellow. I don't think it is the soil since all soil is identical in all beds and the other peppers are doing great (all planted and raised at the same time). Just to be safe I fertilized and mulched, I think it might have been over watering since I was watering the spinach and peas a lot in our warm/dry May/early June. I think I should see improvement by the weekend.
Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG 06-11-15


Finally the northwest bed has tomatoes that are doing great and cucumbers growing along the trellis. Had a good harvest of radishes from between the tomato plants last weekend.
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Last but not least a few pictures of stuff on the deck. I've got another tomato in a 5 gallon bucket. I've seen other people have great success with this method on the web, so I thought I'd give it a try. And then 1/2 whiskey barrel with potatoes. I've been filling the barrel with potting mix as they've grown upward. I haven't grown potatoes before, wow do they grow quickly! And not pictured, my 2x12' bed along the deck has been producing more lettuce than we can use and has a couple dozen onions that are doing well, but not as well as the ones in the main garden.
Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG 06-11-18
Construction Block and Cattle Panel SFG 06-11-19

So I hope the bugs stay manageable, only a few three lined potato beetles on the tomatillos which I've hand picked (along with a few eggs) and two cabbage worms on the broccoli I killed a couple weeks ago.
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Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 6/12/2012, 10:23 pm

jm, your set up is totally awesome! Congratulations, you're an inspiration. Thanks for the photos. Nonna
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Post  GWN on 6/12/2012, 10:30 pm

great garden you have there, looks like it is going to be very productive....
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Post  Goosegirl on 6/13/2012, 8:44 am

Looking great!cheers

GG
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