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Lessons learned from 1st Spring in SFG Toplef10Lessons learned from 1st Spring in SFG 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.

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Lessons learned from 1st Spring in SFG

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Lessons learned from 1st Spring in SFG Empty Lessons learned from 1st Spring in SFG

Post  Judge Kemp 6/20/2010, 9:38 pm

(1) Well, SGFing it doesn't seem to have stopped the critters much. I've had plenty of insect damage this year--more than I ever anticipated.

(2) The big one: Working with store-bought compost, and never actually getting a full 5 different types of compost into the beds, I was short on nutrients. Let me reiterate: I was VERY short on nutrients.

  • My carrots should be mature, but are still pretty small--not edible small.
  • My Kohlrabi never matured.
  • My lettuces did OKAY--not great, but manageable enough.
  • Swiss Chard never did anything.
  • Beets never grew an actual beet. Just greens.
  • Peas are doing okay, but won't know for another week or so if they give good harvest.
  • Radishes struggled to mature much--especially the larger ones (whites)
  • Mesclun never took off--got next to nothing there
  • Spinach never did anything
(3) Summer crops: SLOOOOW so far. I need to go out and supplement with an organic fertilizer I think. The tomatoes, peppers, brussels, etc just aren't getting going much. Cukes are not going strong in SFG and melon is not growing either.

So, I love SFG but wish for this first year I would have supplemented with organic fertilizer. The boxes needed it, though hopefully they won't next year when I get my own compost in there.

Excellent growing conditions here in Des Moines area--lots of precip, no frost dates to be really concerned about (only one--and I could cover for it), and lots of nice sunlight and warm weather sprinkled in with the precip.
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Judge Kemp

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Age : 44
Location : Zone 5a --Central Iowa

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Post  jsavolt 6/20/2010, 10:31 pm

I would love to hear what you used for your mix. Did you use peat and vermiculite? Even if you don't have 5 items for compost, I can 't imagine that would affect your outcome that much. Are you in full sun?
I've been doing SFGing for over six years and I can't help but think maybe there are other factors here. Beets not getting a beet? Could this be due to not enough sun? Spinach and swiss chard is usually easy to grow. White radish... mine went to seed before I got a white radish. I think this was due to too much water and not enough sun. We had rain for weeks in WI. I planted more and hope for better luck. You can add more compost to your squares now and not wait until next year. I use lama poo in my garden and it works great. Any lama farms around you?
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Post  Judge Kemp 6/20/2010, 11:53 pm

@jsavolt wrote:I would love to hear what you used for your mix. Did you use peat and vermiculite? Even if you don't have 5 items for compost, I can 't imagine that would affect your outcome that much. Are you in full sun?
I've been doing SFGing for over six years and I can't help but think maybe there are other factors here. Beets not getting a beet? Could this be due to not enough sun? Spinach and swiss chard is usually easy to grow. White radish... mine went to seed before I got a white radish. I think this was due to too much water and not enough sun. We had rain for weeks in WI. I planted more and hope for better luck. You can add more compost to your squares now and not wait until next year. I use lama poo in my garden and it works great. Any lama farms around you?

jsa--Oh I won't be stopping or giving up. As soon as I clean out a few squares I'll be replanting a few things, but first I will be amending with a compost and fertilizer mix. I used peat and vermiculite and the conditions were good for growth.

I've got a few landscape boxes that I've built up with strong soil over a few years and those are going great. I'm thinking I'm just short on some nutrients with my compost--not a big deal, but it looks to be an issue with nutrients based on how my other non-SFG plants are going.

And on the bright side, I've already had half a dozen or more salads out of it, and I'm just as excited about SFG now as I was a few months ago--just wish I would have amended a bit more for those Spring crops.
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Post  plb 6/21/2010, 4:34 am

The quality of the compost is really critical. It took me a while to find some "pure" compost, instead of what shops call compost but is really a mix of soil, soil additives and a small quantity of compost. I used horse manure, chicken manure, worm castings, green compost and wool compost. Everything has been growing wonderfully - lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, peas, tomatoes, peppers, chillis, aubergines, green beans, bok choy, mizuna, coriander, basil, carrots, zucchini, they're all doing great! If anything, too well, for instance my broccoli which is supposed to take one square is covering 6 squares...
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Post  jsavolt 6/21/2010, 9:27 am

You are so right, soil is so important! I guess the good thing is that with SF gardening it will be easier to amend your soil than with a large row garden. Good luck!
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Post  Judge Kemp 6/21/2010, 12:14 pm

@jsavolt wrote:You are so right, soil is so important! I guess the good thing is that with SF gardening it will be easier to amend your soil than with a large row garden. Good luck!

I've got my own compost going as well this year, so that will help give me some good compost that I know is very balanced in nutrients.
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