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Nomadic’s Diary - An Italian SFG Orto/Vegetable Garden

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Post  Nomadic1 on 6/7/2017, 8:44 am

Sorry it's been so long since my last update but only now have I gotten the garden to a point where the major work is done. My Avatar now shows a time lapse of the progress to date. I'll post some pictures of the 2 SFG/SMG boxes shortly. The boxes were planted with the 1st plants only May 11... so 4 weeks ago, with 3 cherry tomato, 4 strawberry, 4 fennel, 1 eggplant, 12 red onion and I subsequently added 2 cucumber, 18 lettuce, 1 zucchini, 16 carrot, and a string bean plant (well, 2 plants close together as they were from seed and I will probably thin it out). I planted the SFG boxes 1 week after the plants went in on the traditional garden, as I had to put in the irrigation system there before moving to the boxes.
I wish I could say everything is going great, but most of the SFG plants seem anemic. The strawberries bore what fruit was already started on them as seedlings, but no new blossoms(the traditional garden ones have 1 new blossom). The tomatoes are growing fruit where there were original blossoms and new blossoms are popping, yet growth of the tomato plants themselves have been pathetic. The ones planted a week earlier in the traditional garden space are much bigger/robust. I harvested the 1st 2 zucchini from the traditional garden yesterday while the SFG plant is limping along. I removed the 1st blossoms as they said remove the ungrown fruit for the 1st 4weeks after transplanting; now the plant is getting ready to put out some new blossoms and looks a bit better/greener as opposed to the yellowish color it had about a week ago. I did see a few aphids on the tomatoes (<6), took them out by hand and sprayed the plants with a nettle mixture yesterday, so we'll see. But I doubt it's insect related. I fear I'm either watering too much, or not enough. Soil around the boxes is waterlogged but that drains slow anyway, the mix is humid but not sopping wet so it's draining ok. In the end, I put in 2 different watering systems. One is a 1/4 tube with evenly spaced holes but they are NOT 6" apart; so I laid the tubing in a somewhat spiral pattern to get coverage. The other bed, I had to adapt my original plan as the watering nozzles I got were designed to only go on the ends of 1/4 tube(duh!). You'll see my solution in the forthcoming pics. I reduced the flow yesterday with the valve for that box, though that system allows me to reduce each nozzle individually (for the most part/some don't work well). Reducing the flow on the first box (no valve yet anyway) would reduce the 2nd box as well. We can only water 15 minutes per hour and frankly the main garden wasn't getting enough water; so I changed program to twice a day, at 5:30. I can only go every other day to check on progress. I will see how the plants do in the 2nd box with reduced flow tomorrow.
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Post  Nomadic1 on 6/7/2017, 9:04 am

These are the boxes as of yesterday.
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Post  CapeCoddess on 6/7/2017, 12:13 pm

Looks nice from here!  Altho that squash plant may need a little boost of nutrition.  I use Neptune when my plants need a boost.

Sometimes first year boxes don't do as well as established boxes.  What went into your Mel's Mix?
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Post  Nomadic1 on 6/7/2017, 12:28 pm

thanks for the reply/advice CapeCoddess. Not sure if 'Neptune' is available here. I'll just use the Nettle liquid (nettles soaked in water and filtered/diluted) as it does double duty as both a fertilizer and anti parasitic. As for the mix, I used Mel's standard recipe. I thought fertilizing wasn't necessary with SFG, but if a little now will give the young plants the boost they need to develop better roots so they do better in the mix, than that's OK. The squash should definitely be MUCH bigger than it is. Ditto for the tomatoes and most everything else. The nettle extract only gets applied once a week.
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Post  Turan on 6/7/2017, 2:35 pm

The quality of the MM depends on the quality of the compost. You can do follow the recipe exactly and get poor results if hte composts do not have enough nutrients in them. Neptune is a fish emulsion, beside nitrogen it has lots of trace minerals plants like. You can also top dress/ mulch with a nutrient rich compost.

Good luck

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Post  CapeCoddess on 6/7/2017, 3:13 pm

Nomadic1, do you make your own compost or did you use bags? If bags, which ones?
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Post  Nomadic1 on 6/8/2017, 12:34 am

Thanks CapeCoddess & Turan for the advice. Since I'm in Italy, I'm sure the bags manufactures will be unknown to you. I'm convinced the compost is the issue though. I will do the nettle fertilizer, once a week (as recommended) and look at the mixture in the fall again. Maybe pull a 1/3 out (in reserve) and remix new compost into the mix. Though I suppose I could just add more compost to the top layer, it's probable better to mix it in and that's not feasible with plants in.
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Post  sanderson on 6/8/2017, 2:59 am

Nomadic, You can always top-dress with compost, just mixing it in a bit between plants. You may need a light sprinkling of organic fertilizer. It is usually made of dry blood meal, bone meal, composted feathers and manure. It is slow release and should not hurt the microorganisms, which may be at low numbers with the new beds.

We need to get your beds up to par to show all the row gardeners that SFG does work. Very Happy

What were the ingredients in your compost? Any composted manures? Please let us know. Oh, you mentioned that the area around the SFG boxes is wet. If so, the mix could be too wet and the lower roots are drowning. ??

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Post  Nomadic1 on 6/8/2017, 1:18 pm

Well I screwed up, ROYALLY.  Lost in translation.   Hangs head in shame. Embarassed 
Peat is Torba in Italian, got that.  1/3 in the mix!
Vermiculite is Vermiculite in Italian... the pronunciation is different here.  1/3 in the mix.

Compost is TERRICCIATO,  I //mostly// bought TERRICCIO which apparently is just soil, albeit high quality potting soil.  Though I think I did get a 20 liter bag of Terricciato (in some other language-no content description) among the 5 from Amazon, no one seems to even sell "terricciato" here which contributed to the confusion I think.

We bought some pellets "lana di pecora" (wool of sheep?!) for the traditional garden; so I think I'll lightly spread some of that just below the surface around the plants.  There was another pellet type fertilizer we bought, but that's supposed to go in when you initially turn the soil and is supposed to rest a bit before planting; so I won't use that.
What a DISASTER.  My SO is going to kill me when I eventually have to tell her the truth!  She was already not a happy camper with the initial investment for the SFG and I assured her it wouldn't need anything further once set up.  If possible, I will continue to add the liquid of nettles (nettles steeped in water (extract)) once a week as that works miracles for a neighboring gardeners traditional plot.  Though he collected his nettles in the spring for free and we heard about it too late to do anything but buy the extract already made & ready to dilute.  More $$, but, she wanted it for the traditional garden.  A more diluted mix of that can be used on aphids et al.  Though the plan was to use that only on the traditional garden.  Aside from trying to get something to produce decently this year, I suppose next year I can recycle the mix by working it into the traditional garden plots and starting over.  If that'll even fly with my better half.  I'll have to talk with the guy that runs the garden/organization and see what he suggests/knows about buying compost.  I DID see someone put in a composting container in a corner of their plot; so they're making their own.  Not enough time to even consider doing that now.  I'd wanted to set up a wormery in the garage, but that will have to wait until next year... at least, I'm afraid.
Urrgh!!!!  Totally bummed out.
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Post  Robbomb116 on 6/8/2017, 10:21 pm

As others.have suggested,  some blood meal would be a good addition right now to try to give it a boost. It is slow release, but should be fairly easy to add at this point.
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Post  Nomadic1 on 6/9/2017, 12:40 am

thanks for the Blood Meal suggestion everyone.  Apparently it's called "Farina di sangue", literally flour of blood here in Italy.
I'll have to see if the local gardening shop carries it.
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Post  Robbomb116 on 6/9/2017, 9:14 am

Important to note though, if you don't have ANY compost, you might be missing dime micro nutrients as well. Since blood meal is pretty much just a nitrogen source,  it might be good to add other things as well.   Commonly added with blood meal is bone meal.  I also like kelp meal.
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Post  sanderson on 6/11/2017, 2:22 pm

Nomadic, I wrote you a reply and then lost it. :-( A shorter version of what I wrote was to look for some more "farinas." Blood meal, bone meal, feather meal, kelp meal. They are easy on the microbes in the soil. Rabbit, goat and sheep manure pellets are considered "cool" manures and can be directly added to the beds. I can't image that nettle tea alone can meet the plants' needs. Still cheering for you.

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Post  Nomadic1 on 6/13/2017, 1:15 am

Thanks agin for the advice, in addition to the nettle tea, I bought & yesterday applied the blood flour and another microgranular fertilizer based on guano which contains a wide range of nutrients. We'll see how it goes in the next 2-3 weeks.
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Post  Nomadic1 on 6/8/2018, 12:56 pm

Not sure if anyone still follows this thread. Sorry for the long time between posts. So the advice about the blood meal saved the sfg garden last year, epic amounts and sizes of cucumbers (inside of my elbow to the fingertips!) cherry tomatoes, ok eggplant a bust. Since I am unable to find any compost I decided to invest in a wormery. Unfortunately, my SO, said no way she wanted it in the garage, so I'd decided come spring to divide them between the 2 boxes. I thought about putting in worm towers,but the arguments against it convinced me otherwise. PVC (with drilled holes to boot) could leech chemicals. These worms are surface dwellers and my understanding is they wouldn't leave the tower to go potty, so I'd have to pull the towers up from time to time to empty them. Also while prepping (removing old plant stalks) I noted the regular earthworms were long fat and apparently happy. It is my hope their cousins will feel equally at home. I mostly left the removed plants root system to decay giving back to the soil/providing a steady feast for the worms. I'm in the states for another week and will have a look when I'm back to see if they flew the coop or NOT. Tomatoes( cherry so far, but there are 3 large varieties with large roping fruit) , and cukes already bearing edible fruit as of last week.
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Post  sanderson on 6/8/2018, 2:26 pm

Wonderful to hear from you! We would love to see photos from last year's garden and this year's garden. I hope your garden behaves while you are gone.

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Post  Roseinarosecity on 6/8/2018, 4:09 pm

Welcome Back!  It's great to hear that the blood meal helped your plants last year.  Thanks for reporting back!

Worm tubes could also be made out of clay pots with an enlarged drainage hole. Look up "terracotta orchid pot" to get an idea. Here's a sample of one.

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Post  AtlantaMarie on 6/9/2018, 7:35 am

Hi Nomad! Good to hear from you!
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Post  ispinwool on 6/11/2018, 1:47 pm

Nomadic1,
This has been a wonderful teaching/learning thread!
So glad you started it and have kept it going!...very very interesting!
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