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Eddie Willers Rookie Mistake #3, not knowing what I have...

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Post  Eddie Willers on 7/13/2020, 2:58 pm

So after several issues of not knowing whether a particular variety of plant that I have is the vine type, or the not vine type, I've further learned that what looks like good neighbors on my companion planting chart are in not in fact good choices for other reasons, usually on account of height.

Asides from very limited information in the SFG manual regarding putting the trellises and vines on the north side of a garden box, there is surprisingly limited information or guidance in the book on choosing plant neighbors. I now have several "full light plants", mostly peppers, that are losing their light because they are being crowded out by much taller plants. I have lettuce and carrots that are completely shaded by potatoes, beets that are basically growing in the dark under some beans, etc.

I find the relative heights of the plants bear little resemblance to the indicates heights on teh seed packs, and because of continuous planting and replanting of the squares its a total crap shoot in terms of putting seedlings besides full mature plants that will crowd them. My Broccoli for example didn't get overly tall, but those big leaves cast a huge shadow.

Does anyone have some more specific advice on how to lay out a garden? I get that part of the efficiency of the SFG is the density of planting, but I really feel like the whole uniform height monoculture thing definitely has an advantage.

Thoughts?
Eddie Willers
Eddie Willers

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Join date : 2020-05-19
Location : East Ontario

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Post  sanderson on 7/17/2020, 5:11 am

Eddie, The only words of comfort I can give you is that the first year is a steep learning curve, where you learn the needs of each plant in the garden. From the notes you are taking (you are taking notes this year Wink ) you can plan for next year's spring, summer and/or fall plantings. My first year, I planted something different in each of the 28 squares and learned what didn't like the scorching sun (+100*F) and what insects liked. I am now down to monoculture beds so I can treat everything in the individual beds the same. That is, how much light, how much shade cloth, cover with bridal tulle, tall trellises, short trellises, lots of water, what is invasive and should be grown in pots instead of the beds, etc.

There are several growing Regions in hust the U.S., not to mention other countries. There are also growing Zones and microclimates to consider. Your local Master Gardeners or Ag Commissioner may have information on what to plant and when to plant. In the 3rd Edition of ALL NEW Square Foot Gardening, there are a few sample beds to give you ideas.


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Post  Eddie Willers on 8/31/2020, 4:12 pm

Thanks Sanderson. Learning curve it was. I just build two more garden boxes, and may do a little bit of mono culture in the smaller boxes and more diversity in teh bigger beds. I also re-engineered some of the trellises to be more useful. Lastly, for the first time in my life I actually spent some mental energy tracking how much of what type of vegetables my family eats on a regular basis so if it had of all worked out as planned, we would have had way too much of some stuff and way too little of others. 

FYI, I am in essentially a 3b/4a hardiness zone, so maximizing the output given my short season is my main focus. My next hurdle is getting my tunnel covers on before everything freezes to death.
Eddie Willers
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Post  Scorpio Rising on 9/1/2020, 10:37 am

I liken gardening to sailing; you get better but never master it completely due to the random forces at work.  A lifelong pursuit.  

I too grow things no one eats.  I grew kale for 3 years before I came to the realization I hated it.  It grew like a weed, too.  I grew Swiss chard at my old house (old style Rodale organic dirt garden) and ate it up.  Now it too grows great but I have yet to eat any of it!  It’s 3 feet tall!  

Live and learn—and take great notes!
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