'Helpful' neighbors?

okieladybugApril 12, 2009

DH and I bought a home in the country last year and I am planting my first garden here. We spent yesterday building temporary raised beds (temporary since I don't know if I'll want them in the same location next year). I have spent the entire winter reading books, reading the gardenweb forums and talking to friends who garden, asking lots of questions and taking lots of notes. From all of this, I have developed a plan and am following it carefully. I am using the SFG method of planting, but I'm using the lasagna gardening method for filling my raised beds. I realize that this may not work, but really I figured this first year is all experimentation anyway. If things grow, I'll be happy. If nothing grows, I'll have learned some valuable lessons, so nothing lost, right?

My issue seems to be friends and family who feel the need to "correct" all my plans. I know they're just trying to be helpful, but I'm the one who's been reading all the books and doing all the research. What I'm finding is that it's mostly people who are stuck in the long, skinny row type of gardens and can't possibly understand how this type of garden can work. Do you run into this or is it just me? I'm trying very hard not to get my feelings hurt because I really believe they're just trying to help. But it sure gets old when one hears that phrase "Oh you can't do that!" 10 times a day! :)

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Melissa Houser

Okielady, My best advice is to quit talking about what you're planning to do. You'll never convince a dyed in the wool Row Garderner that SFG works except by showing him or her (and even then they won't believe it).

I learned quickly to just shut up, do what I wanted to do, and enjoy the fruits and veggies of my own labors. Next year you'll be sipping iced tea while they are rototilling up their garden spaces and working long, hot hours in the sun pulling weeds. They'll be so busy working in their gardens that they won't have time to tell you "Oh no, you can't do that!"... and you'll be so relaxed, you won't care what they say. :)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 7:06PM
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I'm lucky to have a neighbor who never gives advise and loves my garden. She can't wait for it to grow so she can make zucchini relish, pickles and canned tomatoes for ME! She doesn't garden, but loves to cook. She has also volunteered her side of the fence for my spare plants.

Now, if the neighbor on the other side would just replace or repair his falling down fence :-(


Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 7:35PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

I think Lasagna and SFG are a great combo. Wish I learned both much earlier in life.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 8:34PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

When I first build the sfg, my 75 year old Dad was constantly "helping". He really doubted the effectiveness of this new method, and soon realized it was the real deal. Although I really appreciate his stories and input, I rarely take any of his gardening advice. He's one of the worst gardeners I know! Ha! The comraderie is priceless, though.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 9:51PM
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So, what exactly is the lasagna method?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 10:20PM
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It can work. That's what I did too. I don't strictly use SFG, but close enough.

Most of my neighbors don't garden. They watched me last year with some curiousity, but never said too much. I actually got a little helpful advice about planting times and hail danger, as it was our first year here.

Check out the link below for info and pics of my garden last year.

Here is a link that might be useful: Building the raised beds (starts at the bottom)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 11:21PM
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My parents and my uncle are traditional row gardeners, but they find the SFG method very interesting. I guess I'm lucky that they haven't told me what I can and can't do. Or maybe they have, but I'm too hard headed to listen. My brother started a row garden this year, and this is my first year to do a SFG. He doesn't know it yet, but we're in a competition to see which of our gardens does better. Of course, he's pretty competitive too, so maybe he does know... :)


Here is a link that might be useful: LookMaNoWeeds

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 12:42AM
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I also do the combo lasagna/sfg, can't imagine another way in my area. I have a couple of folks who tell me how I'm doing it all wrong, but I tend to just ignore them and do it my own way. When I was at a pastor's wives conference, I heard a fantastic response to these kinds of helpful folks, you say "You may be right." Then you drop the subject. After all, they may be right. Or, they may be wrong. All that really matters is that you have acknowledged their concerns while making your own judgements. And, after all, gardening is about enjoying yourself, don't let other people take that away from you.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 1:58AM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

I too heard all kinds of grief over it. Maybe that's why Mel spends half the book convincing the reader.

Most of the issues was with Mel's Mix, aka seed starting mix. I must say, the experience last year has quieted the critics somewhat.

Good luck silencing your own critics.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 11:47AM
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heather38(6a E,Coast)

It struck me how much this sounds like the same problems you have when you have babies, the worst I used to find was the person say "huhu!" but now my babies are 4 I really see the comparisons, you plant the seed in its nice safe container, making sure all the right level of nutrients are there (watching you diet ect) the real fear in that first phase that it will all come to nothing, constantly checking that everything is normal, reading "what to expect whe you are expecting" becomes the Garden Web and in my case "The Royal Horticultural Society encyclopaedia of Gardening" (only book I have at moment, saving the pennies for Mel's book). then this thing apears baring no resembalence to what you expect to see (first cotyledons/first scan) then slowly slowly it starts to become more recognisable, (birth) then the further worry when do I start to do this, what should I be expecting at this stage and then the total terror of them going it alone! you start in baby steps, harding off, then first full day at kindergarden/in the garden, you know you have to let go and they should be fine, but you worry, are they warm enough? are they too hot?, should I have given them a different fertiliser? have they had a drink, worry! worry! worry! and all the time well meaning friends and family are saying, shouldn't he be wearing a coat/under cover ahhhhh! I feel your pain, that said I managed to kill off 2 of my tomatoes last night, so I am doing better at the child rearing!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 9:36PM
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I like the first comment, I say enjoy that glass of iced tea and add a sprig of mint from your herb garden and smill while they till their rows.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 10:09PM
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gardener_mary(6 MA)

I feel really luck. I grew up in the city with a small yard,(very happy to have that much) 2/3 for swings and kids to play and about 1/3 for small gardens fit in where they could. My grandfather and uncle where the main gardeners, I loved being a helper. I realize now that we were doing a sort of SFG without it being invented yet. We did not have room for long rows, things went in where they fit and since some of the garden beds were only a couple of feet deep and we were trying to fit alot into a small space usually in blocks. My uncle always had a compost bin going and had dug out a path down the center of the largest garden and used salvaged wood to hold the raised soil. When it came time for me to build my own garden and I found SFG it made perfect sense to me. When I started showing my family the book they thought it was nice for me but did not have any need to change what they were doing becaused they were already doing 95% of it and it was working well for them. The biggest change I made was to grow tomatoes pruned and trained up a string instead of caged or stake. And when I started telling friends they borrowed my book until they could get their own and then started their own gardens, some alot nicer than mine.

Good gardening, Mary

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 3:12PM
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Thanks for all the advice! You guys are great. I knew you'd understand my dilemma. I like the response, "You may be right." I don't want to completely discount their experience, but I am going at this a completely different route. I'll be excited to see how it all turns out.

homertherat: lasagna gardening is a method of building up the beds by *layering* compost materials, much like lasagna. There is a book out by the title Lasagna Gardening where I have gathered most of my information.

carolynp: I would very much like to hear more about your gardens, since you're already doing what I am planning to, if you don't mind sharing more info.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 3:27PM
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