Square Foot Gardening Forum
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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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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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New Guy from zone 10a Toplef10New Guy from zone 10a 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.

New Guy from zone 10a I22gcj10New Guy from zone 10a 14dhcg10

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New Guy from zone 10a

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New Guy from zone 10a Empty New Guy from zone 10a

Post  HickSpanic 7/22/2023, 2:38 pm

At least I think Chino, Ca is in zone 10a. Anyway relatively new to gardening only about six years, mostly error punctuated with miraculous success, then errors. I think I have killed more plants than I have grown, but love knowing where my food comes from. I hope to learn tips tricks and soil conditioning from this forum.
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New Guy from zone 10a Empty Re: New Guy from zone 10a

Post  sanderson 7/22/2023, 3:13 pm

Welcome to the Forum from Fresno, CA! glad you\'re here You are somewhere around Zone 9B or 10A. Your summer are like, hotter than hot. With overhead shade cloth, E-Z Straw Mulch and water, you can grow almost anything. Well, maybe not bananas rock on .

The SFG method does not use dirt. The exception is when someone physically needs taller beds. Then we recommend that the lower fill be inert like washed sand or sandy loam top soil. That way the overall height of the bed fill will not shrink. The 6-7" of Mel's Mix is set on top of it. The 2nd or 3rd Edition of ALL NEW Square Foot Gardening is invaluable. Sometimes libraries will carry a copy. The 3rd Edition is about $16 from Amazon.

Finding real composts will probably be the hardest part of sourcing the ingredients. Malibu Bu's Blend: E B Stone Organic Compost, Worm Castings and Compost Chicken Manure; G&B Purely Compost; sometime Ace Hardware has its brand of compost; Dr. Earth's Organic Compost. Dr. Earth has about 20-25% wood and fibrous material that has to be screened.

Coarse or super coarse vermiculite needs to be ordered online.

Compressed peat moss can usually be found at big box stores or nurseries.

A 4 cu. ft. bag of coarse vermiculite, 4 cu. ft. of bagged composts, and a little less than a 3 cu ft bale of peat moss (4.5 cu ft when fluffed) will fill a little less than 24 sq. ft. 6" deep.

For "desert" areas, I recommend overhead shade cloth when it gets above 95*F. Also, plain wood chips on the 3' wide aisles and around the perimeter of the garden. While green grass creates to coolest microclimate, plain wood chips creates a neutral microclimate. Rocks, gravel, cement, bricks create a hotter microclimate. I also recommend using 2" x 8" lumber for the beds as wood is a good insulator against the heat. When the Mel's Mix is mulched with E-Z Straw, the Mel's Mix will be about 80*F 2" down. Nice and cool for the roots and MM.

If you have any questions, please ask.

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New Guy from zone 10a Empty Re: New Guy from zone 10a

Post  HickSpanic 7/22/2023, 5:12 pm

Thank-you for the response. Most of my garden boxes I built 2X2X6. I have a a couple places in the yard where I compost all my clippings and kitchen scraps. I let the compost cook for a year in a big black box made from tin and wood, kinda like the house cool hand luke had to sit in. I chop up straw with a weed whacker in a blue water barrel, that way it chops up very fine. It worked great in keeping the moisture in the soil, but the down side is earwigs and pill bugs. Earwigs consumed entire seedlings in a night had to replant 2-3 times! 

We had a very strange temperate spring, haven't seen it like that since the 1980s, cool, cloudy, foggy, then BAM at the end of June, 100 degrees with no relief. Oddly that temperate spring seemed to almost hinder vigorous growth of all the plants. Currently full sun, off the charts UV index, good for the plants I guess, but not the Gardner. By 8:30am Im done working outside. Cheers.
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New Guy from zone 10a Empty Re: New Guy from zone 10a

Post  markqz 7/22/2023, 7:19 pm

HickSpanic wrote:I chop up straw with a weed whacker in a blue water barrel, that way it chops up very fine.
When I tried that technique, I mostly got a face full of debris.  Sad
HickSpanic wrote:It worked great in keeping the moisture in the soil, but the down side is earwigs and pill bugs. Earwigs consumed entire seedlings in a night had to replant 2-3 times!
My feeling is that you can reduce their numbers by the regular application of Sluggo Plus. But I start almost almost all my plants in pots for just this reason. If I try to plant the seedlings directly, the rollie-pollies or the earwigs eat them first.
HickSpanic wrote:We had a very strange temperate spring, haven't seen it like that since the 1980s, cool, cloudy, foggy, then BAM at the end of June, 100 degrees with no relief. Oddly that temperate spring seemed to almost hinder vigorous growth of all the plants.
We get this kind of weather every year down here. We call it "June Gloom" or "May Gray" because no one's thought of anything that rhymes with "April". It definitely hinders plant growth. It's a reminder that plants don't just need warmth, they also need sunshine.

Happy Gardening!
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New Guy from zone 10a Empty Re: New Guy from zone 10a

Post  sanderson 7/23/2023, 4:28 am

What Mark said about using Sluggo Plus so the sowbugs don't mow down the seedlings. I lightly sprinkle it on the Mel's Mix, and then on the E-Z Straw when it's hot enough to apply it.

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New Guy from zone 10a Empty Re: New Guy from zone 10a

Post  No_Such_Reality 8/10/2023, 6:16 pm

HickSpanic wrote:

We had a very strange temperate spring, haven't seen it like that since the 1980s, cool, cloudy, foggy, then BAM at the end of June, 100 degrees with no relief. Oddly that temperate spring seemed to almost hinder vigorous growth of all the plants. Currently full sun, off the charts UV index, good for the plants I guess, but not the Gardner. By 8:30am Im done working outside. Cheers.
Welcome.  It was a rough Spring for gardening this year.  Cloudy, abnormally cold, then as you said, 100F with a UV at 12 on a 10 point scale.

If you can keep them wet, Bananas grow like weeds here in the summer.  I have mine in a cut out on the the side yard concrete that previously had a tree that the drought killed.  Nice 8 inch layer of mulch and drip allows me to drop about an 1/2” of water on that 5x5 area twice a week.
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New Guy from zone 10a Empty Re: New Guy from zone 10a

Post  Scorpio Rising 8/10/2023, 8:46 pm

Hi, HickSpanic!  I am in Ohio, and have very little practical tips for you just getting started.  I really do highly recommend Mel Bartholomew’s books, especially All New Square Foot Gardening 2nd or 3rd edition…I bet your local library has them to take for a test drive.  

Here, we are entering the end of the season.  You are just beginning some things!  I have yet to get a big mater….lots of cherries, though!  

What do you like to eat?  Take notes—this thing changes year to year, depends on the weather, pest pressure. Etc!

Looking forward to seeing your journey!  glad you\'re here
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New Guy from zone 10a Empty Re: New Guy from zone 10a

Post  HickSpanic 8/16/2023, 11:53 am

Scorpio Rising wrote:  

What do you like to eat?  Take notes—this thing changes year to year, depends on the weather, pest pressure. Etc!

Looking forward to seeing your journey!  glad you\'re here
I just planted about six different winter squash varieties in the soil that had all the Anasazi beans growing. Lots of nitrogen in the soil, I hope left over from the beans. The squash plants are sprouting like a VCR on fast forward! So yeah, squash is one of my staples.
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New Guy from zone 10a Empty Re: New Guy from zone 10a

Post  HickSpanic 8/16/2023, 11:56 am

No_Such_Reality wrote:


If you can keep them wet, Bananas grow like weeds here in the summer.  I have mine in a cut out on the the side yard concrete that previously had a tree that the drought killed.  Nice 8 inch layer of mulch and drip allows me to drop about an 1/2” of water on that 5x5 area twice a week.


No kidding?!?! I think I will give it a try.
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