Square Foot Gardening Forum
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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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Post  KenfromMI on 5/27/2019, 8:04 am

Both my 4x10ft beds are planted. I did eight tomato and two Jalapeño in one. The other I planted in the usual 1sq foot grid. It sure looks like things are way too close together. Hoping all works out.
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Post  countrynaturals on 5/27/2019, 9:38 am

@KenfromMI wrote:Both my 4x10ft beds are planted. I did eight tomato and two Jalapeño in one. The other I planted in the usual 1sq foot grid. It sure looks like things are way too close together. Hoping all works out.
Fingers crossed for you. Pics are always nice. Cool
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Post  trolleydriver on 5/27/2019, 2:18 pm

@KenfromMI wrote: ... sure looks like things are way too close together. Hoping all works out.
Have faith. This is a well proven system. It works if you follow Mel's instructions.
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Post  KenfromMI on 5/27/2019, 4:10 pm

I did everything he said including his recommendation for the trellises out of conduit.
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Post  trolleydriver on 5/27/2019, 6:45 pm

@KenfromMI wrote:I did everything he said including his recommendation for the trellises out of conduit.
Well done. Looking forward to seeing photos throughout the season.
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Post  sanderson on 5/31/2019, 4:55 pm

@KenfromMI wrote:I did everything he said including his recommendation for the trellises out of conduit.
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Post  sanderson on 5/31/2019, 5:08 pm

Ken, Welcome to the Forum from California! glad you\'re here Since you followed the book, the only thing I have to add is that as the Mel's Mix shrinks during the summer, you can top dress with more compost. The original compost is slowly broken down by microbes to feed the plants with nutrients in a usable form. Therefore, adding, more compost during the summer keeps contributing more nutrients. Enjoy. Oh, and post photos. We do love photos!

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Post  CapeCoddess on 5/31/2019, 7:06 pm

@KenfromMI wrote:I did everything he said including his recommendation for the trellises out of conduit.

Welcome to the forum, Ken! I use those trellises also. They are on their 7th year now. I take them in every winter and bring them out every spring. Mel didn't lead us astray. Very Happy

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Post  KenfromMI on 6/1/2019, 7:58 am

Ugh, some bug is already eating holes in my arugula.
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Post  AtlantaMarie on 6/2/2019, 5:52 pm

Hi Ken.  Welcome from Atlanta, GA (or thereabouts right now, lol!)  Glad you've joined us!
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Post  tajames01 on 6/3/2019, 3:12 pm

Welcome from a fellow first year Square Foot Gardener!  I'm in Atlanta GA and have already learned something from this forum.  Due to the heat, my Mel's Mix is drying out like crazy.  I appreciate the response from sanderson about topping with compost in the summer. I'm looking forward to learning a lot from this forum.
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Post  yolos on 6/3/2019, 3:28 pm

@tajames01 wrote:Welcome from a fellow first year Square Foot Gardener!  I'm in Atlanta GA and have already learned something from this forum.  Due to the heat, my Mel's Mix is drying out like crazy.  I appreciate the response from sanderson about topping with compost in the summer. I'm looking forward to learning a lot from this forum.
Welcome from South of Atlanta.  I am in Brooks which is about 25 miles south of the Atlanta airport.  I have been doing SFG since about 2012.  I also have MM drying out like crazy.  A couple of suggestions from fellow gardeners have helped a little.  One good suggestion was to put compost that was not fully broken down in the bed.  This helps absorb and hold water.  Also, I use heavy amounts of wheat straw as mulch.  I try to use soaker hoses but it does not always get done.  The intensive gardening and the peat moss drying out have been my biggest problem.  I just can't get enough water in some beds.  Of course the dry and hot weather we have had the last two weeks hasn't helped.  I finally gave up getting and keeping water in my few in pots and hung some shade cloth a few days ago. This really helped. The beans and squash were drooping if I did not water twice a day.  

Almost every year since 2014 I have a thread about gardening in Brooks.  In the search box, type in Brooks and you will be able to see the different treads.

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Post  tajames01 on 6/3/2019, 6:36 pm

Thank you Yolos from Brooks!  I will check out your thread.  I have a couple of questions please: would there be any possible issues with weed seeds from using wheat straw?  Could I maybe use pine straw (which I have) instead?  I just retired, so I have time, but didn't plan to spend so much of it watering!!  If I continue to have problems I might start a new thread on how to beat the heat. btw: I'm about 25 miles north of ATL airport in Dekalb County, but same Hotlanta climate!
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Post  yolos on 6/3/2019, 7:28 pm

@tajames01 wrote:Thank you Yolos from Brooks!  I will check out your thread.  I have a couple of questions please: would there be any possible issues with weed seeds from using wheat straw?  Could I maybe use pine straw (which I have) instead?  I just retired, so I have time, but didn't plan to spend so much of it watering!!  If I continue to have problems I might start a new thread on how to beat the heat. btw: I'm about 25 miles north of ATL airport in Dekalb County, but same Hotlanta climate!
If you use wheat straw, you should not have problems with weeds.  At least I have not had problem with weeds. Do not use hay, that has lots of weed seeds and big problems.   But I have had some problems with wheat seeds sprouting.  

Here is some wheat straw that I put on top of my compost pile one year.  It was wheat straw I purchased at Home Depot or Lowes.  Apparently filled with wheat seeds.  They germinated in the autumn and grew and grew.  Because they were on my compost pile, I just weed wacked them and incorporated them in the compost.
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I have found that Tractor Supply sells some wheat straw that is almost seed free but not 100%.  It is compressed and wrapped in plastic so it is easy to use some and save the rest of the bale until later when more is needed.  It is more expensive than Home Depot but a whole lot less weeding.  I find about 10 wheat seeds germinating around each of my tomato plants (which is not bad to pull since the ground is so soft.) 

As far as I know, you could use pine straw but I never have so I don't know for sure. There definitely would be less seeds germinating.  Pine straw does not decompost very well.  I like to turn under the wheat straw each autumn and let it compost in the bed.  It sometimes composts over the winter and helps to retain water in the spring.  I do not  believe pine straw would soak up water but wheat straw does.  Let me know if you  use it and how it works.
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Post  AtlantaMarie on 6/4/2019, 8:37 am

@tajames01 wrote:Welcome from a fellow first year Square Foot Gardener!  I'm in Atlanta GA and have already learned something from this forum.  Due to the heat, my Mel's Mix is drying out like crazy.  I appreciate the response from sanderson about topping with compost in the summer. I'm looking forward to learning a lot from this forum.
Hey, TAJames01!  AtlantaMarie here.  I'm from the Buford area by the southern end of Lake Lanier.

Glad you've joined the party we've got going on....  What are you growing?
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Post  tajames01 on 6/5/2019, 5:39 pm

Hi AtlantaMarie!  So far, have eaten radishes, beets, parsley, basil and swiss chard (which has been the biggest surprise... found a good roasted swiss chard w/feta cheese recipe).  The rest is still growing: tomatoes, pole & bush beans, cucumbers, eggplant, 1 okra plant, bell and jalapeno peppers, carrots and cilantro.  I saw your pictures, and your garden looks great!  I want to add blueberry bushes next year too (minus the snakes!! yikes!!). I can't figure out how to insert pictures to my post yet, so will have to investigate.
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Post  Scorpio Rising on 6/5/2019, 9:23 pm

Welcome, tajames01!  So glad you found us!  

Love that you are already eating from your SFG.  Take notes...every year is different.  And keep posting!
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Post  AtlantaMarie on 6/6/2019, 9:14 am

@tajames01 wrote:Hi AtlantaMarie!  So far, have eaten radishes, beets, parsley, basil and swiss chard (which has been the biggest surprise... found a good roasted swiss chard w/feta cheese recipe).  The rest is still growing: tomatoes, pole & bush beans, cucumbers, eggplant, 1 okra plant, bell and jalapeno peppers, carrots and cilantro.  I saw your pictures, and your garden looks great!  I want to add blueberry bushes next year too (minus the snakes!! yikes!!). I can't figure out how to insert pictures to my post yet, so will have to investigate.

OOoooo.... Roasted swiss chard w/ feta.... That sounds good!

The snakes are great for keeping the birds & chipmunks away, lol! As long as you move them around frequently...
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Post  sanderson on 6/7/2019, 2:19 am

Wheat straw should not have viable seeds but of course some do manage to survive. My husband gets the bedding straw from an Ag supply store and makes sure to get a light golden bale without visible seed heads. As I chop it into shorter pieces, I can see if there are any viable looking seed heads. Also, small debris falls out and I'm sure there are some weed seeds among the debris so I am left with just the clean stalks.

Regarding gardening during hot summers, I think I am pretty experienced with the dry, 100*F + summers we get. tongue

1. Mulch - there are 2 winners. Either chunky home made compost as a topping (it really soaks up water and continues to drain), plus it slowly breaks down to usable compost. Or, bedding straw (not hay of any kind) chopped into smaller sections. It is light weight, doesn't break down easily, therefore not tying up nitrogen during the growing season. At the end of the season, it can be turned in, collected for storage or go into the compost pile. There are other products that other folks use, but to me, they each have a draw back, even though they are mulches. Someone bought hemp straw as both mulch and as the walkways cover and has been pulling hundreds of hemp plants each day! Shocked Feeding hay like alfalfa or oat, can have seeds. Pine needles are pokey. Wood chips are also pokey (I garden bare handed) and takes months/years to break down. Wood chips are great for the walkways and around the landscaping bushes and trees, though.

2. Shade cloth. It one doesn't enjoy being out in the sun, neither do many veggies, except maybe okra and corn and a few others. Getting the plants to survive during heat waves means they can survive to produce an early fall bounty of produce. I bought shade cloth from HD and I bought one that is more appropriate for patios that for the garden. I think it was the 75% blocking cloth. The 50% probably would be better but the darn shade cloths just refuse to die! I wash, label and store each fall and bring them out each June.

3. Water. As the plants get larger, they need more water. If one gardens in dry states like CA, AZ, and NM, watering is imperative. Keep the Mel's Mix moist at all times as it is hard to hydrate again. Set up some kind of watering system that you can turn on in the morning while getting ready for the day and again when you're home in the evening. Mine are on timers as part of the front and back yards watering system, but I still use the hose wand once a day to get areas of the MM that aren't watered by a drip/soaker system.

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