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Just starting in NW Conneticut

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  Turan on 6/11/2018, 1:06 pm

Hello Ant, welcome to the forum from Montana.

One of the purposes of vermiculite is to keep the mix friable so water can penetrate and wet the peat.  As you have noticed it is really helpful to never let the peat fully dry and mulch of any kind is really helpful for that and cuts down watering.  My favorite is grass clippings because they have a good nitrogen content so they feed the bed as they rot, but you have to carefully avoid grass that has been sprayed with herbicides. A lot of new MM beds need extra compost and a good way to do that is mulch with compost during the summer.  

Worms do quite well in SFGs.  Some people build elaborate worm hotels and others just add a few from the local soil, they are pretty good at migrating into beds. They like there being a mulch on top.

Your bed with all nursery plants is going to be rather a jungle unless a lot of pruning happens. But that might be made simpler for you if the cole crops resent the heat of summer and give their space to the tomatoes.  How are you supporting the tomatoes? 2 rows of trellis netting? cages?

Watering is eased with soaker hoses/ drip systems connected to an automatic timer on the faucet.  Then one can leave for vacations more easily.

I hope the uphill effort of setting up a new system is not too discouraging and that you get lots of vegies.

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  sanderson on 6/11/2018, 1:09 pm

AntB,  I also have a problem with the Mix drying out around the edges.  I have to make an effort to keep the edges well watered.  Compost is a good filler if it pulls away from the wood as compost absorbs water nicely.  I use chopped bedding straw as mulch to slow surface evaporation.  It reaches up to 110 degrees in the summer in my area of California .

As far as worms, several of us have worms in the beds, either local earthworms or the little red wigglers.

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 6/11/2018, 1:46 pm

Re worms: I was leery of adding worms to 8" of soil separated from the earth by fabric/cardboard, because our summer heat would cook them (they couldn't burrow deeper to escape the heat/dryness). I only changed my mind after I realized I would be watering daily, & twice daily in really hot weather.

If I were doing this again, I would try to substitute something else for the peat moss in Mel's Mix. Yes, peat helps hold water in the soil, but you have to water it daily or it turns into cement. I was also counting on the worms helping me, until I realized I had locked them out of the equation by the fabric/cardboard barrier.

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  sanderson on 6/12/2018, 2:22 am

AntB, Did you add 1/3 coarse vermiculite to the Mix? I have found that every year adding homemade compost has made the soil richer and it holds water better. When I water with the hose attachment, I make sure that I water the soil next to the wood beds so they don't dry out. I mulch heavily with chopped bedding straw. I don't let the Mix dry out at any time in the year, and the summers here get up over 100*F for days at a time. As high as 110*F. Annual rainfall is around 10". And, my Mel's Mix is only 6-7" deep.

All of my beds are table tops, up in the air. I have 2 beds on the brick patio that are on wheels and they now have lots of earthworms. When I first started SFG in 2013 the beds were on the dirt and lined with weed fabric. Yep, the worms found their way in.

Feed the Mix with compost and keep it moist, even if it has to be watered daily.

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 6/12/2018, 9:13 am

Yes, my proportions are per spec! I'm in NW CT, & used to garden with mulch, ended up with slug problems. My friends garden in deep, regular dirt, minimal watering, but lots of weed control maneuvers (hoeing, weeding, etc.) & I'm willing to trade watering for weed control. But not slugs. That's why I haven't added my SFG grid yet. If it rests on soil, slugs!

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  CapeCoddess on 6/12/2018, 3:08 pm

glad you\'re here AntB, from ol' Cape Cod.

What type of compost did you use?  Homemade or store bought?  Sometimes there is peat moss in store bought which would make your mix peat heavy.

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 6/12/2018, 5:21 pm

I double-checked cimpost content when I bought each kind, but of course, they could always have been lying!
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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 6/12/2018, 5:21 pm

Compost, not "cimpost."
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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  Kelejan on 6/13/2018, 12:49 am

@AntB wrote:I double-checked cimpost content when I bought each kind, but of course, they could always have been lying!
Stretching the truth.

Belated glad you\'re here , Ant happy hi
from Kelejan in British Columbia :canada:

I read of your troubles with the peat.  Been there and done that, many of us have but it never happens a second time. Very Happy
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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  sanderson on 6/13/2018, 3:17 am

@AntB wrote:I'm willing to trade watering for weed control. But not slugs. That's why I haven't added my SFG grid yet. If it rests on soil, slugs!

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Have you tried sprinkling a bit of Sluggo PLUS?

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 6/13/2018, 8:21 am

1) Stretching the truth: Lying is lying. Call it when you see it.
2) Sluggo: I try to stay organic, & right now, with clean soil, no slug problem.
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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 6/17/2018, 3:20 pm

Just ripped out the Swiss Chard plants (4). Leaves got looking awful, checked internet & found out they're prone to this (leaf miners), never ate it before anyway, so pulled it out & put in the garbage pail to avoid contamination. I'm loving the lettuce, parsley, celery, scallions, all fresh & tasty! I steal leaves/stalks from the edges, & have plenty (but not enough yet to give away). Seeds are up, but only 2 of 20 asparagus plants! Am resisting the urge to dig them up to see what's happening. Need to water every other day, it's been so dry.

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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 6/18/2018, 7:32 am

I'm late in replying (been busy and I keep not checking on the forum for days at a time) but I use HOT water when I have a batch of wetting-resistant peat moss. I typically only do this with small batches, such as for containers and seedlings, and only with fresh MM/potting mix that doesn't have life/plants in it. But I have done the top third of a (new and unplanted!) SFG bed successfully.

And glad you\'re here
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Re: Just starting in NW Conneticut

Post  AntB on 6/21/2018, 7:52 pm

Lovin' my fresh lettuce and (small) celery stalks. Asparagus watch: now there are 6 (out of 20). Veg plants all burgeoning, no bugs yet (now that I'm rid of the chard).

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