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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer

New Bin #1 - After two days it only managed to get to 43.2C (107.8F). I emptied it and refilled while at the same time adding blood meal to provide nitrogen and hopefully get those thermophilic bacteria going and generating more heat. Temp after turning was 19.2C (66.5F). AMbient temp 9C (48F).

New Bin #2 - One full day after turning is at 42C (107.6F).

Old Plastic Bin - One day after refilling has only achieved 20.6C (69.1F)

We have cold weather coming after Saturday. Highs of -1C (30F) and lows of -7C (19F) are forecast for both Monday and Tuesday with a chance of snow Sunday through Tuesday. Once the cold and snow arrive on a consistent basis I will stop baby sitting the compost bins.

Note: The highest temp readings in the bins may differ from what I am reporting since I cannot tell if the thermometer probes are located in the hottest part of the piles. I try to put them in the middle of the piles as best I can.
by trolleydriver
on 11/17/2016, 4:45 pm
 
Search in: General SFG Talk
Topic: TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
Replies: 317
Views: 10006

TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer

New Bin #1 - Only made it up to 30.9C (87.6F) one day after turning.  Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 950477


New Bin #2 - Before turning today was at 63.7C (146.7F). After turning it was 23.7C (74.7F).  Ambient temp was about 8C (46.4F).

Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 Img_3110
by trolleydriver
on 11/16/2016, 4:25 pm
 
Search in: General SFG Talk
Topic: TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
Replies: 317
Views: 10006

TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer

New Bin #1 was 60C (140F) two days after turning it. I turned it again this afternoon.

New Bin #2 was at 46.8C (116.2F) one day after it was turned.

Maybe one of these days I will graph the temperature for Bin #1.
by trolleydriver
on 11/15/2016, 5:24 pm
 
Search in: General SFG Talk
Topic: TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
Replies: 317
Views: 10006

TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer

New Bin #1 - Temperature is up to 42C (107.6F) this afternoon which is one day after turning.
Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3105_zpse2gk9rpo


New Bin #2 - Temperature was up to 59C (138.2F) before I turned it today and then 25C (77F) after turning.
Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3095_zpszhmxtoj7
by trolleydriver
on 11/14/2016, 4:35 pm
 
Search in: General SFG Talk
Topic: TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
Replies: 317
Views: 10006

Second Year SFG in Canada

For Monday November 14, I focused on two main things and one side activity. The side activity was that a neighbor brought over three bags of semi-mulched leaves to add to my leaf bag collection which now numbers about 21 unused bags.

Main Item #1 was to cleanup and add compost to the two 4x4 old style SFG beds. Late in the season and for fun I planted (in one of those beds) a piece of potato which had some eyes sprouting. The plant grew but not very big so a few weeks ago I pulled it out and did not see any potatoes. Today as I was amending that bed I harvested the biggest smallest potato crop ever. Here it is:

Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3107_zpspmq9gvca


Main Item #2 was to turn the compost in New Bin #2. The temperature was showing 59C (138F) before I turned it. I hollowed out the middle hot stuff and then refilled the bin putting the cooler outside and top stuff in the middle.

Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3100_zpsh6wib8oy

Here it is refilled.
Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3103_zpsaegnbswg


Click on the image below to see steam coming out of this pile while it was being turned.
Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 Th_MVI_3098_zpsxxwv1tuc
by trolleydriver
on 11/14/2016, 4:28 pm
 
Search in: Canada
Topic: Second Year SFG in Canada
Replies: 776
Views: 12312

Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

@Kelejan wrote:Everything looks so neat, Lizlo,
+1 PS: If you find they are fading or peeling, a #2 pencil (and eraser) on the rough side of the plastic labels works great in the sun.
by sanderson
on 11/14/2016, 1:33 am
 
Search in: Coastal & Tropical South
Topic: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed
Replies: 19
Views: 1689

TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer

Temperatures recorded around mid afternoon today (Sunday). 

The outside ambient temperature was about 9C (48F).

New Bin #1 - I took the tarp off the bin and realized that I had placed another digital thermometer in the compost but the wire was not long enough to reach the outside of the bin so I had forgotten it was there. Incredibly the reading on this thermometer was 66.9C (152.4F). The temp reading on the other thermometer (the one where the screen was outside the bin and where the probe was a little lower in the compost) read 62.8C (145F). After these readings were taken the compost was turned and the temp reading after turning was 26.4C (79.5F).

Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3085_zps3gtf1bdb


Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3084_zpsaruxrcdq


Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3094_zpsli0n25ls






New Bin #2 was reading 57.1C (134.8F).
Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3083_zpsdjsbchjc
by trolleydriver
on 11/13/2016, 4:48 pm
 
Search in: General SFG Talk
Topic: TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
Replies: 317
Views: 10006

TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer

Temperatures recorded today at around 11:00 am.

New Bin #1 - It's at a nice 61C (141.8F) already. Soon to be turned again if I find time. I would say that so far this 3x3x3 bin has been a success.

New Bin #2 - Up slightly to 55.4C (131.7F). I'll probably let this one cook for a few more days before turning it.
by trolleydriver
on 11/12/2016, 11:07 am
 
Search in: General SFG Talk
Topic: TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
Replies: 317
Views: 10006

TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer

Maybe at least a couple of turns for #2 so everything gets a rotation?
by sanderson
on 11/11/2016, 3:27 pm
 
Search in: General SFG Talk
Topic: TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
Replies: 317
Views: 10006

TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer

I turned the compost in New Bin #1 yesterday. The temperature at 4 pm (just after turning) was 20C (68F). This morning at around 9:30 am (17.5 hours after turning) the temperature inside the pile stands at 36.5C (97.7F). I was hoping for a higher temperature by now. The outdoor temperature is 3C (38F) and very windy. The white tarp cover on top of the bin had blown off in the wind which may have resulted in some heat loss. I need to build a better and more permanent top for the bin.

UPDATE 1: 4.5 hours later.

Temp in New Bin #1 is up to 44.4C (111.9F) ... lookin' good
Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3076_zpsuodjfbt4


Temp in New Bin #2 is up into a nice range. Now sitting at 54.8C (130.6F) Not sure if I will bother turning this bin. May just let it cook for a while and then let is cool off for the winter.
Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3075_zpslaa4xh2l


UPDATE 2:
As of 4 pm (24 hours from turning) New Bin #1 is now up to 48.1C (118.6F).  
rock on
by trolleydriver
on 11/11/2016, 9:34 am
 
Search in: General SFG Talk
Topic: TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
Replies: 317
Views: 10006

TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer

This morning's temps.

New Bin #1 at mid point and lower down in the bin. I'll be turning this bin before the next readings.
Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 Img_3018

Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 Img_3017


New Bin #2 at mid point.
Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 Img_3016
by trolleydriver
on 11/10/2016, 11:09 am
 
Search in: General SFG Talk
Topic: TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
Replies: 317
Views: 10006

TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer

Well things have really taken off in New Bin #1. I put a tarp right on top of the contents and that seems to have slowed down heat loss from the top. This tarp is in addition to the white tarp that is top of the bin but which does not touch the contents.

The temperature at the middle of the pile is now at 56.7C (134.1F). Outside temperature is 5C (41F).
Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3044-001_zpsefmgns6e


Lower down in the pile it's a bit cooler at 47.6C (117.7F).
Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3045-001_zpscpnkg0vp


And New Bin #2 is at 23.8C (74.8F).
Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3046-001_zpsfo62fkps


UPDATE: 2 hours later temp in New Bin #1 has gone from 56.7 to 58.7C (137.7F).  Very Happy
by trolleydriver
on 11/9/2016, 11:59 am
 
Search in: General SFG Talk
Topic: TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
Replies: 317
Views: 10006

TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer

This afternoon new pile #1 reached 48.5C (119.3F). Photo shows 48.4C.
Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3040_zpsrvcotjht


And new pile #2 (yes there is another new pile ... see "Second Year SFG in Canada" thread) had a temp of 13.1C (55.6F) immediately after being built.
Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 IMG_3043_zpsohlzxosx
by trolleydriver
on 11/8/2016, 6:31 pm
 
Search in: General SFG Talk
Topic: TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
Replies: 317
Views: 10006

Bug/Pest Identification....Help!

Photo #1 - bad bug.  Photo #2 - bad and good bug.  You can leave #2 caterpillar alone as it is not going to do anymore damage and its hitch hikers are good bugs. Very Happy   I use a cheap dust buster to vacuum up the cute nymphs and adults of a similar bug as #1, the leaf footed bug: Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 Pest_z11
by sanderson
on 8/31/2016, 2:34 pm
 
Search in: Pests
Topic: Bug/Pest Identification....Help!
Replies: 151
Views: 10009

Root Knot Nematodes in my nightshade box!!!

(Shearer's question somehow got mixed inside the quote. His questions:
I've been contending with root knot nematodes for a number of years. In AR my agri disease lab recommended 1) solarization, 2) plow under mustard as a green manure, 3) remove infested roots as soon as possible, 4) rotate crops, 5)  they don't like organic material, 6) probably marigolds too. Because of the composition of SFG medium, I was hoping that the nematodes would not infest the new soil.  Sounds like there is no escaping them           Any suggestions?   Jay)


I recommend doing all of those, although I haven't tried #2 with the mustard greens. I read somewhere that mustard greens kill RKNs, but the variety of mustards I tried growing were like candy to the strain of RKNs that I have.  That brings me to the subject of Marigold's. Some Marigolds are hosts to some strains of RKNs!  I recommend Marigolds that you know are French. I made the mistake of trusting a master gardener who was given seeds from someone who said they were French, but they were also hosting my RKNs.  


What zone do you live in? I'm in 10a here in South Florida, and I've learned that it's just easier for me to solarize all summer.  I'm still solarizing since Memorial Day weekend, and will plant the first of 3 beds in a couple of weeks. I already have seedlings growing inside the house for my fall garden.  

I should add that I've learned to grow summer greens that grow fine in the ground here while solarizing like amaranth, longevity spinach, Malabar spinach, Moringa, etc.
by dstack
on 7/30/2016, 11:06 pm
 
Search in: Pests
Topic: Root Knot Nematodes in my nightshade box!!!
Replies: 59
Views: 5231

Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

RT, How many buckets of chicken manure can you get? Yes, dump the ten 5-gallon buckets of horse manure into #2 bin while you are trying to get things collected. You actually have a place for it!!! I personally don't mind the smell of horse but when it gets to cooking with the rest, it does smell for about the first 2 weeks. I don't hang any laundry during that time! The 2 neighbors that are affected have dog doo they pick up once a week, even in the summer. So, I don't worry about them. Neither entertain or sit out side in the evening. Just coordinate with your neighbors (birthday, graduation parties) and tell them you will have a couple of weeks of work that could be smelly. I love the smell of alfalfa hay (can you tell I had a horse?) so to me the pile smells like a horse stable. Maybe you can get a big bag of alfalfa horse feed if you don't want to tear apart a bale of hay and mow it. Just thinking. Seaweed, several buckets of it if you can.
by sanderson
on 5/5/2016, 3:53 am
 
Search in:  
Topic: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method
Replies: 398
Views: 10714

CANADIAN REGION: What are you doing in April 2016?

SAM, Pallets can be taken apart and used for the beds. Just make sure they are heat treated and not chemically treated. It can be as easy as removing the slats on one side and lining the resulting box with weed cloth. Also, look for a new housing development and get permission to go through the scrap pile. What ever size the beds end up, don't forget the grids. They really help in plant spacing.

KJ, Your new treasure sounds wonderful. Yes, if one can be disciplined and weed for just 30 minutes a day, the job will be easy to keep up. The key is being disciplined, which I am not!

SR, I think one thing that could help is if you have a cubic bin. You may need this kind of visual aid to get a finished product. Even pallets can be made into a bin. Concentrate on filling it up. When it is full, remove contents and layer back in with barn manure, watering every few layers. If it heats up, it's on its. way. Turn periodically, depending on how quick you want it to compost down. That is, in a few weeks, or in a few months. Meanwhile, start filling bin #2. When it gets full, reconstruct with manure to get it cooking. When I pull my material out for turning, I put it all out on a blue tarp. But, that's because I have a small area. If I had room, I would have a 3 compartment bin, two for turning back and forth, and the third for the finished product. Sigh. . .
by sanderson
on 4/3/2016, 2:57 am
 
Search in: Canada
Topic: CANADIAN REGION: What are you doing in April 2016?
Replies: 140
Views: 5492

Re using plastic seed labels

I wash and dry all of my labels and store them in the original seed packets, along with the seeds stored inside 2" x 2" ziplock baggies. If I need to change the label, I use a soft eraser on the #2 pencil writing.
by sanderson
on 1/23/2016, 6:55 pm
 
Search in: General SFG Talk
Topic: Re using plastic seed labels
Replies: 8
Views: 1002

California - What are you doing this month?

Marc, The salvia are further down the flower bed in photo #2 with the sunshine on them. I thought these were tall by comparison. No??

Audrey, This is the time of the summer when we sing 'Should they stay or should they go?" Every time I tend the compost cage I think of you. If I had 4' piles, they would defeat me. I really, really recommend that your DH make a series of 3'X cages for you so that you are only turning 27 cu ft instead of 64 cu ft. A 3rd cage can be for the finished product. Psychologically it's easier to face.
by sanderson
on 8/24/2015, 12:16 am
 
Search in: Northern California & Coastal Valleys
Topic: California - What are you doing this month?
Replies: 990
Views: 13796

Hello from beautiful Dongguan, China

I like the KIS(s) philosophy.

1. Interior measurements are what are important to the plant. I still think you could lay a chopstick across the middle of the mix in the Styrofoam cooler and call it 2 squares for planting purposes.

2. Group 4 to 8 coolers together so that the interior can be comfortably reached from all 4 sides. Wrap around them with duct tape and call it Bed #1. Repeat for beds #2 etc. Leave 3 feet between them as isles.

3. The vermiculite piles at the top and right of the photo look good.

4. Rodent proofing. See Mel's book for directions to construct a chicken wire cage, but use 1/4" or 1/2" metal mesh to build them. Make them large and tall enough for the type of veggie plus at least 1' larger on the sides so you can place the whole contraption over a "bed."
by sanderson
on 7/30/2015, 5:07 pm
 
Search in:  Introduce Yourself
Topic: Hello from beautiful Dongguan, China
Replies: 87
Views: 6881

Shade screen

Kathy, You can cover now and basically leave them on until August, maybe even Sept. Sunshine, temperature and wind can all dry out leaves. Right now, we at lower latitudes have direct sun and hot weather. a killer combination. The only thing worse is the Santa Ana winds with all 3 at once!! You will be giving shade, not totally wrapping. You will be using something semi-transparent so some sun will get through. (My photo #2) Provide that for your plants that are scorching or struggling. Drape some over on the West side for protection from the worst of the day. (my photo #2) It is open on the east and largely protected on the West. The house provides protection from the northern sun. Photo #1 shows the draping doesn't go all the way down so breeze (ha) can go through.

Regarding your beans, the lower leaves commonly yellow and fall off. I may have lost the beans in one small box today. I will clip sheers on all the trellises' tops and let them fall down over on the hottest sides. In fact, even tomatoes will get protection now.
by sanderson
on 6/9/2015, 3:30 am
 
Search in: General SFG Talk
Topic: Shade screen
Replies: 11
Views: 1366

Questions about store bought compost

1.  Dumbing down:  Yes, there are some differences.  Bunny can be added directly as top dressing.  Cow is a little higher in nitrogen than horse because they digest more thoroughly.  Poultry can be even higher (hotter).  Regardless, if you are looking for 1 of the 5 composts, they need to be composted or aged before adding to the mix or they will burn.  Fresh is better for making your own cooking composting pile.
2.  peat and humus do not add any nutrients so can't be used as a compost.
3.  Probably the same answer as #2, don't know what triple mix is.
4.  Mushroom compost, as Camp noted, is used compost.  Weak in nutrients.
5.  "compost accelerator"-  don't buy any, maybe buy dried blood meal if the pile needs a kick to heat up.  If a compost pile is perfectly balanced and moist, it won't need anything.  Urine is used by some and is free.

by sanderson
on 4/3/2015, 12:58 am
 
Search in:  
Topic: Questions about store bought compost
Replies: 6
Views: 1271

problems using black plastic under MM in sfg?

By the time I get around to finishing this reply, someone else may have replied.  Here's my 2 cents for the existing box.  You don't know what is going on down at the bottom.  There may be a depression in the ground where water is pooling.  If you just stick a knife in the mix and stab holes in the bottom, other plant roots may come up into the box for the nutrients and water.

Get a tarp, take all of the mix out and put it on the tarp.   Put 3 or 4 lengths of 2" x 4" on the existing plastic.  If you want to leave the plastic down, stab some holes in it for drainage.  Turn the box frame over and screw a 4' x 4' piece of 3/4" plywood to the bottom.  Drill 3/4" holes in the plywood for drainage.  Ex:  one in each corner of the box and one in the middle of each imaginary square.  Turn the box back over and set on the wood pieces.  If you don't want to use wood to elevate the box because of a lot of rain in your area, you can use a few bricks, cement bricks, etc.  Line the box with weed fabric and refill.  Add some of the new compost materials you will be buying to bring the level of mix back up to where it started out last year when you first filled it.  Now you have a box that drains well, is out of the reach of any invasive roots and is ready for grids and planting.

If you remove the grass for box #2, you may create a water puddle under the box.  Instead, cover the spot with plastic and stab some holes, and repeat what you just did with box #2.

I looked online for a Home Depot in Monroe (central north LA).  I also looked at Craig's List for Shreveport and Monroe but couldn't find much.  Here's what I found at Home Depot.

Home Depot, Monroe, LA:

1.  Nature's Way SFG Potting soil and Mix, (ready made Mel's Mix)  !!!

or

1.  Ecoscraps Compost (1st choice) or Garden soil (2nd choice), a well composted wood and veggies compost.
2.  Steer manure (manure)
3.  Natural Nitro 100% Worm Castings Soil Amendment (worm casting)    or
Noble worm castings (worm casting)
4.  1 cu. ft. Nature's Care Really Good Compost (yard waste)

Online:  Kelp4less.com  has kelp meal - you only use a little (spoon per square) so it goes a long way
eBay:  various worm casting sellers - use more than kelp meal (maybe a cup per square)

Try to find a 5th source.  Year-old pile of horse manure?
by sanderson
on 4/1/2015, 2:44 am
 
Search in: Southwestern Deserts
Topic: problems using black plastic under MM in sfg?
Replies: 13
Views: 1353

shade cloth question

I can narrow it down to 2 general guides. #1 -When it hits 100*F, the shade material goes up. Anything potted goes into shady areas. #2 - protection from the western sun is my priority. The morning sun, before the day heats up, is okay.

Plants can be like people. When it is hot, we don't like to do much. Keep hydrated. Cover the soil with mulch to keep the soil cool and reduce evaporation. The plants may not set fruit (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, etc.) but they will survive and start to produce again when it drops under 100*F. Other crops just aren't appropriate in the hot summers. Lettuce, bok choy, coles will bolt (produce flowers). That's the end of them. They are better California winter crops. I hope this helps.
by sanderson
on 3/14/2015, 2:58 am
 
Search in: Southwestern Deserts
Topic: shade cloth question
Replies: 29
Views: 3959

Building a Table Top SFG...some ideas

Screw it to the bottom with support at least every 2'.  Simple support sitting on 4" x 6".  Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 Raised11
Table top style #1: Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 Table_16
Table top style 1 underneath supports: Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 Table_17
Short table top / raised bed style #2, my favorite style: Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 Raisie10
Closeup corner construction of style #2: Topics tagged under 2 on Square Foot Gardening Forum - Page 4 Raisie12
Inside the box, there is a flat 2 x 4 screwed to the sides at the midpoint (2' mark), flush with the bottom edge.  The plywood is then screwed down to it when the box is upside down.  Probably not the longest lasting design but should hold for 3-4 years. The beds are 10 1/2" deep so the 2 x 4 does take up much space to be of any concern.
by sanderson
on 2/14/2015, 3:01 pm
 
Search in: General SFG Talk
Topic: Building a Table Top SFG...some ideas
Replies: 58
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