Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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What's your trick? Toplef10What's your trick? 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.

What's your trick? I22gcj10What's your trick? 14dhcg10

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What's your trick?

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walshevak
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Post  marsinger4 4/21/2011, 8:43 am

So, I mentioned in a previous post that I'm new to edible gardening. Aside from a few herbs, my gardening has been limited to aesthetics (I can just imagine the looks on the faces of the HOA peeps if I tried growing corn at my house!!!). And I know there must be a trick to this vegetable gardening stuff--I just know it! It can't really be just hit or miss, or just a matter of praying to the garden gods. So what's your trick? I'm sure some of you have one, who have been doing this successfully over the past years. This anxious newbie would love to be in on the secret! Very Happy
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Post  Blackrose 4/21/2011, 8:48 am

At the risk of sounding cheeky, my trick is following the Mel's Square Foot Gardening method to a T. Do what Mel says in his All New Square Foot Gardening book and you will have a bountiful harvest. I think a lot of other members on the forum would agree with me. Very Happy
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 4/21/2011, 9:08 am

Blackrose wrote:At the risk of sounding cheeky, my trick is following the Mel's Square Foot Gardening method to a T. Do what Mel says in his All New Square Foot Gardening book and you will have a bountiful harvest. I think a lot of other members on the forum would agree with me. Very Happy

Yup. That's "the secret." Now, go tell anyone interested in also knowing it. Wink
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Post  boffer 4/21/2011, 10:25 am

marsinger4 wrote:...And I know there must be a trick to this vegetable gardening stuff--I just know it! It can't really be just hit or miss, or just a matter of praying to the garden gods....

That's the secret right there: Mel took the hit and miss out of backyard gardening. SFG starts with 5 quality composts. Year after year, that's all it takes. Cleverly simple.
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Post  dizzygardener 4/21/2011, 10:41 am

I agree with everyone above.

My trick is to follow Mel's advice in the All New SFG book. Gardening has never been easier. Trust me.
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Post  sfg4uKim 4/21/2011, 1:53 pm

Trial & error. Then learning from my mistakes.

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Post  Miss M 4/21/2011, 5:39 pm

Yep, I've done row gardening before (it's funny, just like Mel said in his book, we amended and amended and amended for seven years, and finally our garden had really good soil -- and then we had to move!), and we didn't have great results. Well, except for tomatoes.

This is our first year for SFG, we've followed the method to the letter with only two exceptions -- I thought I was buying coarse vermiculite, and ended up with fine... and the bed has an additional 9" of width for some "short squares" I use mostly for 16/square foot things. It was part accident, part intentional.

At any rate, I've never seen a garden like this! Shocked I'm being overrun by veggies!!! I haven't harvested a lot yet, but I look in my squash plants and see 30-40 buds coming, my bush beans are taking over, I've given up pruning my tomato plants, because I can't even tell where one stops and the next one starts. (I had to clump them in the middle, so they're not all in a line). My eggplants are huge, we harvested turnip greens the other night (enough for all 6 of us!), and my corn (one experimental square) is poised to take over the world!

In short, the others are right -- the Mel's Mix IS the trick. And faithful watering. You need to water deeply really only when you are putting the Mel's Mix into the garden, as long as you water enough to wet the top inch or two of mix every day or two. You do want to keep it damp, but it does use way less water than row gardening. Very Happy
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Post  Squat_Johnson 4/21/2011, 5:47 pm

TRICK = All-New-Square-Foot-Gardening-book + Water

Very Happy
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Post  shannon1 4/21/2011, 11:48 pm

Got to agree with the rest the only other thing I add is my shadow. I am out there every day looking close for pests and watching it grow.
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Post  dmsandlin 4/22/2011, 9:51 am

Don't be afraid to fail.

And keep notes - they help you remember all the details of the failure so that you tend to not repeat the same mistakes.
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Post  boog1 4/22/2011, 1:49 pm

mine is "i pray alot to the gardening gods" do i stress if it dont grow ? nah if it do it do if it dont it dont.



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Post  buttaflie143 4/22/2011, 1:52 pm

Someone else said it, but here it goes again...

SFG to a T Very Happy .
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Post  fiddleman 4/22/2011, 9:16 pm

My trick(s) are... double the landscape fabric under the boxes... I have trees that think the garden soil is wonderful stuff too and won't hesitate send roots out across the yard to find a way in. Don't cheap out on the Mel's Mix, and have enough water in the squares... I keep often have one square empty in the garden for one reason or another, and can check how well the soil is being moistened by digging down to the bottom. I used pretty much the original square foot gardening techniques (should we call it classic SFG?) I had improved the soil in the garden over the last 18 years to the point it was pretty darn good; so good I kinda let it coast the last couple of years and more or less exhausted it. I decided to try the All New SFG this year, and based on my previous experiences the Compost is the key...it is more wonderful for the plants than you can imagine- work REALLY hard to find as many different types as you can. You can cheap out on the boxes, with the grid material, but if you don't have enough nutrition available for the plants, they won't be able to produce the ah, em, umm, produce. The vermiculite and peat moss are important, but compost is loose and friable and the plants relish it. Otherwise without good nutrition for the plants, you have to provide it extra- it is so much extra work top dressing with fertilizers, bone meal, foliar feedings, calcium, soil testing... uughhh.

Start a compost pile, no reason to pay for something you can get for free with a small amount of work.

I put a Tupperware container in the garden just for holding scissors, twine, plant markers, and a sharpie so I have any supplies I need right then and don't have to go back indoors. (I have a couple of those silicone packets in there as well to keep the scissors from rusting)

In the summer, don't be afraid to mulch. The sun is so hot, it can dry stuff up pretty quick. If a cool weather plant is almost ready to harvest, and we will be having several days of hot sun and no rain in the forecast, I will put a cedar shake shingle in the ground on the south side of the square so it shades the plant during the hottest part of the day... that way the plant gets morning and evening sun, but doesn't have to take the punishment of the mid-afternoon sun. And I give it all the cool water it can take.

I like to graze my garden while I am out, eating a couple of peas right off the plant, grabbing a bit of lettuce, or eating a tomato plucked right from the vine. I like the reward for taking the time out in the garden.

My last trick, is to keep everything neat and tidy. Every box is weeded at least once a week (not much work when using a soil-less mix). I actually weed every time I visit the garden by noticing how the plants are doing. I am always surprised by how I will go to pull a couple of errant weeds from one one square foot, and before I realize it I have weeded the whole 4'x4' square.

Mark
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Post  jazzymaddy 4/22/2011, 10:20 pm

Wow Mark, that was incredibly helpful. Iwillbeusing these tips as well. Thanks!
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Post  shannon1 4/23/2011, 1:37 am

Mark love the tupperwear tip. I love you
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Post  tabletopper 4/23/2011, 4:21 am

Tnx for the tips....never thought of doubling the landscape fabric to keep Bermuda grass out of my corn...will try it next time.....Ruth
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Post  acara 4/23/2011, 7:15 am

Clean your gear and/or have separate tool sets for "general purpose" and your veggies.

A major source of disease in most gardens is the transmission between plants via your snips/cutters.

Don't tend to that sick plant by pruning off the problem areas & then move over to a health plant, without cleaning yr snips/clippers first.

Soap & water or a mild alcohol solution will do the trick.
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Post  walshevak 4/23/2011, 7:59 am

Hmm, I liked Mark's tupperware idea, but now I think I'll add a small bottle of alcohol to it to wipe down the scissors between use.

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Post  FarmerValerie 4/23/2011, 8:33 am

Thanks for the reminder acara, I have not been doing that, maybe a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my garden box. My box stays in the house, I don't have a safe place to keep it yet, and I have paper and pen in it too, but it is easily grabbed to go outside. I also have a small bottle of cinnamon in my box, for ants. Maybe we need a "What's In Your Box" thread-teeheehee.
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Post  tabletopper 4/23/2011, 1:06 pm

I have a big rural mail box painted it green on a iron support with a wooden tray that is made to pull everything within reach when the box is opened ...for misc items in the garden ....love it.....Ruth
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Post  spankyleatherlips 4/23/2011, 1:18 pm

I will have to remember to clean my tools between plants. I always forget that. I will place all my TT garden supplies in a tupperware tote to remind me.
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Post  muffinator 4/23/2011, 4:13 pm

The mailbox is a good idea! Thanks for that one. I keep all my stuff by my back door, but the mailbox idea is adorable.
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Post  GloriaG 4/23/2011, 4:32 pm

You can hide a huge amount of vegetables, herbs and berries in your landscape if you live in an HOA. All you need to do is plan ahead and incorporate a number of smaller SFG's in the landscape rather than one or two big ones. Several of us have HOA's to contend with. My SFG is about 150 sq ft - all as foundation plantings (and a few pots) around the house.
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