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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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Soose in North Alabama

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Soose in North Alabama - Page 4 Empty Another gutter and water collection...

Post  Soose Fri 6 May 2022 - 7:52

SFG plants all seem to be well.   I hope to get some more beds finished today or at least ready for MM.  My un-planted plants are really suffering despite watering.  I should have returned them to the porch.  If I can just get them hilled in...

WATER:
My totes that are planted are staying nicely damp, though we have not manually filled the water reservoirs but are top watering when needed with rainwater from the tote.  Any water that seeps through should be collecting in the water reservoirs. 

The sense is coming upon me that just the last week or so, our weather has swapped over to less frequent and heavy rains.  And that I'm using up the water in this garden tote.  You might be able to see in the previous photo from last Saturday (?) that behind the planted beds, there's my garden water tote, and it was already 1/4 down.  Gone down some more inches since then with minimal daily watering. 

I do not want to have to resort to tap water if I can avoid it.  But I have 5 more raised beds each with 6 or 7 cu ft of new MM to wet down.  Plus berry boxes.  And ongoing water needs.  It won't be a problem once we get gutters feeding the garden tote and the main house tote etc..  Until then...  I am seeing water levels seeping down...  and was coveting the 1/2" rain forecast for last night.  1/2" would give me 3" on the original storage building tote (same size), which we can transfer along with the 6" or so already there.  I wanted more, given the forecast and weather change.  We tossed around different ideas...

Yesterday, we quickly added an unplanned gutter to a second storage building and rolled a big IBC tote over to it, connected up the downspout.  Last night, we managed to collect another 7/8" rainwater in both that tote and the one on the original storage building.  More or less.  It's about 40ft from the garden?  (But the original storage building is at least 100ft away.)  We'll transfer pump both over to our garden tote.  It should be full then.  I don't think we'll see more rain today.

On another thread (not in the South, so don't want to hijack the Midwest thread)...  obviously different seasons.
OhioGardener wrote:With four consecutive days of heavy rain...   Can't do that in the rain. What to do, what to do...  thinking

SUN and SHADE:
I have been imagining a large market umbrella, suspended over my current raised bed, movable.  Has anyone done that?   Actually, I was imagining putting up a camping type open-sided pavillion -- we have one -- but that would be less portable and more of a pain to erect.  Some of these market umbrellas are 11ft diameter, and I believe I have one in a storage building? 

I am thinking our real rainy season has just passed -- stay tuned for afternoon thunderstorms as the Summer progresses  --   I see the next five days forecast is ever hotter with no rain.  We should get enough water over time, my timing has just been poor for setting up collection. But sun and shade... 

We removed some trees to make this new garden area. When I leave the shelter of the garage and venture out onto the terrace or into the garden, it feels like the sun is burning and reflected light is so bright,  I worry about cataracts.  Equator bright.  We need some shade to work mid-day and early afternoon!  Whew. 

PLANT SWAP TOMORROW:
There are plants missing.  I have no eggplant for one thing.  I saw one at the grocery store - one 4" plant - for $5.  Arrgh.   I think I have a better idea now of what I could plant going forward, at least for this Summer garden.

There's a free (no money exchanged) plant swap tomorrow.  I was told you don't have to bring plants and it's meant also to benefit new gardeners who don't have anything.  But if I can pot up some of the All Season cabbages I broadcast / direct sowed*, I will go along to the plant swap. 

*Rather, the seeds that made it and are 2" high or more were all just spilled seeds, lots of them, while the ones we purposely sowed under mini-greenhouse covers didn't do anything at all.  The boxes do have a greenhouse cover.  Maybe the extra tub upended over the intentionally-planted seeds is the cause.  The ones outside that perimeter with only the greenhouse cover came up! 

This year, I have learned that my friends have different gardening styles that may not work for me.  I had asked for seed-starting help.   She taught me to direct sow, into my "earth boxes" on the porch, and all the while I was telling her:  "But these are my greens planters."   She just wanted to get a seed, any seed, into the ground that day, to prove to me direct sowing worked, lol.    Thus, I don't have any greens on the porch this Spring. 

And now I have these seedlings to transplant.  All the while she was telling me, "Direct sowing is great, you don't want to have to transplant, you'll never get to it!"  

And I also have a bunch of green onions about 6" tall now;  all the while I was saying, "But we aren't using them right now, I want to grow bulb onions not green.  We use one large onion minimum every day!"   

I'm sure I'll be grateful for more cabbage seedlings to add in as time passes -- we use several large cabbages each week for salads,  and my son has started using green onions.  I would like a variety of cabbages instead.  I do need to plant a lot of them, not all at one time.  I will try to make use of this cabbage seed.  But next year, I'll be doing something different to start seeds!  )
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Post  markqz Fri 6 May 2022 - 12:20

Soose wrote:When I leave the shelter of the garage and venture out onto the terrace or into the garden, it feels like the sun is burning and reflected light is so bright,  I worry about cataracts.  Equator bright.
Join the wrap-around sunglasses crowd while you still can!
Soose's friend wrote:"Direct sowing is great, you don't want to have to transplant, you'll never get to it!"  
I start almost everything in vermiculite, then transplant to pots, and finally transplant outside. If I try to direct seed, most of the plants get wiped out by drought, flood, or bugs.


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Post  Soose Fri 6 May 2022 - 12:48

markqz wrote:
Join the wrap-around sunglasses crowd while you still can!

I just got back from the store with a pair of UV sunglasses. My one criteria, whether they would fall off on bending over. Will see how they help.

Mark, how do you manage all of your seed starting operation? Shelves and grow lights etc?? I'll look for posts when I get around to starting seeds for Fall.

Wait, you must plant some seeds outside in the SFG. Which?
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Post  OhioGardener Fri 6 May 2022 - 14:54

Soose wrote:When I leave the shelter of the garage and venture out onto the terrace or into the garden, it feels like the sun is burning and reflected light is so bright,  I worry about cataracts.

I'm half way through the cataract surgery process now. It is amazing how bright things are in the eye that the cataract was removed from. Very Happy  Can't wait to get the other eye done in a couple weeks.  The doctor told me that by the time most people are 80 years old they either have cataracts, or have had them removed, as aging causes the proteins and fibers in the lens begin to break down, causing vision to become hazy or cloudy.. Shocked

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Post  markqz Fri 6 May 2022 - 18:47

Soose wrote:I just got back from the store with a pair of UV sunglasses. My one criteria, whether they would fall off on bending over. Will see how they help.
If they don't fit, the surfer dudes have it figured out. There's various straps that grip your frames and can hold them snug, yet be quickly readjusted. They also solve another problem. Whether you pay $5 or $500 for sunglasses, you lose them the same way -- you set them down "for just a minute" and then don't remember them until it's too late.
Soose wrote:Wait, you must plant some seeds outside in the SFG.  Which?
Mostly radishes and beets.
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Post  Hip2B Mon 9 May 2022 - 4:22

Hi Soose, I've enjoyed reading your thread. Your setup looks pretty impressive! I'm not sure if you are looking at adding more IBC wicking beds in the future, but there's a guy on Gumtree (our version of Craigslist) here in Tasmania selling a "greenhouse" version. I think it's a great idea for smaller plants and leaf crops. I hope this link works for you...   https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/old-beach/pots-garden-beds/-wicked-garden-wicking-bed-garden/1285306488
I would have liked to make IBC wicking beds as I think it would have been cheaper and much easier than the wicking beds we have, but I couldn't see any way to get them to the location that we wanted for our veggie garden given the steep slope of our block and the narrow access to the back yard either side of our house. Our kits ended up costing a lot but they do look pretty, Our wicking material is actually woodchips. I was uncertain about using woodchips as the wicking media until I did some research on Colin Austin's website and saw that his original wicking bed design used organic matter in the base....   https://www.waterright.com.au/index.htm    The guy that we bought our wicking bed kits from assures us that we should get at least 10 years out of the woodchip wicking media before it deteriorates to a point that we have to replace it. This is the site that I bought our kits from...  https://watersavergardens.com.au/     It's not quite as scary as it looks pricewise as our Australian dollar is about 70 cents to the US dollar.
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Post  Soose Mon 9 May 2022 - 5:37

Hip2B wrote:Hi Soose, I've enjoyed reading your thread. Your setup looks pretty impressive! I'm not sure if you are looking at adding more IBC wicking beds in the future, but there's a guy on Gumtree (our version of Craigslist) here in Tasmania selling a "greenhouse" version. I think it's a great idea for smaller plants and leaf crops. I hope this link works for you...   https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/old-beach/pots-garden-beds/-wicked-garden-wicking-bed-garden/1285306488
I would have liked to make IBC wicking beds as I think it would have been cheaper and much easier than the wicking beds we have, but I couldn't see any way to get them to the location that we wanted for our veggie garden given the steep slope of our block and the narrow access to the back yard either side of our house. Our kits ended up costing a lot but they do look pretty, Our wicking material is actually woodchips. I was uncertain about using woodchips as the wicking media until I did some research on Colin Austin's website and saw that his original wicking bed design used organic matter in the base....   https://www.waterright.com.au/index.htm    The guy that we bought our wicking bed kits from assures us that we should get at least 10 years out of the woodchip wicking media before it deteriorates to a point that we have to replace it. This is the site that I bought our kits from...  https://watersavergardens.com.au/     It's not quite as scary as it looks pricewise as our Australian dollar is about 70 cents to the US dollar.

Morning, Hip2B.  Thanks for the links -- will add them to my list to watch later.

I chose sand for my wicking medium, though we'd just used the potting mix on my smaller 18gal DIY wicking tubs on the porch, and it worked fine.  I saw a video with a series of large clear tubes, several feet high, comparing different wicking mediums, and if I remembered right,  the sand won, hands down.  Especially compared to the gravel some people fill their water reservoirs with.  I don't know if they tried bark, though, can't remember.  I also know the older fellow (in NZ or Australia?) used sand in a layer above the water reservoir and under the potting mix, so that's what I'm doing.  I think some add the sand in the water reservoir itself, but to me that reduces the amt of water that can be stored.

I think this sand will give me an even water spread in the MM above, which seems to not be the case 100% in my porch tubs.  I think there, we were erratic in what we used to wick the water up and some are better than others.  We used a much older method of making a "rope" of old socks and tees and such - cotton - and dangled it down in the water and up through the soil.  Some boxes stay damper than others.

Anyway, the wicking bed method is already paying off!  Only a week past planting, two days past 1 inch rain, and I am not top watering the beds we planted -- what we put in is thriving well.  We'll see how that lasts today, keeping a close eye.

I expected to have to top water for two weeks, but this MM is holding water well up at the top surface.  (And I did cut down the vermiculite by about a third to start, reasoning that I can always add more but not subtract.  We'll see how it handles full grown plants drinking a lot more water. )  The top surface at edges did have a tad of dry the first few days, but I had not filled the water wells. Still haven't for that matter.  The water is coming from the top watering bits and from wetting down the MM originally, and lastly from that inch of rain.

Whatever we end up with for our structure, it's what's inside that matters. But I will say in case anyone reads in future:

The totes are more manueverable than I imagined at first.  We first manhandled them, then began to use a hand truck, then just started end-over-end rolling them.  A meter wide in one direction (bit more in the other) -- are your accesses really that close?  (Not trying to convince, just curious about how it is there.) 

Also, I was able to get these totes locally for $75 US and that makes two beds.  With other costs for lumber and metal up so high, this was the best way for me for now.  We bought from a different guy for our water tanks, paid $110 plumbed/washed, etc. --  because they're easier to plumb (standard threads) and attach a hose or faucet here.  But they're all food grade and totes abound online, just have to verify both what they held, obviously, and then the type threads on the valve.  And we had to wash the cheap ones. Not a problem when cutting them in half, lol.   We also bought an angle grinder to cut them in half.  And I found pallets for the halves that didn't have one attached.  Concrete blocks under. 

The big cost is the MM for me.
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Post  Soose Mon 9 May 2022 - 5:43

I'm making thirteen 5gallon buckets in a batch of Mel's Mix! Fluffed up of course:
--  1 each of 5 types compost.
--  5 peat moss.
--  3 vermiculte for now.  Holding off on the other 2 of this.  (Again, I reason I can add if the MM is drying out but it would be hard to subtract. So far, so good.)

I've lost track of how many buckets go into a bed.  It should be 6.5 cu ft and that's about 8  0.75gal buckets but once it's watered down...  I think it's about 10 buckets filled to within two inches of the top, to fill one bed.  Yup.  I keep meaning to keep track.  I'd have to write it down as we go. lol

This morning, I'm going to:

-- Make more MM!
.........(Need a little more MM after settling overnight -- mosquitoes hit at dusk here which cuts into our time working, and is keeping me inside a bit this morning);

-- Trim and rivet the pvc grids for SFG.  
.........(I already have the pieces cut but am finding they need to be shortened a tad for each bed, as measurements weren't quite right, can't figure out why except that when I add all the contents, the totes might be warping inwards a bit.  So we are cable tying the bottles to the outer cages now).

Trellises can wait to be added.  But today, I will have these two more raised beds ready to plant.  Three still to go. We're moving faster now. 

I might stop and construct some of the 18gal tubs for berries but mainly because I have decided to also put large bush plants in those rather than in the SFG totes.   And those little fellows need to be planted! I'm not going to use 100% MM for the berries, either.  I"m going to use up some of the other stuff we have, at least partially.  According to the fellow I got these blackberry starts from, "They'll grow in concrete."  lol   But the squashes and bush tomatoes in tubs, I'll use MM.

I have photos on my phone, but should stop and get to work.    If I take a break, I'll send some.
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Post  Hip2B Mon 9 May 2022 - 5:54

Yeah, our side access is that tight. We have a tall gated fence either side of the house. It's to keep the pademelons (a type of wallaby). They are very cute but pretty ravenous. When we established our ornamental garden and didn't have the side fence/gate combo, we had to pin wire waste paper baskets over each plant to protect them. We are dreading when our fridge dies as that will need to go in the back door - up the steep drive, steps, through the side gate, then the steep path up the side of the house to the back door. When we had our TV delivered earlier this year, the guy said he would be sick on the day that we buy a fridge  Twisted Evil
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_pademelon
(Feeling pretty clever as I just realised how to insert a hyperlink)
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Post  Soose Wed 11 May 2022 - 21:12

Ty Hip2B for the lowdown on your garden access.

(Have you tried out the strap harnessing affairs for two people moving heavy objects like fridges up stairs? My neighbor was talking about the delivery of her fridge. )

We're talking about access for our own garden tonight. But we're on relatively flat ground. It has occurred to me that if we'd been smart about the way we oriented the pallets under out totes/beds, in future we could have moved the heavy totes around, full of MM and water. I haven't checked, though, since you made me think of it.

Today, I worked on future compost. This morning my better half and I went to a nearby business that specializes in truck accessories and snagged four used discarded truck bed liners, plus a bunch of tailgate liners. I'd seen them listed for free online.

I came home while my husband went on about his own business, and offloaded then in the back field, to serve as compost bins. I used the tailgate liners to form a mowing edge or apron around the area.

My son already offloaded a half cu yd of sand into one. Friday I am going to take at least one of my guys with me and go collect some stable cleanings. Grazon free. I am thinking we will quarantine it in one of these compost bins for now until I am sure of it.

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Post  Soose Wed 11 May 2022 - 21:15

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Post  Soose Wed 11 May 2022 - 21:24

I think I will move my bales of peat moss and vermiculite into another book for now. I've been mixing MM in the last half tote. I could actually mix it in one of these bins now, but it's a ways away from the garden beds.

We are agreed we need a better flat garden cart. (Have a good wheelbarrow and dump cart. No way to pull the latter right now. Using the truck tailgate to move things across field. ) My friend swears by her Gorilla brand cart from Lowe's or HD. She doesn't have a wheelbarrow. But we're wanting a flat cart or wagon to transport buckets and items on flat ground. Maybe with removable sides. Which could also be used for compost materials.
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Post  Hip2B Thu 12 May 2022 - 3:56

The truck bed liners and tailgate liners were a great score! Good on you for thinking laterally. What you have come up with is a great use for them.
Touch wood, we won't need a new fridge for a while. We moved here 18 months ago and have just finished renovations. We don't plan on going anywhere in a hurry now. You should have seen the poor guys trying to deliver our lounge suite when we bought it. It was also a major production removing the old enamel and cast iron bathtub and getting it down to the verge. There were 4 of us and it was still a major struggle. 
We set up ramps on the stairs and use trolleys where possible, plus good old grunt.
Not long after we moved in we got a quote for window blinds. The guy had a long wheel based van. It actually got stuck between the road and our driveway like a see-saw when its tow bar literally dug into the road and wedged there. We had to use a car jack to get him unstuck.  rofl
We have been super careful since then and get delivery drivers to drop things on the verge.
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Post  Soose Thu 12 May 2022 - 22:03

[ I posted a reply to you, Hawgwild, and I don't know what all. From my phone - not the first time a post from my phone
has been lost and never appeared here.  I seem to have to hit "send" twice. Maybe I didn't. ]

Journal.

Yesterday, a remote compost area set up.
Today, the tumbling composter assembled.  (Diff thread.) 
Love it when a project is completed in a day!  Two days running!

Tomorrow I go to shovel horse manure. 

I have been told it's the least nutritional of the manures we can get. Shrugs.  We used to get it for roses from
a friend with horses.  This is for next year.  Will let it sit, see how full of straw and bedding it is.
Supposed to be Grazon - free.  I did not ask how long it's been since the horses were wormed.  A gardening friend just
wrote me and said that can kill worms.  I think I will ask my compounding pharmacist about the life of ivermectin in horse
manure, lol.  You're just supposed to not use the manure a day or two after worming them, but I have no idea when this
was collected, forgot to ask the owner.


These are second thoughts, nutrition and worm-killers.  I have committed to get the manure tomorrow, so will go.
Regardless of whether we use it for our compost next year.  Easy enough to see if worms come.

Speaking of which, I've thought I should drill some holes in the bottom of these truck bed liners so worms can come and go.


Three days on "Next Year's Compost."  Gotta get back to the garden!

-------------------------

I got the opportunity to talk to a local Certified SFG guy.  Very helpful! 

He mentioned about cabbage moths -- and then I saw one this morning out around the plants!  Didn't catch it. Sad
I had never seen one.  I have a lot to learn about pests and how to avoid the ones we can avoid.

The broccoli and the cabbage I finally got into the ground are going to be too late and will likely bolt. 
They do look good now.  He said I might get some bits off the broccoli if I shade them.   I think he grows a diff type.

One thing he said was that using compost-rich MM in a wicking bed, he thinks it'll go anaerobic in about 6 to 9 months.
He's had wicking beds, aeroponics, SFG's of all sorts. 

This has been a concern.  We discussed it here.  Not sure the sand level and the air-pruning-level will help our version.
My husband suggested if we think it's a problem, we can just drain the beds and use them as though there wasn't a water
reservoir under.  ( But that loses a major advantage.  I don't want to have to put drip lines and a timer in. BTDT. )
I know I need to search this forum here for threads on wicking beds and SFG/MM. 

He also gave me the idea of testing the pH of our rain water.  Said we don't have to but we'd see a major diff if we paid attention to that.

Something I wondered about.  Our limestone caves lead to calcium deficiency; he said it's easy to fix with water soaking in the
limestone gravel we have here, or with eggshells.  My own compost is full of eggshells.

Mainly I need help on what to plant when in this area. Get the timing right. Avoid pests.  Cabbage was wrong to plant this late.
I need a lot of cabbage.  Our family uses several each week.  And I wanted to ferment.  Will need to get the timing for a Fall garden right!
  I know there are calendars and lists of summer/winter plants, etc..   But I've got so much going on in my brain right now... 
and others have brought me seedlings I didn't get in the garden soon enough.  Shrugs.

I forgot that the state's co-op extension has an app -- just for AL, named SOW -- with what to plant.  Keeps things simple.  It's set up for 100 miles south of us.
I'm not good at adjusting these things by two weeks or 10 days right now.   Will try to start using that.  Some of my seeds came with no data or numbers.

I picked up a "Veg Gardening in AL" book at the library. From reading today, I wonder if it's more of a generic
book that has been modified with little ways, to publish state by state.  Definitely both are stuck in old row gardening and tilling methods.
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Post  markqz Fri 13 May 2022 - 14:25

Soose wrote:I have been told it's the least nutritional of the manures we can get. Shrugs.  We used to get it for roses from
a friend with horses.  This is for next year. 
I'm reminded of an old story of a gardener who was able to get some elephant manure from the local zoo. I don't imagine this is possible anywhere today! He thought it would work as a super manure.

He carefully spread the manure, pounded in some poles, and planted beans.

The beans died -- but the poles sprouted into 20 foot trees!
Soose wrote:I got the opportunity to talk to a local Certified SFG guy.  Very helpful! 

One thing he said was that using compost-rich MM in a wicking bed, he thinks it'll go anaerobic in about 6 to 9 months.
Just a crazy thought.

Couldn't you fill the tanks until the bottom 1/2" inch has water, then let it wick down by itself. So it would spend a few hours wicking, and then a couple days "drying", before filling up again (partially). If you figured out the timing, then you would only need one hose for each tank and only one controller for the whole thing. The 'work' part of drip watering, at least for me, is putting in the drip hoses for each row/column. They're also the part that seems to get silted up. So you'd still be able to avoid that aspect.

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Post  sanderson Fri 13 May 2022 - 14:29

Soose wrote:. . .Tomorrow I go to shovel horse manure.  I have been told it's the least nutritional of the manures we can get. Shrugs.  We used to get it for roses from a friend with horses.  This is for next year.  Will let it sit, see how full of straw and bedding it is.
The good thing about horse manure is that it has undigested hay which helps with the brown:green ratio.

Supposed to be Grazon - free.  I did not ask how long it's been since the horses were wormed.  A gardening friend just wrote me and said that can kill worms.  I think I will ask my compounding pharmacist about the life of ivermectin in horse manure, lol.  You're just supposed to not use the manure a day or two after worming them, but I have no idea when this was collected, forgot to ask the owner.
I found horse pucks with dead worms.  Easy to remove from the "collection."

Speaking of which, I've thought I should drill some holes in the bottom of these truck bed liners so worms can come and go.
Yes!  For draining if nothing else.

He mentioned about cabbage moths -- and then I saw one this morning out around the plants!  Didn't catch it. Sad   had never seen one.  I have a lot to learn about pests and how to avoid the ones we can avoid.
I found if I plant, the pests will come!  Razz

My own compost is full of eggshells.
It takes a long time for eggshells to break down and the calcium to become available.  If you microwave the shells or boil, the salmonella will be killed.

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Post  sanderson Fri 13 May 2022 - 14:31

[quote="markqz"]. . . I'm reminded of an old story of a gardener who was able to get some elephant manure from the local zoo. I don't imagine this is possible anywhere today! He thought it would work as a super manure.

He carefully spread the manure, pounded in some poles, and planted beans.

The beans died -- but the poles sprouted into 20 foot trees![quote] lol!

Yes, elephant manure were available at some zoos. At one zoo it was a lottery system because it was so popular.

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Post  Soose Fri 13 May 2022 - 14:40

Yes, I think we could use the water reservoir judiciously instead of just keeping it full.

I don't know what to think. I started reading an older thread here, where people were just starting to discover wicking beds. And they were doing SFG. They never talked about their experiments going anaerobic. Different constructions/designs. If they're in a really dry area, that makes a difference. We have our drier times, too.

Maybe I should invest in a moisture meter... But at only 6inches of MM, I can just part the soil and feel. So far, it's slightly moist feeling 2in down still without watering this morning...

I think he was saying the problem would come later as the organics/ compost was all breaking down.
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Post  OhioGardener Fri 13 May 2022 - 14:59

sanderson wrote:
 Yes, elephant manure were available at some zoos.  At one zoo it was a lottery system because it was so popular.

The local zoo offers manure from the Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Oh My, for the purpose of deterring animals such as raccoons, possums, and deer from the garden. I'm told that the smell will also deter humans from visiting.

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Post  Soose Fri 13 May 2022 - 15:02

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We'll see if this photo posts.

This is the manure I got this morning. It's a year old. Was sitting in an overgrown wooded area just off the driveway... Grass growing up the sides of the 5ft high pile. There is a lot more there. I went by myself since the guys had worked hard on the composter assembly the night before. With help I could have shoveled more in the time.

I saw a few pill bugs and two millipedes or whatever they are. I did find one tiny 1/4inch long worm way down there on one clump. Photos...





But not a huge pile of worms. Is this because the pile is so old there's nothing left to attract the worms? I remember years ago we got some wet manure and it was teeming with worms.

I should have gone to look at her newer pile, see if it had any worms in it. Compare.

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Post  Soose Sun 22 May 2022 - 5:12

SFG totes:
(Currently eight out of nine 3x4 plantable with grids and most trellises)
I'm quite happy with the four beds we planted three weeks ago. 

I'm enjoying patroling the plants looking for cabbage worms and eggs each morning.  It's not a big deal.  If the eggs get dropped onto the soils, will those worms that develop make their way back onto the plants via drooping leaves or via the stem?  It seems unavoidable that some will drop and I've ended up just blowing or washing the ones down in the crux of the plant, some must fall onto the ground.  I'm wishing for  a mini - vacuum, like used for computer keyboards, lol.   But we haven't had a lot yet over a week's time -- seven worms the first day, after I knew to look;  two the next on all plants; and then one  a couple of days. 

Very light weeding (as we never mulched with the EZ straw we bought).   There were a few volunteers, identifiable as tomato or squash, and I was originally letting them go a little out of curiosity.  Then I heard the SFG guy here say, "I only let grow what I intentionally plant..."  This sunk in after a week and I realized I don't need those unknown volunteers eating up my nutrients.  So I've been more vigilant.

We belatedly straightened out and tied up the tomatoes on the north trellises yesterday.  I need to try to read up on how to prune them -- years ago I knew how but I've forgotten.  One plant is not doing as well, has had sorta curled leaves the entire time. Another is just plain smaller, though covered with flowers; wondering if I should pull all the flowers, let it try to grow.

We have four more beds/totes ready to plant.  The cattle panel arches are set in between them as well as short trellises on the north sides of each bed.  I intend to use those perimeters of the beds for beans and Southern peas, grow a variety, to learn how they grow and plan for next year.  I need to get those seeds planted this morning.  But some of them, I do not know how big they'll grow.  The place I ordered from has minimal info, no "seed packet directions."  Sigh.  And the organic beans I have, kidneys, black, garbanzos, etc....  don't know what variety they are either. Next year I will make sure of my varieties if at all possible to clear this indecision and confusion with seeds and plants!! 

We also planted six 18gal tubs of bush plants in one row -- 2 eggplants and 2 zucchini, four Roma's (two / tub).  Still need to move the old brick pile, clear some more ground, bring in some more mulch for underneath -- then make up seven more 18gal tubs  for climbing squashes and seven for blackberries. That would complete all we're planning for inside the enclosure and we can turn our attention to screening it in with hardware cloth and completing / moving the previous fence. 

Water/Weather:
Our weather patterns had swapped over, so it's been dryer for two weeks.  We're expecting rain today and a four day interval of rain, possibly 2 or 3 inches forecast.  If so, we'll get both 275 gal totes filled.  If we have a break in the rain we could go ahead and transfer some of the first rains to our garden tote, leaving room to collect more on the two storage building roofs.

Compost:
I haven't had the time to get with my son about the tumbling composters.  A week has passed.  He's just adding dry grass and our veg scraps...  I know it needs management and amendment with better browns.  We can transfer what's in one of the older static bins but I haven't had the focus on it. 

The big bins out in the field are also just stagnant, perched there, one with manure and one with sand.  I'm thinking of going to get a load of "cotton trash."  If they have any left.   https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/383237360287793   I was worried about any defoliants they use on the fields but I vaguely think someone I talked to here said it was ok?  Will ask again.  And I found another source of clean horse manure, not that I need more for now.  Haven't heard about that load of straw.


Further ideas...

Yesterday, I picked up two used Coleman coolers, medium-sized, to use for worm bins.  There's a guy on youtube who swears by wicking beds for his worm bins, automatically keeps the beds the right moistness for the worms.

Or I may turn one into a germinator for seeds.  I saw someone who added a couple inches of water and a temperature-controlled acquarium heater to the bottom of the cooler.  He perched his trays of seeds inside for the few days it took to germinate, then transferred them to his lighted rack.  Makes sense to me, to keep the seeds at optimal temps while they germinate.

I'm looking a bit again at straw bale gardening for a patch out in the field next year, or maybe even this Summer for late melons and to learn from it.   Back to Eden here in the South is difficult due to the invasive grasses.  I may have made a mistake with my blueberry patch, only used cardboard and pinestraw and not enough pinestraw.  It'll become unmanageable, I fear.  My little 9inch tiller seems to continually have problems,  so I can't clear the edge of the bed that way. But I bought a propane burner and if we do put in a straw bale area out there somewhere, I think we will burn the ground several times to kill weeds that sprout, and establish a good edge that can be covered ahead of time.  I saw TexasPrepper on youtube do that.
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Post  Soose Tue 31 May 2022 - 5:26

WATER USAGE IN SELF-WICKING BEDS:

We had heavy rain last week, 4" I think it was through Thursday...  my water totes are mostly full.

Yesterday, on Monday, so 4 days to dry out, some of my self-wicking totes/beds had
very low to empty water reservoirs.  (The reservoirs can hold at least 4" of water below.) 

I wish we had noticed and/or even recorded the water levels after the rain stopped.  Because
this time we don't know if the large plants in those totes are just drinking that much water,
or if their canopies shed the rain off to the side of the totes/beds,  preventing the rain from
reaching the soil and seeping through to the water reservoir.  (No matter, we'll learn.)

Regardless, we gave some of them a bit of top watering if the "second knuckle" test seemed
to warrant it, so they didn't stress.  If it's too much water, it'll just drip down below.
And then we filled all the reservoirs.
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Post  Soose Tue 31 May 2022 - 5:59

Garden as of Memorial Day.

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Post  Hip2B Tue 31 May 2022 - 6:11

Looking good!
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Post  Soose Tue 31 May 2022 - 6:19

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Do you see the smaller tomato plant on the left of the trellis?  It's not growing like the others.  

I need to refresh my mind on how to prune indeterminate tomatoes and vining cukes.  I keep saying that to myself in the garden, then not finding time when inside.

Sprayed the brassicas with neem oil, covered with tulle.  The neem I had on the shelf is very old.  Almost 3 decades but still sealed. We'll see if it still works.   Meanwhile tulle can't hurt.  

Is this broccoli going to bolt?  We got them in late.  They are huge.  I'm glad to have the greens of these and the cabbages which will likely not manage heads due to hear and cabbage worms.  We're harvesting outer leaves.
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