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Hello Guest!
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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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Kiwi's SFG Adventure

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Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Empty Re: Kiwi's SFG Adventure

Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 12/18/2023, 5:44 pm

sanderson wrote:Interesting experiment.  Two observations or questions.  In the 12-month old MM, did you add more compost to replace the compost used up over the 12 months?  If you didn't add (amend with) compost, that could explain why the MM did worse than either compost.
No, the MM was deliberately non-amended -- I wanted to get a good handle on the quality (or otherwise) of my compost.  However, I would think that the compost I made the MM with a year ago was probably not entirely used up -- the garden wasn't exactly full of plants last summer!  Many, many of the sowings I made through summer and autumn didn't even germinate, and those that did, didn't produce mature plants.  (This is one reason that I'm not direct sowing this summer; it just didn't work for me)

My surprise was that the compost test pots didn't have way much better plants than the MM one -- but OG has explained that very well.

The 2 composts are very close in size.  If the sampling size was larger, like 3 of each, or 50, the composts may be indistinguishable. 
Ah, I get it -- that's why experiments have multiple plants of each medium!  I was originally doing three peas with each one, but when they failed to germinate I only had enough left-over tomato plants for one per medium...

Thanks for the info Smile  And great to know the bottom-level compost wasn't too affected by being waterlogged in autumn!

Regardless, your compost must be good.  Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 3170584802

Way cool!  bounce   (I was hesitant to pronounce that myself)  Thanks Smile
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Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Empty So **this** is what beetroot plants are supposed to look like!

Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 12/18/2023, 5:49 pm

Taken yesterday morning:
Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2034

I have never seen such a happy beetroot plant bounce   (the one on RHS is 3 weeks younger)  With results like this, I'm going to sow more this week!
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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 12/22/2023, 10:09 pm

This week I put the tomatoes into 1 gallon fabric pots, as their final step before going into the bed in 2 or 3 weeks' time.  After a few days in shade, this morning they went out on the patio where they'll be in full sun (when we get any...) all day long.  Since the pot bottoms are not very big I've set up some weighted buckets as a windbreak (credit to DH for this idea) that still allows some breeze through, to encourage nice strong stems:
Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2035

And here are the lettuces this morning: two troughs of "breeders" which are just on the cusp of starting to bolt, one trough of "teenagers", and another of "babies".  There's a further one, out of frame, which is just finishing germinating right now. ("embryos"? Wink )
Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2036
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Post  sanderson 12/24/2023, 3:39 pm

You're having way too much fun! Razz

You can direct sow the lettuce in the beds. I use 1" sections of paper towel or toilet paper cardboard tubes to designate where the seeds are sowed and to hold back the straw mulch until the starts are bigger at least. Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Seedli62

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Post  OhioGardener 12/24/2023, 4:09 pm

sanderson wrote:You're having way too much fun! Razz

You can direct sow the lettuce in the beds.  I use 1" sections of paper towel or toilet paper cardboard tubes to designate where the seeds are sowed and to hold back the straw mulch until the starts are bigger at least.

This also helps keep the sow bugs from eating the seedlings if you have a problem with those critters.

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Post  sanderson 12/24/2023, 6:00 pm

One year I failed to pretreat the prepped beds with Sluggo Plus before sowing. The sow bugs mowed down the little sprouts. Sad So, I had to re-sow and sprinkle it on the thin straw mulch PLUS spray with Spinosad.

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 12/26/2023, 2:48 am

OhioGardener wrote:
sanderson wrote:You're having way too much fun! Razz

You can direct sow the lettuce in the beds.  I use 1" sections of paper towel or toilet paper cardboard tubes to designate where the seeds are sowed and to hold back the straw mulch until the starts are bigger at least.

This also helps keep the sow bugs from eating the seedlings if you have a problem with those critters.

What a great idea!  I only ever grow lettuce in the troughs so they are out of the sunshine, but I'm going to start saving toilet paper tubes!  I'm guessing they would also keep slugs away from my babies???
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Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Empty The garden this morning

Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 12/27/2023, 6:49 pm

Thought it was about time I posted an update on the vege bed.

The beans are going great-guns; I decided this week to remove the cages, since they were getting pretty crowded in there already and poking their stems out the sides.  Last year I had short things like marigolds in the neighbouring squares, but this year it'll be tomatoes, so no worries about the beans flopping over them!  The final two bean squares will get populated next week and I think I'll give them cages for support initially.  We're still having pretty windy weather here so some method of keeping them somewhat 'in line' while they sort their roots out will probably be a good idea.

Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2037

The beetroots continue to amaze me almost daily by their size and beauty:
Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2038

. . . and this morning, a huge surprise from the older one:
Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2039

This is so darned exciting!!!  I'm actually going to get to eat one of these things soon!  I've already hilled-up the MM around the top.
carrot 

And the strawberries are chugging along, not producing hugely (except for the LH one), but then I didn't pinch out the flowers in spring -- too keen to get some fruit!
Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2040

I am seeing holes in most of the fruit (and much of what the single patio strawberry is producing too), which initially I put down to slugs but then I saw this little critter on a fruit:
Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2041

This fruit had been sitting pointing downwards in the centre of the plant's crown so I was very surprised to see it had been eaten!  But if the munchers are being flown in then this could explain it, as well as the munching on the patio fruits too. (although the vege bed is protected 100% of the time with an insect netting)  Does anyone have any ideas as to what this critter is?  I have a photo from a different angle if needed.

In general though, as sanderson said, I'm having way too much fun this summer!! bounce
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Post  sanderson 12/28/2023, 4:28 pm

I have no idea what the larva is. Beetle? OG, do you think a spritz of BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) would work?

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Post  OhioGardener 12/28/2023, 4:40 pm

sanderson wrote:I have no idea what the larva is.  Beetle?  OG, do you think a spritz of BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) would work?  

I zoomed in on the critter a little, and it looks much like the Fall Armyworm, but not sure about the species in Australia.  If it is it the Fall Armyworm, yes Bt will kill them.
Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Fall_a10

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 12/28/2023, 5:23 pm

OhioGardener wrote:
sanderson wrote:I have no idea what the larva is.  Beetle?  OG, do you think a spritz of BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) would work?  

I zoomed in on the critter a little, and it looks much like the Fall Armyworm, but not sure about the species in Australia.  If it is it the Fall Armyworm, yes Bt will kill them.
Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Fall_a10

Wow, thank you both so much!  Apparently it arrived in NZ on the wind in 2022 from Australia Sad  BT is readily available here, so I'll get a small amount.  From what I've read it seems I spray the entire plant including fruit, is that right?
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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 1/1/2024, 5:33 pm

Tomatoes this morning, still on the patio.  They'll go into the bed in eight days' time.  Can't believe how big they've got in just 13 days! Smile  There are rootlets trying to poke out, all over the fabric.  They get a bit wilty on hot afternoons so I'm keeping the saucers watered (great to be able to see them from my kitchen window) whilst trying to give them some time with no water, just to try and prevent root rot.  Can't wait to get them into my MM and not have to worry about the water level quite so much!
Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2042
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Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Empty Banana peel soup

Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 1/3/2024, 11:18 pm

I got my first lot of waste from the juice bar this week, and yesterday put some of it into the overly-carbonitious compartment, as well as some grass clippings.  Temp responded overnight but not yet high enough.  One problem with getting the nitrogen level of this material up where it needs to be is the compartment is nearly full!

This afternoon I made a "soup" from some of the juice bar's banana peels, taking advantage of the fact that the compost is also not yet wet enough -- I've been proceeding cautiously on the moisture front, not wanting to overdo it.  I figured this was a way to get the peel more ready for the microbes and also easier to spread through this 4.25 cubic ft of material.  The consistency didn't end up pourable, and the peels didn't chop up as much as I'd envisaged, but I'm sure it'll be helpful all the same.

DH wasn't very impressed, but I told him not to be so squeamish!! Laughing

Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2044

This is 2.5lb of peel with 20 ounces of water.
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Post  sanderson 1/6/2024, 2:21 pm

Nice looking tomatoes (as the rest of us are still looking at seed catalogs study Razz

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Post  OhioGardener 1/6/2024, 3:11 pm

sanderson wrote:Nice looking tomatoes (as the rest of us are still looking at seed catalogs  study  Razz

Or, to put is more precisely, looking at seed catalogs while it is snowing....
Sad

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 1/6/2024, 5:33 pm

OhioGardener wrote:
sanderson wrote:Nice looking tomatoes (as the rest of us are still looking at seed catalogs  study  Razz

Or, to put is more precisely, looking at seed catalogs while it is snowing....
Sad
Thanks! Smile  They're actually flowering, which blows my mind (much earlier than last year).  Hopefully they won't be too upset by the move into the bed this coming week!
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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 1/14/2024, 11:02 pm

I trench-planted the tomatoes in the bed last Wednesday, as planned, and then waited expectantly for them to stand up overnight like last season's ones did.

Stoobie mistake.  These ones are quite a bit older than last year's were at transplant, and they didn't actually want to stand up.  So it turned into a bit of a "learning experience" Wink 

I waited 48 hours, then shoved some rounded plastic containers under the stems thinking to give them a bit of a hint.  Over the following days I started seeing bends in some stems, so continued being patient.  I had cages all ready to go in once they were more vertical.

But the beans next door are so huge and flopping over their neighbours, really retarding the growth of the younger beans from sowing #2.  I decided a line strung across the bed would at least solve that problem, but unless I got the tomato cages installed too, it was clear where the beans were going to flop next!

So this afternoon was the day the tomatoes got significantly more vertical!  Kind of "tomato orthodontry" Wink  
Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2046

Frankly it's a relief to have them in the bed and fully installed.  This is a day I've been working towards for more than two months.  They all have flowers so I guess within a month I'll start to get some fruit! bounce 

As for the beans, I picked the first pod this morning, way earlier than last season, and there's an incredible number of pods on those puppies.  If nothing bad happens (in contrast to last season) I am in for one heck of a harvest Very Happy
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Post  sanderson 1/15/2024, 3:24 pm

Back when I used to trench tomatoes, I laid the little pots on their sides for a couple of days to let the plants naturally bend upwards. Then I could judge how to dig their trenches.

For bush beans, I had to "corral" them to keep them in their squares, or even in the beds.  $1 cheap, low garden fencing from the Dollar Store, or trellis netting on 4 poles.  I even made a 2-hayer horizontal trellis with strings so they would grow vertically.  Pole beans will wrap around vertical supports. To wash and store the "string" trellis, I had to take apart the PVC frame.

Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Bean_d13

Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Bean_h16

Someone else's nice horizontal trellis.
Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Trelli41

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 1/15/2024, 11:13 pm

sanderson wrote:Back when I used to trench tomatoes, I laid the little pots on their sides for a couple of days to let the plants naturally bend upwards. Then I could judge how to dig their trenches.
Now that qualifies as a Great Idea! (= obvious once you see it, and elegantly simple)  Will definitely do this next season.

One followup question: how do you water them during those couple of days?  (I was watering from the bottom, in the saucers.)  Or did you keep them in the shade?  Or?


For bush beans, I had to "corral" them to keep them in their squares, or even in the beds.  $1 cheap, low garden fencing from the Dollar Store, or trellis netting on 4 poles.
Another great idea.  Not fully applicable in my case, but I can probably adapt and apply Smile
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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 1/27/2024, 4:41 pm

I thought it was about time I shared a current photo of the garden. . .

Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2047

On the left we have two plantings of beans (two squares each); the earlier ones (that you can see) are producing at about the rate of 10 pods per day currently.  The latter ones are taking a bit of time to really get going, I suspect because they're living in the shade of the older ones and also now, the tomatoes.

The tomatoes have really got into high gear since moving into the bed just 2.5 weeks ago.  Multiple fruits developing on all plants and flowers all over the place.  As with the beans, these are not at all similar to the poor wee things that grew in the bed last year!  (Same seeds in both cases)  I can't believe how tall the beans are this year, and harvesting feels like exploration in a jungle than the genteel operation it was last year.  To be frank, I'm looking forward to having a trellis for beans to climb up!  As for the tomatoes, I wasn't harvesting those until late March, so to be perhaps just a couple of weeks away from the first ones is amazing.

In the row to the right of the tomatoes we have a single beetroot plant, which I'll harvest this coming week, and a bunch of very young basils.  And in the front of the bed we have the strawberries, which are doing a lot better these days.  In late December I finally bit the bullet and started pinching out flowers on the plants which needed to get better into leaf.  A couple of weeks of that and they were looking a lot better, and are producing more than they were prior.
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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 1/30/2024, 3:51 pm

Interesting comparison between this season and last for me: in the past two weeks, since I started harvesting the beans, I've had more than in the entire growing season last year.

I knew things were different, but this is stunning!  Talk about a reward for my hard work last autumn making compost Very Happy 
carrot
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Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Empty Compost storage bin, improved

Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 2/6/2024, 11:36 pm

A couple of months ago I got an idea for improving my compost storage bin.  The chicken wire "door" never really worked very well, and I had a pallet lying around which was not good enough to use as one of the walls when I constructed the bin, but not poor enough condition to throw out.

Being the same size as the others it was ideal as a door.  Why not cut it in thirds, throw some hinges on and some hooks on the other side?  Hey presto, doors that would actually be strong enough to resist the compost weight and easy to operate.

Having never worked with hinges, "throw some hinges on" turned out to be raaaaather more time and effort than I'd thought! Embarassed  But eventually I prevailed, and voilà:
Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2048

I used it for the first time today.  The batch which I collected during December, and had so many problems getting to cook properly, is finally ready:
Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2049

Little by little my gardening infrastructure is coming together!
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Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Empty Bush beans pruning

Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 2/8/2024, 12:07 am

This evening I took my guts in my hands and pruned the oldest 6 bush beans.  They've massively slowed down in production, and I read about this somewhere last year but never needed to do it, so this was my first attempt at it.

I gave them a seaweed watering this morning, and again after I'd finished.  I'll give them a nitrogen-rich watering tomorrow and the next day.  Apparently that, and time, is all that's required.  Waiting and seeing.....

Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2051Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2050
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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 2/8/2024, 4:07 pm

A couple of better photos of the cut-down beans this morning, without the evening sunlight:

Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2052Kiwi's SFG Adventure - Page 7 Pxl_2053

No wilting this morning, and we're forecast cloudy weather today and tomorrow.
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Post  sanderson 2/15/2024, 10:35 pm

Seaweed or more nitrogen is not needed if compost is used. Plants can only uptake a certain amount of nutrients.

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