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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Frost's North Central Florida Garden Toplef10Frost's North Central Florida Garden 1zd3ho10

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.

Frost's North Central Florida Garden I22gcj10Frost's North Central Florida Garden 14dhcg10

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Frost's North Central Florida Garden

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Post  Frost? 3/2/2022, 3:36 pm

Just stumbled across this Forum as I was looking for vermiculite alternatives; had no idea there was such a Forum.  I have already benefited though as I have two copies of Square Foot Gardening, and continue to use them as a resource even though they are 1981 editions - just discovered that there is a 2006 version that actually supersedes the prior.  I have been loosely practicing SFG since about 2010 utilizing 6 4x4 grids bordered by 8x8x16 concrete blocks.  I still have that original set-up, but have had to move it to a different location to avoid a) nutrient sucking trees b) merciless sunshine in July and August.  I have since complemented the "grid style" garden with some offspring experiments.  I found some Postal Bins 16x23x8 (or so) on Marketplace that I built racks for and made wicking beds out of, I use 5 gallon buckets, one inside another, as wicking "pots" for my carrots, and I have resorted to growing many of my vegetables (tomatos, peppers, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) in 5 gallon nursery pots sitting on concrete squares that I shuffle around the yard based on the current seasons sun intensity.  Looking forward to sharing and receiving information on effective endeavors.  Jon
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Post  sanderson 3/2/2022, 4:35 pm

Jon,  Welcome to the Forum from California!  glad you\'re here

Yes, SFG has evolved and you should read either the 2nd or 3rd Editions of ALL NEW Square Foot Gardening so that this Forum can be of benefit.  We only use what is called Mel's Mix, 1/3 fluffed peat moss, 1/3 coarse or super coarse vermiculite and 1/3 blended real composts made from as many sources of real compost that can be found locally.

If you are having root invasion in the best growing area of the yard, table top beds can be your solution.  I and 2 others found we had bad root invasion at the same time and we all bit the bullet and raised our beds into the air.  A 3/4" piece of plywood as the bottom, supported every 2', works well.  Drill 1/2" holes in each sq ft for drainage and line the bottom of the bed with weed fabric to keep in the Mel's Mix.

The table top can set on treated wood, elevated with legs, concrete blocks, pallets, etc. No invasive root can ever get into your beds again!
Frost's North Central Florida Garden Garde109

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Post  Frost? 3/2/2022, 7:08 pm

Thanks for the welcome, and the share.  Root invasion has been an issue; both in the former location of the beds (pine tree), and in the new (camphor tree).  The pine tree was understandable because I was right outside of it's canopy, but the new issue is ridiculous because there is a garage between the beds and the camphor tree!  I may very well resort to jacking the beds up - but in the meantime I just rely on my other vegetable venues.  I did just order a 2012 edition of The New Square Foot Gardening so I should be up to speed shortly.  Presently I use a loose version of Mel's mix from the older (1981) edition - soil, peat moss, vermiculite, compost, manure.
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Post  Frost? 3/2/2022, 7:24 pm

Frost's North Central Florida Garden Rack10
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Frost's North Central Florida Garden 100_6410
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Post  sanderson 3/3/2022, 3:36 am

Your current set up is nice, not SFG, but still nice. What is the measurement of the good growing area? The area where you don't have to move pots around for sunshine? 10' x 10'? 10' x 15? Or more?

I love your green tote set up and I'm thinking sweet potatoes. ?? The smaller white stand for potting and seed hardening off? I'm dreaming of your new elevated SFG garden.

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Post  Frost? 3/3/2022, 7:22 am

sanderson wrote:Your current set up is nice, not SFG, but still nice.  What is the measurement of the good growing area?  The area where you don't have to move pots around for sunshine?  10' x 10'? 10' x 15?  Or more?

I love your green tote set up and I'm thinking sweet potatoes. ??  The smaller white stand for potting and seed hardening off?  I'm dreaming of your new elevated SFG garden.
  I am being convicted that I have moved so far from the original intent; but the pots developed because of SFG as I maintained the approximate spacing principals, the green tubs are probably closer still but were adding the wicking prospect (I'll post the construct in the appropriate thread) .  The smaller white stand is again portable, but in late spring/summer it transfers to the Pergola outside the kitchen - we call it the salad bar.  Typically it hosts all of our lettuce varieties.
  I have about 1/2 acre of ground in the backyard, at least 50% of it is "open", but from November till April none of it is solidly in the sun; then it becomes a time of seeking shade.  I really need to make a seasonal chart of sun tracking and get a little more definitive in my process.
  You're set up has definitely got the gears turning on an elevated SFG; it will probably come to fruition over the summer.  Ugh!  Here we go again!
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Post  Frost? 3/3/2022, 7:53 am

Frost's North Central Florida Garden Drain10

I understand that it is not "legitimate" SFG, but it is in essence with the addition of wicking capability.  
I  happened to find these bins on FB Marketplace, 8 of them for $40.  Similar principles could be applied to whatever one can find to use.  The soda flats I got a local crash & dent grocery store - He offered to give them to me but I gave him $20 for 16 trays; I cut them down on a table saw to an appropriate LxWxH.  The net pots came from Amazon.

Frost's North Central Florida Garden Rack11




Frost's North Central Florida Garden Bin10
Frost's North Central Florida Garden Platfo10
Frost's North Central Florida Garden Assemb10

Pictures are a little out of order, but you get the idea - I don't know how to fix it.  The tubs are about 8" deep, I cut the flats to 2 1/2" high to allow the net pots to sit on the bin bottom.  Lined the completed bin with landscape fabric (stuffing it into the net pots with another net pot, and filled it with a coup inches of sand, then growing media.  Not pictured here, I added a hinged "Conestoga wagon" cover framed with PVC and covered with chicken wire for squirrel protection.
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Post  Frost? 3/3/2022, 8:07 am

This is an aerial view of the yard - the reason for sun chasing.Frost's North Central Florida Garden Southg11
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Post  Frost? 3/3/2022, 11:14 am

For me (through the counsel of the "original" Square Foot Gardening - 1981) this is my SFG.  It was moved from one end of the yard to the other to spare it from nutrient suck by a nearby pine tree, and to give the greens some relief from relentless sun in late summer.  It is currently shaded by a detached garage, which has it's limitations for use now, but once summer kicks in it will be a welcome respite for my survivors.

Frost's North Central Florida Garden 100_6619

I've decided to add another 4" in height with the capstones, but have to do it in stages to buffer the expense shock.

Frost's North Central Florida Garden 100_6620


Very easy to protect "young-uns" with a PVC frame covered with chicken wire.  The same panel can later be zip- tied to the fence surrounding to use as a trellis.
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Post  Soose 3/3/2022, 1:13 pm

Nice wicking beds! Great score. 

I was in the "DOLLAR TWENTY-FIVE TREE" a couple of days ago, and in this season they have a real variety of mesh pots and trays  and baskets of all sizes (created for other purposes) that could be used as a net pot in a wicking bed scenario.  There were not any black, lol.  Most aren't as strong as one of the net pots on Amazon, but you could double up if needed and save some cash.
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Post  Frost? 3/3/2022, 1:50 pm

Soose wrote:Nice wicking beds! Great score. 

I was in the "DOLLAR TWENTY-FIVE TREE" a couple of days ago, and in this season they have a real variety of mesh pots and trays  and baskets of all sizes (created for other purposes) that could be used as a net pot in a wicking bed scenario.  There were not any black, lol.  Most aren't as strong as one of the net pots on Amazon, but you could double up if needed and save some cash.
 
Thanks!  Yes it was; it's just a matter of keeping your eyes (and mind) open.
Let's face it, the net pot is not under any great pressure or demand; it just sits there and lets water through.  
Good tip.  Big Lots (if you have one) is also famous for dumping seasonal items at certain times of the year.
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Post  sanderson 3/3/2022, 10:43 pm

It looks like the front yard has the most sunshine, but then, it is the front yard. With the acreage you have, have you considered removing a tree or to for a reliable sunny back yard? One of our members, had to start over in another state and the area his son allotted for his garden had too much shade. So, three trees were strategically removed. You can see the X's in this photo.Frost's North Central Florida Garden New_sf10

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Post  Frost? 3/4/2022, 8:02 am

It's easy to see by eliminating those three there would be a substantial gain in sun-space.  I have a real hog in my yard (the big circle); it's a camphor tree.  I hate it more than I love it, but it has so much character.  The two smaller circles could be removed, and probably should be.  I'll keep the thought in the frontals.  Thanks!

Frost's North Central Florida Garden Tree_t10

P.S.- The front yard is the septic drain field, best left alone.
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Post  sanderson 3/4/2022, 3:31 pm

Yes, best to leave the front yard alone. Camphor trees can have such character. I just read that it is considered invasive in Florida!! Shocked Where on the property is the garden?

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Post  Frost? 3/4/2022, 3:51 pm

sanderson wrote:Yes, best to leave the front yard alone.  Camphor trees can have such character.  I just read that it is considered invasive in Florida!! Shocked Where on the property is the garden?

  Unfortunately EVERYTHING has the tendency to become "invasive" in Florida!  The Camphor seedlings spring up everywhere, and although I can't prove it, I swear it proliferates by rhizome as well - you can find Camphor root almost everywhere in the yard - it has a very distinctive smell akin to root beer.  Of course the leaves and branches when broken smell of camphor.  When I moved to this house (almost 12 years ago) the backyard was nearly lost in muscadine, you'd have to look pretty hard to find evidence of it now.  

Frost's North Central Florida Garden Plants10

The rectangle top left is the approximate location of the SFG - 9 1/2' x 12'
To the left of the house is a row of potted eggplant, the circle in front is broccoli & cauliflower
The line behind the house is a row of potted tomatoes
The circle bottom right is myriad pots of broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and tomatos
Somewhere between the eggplant and the SFG are the two racks of wicking beds full of salad greens (mostly) and a couple of wicking buckets for carrots.
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Post  Frost? 3/10/2022, 9:33 pm

Book arrived today.  Definitely pending changes - questions is:  When?
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Post  OhioGardener 3/11/2022, 7:39 am

Frost? wrote: When?

"If not me, who?  If not now, when?"  Emma Watson Very Happy

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Post  Frost? 3/11/2022, 8:23 am

Here am I; send me.  - Isaiah
This is the day.... - ?King David
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Post  Frost? 3/11/2022, 9:35 am

Lax though I be on my "new" SFG design, at least SOMETHING is happening.  Got my first rain barrel officially set.  Bring on the rain!

Frost's North Central Florida Garden 100_6624

Will be jacking the other one up on blocks as well and connect the two.  Had to knock the principal one down by a row  because I didn't have enough drop below the diverter.
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Post  Frost? 3/12/2022, 4:17 pm

Went to a Men's Fellowship breakfast this morning, was gone about 3 hours, during that time it rained about 1 1/2 hours and when I got home my barrel was brimming!  affraid 

Due to the fact that we have a heavy rain prediction for the rest of the week as well, I had to expedite my intentions for the remaining barrels, and not having time to round-up the pieces I need for my "design", I hit the storage bins and modified "temporarily".  However, history has shown, that my "temporaries" frequently become permanent.


Frost's North Central Florida Garden 100_6626Frost's North Central Florida Garden 100_6625
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Post  Frost? 3/16/2022, 12:52 pm

Mixed my first batch of Mel's Mix today, but using Medium Vermiculite instead of Coarse, to use for seedlings.  Interested to see if there is a notable difference in plant progression over my "old" potting soil.  Let's see what we can find to grow!
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Post  Frost? 3/17/2022, 1:24 pm

So, in transition to certifiable SFG, while awaiting my coarse vermiculite delivery, I found these on Amazon - not the way I usually "roll" (I prefer getting things on the cheap and making them work), I ordered these because of the size.  Outside dimensions are given in the description, but it gives me 12" x 12" x 6 5/8" interior, which I'm calling perfect for my tomatoes, squash, and cantaloupe.

Frost's North Central Florida Garden Sf_bin10

  I ordered 6 pieces, so now I build them a rack and incorporate a trellis.  Will report as I progress - plants are waiting!
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Post  Frost? 3/17/2022, 8:01 pm

Well a little slow on progress today, but I've got the basics complete; just need to add legs and trellis.  Coarse vermiculite is expected Sunday so I've got time, but there's more to come!

Frost's North Central Florida Garden 100_6628

Best part for me is, although I have $65.00 in bins (which is absurd); the lumber was all "on hand"; no purchasing!
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Post  Frost? 3/17/2022, 8:02 pm

And, Happy St. Patty's Day!  I've got me first tomato!

Frost's North Central Florida Garden First_10
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Post  sanderson 3/17/2022, 8:41 pm

Those are great sizes, equivalent to 1 sq ft with 6-7" of MM.

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