Beginner Questions

morganws11June 24, 2008

Hi Everyone,

IÂm new to this site (literally, this is my first post!) and SFG. I come from a family of gardeners but know embarrassingly little on the subject myself. IÂm eager to learn though, and am excited to establish my first SFG this weekend! IÂve been reading the All New SFG book over the past few evenings, but have a few questions that I hope you all might be able to help me with.

First, my father is willing to give me bricks to build the box, and though I am not one to turn down free materials I have concerns. MB says in the book that using bricks is possible, but has no examples of how it looks, how to do it, or how practical it is. Has anyone here attempted making the box out of bricks? If so, what was your experience with the task? Do you have any suggestions or pictures that you could share?

Also, I have grid issues. Although in the book MB warns against using string or wire to make the grids, I just donÂt favor the idea of the look of the wood grid on top of the brick box. I have noticed in some of the pictures on this website of peopleÂs SFGs that they are using string or wire. What does everyone think: is string/wire sufficient or is wood really the way to go?

Finally, any suggestions on what I should plant? I realize that IÂm quite late getting started and I donÂt want to waste my money and time on trying to grow veggies that arenÂt going to prosper. IÂm in zone 7 (Richmond, VA) and am willing to consider transplant or seeds. I tried to figure out the best options by reviewing MBÂs growing charts, but got thoroughly confused. As I said, IÂm just a newbie!

IÂm completely open to any and all suggestions. Thanks in advance for your help!!

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Build your box out of anything you want first time going, just make a box with a row of bricks then add another row then another row, I have done this before I got my new wood ones. Fill with soil mix in Mel's book.

I use string and three weeks into it, the string was brown, torn and a mess, but who knows it may just be me. I want wood or lattice grids, it really keeps you in the square.

Planting dates confuse the heck out of me too!! So, I found some sites for ya.

Good Luck and keep us posted.

Here is a link that might be useful: Planting Dates

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 2:56PM
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the_seventh_worm(Zone 6)

Sometimes when I read his book, I feel that MB is obsessive about the whole grid thing :-) For the grids on my beds (I am new to this too), I just used nylon string bought from dollar store.

As for planting, I started late as well. In Mel's book, you can read about the number of weeks from seed to harvest for various crops. So I just went ahead and planted tomatoes, okra, some lettuce (although I am not too hopeful about them what with the summer coming), beans, cilantro, basil, peppers, eggplants etc. The eggplants did not even sprout. My advice - take this as a year for experiment. May you be pleasantly surprised :-)

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 3:13PM
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snibb(Salt Lake City)

thats because without a grid folks start planting in rows...there a some on this website that do it and he wants to have people grow in squares can use string like ray and have the same experience-it rots, breaks, etc. You might as well go out and get some wood lath for your gardens now because you will probably eventually end up using those...and, the grid makes your garden stand out...dont lose hope in lettuce..its 95 degrees plus here in Utah and I am able to germinate lettuce seeds by the standard cooling methods....nothing like having lettuce throughout the entire summer to go with those salmonella-free tomatoes!....

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 7:30PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

Morganws - if I may make some suggestions, you should be able to build a beautiful box out of bricks. Don't put much thought into what everyone else uses for making the grids,either. Use whatever you prefer, or have laying around. You could even make permanent grids with the bricks - that would be kinda cool. The most important thing, is that you get the plant spacings correct. Also, I recommend spending the next few weeks building your box ( whatever size you choose)and planning for a fall crop. That way you can relax, and have everything planned out -making everything come together like clockwork. I would plan for broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, collards, turnip salad, carrots, stuff like that.....

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 10:01PM
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I have a lot of bamboo. I just cut some 4 ft pieces and laid them out like you would the lath when I was ready to plant. I mainly used it to get the spacing right, then removed it. Mel is kind of a stickler for the lath grids and I do have to admit that it appeals to me visually with the grids. I'll probably add it.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 10:12PM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

I used jute twine or whatever the natural stuff is. It's months old and showing no signs of rotting, though I have enough of it to re-run it every year if need be. I too don't want some wide board wasting my space, use whatever you want. The mix is the key to friable great draining and moisture retaining soil plants love.

I like the planting chart idea, since I don't know your climate, but you should be able to grow warm weather crops like beans, tomatoes and the like. I also like Eng Gardeners suggestion of planning a fall crop. They're planted sometimes mid-August so pretty soon.

Good luck and enjoy your garden. Remember that it's all an experiment to be treasured!

Here is a link that might be useful: Sinfonian's garden adventure!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 1:57AM
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Got the book for my birthday in March, and have been doing alot of reading lately. I'm thinking about building a 4x4 for now, and planting collards (yum), turnip salad, lettuce, and carrots - because I understand that's all there is time left for this year. Anyway, is there anybody on here that can give me some instructions for building the box, where it won't look bad? The book doesn't explain how to build them, and I have limited carpenter's skills. Physically, there's no problem for me to build it, because i'm kinda like that guy on "of mice and men". To give you an idea, I wear a size 16 nike tenny shoe - and really stand out in a crowd. I'm like a giant to some people. Anyway, can anybody give me some pointers?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 12:09AM
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Melissa Houser

Check out some of the gardens on the official SFG website. Many of them are quite beautiful, but even the most mundane-looking garden looks great once it starts growing, IMO!

Here is a link that might be useful: SFG Neighborhood Gardens

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 7:28AM
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