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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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First SFG - actually first any kind of garden

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BackyardBirdGardner
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marc-in-pa
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First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Empty Bacon?

Post  ander217 6/17/2010, 7:48 am

@marc-in-pa wrote:
I had a dream the other day about making a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich from the garden. These little boxes of greenery are getting in my head. Now if only there was a bacon plant!

I have some pigweeds coming up in my row garden. Would those work? First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Icon_smile

Love your garden. Thanks for sharing your photos.
ander217
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First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Empty Tragedy hits

Post  marc-in-pa 7/24/2010, 1:54 pm

We came back after a two week vacation in July to find the garden exploded. The zucchini and yellow squash just took over the place. And produced some great veggies, but crowded out everything adjacent.

First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Garden10


First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Casszu11

My daughter Cassie with one of the many zuccs that could substitute for little league baseball bats.

On the down side... the peas never got higher than a 10 inches on the trellis and rain out of steam. Got about 10 snap peas at the end of the day. The musk mellon got powdery mildew, most leaves are shrivelly, and have only produced 2 viable fruit. The 3 broccoli plants produced small heads (will need to plant earlier next year) and the cauliflower failed.

The biggest downer...the zucc and yellow squash plants fell victim to squash vine borers. I had to pull all but one squash plant this morning. I'll know what to look for next year but it's very depressing. The garden looks pretty bare.

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Tomato plants are still looking good and I have a lonely pepper plant doing well. The strawberries in year 1 are not very hardy, but I understand that's typical and they come back strong in year 2.

Now that I have some room, I'm looking ahead to the fall. I hear lettuce and bush beans should be planted now for September - October. Any other crops that people have success with planting now for the fall?

I also have a question... I'm letting my lettuce plants go to seed and they are starting to flower. (As an aside... I was pretty surprised with how verticle the lettuce got. I was expecting them to grow out and not up!)

First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Garden13

Could I take the seed from these plants (romaine, boston crunch) when they are ready and plant them for the fall? Or am I just better off starting from seed packets?

Thanks for any advice!
marc-in-pa
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Post  quiltbea 7/24/2010, 3:48 pm

Marc....It depends on whether or not the lettuce is non-hybrid. Any crop that is 'hybrid' of has 'F1' on the package should not be saved for seeds. It won't breed true.

As for more fall crops, I'm in Maine and I've sown cauliflower, broccoli and lettuce seeds in my raised beds and carrots, spinach, and radishes in my A-frame in the last few days.
I don't know how well they will do before frost, but I thought I'd try them to see if it works. This is only my 2nd yr as an SFG and I never had a fall crop last year.
If it doesn't work I only wasted a few seeds. If it works, I've got more fresh foods in the fall to enjoy.

You could do the same. Try sowing a few blocks of this and that in the fall crop varieties, like I have above. All you'll lose is a few seeds.
Good luck.
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Post  Megan 7/24/2010, 5:04 pm

Hi Marc,

Sorry to hear about your borer problems. What a great looking garden!

I am going to try re-planting some of my spring crops, along with some new things. I don't expect it all to work, but I'm curious to see what I end up with. Also, I probably don't have squares for all of this... will end up having to pick and choose!

  • radishes (I tried planting these about a month ago, they sprouted but died, I think overcome by flea beetles)
  • lettuce
  • peas
  • kale
  • cabbage (the one I planted this spring is still about 6" tall!)
  • rapini
  • cauliflower
  • celery
  • japanese giant red mustard
  • garlic (I hope!)

I planted some pumpkins over the 4th of July weekend in a small container and will be transplanting them into the SFG today or tomorrow.

My lettuce went to seed this summer but it never got as big as yours. One of my radishes did, though... it got HUGE, about 4 feet tall, with some very pretty flowers! Very Happy
Megan
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Post  marc-in-pa 7/24/2010, 5:52 pm

Thanks Bea and Megan!

This is the bugger that attacked my zuccs and squash:

Squash Vine Borer

The larvae burrow into the stem turning it to mush. I saw an adult buzzing around before I left for vacation and thought 'what an interesting insect.' Live and learn!

Before that, I was getting about a third of the zuccs afflicted with blossom rot, which did not bother me too much since we were getting enough veggies for the family, friends and colleagues in good standing.

Have you had trouble with end rot? I read something about too much nitrogen being a factor.

Thanks again for the fall planting advice! All of my previous plantings have been transplants so I'm looking forward to growing from seed for the fall.
marc-in-pa
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Post  Megan 7/24/2010, 6:10 pm

I had some trouble with BER (blossom end rot) on my zucchino, I lost 5-6 fruits to it. Someone here very kindly linked me to a page on it (which I'm now going to have to dig for!) but basically, in squash it is usually a calcium problem. I ground up a bunch of Tums and scattered them around the squash square (plus adjacent areas, on the theory that the root system is bigger than a square), and it's been fine since.

My biggest bug has been the cucumber beetle and squash bug. I saw the squash bug early on, my husband thought it was a stink bug and nothing to worry about, gah! The cucumber beetles have scarred my squash fruits but they remain edible. We finally caved and started spraying with Neem oil.

I forgot to add before, that I also want to try some parsnips. I will probably put those in after my first square of carrots comes out.
Megan
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Post  quiltbea 7/24/2010, 6:41 pm

I've never seen a squash borer but I read that if you suspect one, make a slit in the base of the vine so you can dig out the borer and your vine will continue to grow. I can't say that's true from experience, but its worth a try.

Yes, fall crops are easier than spring ones, I understand. Since I'm new at this, too, I'll find out for sure.
The idea is you can sow seeds directly in the garden because its warm enuf for germination and by the time they are big enuf to produce, the fall coolness is arriving so they don't go to seed.
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First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Empty Garden recovery

Post  marc-in-pa 8/21/2010, 6:07 pm

After needing to rip out zucc and yellow squash in late July due to vine borers, and getting some great advice from you SFGers, I planted 3 types of lettuce (Baby Romaine, Black Seeded Simpson, and Red Romaine) from seed. The planting dates were staggered so it doesn't all come due at the same time.
First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Img_1110
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After talking with a guy at a local nursery, he suggested replanting zucchini, which I did from seed.
First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Img_1111

Notice that the zucchini on the right is about triple the size of the zucchini on the left. In the places where I planted zucchini where there was lettuce growing before, the zucc plants are taking off. In the places where I replanted zucchini in the same place, they are taking their time. I fertilized the areas where zuccs were replanted in the same spot to see if that helps. Interesting to see such a difference. Goes to support the case for consistently rotating your crops.

The red pepper plant, planted in May, is just now starting to get busy. The one pepper that's just been hanging around for months is now maturing and starting to turn red, and 2 more peppers are on the way and it's starting to flower on all its branches.
First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Img_1112

Replanted peas. This time from seed. They seem to be doing well. The transplants planted in spring got to about 10 inches on the trellis, these are already up to about 2 ft.

First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Img_1113

The tomato plants have twisted themselves into one massive bush. This is 3 cherry tomato plants and 2 beefsteaks coexisting:
First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Img_1114

The cherry tomatoes have been prolific! It's hard to keep up with them. The beefsteaks have been a bit of a disappointment though. We've had 3 nice tomatoes so far and we have about 4 more that are forming. Talking with other gardeners in the area, I've been told that our hot weather this summer is to blame. Something to do with how they don't flower when we have consistently high temperatures. There are some new flowers starting to come out on the beefsteaks so maybe we'll have a happy ending.

Thanks again for all of your advice along the way! I have no doubt that I will continue to need it.

Cheers!
marc-in-pa
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Post  Chopper 8/21/2010, 6:49 pm

Wow. Gorgeous garden.
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Post  Old Hippie 8/21/2010, 10:24 pm

Wow, what a lovely garden. I just read this entire thread.

The fence, gate and trellis are fabulous. Maybe you could post some more close-ups of the way the twigs for the trellis are joined at the corners and some more instructions on how to make this one.

I am so sorry you had to rip out your plants. It sucks when that happens. I have never grown much zucchini as my family didn't like it much but even when I did grow it, two plants still provided enough for us and half the people in church. People started avoiding me! LOL! The more you pick it, the more it grows and the fruit get super big just overnight. I liked to pick them when they were about 4 to 6 inches long.

Tomatoes will go completely nuts if they get too much nitrogen. They will produce lots of leaves but not much fruit. They like additions of compost and peat but also benefit from added fertilizer that has a bit higher middle number. Did you use cages to keep them more or less corralled? Some types need to be pruned. Last year I didn't prune mine enough. They outgrew the cages and also had so much fruit they actually broke some of the cages. There are indeterminate which grow tall and require stakes or a trellis for growing on. They usually have a heavier yield than determinate or semi-determinate.
Pruning increases yield in indeterminate varieties. The main stalk or "leader" will keep growing until frost and will have several branches growing off it that develop flowers and fruit. After a short time, right in the "v" where the branches join the main stalk another small branch will start. That is what you need to prune out for good tomato development. If you leave it, it will grow into another branch and take energy away from fruit production.

Determinate or bush type do well in a cage. The leader on bush type or determinate will produce flowers and fruit. Semi-determinate are an in between type. They grow upright as well as bushy and sturdy and should be staked or caged. Their stems are usually thicker than the other two and have crinkly leaves. Neither of these should be pruned.

This info is pretty much plagiarized from my Lois Hole Tomato Favorites book. It is my tomato 'bible' and has been super helpful for me.

All the best with your fall garden.

GK
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First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Empty Home-made Cherry Wood Trellis

Post  marc-in-pa 8/26/2010, 12:08 am

Hello there Hip,

Thanks for the info about the tomatoes! I'll be on the lookout next year for the "v" when it starts to form next year. To answer your question, I did not cage them. I set up two fence posts and wove 16 gauge wire through the holes at every 12 inches or so. With the fencing around, it served to provide good support when they where young and containment, for a while, when they decided to run wild later on.

@Old Hippie wrote:The fence, gate and trellis are fabulous. Maybe you could post some more close-ups of the way the twigs for the trellis are joined at the corners and some more instructions on how to make this one.

The trellis was relatively easy to put together. I took branches from a dead black cherry tree. Black cherry wood has a nice core that's solid but the branches are a little bendy. Found two branches that were about 6 feet tall that were about the same in thickness for the verticle supports. And cut down to size a bunch of branches for the horizontals. Where possible, I used the y sections formed from cutting off branches off the verticles and used wire to secure the horizontal branches. (There are pictures below.) I just twisted the wire around using plyers and bent it back to avoid potential scratching when working around the trellis. Where there wasn't a y section, I drilled in a long galvinized screw and left enough sticking out to rest a horizontal branch on and again twisted the wire around to secure the horizontal branches. Once the wood was put together, I strung the nylon cord at every 2 inches and at each level wraped the cord around. I tried to keep the tension pretty tight as I was doing this. Like stringing a guitar. I went from the top down and looped around from the bottom rung back up again to the second rung and tied off. It does help with training the pea plants when they are smaller when you can push them between the two sets of strings at the bottom.

This is important... I left about 18 inches of wood on the verticle branches below the bottom rung to use as stakes and sharpened the ends. I sunk the trellis dead center in a SFG square on the north side of the garden. It took a little force to get it down into the dirt and then clay below the soil mix. I secured one of the branches directly to the box with a screw.

You could say that this last part is site-specific... since I built a critter fence directly into the boxes, I secured the top right to one of the fence posts for more stability. You might want to consider installing a 2" x 2" x 8' piece of wood, cut down to size, into the corner of your box and secure the one side at the top as well if it doesn't seem stable. That's about it. Hope this all makes sense. Feel free to ask any follow ups.

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First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Empty Fall Garden Update - Question about Pepper Plant

Post  marc-in-pa 9/19/2010, 12:51 pm

The second round of peas, planted in late July, have been busy. (The first round grew about 10 inches high on the trellis, produced 10 pods, and shriveled away.) The second round is now growing about 10 inches ABOVE the trellis and going.

First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Img_1210

It's starting to flower and hopefully we'll have a side dish or two before the season is out!

Round 2 lettuce, from seed, has been excellent for the most part. Black seeded simpson and red leafed romaine have taken off. Baby romaine was finicky. I'd say only 15% of the seeds planted actually poked their heads out of the ground.

First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Img_1211

The replanted zucchini has produced 2 zuccs and there may be 3 or 4 with potential. But the whole lot has been afflicted with powdery mildew, which also killed all my mellon plants in July. I've been treating them every 4 days or so with a baking powder and dish soap spray but it's mostly a losing battle.

First SFG - actually first any kind of garden - Page 2 Img_1212

Question:

It's now late September and my lonely red pepper plant planted in May is just now starting to busy. I have about 3 peppers that are starting to approach medium size, and 12 others that range from little buds to two or three inches long. Given the amount of growing season left, should I clip off the smaller ones to allow the plant to concentrate on the larger ones?

Thanks for any advice!
marc-in-pa
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Post  Megan 9/19/2010, 1:13 pm

My peppers are only now getting busy, too. I'm just letting them go.

(I also spotted another watermelon, about pea-sized!!)
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 12/25/2010, 11:26 pm

You haven't updated for awhile, but hey, I'm just joining tonight so I hope you see this. Your garden design is beautiful to say the least. I would love to do something similar when I redo mine this spring. Great job and many years of success!
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Post  slewi 12/28/2010, 12:37 pm

So now that we are in a deep freeze here in PA, and now that you've had time to ruminate on the past season, what are your plans for the spring? Any changes to the design? Do you plan to do anything differently?
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Post  marc-in-pa 12/29/2010, 9:40 pm

Thanks so much BackyardBirdGardner for your kind words and good luck with your redesign! I'd love to see before and after pictures.

Slewi, looking back on 2010, I have to say that starting a Square Foot Garden was a big highlight. For this city boy there’s something magical about going into the backyard and bringing back a fresh salad! It was also a surprise how much interest others took in watching the veggies grow.

There were a few low lights. My new nemesis in life is the squash vine borer. I never knew hatred for an insect before this little sucker took out all of my zuccs and yellow squash. Powdery mildew is another affliction that I had a losing battle with. I’ll be on the lookout for both this year.

In terms of a design modification, I am thinking of making the fencing detachable on the long ends. I wandered away from Mel's very sound advice and did not make all of the squares within 2 feet of an aisle. I'm 6’ 1” so I figured I could reach into the third square against the fence from the middle aisle without too much trouble. WRONG. It was literally a pain to tend to those areas, especially with growing plants in the way.

I will try growing a few new things this year… not entirely sure what they will be yet. Coming back will be tomatoes (cherry/beefsteak), zucchini/squash, peas, strawberries, and lots of lettuce. Not trying again this year: broccoli, cauliflower, corn. Might give cantaloupe another try. It was an abysmal failure first time out. I’ll likely plant more pepper plants and be more patient with them.

How about you? What's coming to your garden in 2011?
marc-in-pa
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 12/29/2010, 11:27 pm

I know this wasn't directed at me, specifically, but I am excited enough for '11, I hope you don't mind me chiming in anyway...

How about you? What's coming to your garden in 2011?

I don't feel like a "beginner" since I had one last year. So, I am building from that in '11.

I will install 66 squares. A 2x9 along my house for verticals. And, a 4x12 for salad veggies for the family. In the verticals will be 2 Cherry Tomatoes, 4 Beefsteaks, 4 Pepper varieties, 4 Cucumbers, and 4 Beans. In the garden veggies will be 18 Lettuce squares with 2 varieties, 10 Carrots with 2 varieties, 3 Spinach, 3 Snap Peas on a trellis like yours, 4 Yukon Gold Potatoes, 1 Radish, 1 Onion, and some Marigolds for color where I don't try something else like Broccoli. Lettuce, Carrots, Spinach, Peas, and Radishes (yes, only the one square) will be staggered plantings.

I'm sure I am forgetting something, but now that I know what I want, and where, I am looking forward to buying some seeds and getting my boxes built just in time to plant. So far, I feel ahead of schedule.

Looking forward to what others have to say about their plans for '11.
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Post  marc-in-pa 12/31/2010, 12:02 am

You've got some AMAZING photos on your flickr feed BackyardBirdGardner. I can see where you got your username. Perhaps you could help me with identifying a bird from a shot I took in my backyard:

Bluebird

I only saw this bird once in 6 years here in Pittsburgh. It was polite enough to wait for me to get my camera before it took off to parts unknown.

And your SFG plan sounds great! When my garden grows up I think it will want to be like yours.
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 12/31/2010, 12:14 am

@marc-in-pa wrote:You've got some AMAZING photos on your flickr feed BackyardBirdGardner. I can see where you got your username. Perhaps you could help me with identifying a bird from a shot I took in my backyard:

Bluebird

I only saw this bird once in 6 years here in Pittsburgh. It was polite enough to wait for me to get my camera before it took off to parts unknown.

And your SFG plan sounds great! When my garden grows up I think it will want to be like yours.

You have it right.... Eastern Bluebird. And, a nice shot yourself. Bluebirds love mealworms. They are kind of gross to work with, imo, and I have never done so. And, as a result, I don't have a picture of one yet, either. However, they are very frequent around here. I know a guy about 2 hours west of me that practically keeps them as pets! He feeds them so well, they come around when he comes outside. And, they let him take some VERY close up shots of them. They even bring the young around so frequently, he names them individually!

Shameless plug warning: I have several posts on my blog about attracting wild birds. I aim for maxx diversity. Landscaping for them, feeding them, etc. I think the landscaping part goes hand in hand with gardening. So, I plan to merge the two together on the blog....with lots of pics as time goes on.

The point is...I have a ton to learn about both. But, I have also learned a ton already. I plan to share my experiences, and mistakes, with anyone that cares to listen in hopes of saving a few people some steps. Surely, someone will get something out of it....if only entertainment. And, it's something I will be doing anyway, so it doesn't add much time.

Thanks for such a vote of confidence. It goes a long way.
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Post  LaFee 12/31/2010, 3:20 am

I'm afraid to even look at your blog!

One of the interesting aspects of relocating to Europe is getting acquainted with an entirely new set of birds in the back yard. I have chickadees, but I really, really miss my cardinals.
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Post  camprn 12/31/2010, 7:34 am

LaFee, for you, I just waved to the pair of cardinals that visit in the morning. Very Happy
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Post  Lavender Debs 12/31/2010, 8:34 am

@camprn wrote:LaFee, for you, I just waved to the pair of cardinals that visit in the morning. Very Happy
Wish there was a like button, nothing to add but here I am.
Deborah....whoo-hoo Huskies!
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