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Post  redmountainquilt on 4/22/2010, 1:35 pm

Hi,

I (having never really gardened before) am going to give SFG a go and have a few questions.

1. I don't understand compost. How can it be that something like cow manure (the fresh stuff) can transmit disease, but when it's made into compost it is safe to grow veggies in? Hmmm?

2. If I make chicken wire cages to protect my plants, will I be able to use them at the same time I have things growing on the trellis? Doesn't seem like it. How can I make that work?

3. Do I really need to remove the grass from the area where my boxes will sit if I am using weed barrier cloth. Won't the weight of the Mel's Mix just squash the grass flat, or am I missing something?

Thanks for any answers!!

Cathy
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Post  robbinscabin on 4/23/2010, 10:21 am

I'm not sure how much help I'll be but here goes...

1. I dunno! Honestly, I can't tell you why fresh manure is so different than composted. I do know that fresh cow manure doesn't contain the same types of parasites/diseases that meat eating animals do. They are vegetarian after all! LOL. And I know that compost that includes manures is like a miracle worker in the garden.

2. Chicken wire cages are for protecting plants not for trellising. I know people who've tried to use chicken wire and found it too flexible to be much help for heavy plants. That being said, unless you have a tremendous amount of sneaky vegetable raiders not every plant needs a protective cage. IMO, a good scarecrow can work well too.

3. I hate removing grass! My grass is stubborn ole crab grass and a person could go nutty trying to remove it. So last year I built my boxes and instead of lining just the bottom of the boxes with fabric I ran the fabric up the insides of the boxes. I figured the grass would die and without a cut in the fabric along the edge of the board the weeds couldn't wiggle in. And they didn't. However, I did have a few weeds squeeze themselves between the wood box side and the fagric. These pests were easy to stop before they gained a foothold in my boxes. This spring I had to shift one of my old boxes to the side a bit...and underneath I found completely barren ground. No grass/weeds/green at all! So if you don't mind pulling an occassional persistant weed/grass I'd say it is not always necessary to remove the grass.

Now, I'm only in year 2 of this myself so...who knows I may be completely loony. New with a few Questions! Icon_tongue

Good luck.
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Post  redmountainquilt on 4/23/2010, 10:27 am

Thanks for the reply. I think I am going to mow or weed wack really short and then put my fabric and the boxes in place and see what happens!

I am going to make the trellis supports as suggested in the book. I just couldn't figure how you could put a four sided chicken wire cage up against a trellis that has stuff growing on it!

I bought my wood last eve and am almost ready to start! Yay!

Cathy
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Post  Mikesgardn on 4/23/2010, 10:47 am

If you have a trellis on one side of the box, you can't use a 4'x4' cage unless it is very tall. That's impractical to remove when needed. The cage shown in the book has another problem that I ran into. The book shows the perimeter of the cage sitting on the edge of the box. This is a problem because the plants along the perimeter tend to splay beyond the box. Every time you remove the cage and replace it, you damage the plants. I tried making the cage larger than the box, but it was just too awkward to move around. I have resorted to using a permanent hoop cage that is large enough to span beyond the boxes, but I still don't have my trellis in it. I keep my trellis plant in their own container, unprotected.
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Post  robbinscabin on 4/23/2010, 10:52 am

Hubby had a day off from work yesterday...at least that's what he thought! Until we spent the entire day in the garden getting our new boxes filled with mix. What a long day it made but we were so happy at the end of it all. Good luck on building those boxes and don't forget the most important step...

Upload Those Pics!

Good luck!
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Post  jenjehle on 4/23/2010, 2:31 pm

The only kind of cow manure that is safe to use (and is wonderful stuff!) is rotted cow manure. I did a search and found this info on ehow.com:

Organic Fertilizer
Composted cow manure is the most commonly used organic fertilizer for vegetable
gardens.

Function
Composted cow manure enriches the vegetable
garden soil by improving its humus and tilth content. The composting process will remove pathogens and weed seeds from fresh cow manure.

Time Frame
Safely apply fresh cow manure to the vegetable garden in the fall, working it into the soil, so it can decompose during the winter.

Warning
Do not apply fresh manure directly to vegetable
plants. The high nitrogen content in fresh cow manure can burn the roots and leaves of growing vegetables.


As for the chicken wire, if you can't seem to get that to work, there are other options. I use bird netting over my plants. We put 4 tall stakes in, one at each corner, then draped the netting over the top. This will let the sun in and the critters out, hopefully.

You shouldn't have to remove any grass, esp if you're going to use weed barrier. That should be just fine, many of us have done just that.


Good luck!
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Post  organicgardeningzen.com on 4/23/2010, 4:14 pm

Related thread on whether or not to remove grass here: http://squarefoot.forumotion.com/general-sfg-talk-f5/new-raised-bed-t1592.htm
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Post  timwardell on 4/23/2010, 10:51 pm

redmountainquilt said, "I don't understand compost. How can it be that something like cow manure (the fresh stuff) can transmit disease, but when it's made into compost it is safe to grow veggies in? Hmmm?"

During the compost process the compost pile "heats up" - sometimes to 150 degrees. This is caused by the various bacteria working their magic to break down the plant material. The heat generated during composting kills pathogens, seeds, and the other harmful stuff that would not be welcome in your garden. That's how something like nasty cow poop can become yummy vegetable food.
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Post  illuminate1 on 4/23/2010, 11:16 pm

@redmountainquilt wrote:Hi,


2. If I make chicken wire cages to protect my plants, will I be able to use them at the same time I have things growing on the trellis? Doesn't seem like it. How can I make that work?


I was wondering about this as well.. I know my tomatoes need a trellis but my other plants need protecting from the bunnies. So do I create a chicken wire cage that covers only half the box? (I'm just getting started as well)
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Post  chocolatepop on 4/24/2010, 12:52 am

@illuminate1 wrote:
@redmountainquilt wrote:Hi,


2. If I make chicken wire cages to protect my plants, will I be able to use them at the same time I have things growing on the trellis? Doesn't seem like it. How can I make that work?


I was wondering about this as well.. I know my tomatoes need a trellis but my other plants need protecting from the bunnies. So do I create a chicken wire cage that covers only half the box? (I'm just getting started as well)

I do two things. Both revolve around an open top. One was a four sided design, and then i trellised on the outside ( I left it on the whole season, used gradiated rabbit fencing) and the other was three sided (open topped still) and the trellis was on the fourth side. Since the critters around her never stop eating my garden, I leave the fence "cage" up all season.
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