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If you could start over- what would you do differently?

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Post  Goosegirl on 9/22/2011, 8:06 am

I agree with SquareDeal - I tried too many different things. I am going to concentrate on fewer types and devote more space to each. That said, I had great success with the things that did grow well, and my goal of having a neater, more organized looking garden was a WHOPPING success! The no-weed thing is incredible, and I love the way my trellises contain the raging monsters (indeterminate toms, cukes, watermelons, etc!).

GG
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Post  Mamachibi on 9/22/2011, 5:28 pm

I would have started bigger. (Yeah, I know, not something you're supposed to do.) It's just as hard to build four boxes as one, and then I could have gotten more of a running start rather than this crawl I'm at now. I also would have made sure that all four boxes were in before the snow flew because once it starts, gardening is most definitely over until it completely thaws.
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Post  Goosegirl on 9/22/2011, 6:59 pm

@Mamachibi wrote:I would have started bigger. (Yeah, I know, not something you're supposed to do.) It's just as hard to build four boxes as one, and then I could have gotten more of a running start rather than this crawl I'm at now. I also would have made sure that all four boxes were in before the snow flew because once it starts, gardening is most definitely over until it completely thaws.

I understand completely! Even tho' Mel recommends it, I did not start small, because I had a specific vegetable garden area that I needed to convert and I wanted it all done NOW!!! I made 7 real-size boxes, a 1x12 for a permanent asparagus bed, and one little 1x1 for the Carrot Week. It is done, my trellises are up, and I never thought I could have such a nice looking garden. Next year? The HERB garden converts to SFG!

GG
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Post  AprilakaCCIL on 9/22/2011, 9:44 pm

@Goosegirl wrote:
@Mamachibi wrote:I would have started bigger. (Yeah, I know, not something you're supposed to do.) It's just as hard to build four boxes as one, and then I could have gotten more of a running start rather than this crawl I'm at now. I also would have made sure that all four boxes were in before the snow flew because once it starts, gardening is most definitely over until it completely thaws.

I understand completely! Even tho' Mel recommends it, I did not start small, because I had a specific vegetable garden area that I needed to convert and I wanted it all done NOW!!! I made 7 real-size boxes, a 1x12 for a permanent asparagus bed, and one little 1x1 for the Carrot Week. It is done, my trellises are up, and I never thought I could have such a nice looking garden. Next year? The HERB garden converts to SFG!

GG

Oh I just have to add this: I want a asparagus bed & a herb garden too!!! Envious --I am! Better add this to my want to do/do differently list.
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Post  janezee on 9/23/2011, 12:42 am

As I bob and weave through the squash and tomato vines littering my aisles, I know I'd make lots more trellises. I couldn't decide on which styles would suit me best this spring, and then it was just too late! Ruefully, I was beginning to see the reason for 4'-wide aisles.
The upside to the mess is that the deer are reluctant to jump into the garden now!

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Post  shannon1 on 9/23/2011, 1:20 am

I would have used the entire sheet of plywood for the bottom of my T.T. 4x8 instead of cutting it down to 4x6 since as it turned out I was not as short on space as I thought. I also would not have planted black beauty egg plants. The Eastern type out produced it and tasted far better. Planted 2 different Eastern types in the fall garden.
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Post  Glendale-gardener on 9/24/2011, 12:20 pm

Aaahh, there is so much I would have done differently! I guess that's why I have next year!

- I would have made my aisles wider, I did 3 feet because I wasn't planning on growing anything that wasn't vertical(tomatoes, peas), or "compact"(Beans, carrots, etc.)
Then I decided to put my sons snake gourds in those beds and jeez! They are huge vines everywhere!

- I also would have kept them out from my fence a little further, I didn't realize how huge interdeterninate tomatoes would be- I thought I would have room to get behind them, but not so much.

- I'm fixing these 2 problems by building new long narrow beds for the tomatoes in a different spot and planting the gourds in my front yard in a bed just for my son's stuff stuff where they'll have room to spread.-I was surprised at how easy gourds are! The bugs ate every squash relative I grew except for those!

- I would have gotten an earlier start on bug control for the pumpkins and zuccchini- stupid squash bugs!! I didn't get a decent amount of pumpkins but they were all fairly small and I had to pick them a little early because eventually, the vines were just completely brown and dry, ugh.
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Post  mijejo on 9/24/2011, 2:22 pm

Glendale-gardener, I live near you in West Chester, and I also planted various gourds and squashes. I had a lot of problems with cucumber beetles eating and nearly killing everything. Did you have problems with them? I also had squash bugs. Yes, the squash plants did not do very well, but the gourds have done nicely. I notice the gourd leaves have a slight odor. Perhaps the bugs do not like their smell/taste.

For the squashes, I was able to get a few acorn, one butternut, two zucchini, two yellow neck, and two pumpkins. The pumpkins are about 10". I still have a wee one on the vine.

For gourds, I grew swan, snake, and bird house. The swan have produced the most.
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Post  southern gardener on 9/24/2011, 5:03 pm

i wish I would have known there was an "all new SFG". I built 10 boxes with sand in the recipe (the old recipe called for sand), and have fought it ever since. Also, I think the place I had mix my compost didn't use 5 types of compost. My stuff is usually small, and takes long to grow. i've added more compost, some "dirt" to firm up the MM since the water just went right through it. I've had periods of "success" but nowhere near what I used to get with my former garden pale
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Post  Chopper on 9/24/2011, 5:33 pm

@southern gardener wrote:i wish I would have known there was an "all new SFG". I built 10 boxes with sand in the recipe (the old recipe called for sand), and have fought it ever since. Also, I think the place I had mix my compost didn't use 5 types of compost. My stuff is usually small, and takes long to grow. i've added more compost, some "dirt" to firm up the MM since the water just went right through it. I've had periods of "success" but nowhere near what I used to get with my former garden pale

In a perfect world I would consider adding six inch boxes on top of what you have now and fill with MM starting from scratch. but this may not be practical for you. Live and learn. If it weren't for f*****g things up I would know nothing.
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Post  NHGardener on 9/24/2011, 7:41 pm

If I were starting over, I would have liked to have prepared my boxes the fall before I began planting, so that they were fully ready by spring. I would have used more of my own compost, and mulched them over the winter so that they would be more nutritious, and give the soil time to attract earthworms, etc. I don't fully trust the commercial compost.

I would have kept better weed control between my boxes. I would've kicked my squash out of the boxes because the foliage is too thick and overcomes the other plants. I would've skipped the corn idea. (I'm replacing that space with strawberries next year - yay.)

I started with 5 boxes, and I wouldn't want to go any smaller than that. I needed all that space, and then some.

Next year: 4 squares of lettuce, not 8. One trellis of beans and one trellis of peas, not 1.5 trellises of each. Next year, the cucumbers go on the trellis.

Next year, my seedlings are going to be big and hardy by the time I put them out, so that the season gets started earlier. I'm investing more in a seedling setup for next year.

I also have some out-of-the-box projects planned, like an asparagus bed and a pumpkin patch, and sunflowers. And hopefully bees.
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Post  camprn on 9/24/2011, 8:08 pm

@NHGardener wrote:
I also have some out-of-the-box projects planned, like an asparagus bed and a pumpkin patch, and sunflowers. And hopefully bees.
Very Happy

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Post  sanderson on 6/26/2018, 4:56 pm

This is an interesting thread that hasn't received any posts for 7 years!

What would you do differently if you could do over?

Sanderson's do-overs:
1.  Don't skimp on the Vermiculite just to save a few dollars. I used a 50/50 blend in the first 4 beds, only to watch it float up to the top.
2.  Start off elevating all the beds off the ground!  Roots from roses, bushes and trees found the nutritious Mel's Mix and invaded the beds through the weed fabric.  Duh, weed fabric is for weed suppression, not root prevention.
3.  Don't use Kellogg's soil amendment in lieu of the recommended 5 composts for the compost part.  I spent the rest of the first season top dressing and adding Espoma.

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Post  trolleydriver on 6/26/2018, 5:56 pm

I would:

1.  Set limits on expansion. I didn't start off with a lot of SFG beds but I have expanded the size of the veggie garden every year.

2. Have at least one more table top SFG bed near the rear door of our house.

3. Invest from the start in a really good rotary compost bin.

4. Build EMT conduit trellises on the beds that up until a few weeks ago used wooden stakes for tomatoes.

5. Keep much better notes from the beginning and every year after.
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Post  AtlantaMarie on 6/27/2018, 8:39 am

Like Sanderson, I'd keep everything off the ground.

Like TD, I'd get compost started immediately. And a worm bin or soldier fly larvae bin.

I'd make sure that I wasn't right up against a chain-link fence.

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Post  Turan on 6/27/2018, 11:59 am

What I would differently is mostly garden planning.  An apple and lilac and plum tree have all grown into space making moving around the vegetable garden difficult.  I should of  planted them a few feet further back.  I would make the center path that runs the length of the garden a full 3 feet.  The path was sized to the wheelbarrow/garden cart I had back then.  Every new cart since has been wider then its predecessor, so I am hauling too many buckets of compost around.  I would of lined the beds up so that the paths that cross the garden's width are straight, instead of having jogs at the center.  And I would of built a greenhouse using 4x8 sheets of double wall poly-carbonate instead of a kit whose narrow sheets keep bending and blowing out.  And then record keeping and being more organized and in general a more on top of it person.  Laughing

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Post  countrynaturals on 6/27/2018, 12:09 pm

Love this thread!  I love you Luckily, most of my mistakes were plant choices, and those can be remedied. I did "waste" a beautiful side bed on the Salad Bar, when I planted bay and rosemary in it. They could have gone anywhere, so I could have put that easy-access area to much more productive use. This is an old pic. Those plants are even bigger, now.  Rolling Eyes 
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Post  sanderson on 6/27/2018, 3:07 pm

@AtlantaMarie wrote:I'd make sure that I wasn't right up against a chain-link fence.
Marie, could you explain why you wouldn't have placed the beds right up against a chain-link fence. This will help newbies. Thanks

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Post  No_Such_Reality on 6/27/2018, 7:34 pm

When i start over i will:

Pay attention to the two foot rule. I.e. The far edge of tye furthest square is no more than two feet from a convenient working point of kneeling or sitting. No you cant reach it and yes youre going to break plants.

Know sun/shade mix on each bed in each season.  Also know future grow proects of trees in area in relation to the beds.

Know my crop seasons. Starting seeds for transplant or direct planting needs the right time.

More pipes.  Yea literally, every bed on its own irrigation valve.  Bigger beds 4x8s maybe on two for two zones. I need my onions to start drying out, my tomatoes are setting fruit.  The new green beans need tp staybmoist to sprout but the squash in the next square is getting PM.
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Post  jimmy cee on 6/27/2018, 10:45 pm

My only change would have been to elevate my beds from the very beginning. I never realized what could grow up from beneath the soil. Elevating also made beds much more comfortable in my maturing years.

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Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/28/2018, 10:20 am

Space planning and orientation: I should never have built my beds up against the wall of my garage, and I would have changed the orientation of my 4x8 beds so the long edges are running east to west instead of north to south. I've found that most everything I grow either requires trellising or would benefit from a trellis or structure of some sort for either support or covering. I would also raise the beds so they're easier to reach and tend, and increase the aisle width to a minimum of 3 feet (they're currently 2 feet), and have aisles around every side.

The north side being the "short" side limits the ability to run trellis anywhere except for the first row of each bed. Because the beds are right against the garage wall, I can't get to the other side of the trellis to prune or harvest or tend to the plant. I had tomatoes trellised against the wall last year, and reaching through to prune or check the plants is a nightmare. I thought I could keep the back side pruned so I would only have to deal with the front, but plants will flower and fruit on both sides, and then you're stuck with a mass of leaves and branches growing a foot or two forward, with the poor back side of the plants jumbled up in a mess. Trying to reach through the tangle invariably damages something.

This year, I put the trellises in rows 2 and 3 (counting from the wall). The 2nd row is still difficult to get behind and tending once the plants get any height on them is still difficult. Third row is better, since my water barrels are not blocking half the access to the back side of the trellis, but it limits the things I can plant behind the trellis due to the shading. It's kind of good for growing things like lettuce, which like the shade, but things like lettuce need to be harvested almost daily and this means battling the vines to get behind to reach them. If I had the beds at least 3 feet off the wall, I could easily walk behind and harvest. And if the beds were running east to west, I would have a lot more squares that could be trellised and tended easily.

I also would have forced myself to completely finish the fencing around the area and been more proactive in using animal repellents around the exterior. 

As far as the "actual" gardening is concerned, I would try to plant out seedlings a bit later in the spring, to avoid the cutworms, and only plant out half of the seedlings at a time in case anything happens with the first planting.
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Post  Kelejan on 6/29/2018, 1:26 am

sanderson, what a good idea of yours to resurrect this thread.  I have read right through it.

My very first two beds were 4 x 4s and the wood is now rotting;  what a great time to clear them, use new wood and make them waist high and 3 x 6 and start all over again with that space.  The two beds are overgrown and the grass has come up from below and I did not get around to weeding them and they look a real mess.

I now have inspiration to do something about it and get it ready so that I can start properly next spring complete with good compost etc.
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Post  sanderson on 6/29/2018, 2:09 am

KJ, I'm glad this thread has given you inspiration for your new beds. I think 3' x 6' is a wonderful size.

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Post  trolleydriver on 6/29/2018, 8:40 am

If I was starting again I would put in an asparagus bed. If I had done that at the beginning it would be producing nicely by now.
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Post  countrynaturals on 6/29/2018, 10:41 am

@trolleydriver wrote:If I was starting again I would put in an asparagus bed. If I had done that at the beginning it would be producing nicely by now.
YEE-HAH! I did something righthappy turtle  I need to work on mine, however. It's surving, but not thriving. I hope it can hang on until this move is over and I can get back to focusing on my gardens. My strawberries are suffering, too, and I think I'v actually killed my grapes.  Sad
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