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Just starting in NW Conneticut

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Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 5/22/2018, 5:35 pm

Am just starting out SFG, also learning how to use forum, so apologize in advance if lurching about. 3 4x4 Lifetime plastic raised beds (lightweight, snap together quickly, good price); Mel's Mix mixing in progress; have some nursery vegetable plants (local), some seeds, asparagus plants en route; will plant starting Memorial Day (am in NW CT USA). I'm 68 and coming off a long illness, so can only manage about an hour of light gardening every other day, but am on track for planting this weekend! SFG will make it possible to keep up with garden (minimal weeding, water is right here), once it's established. Yay!
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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  countrynaturals on 5/22/2018, 7:38 pm

WOW! What a great start, AntB!    glad you\'re here to our forum from Northern California.
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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  trolleydriver on 5/22/2018, 11:25 pm

@countrynaturals wrote:WOW! What a great start, AntB!    glad you\'re here to our forum from Northern California.
Wonderful start and I wish you all the best for a successful SFG season.  Also welcome from Ottawa, Canada.

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  sanderson on 5/23/2018, 1:15 am

Wonderful start!  Are the Lifeline beds a plastic or composite?  I ask because you will probably not want to attach the grids to the beds.   A set in-lift out grid may be best.  Wood door screen trim is skinny (3/4") and thin (1/4") and can be joined at the intersections with small, short nuts and bolts.  They can be folded up almost all the way for winter storage.  Mine stay in the beds year around, but my climate is semi-desert. Since they are real wood, they will swell when wet. Cut the lengths 1/2" - 1" smaller than the interior dimensions.  https://www.homedepot.com/p/Alexandria-Moulding-1-4-in-x-3-4-in-x-96-in-Hemlock-Screen-Moulding-03274-80096C/205576585?cm_mmc=Shopping%7CB%7CBase%7CD30%7C30-20_MOULDINGS%7CGeneric%7CPLA%7c71700000033867074%7c58700003919819051%7c92700032244428722&msclkid=6f37d00020f41010d86d8b04d6356354&dclid=CJzZ0vGHm9sCFQfpZAodIE4MYg


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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AtlantaMarie on 5/23/2018, 6:59 am

Hi AntB. Welcome from Atlanta, GA!

You have a beautiful set-up. And looks like a really pretty helper too, lol....
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Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  ispinwool on 5/23/2018, 7:56 am

Welcome AntB!
 I love your set-up!  Well done!
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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  Cloudy on 5/23/2018, 9:19 pm

Welcome AntB....I'm also in the NW CT corner....and have raised beds like yours. I started some of the bush beans...one variety supposedly does well in cooler weather and they are already up and growing. Soon be hardening off the toms outside. Good luck with your garden this season!
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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  farmersgranddaughter on 5/23/2018, 10:55 pm

I have the Lifetime beds just like yours.  They were so easy to assemble!  What will you plant?  

Thanks, sanderson, for the info about the grids!

Happy gardening!

Karen
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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 5/24/2018, 8:20 pm

Darn and double darn. I really read up on SFG and I don't remember reading ANYTHING about "fluffing" or pre-wetting peat moss. Now I'm out of time and energy and have to shift all that soil AGAIN before I can plant. If I don't reconfigure the soil proportions, nothing will grow properly. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. As Scarlett O'Hara said, "I'll think about that tomorrow."

The good news: at least nothing has been planted yet. The asparagus roots will be here tomorrow (20 plants in 2 varieties for a longer season, in 1 4x4 bed); tomato plants (one each of black cherry & Italian plum, & two sandwich); misc. veg plants, to see how they do; misc. veg & flower seeds, ditto.

First, though, I have to live through The Great Soil Realignment. 😣

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  Scorpio Rising on 5/24/2018, 10:49 pm

glad you\'re here Ant B, super cool set up!  What do you wanna grow/like to eat?  Love to hear your thoughts.  And plans!!!
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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  sanderson on 5/25/2018, 2:27 am

AntB, You are not alone in not fluffing the peat moss. Is there enough head room to add another 1" or more of compost? Mix it in the top 2 or 3" of Mix. Don't kill yourself. Just get more compost in it.

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 5/25/2018, 10:29 pm

Many thanks for all the kind messages! Happy Spring, everybody!

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 5/26/2018, 7:57 pm

1) Haven't yet figured out how to post messages or find information on this forum! Apologies, again.
2) Tripped over edge of weed fabric and ended up in composter - ha!
3) The packing in my 1940s faucet blew out and I have no hose water, so everything delayed AGAIN until I can get a plumber in to fix/replace.
4) I really enjoy watching MI gardener on YouTube.

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 5/26/2018, 10:03 pm

Peat moss: how the h**k do you get it wet!!??! I'm having an awful time.

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  yolos on 5/26/2018, 11:41 pm

@AntB wrote:Peat moss: how the h**k do you get it wet!!??! I'm having an awful time.

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If you are asking how do you get it wet when you are first making MM, I make sure to wet it before I mix it into MM.  Nobody else seems to do this because it makes the mix heavier and harder to mix.  But it works.  I measure the peat moss before I wet it.  After measuring the peat moss, I put it in a large wheel barrow and poor water on it.  Mix it up and let it sit a while.  Then add more water, mix it up and let it sit some more. 

Getting it wet after mixing and adding to the bed is done by adding an inch of MM and wetting it down thoroughly and then mixing the water in with MM.  Then add another inch of MM and add water again, repeat until the bed is full.  If the bed ever completely dries out, it is heck to get it wet again.  Peat moss in hydrophobic.
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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 5/27/2018, 8:24 am

Thank you for the step-by-step instructions. I really appreciate them. You are now my go-to source for Reality SFG Information.

SFG's Achilles Heel is peat moss.

This one item, if not handled properly, can make a SFG newbie fail in several ways.

The most important information that nobody tells us is that PM needs to be FULLY reconstituted FIRST, or all the other steps are messed up.

1) If we don't realize the problem, and measure the PM dry right out of the bag (like the YouTube videos do), we end up with an acid soil mix that stays dry in the beds (so seeds won't sprout & plants die).

2) If improperly measured mix is properly rehydrated AFTER measuring, the mix is still too acidic & retains TOO MUCH moisture (seeds and plants rot).

3) Even if we rehydrate the PM first and the mix proportions are correct, if we are not vigilant waterers in future, our gardens will turn into blocks of cement like cheap supermarket houseplants.

But I'm not bitter.

Since I currently have no easy way to bring water to my garden for a week or so, I'm going to just stuff my dozen nursery plants in the ground, ditto the asparagus crowns, and when my faucet is fixed I'll deal with amending the soil mix so that it's not so intractable.

In the meantime, enjoy the lovely Spring weather!

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  yolos on 5/27/2018, 12:33 pm

I want to make sure I did not lead you astray.  Measure the peat moss when it is dry after it has been fluffed up.  Do not measure it wet.
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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  sanderson on 5/27/2018, 2:33 pm

One great thing about Mel's Mix with equal volumes of fluffed peat moss, vermiculite and blended compost is that in the end, the pH is around neutral.

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 5/27/2018, 3:51 pm

Wrote a post, went back to messages to check on something, lost the whole thing. *sigh*

Thank you, [yolos], for your clarification, because I totally missed that you said you measured DRY, mixed the 3 parts together, THEN added the water.

Depending on our definition of the term "fluffing" (which I swear I thought was just a cute euphemism for the rehydration process), we should release the PM from the bag and either a) gently separate it with our fingers while making cooing noises; b) toss it with a gardening fork in wild abandon; or c) something else.

Sorry, I'm getting punchy from shifting all the Mix around in an effort to get it wet. Technically, it's not Mel's Mix any more, because other on-line advice (YouTube, and it made perfect sense at the time) was to correct my all-dry proportions of (1)(1)(1) (which were technically 2 of peat moss because PM doubles in volume when rehydrated, and Mel said on page 14 that the mix is by volume, not weight) by adding another measure each of compost and vermiculite. Which I did. To all three beds. At this point, I have started shifting it all AGAIN in order to wet the darn peat moss before I can plant anything. That asparagus is going in TODAY, folks.

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  sanderson on 5/27/2018, 4:18 pm

I crumble the peat moss lovingly with my hands.  If the contents got wet in the bag and it turned to cement, I dump some on a plastic sheet and stomp the heck out of it.     I apologize profusely and then gently finish crumbling small pieces with my hands.  Or else, beat them with the back of the hand trowel.  Lesson?  Don't buy bags that have sat outside in the rain and turned to cement.

You did right by adding one more measure each of compost and vermiculite.

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 6/10/2018, 1:57 pm

I'm finished fluffing, mixing, wetting, re-mixing, and adjusting. The beds are full, plants & seeds are in, neyting is up, & first asparagus is 1" tall! Yay!

We'll see how it all survives by the beginning of August, when many new gardeners simply turn their backs on it all & walk away. I'm optimistic, because I feel I can really keep ahead of weeds with these beds. I feel apprehensive, because the beds are completely dependant on regular "artificial" watering, due to a combination of factors. Luckily, I have no vacation plans this summer, and watering does not need much energy or strength.

My optimism level is VERY high, apparently, as I have found myself absent-mindedly shopping on Amazon for a small freezer (to store all my fresh produce)!

I still haven't figured out how to use this forum, except for posting/reading messages. And pictures!

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 6/10/2018, 2:19 pm

*sigh*
The picture of my garden wouldn't load.

And the word is "netting," not "neyting."

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 6/10/2018, 2:39 pm

I have 3 4-foot square Lifetime plastic snap-together beds (they come 3 in a box, that's why).

One bed is entirely asparagus, 20 plants, half Jersey Knight & half Jersey Giant (because I read somewhere that one of them appears later than the other & extends yr asparagus season). We'll see.

One bed is nursery veg plants (because I hadn't planned on being healthy, so didn't start any myself). 4 tomatoes on the right, yellow cherry, black cherry, Italian sauce, big girl eating tomato. Four celeries, I'm not sure how that happened. Then a mix, a Brussels sprout, an eggplant, and a broccoli. Next row is 4 bell peppers.

The third bed is mostly seeds. On the right, I've planted a bush cucumber, chamomile, Dill, some transplanted green bunching onions. Next row is Zinnia, transplanted parsley, and spinach. Next row is mesclun lettuce mix, Bush green beans, Bush black beans, and carrots. Then some left over veggie plants, Swiss chard, Greek oregano, marigolds, and Romaine lettuce.

I'll certainly have my choice of bugs and diseases this summer!

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  Scorpio Rising on 6/10/2018, 2:51 pm

Nice!  I will be interested how the celery does up there.  I have never grown Brussels sprouts, but love them, also will be curious!  

Sounds like some good eating to me! 
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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 6/11/2018, 9:31 am

So, the soil pulls away from the sides as it dries, & then when you water, the water runs along the surface until it hits the sides & then runs down & out into the pathway. I've scritched up the surface until the water soaks in, but if I have to water twice a day in June, I shudder to think how often I'll have to water in August.

Here's a video about the use of rotted straw to wick moisture into the garden: MIgardener - https://youtu.be/RUZfourw_zw
I don't have any straw rotted yet, so I'm going to pack straw down into those side spaces & see what happens. Also, since I'm watering so much, I'll buy some fishing worms & add them on a cloudy day. Anyone else add worms?

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

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