Lessons Learned So Far

wonderpets(7 TN)August 27, 2008

I remember a similar thread from earlier in the season. It took me a while to find that one, but I've linked it below. I think there was another one about what you'd do differently after trying SFG for a while. I still can't find that one.

Anyway, I wanted to post what I'd learned this year and encourage everyone to add their own lessons, whether they are SFG-related (like placement of my trellis) or just general (like Fay + tomatoes = so much moisture and splitting!).

Lessons I've learned this year

1. When the weather people say to expect up to 5" over a three-day period, pick every slightly red tomato you have. Or else, after the rains subside, expect that 75% of your crop will have huge skin splits.

2. Peppers need lots of light and tomatoes grow tall. Situate your bell peppers so that they will get more sun and not be shaded by tomato trees.

3. Trellis supports need to be really, really tall, so that you can get them deep in the ground. Preferably, put them in the "regular" ground outside of your raised bed. Otherwise, don't count the several inches of soil inside the bed as part of their depth. One good rain or two and the poles can topple.

4. Mel probably suggests trellising tomatoes because they'll need the extra support. See rain problem in number 3.

5. Cucumbers and pole beans look nice sharing a trellis, but watch out for the cucumbers to take over!

6. As I've mentioned elsewhere, the official starter size of 4' wide can be problematic for shorter folks. If you let your tomatoes bush, think about whether you can really reach all the way in. Also, think about the items planted on the other side of the trellis. Can you see through AND reach through (at the same time) the net and the plant to harvest something growing in the next square?

7. Put down some kind of material outside your box to deter weeds and grass.

8. Don't connect all your trellises together -- if you do, when one falls (see above), they all fall.

I have a few other thoughts after this season, mostly pertaining to composting. I may start a similar thread over there when I have time.

What have YOU learned?

Here is a link that might be useful: Lessons after second year

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The thing that stands out to me right now after reading your post is #6. If I add more boxes I will definitely make them 4x3, or 6x2, or something that allows me better reach. I have a few like that and they are easier to get into that middle area. I have a 4x4 box that has trellis on 2 sides and that makes it very hard to get to some areas and my plants aren't even fully taking over the trellis yet!

Don't plant sweet potatoes in your SFG and expect them to stay in bounds! LOL, they will get their own area next year because I have had to train them back and forth and cut off vines every other day. But I love sweet potatoes so I put them in.

That's all I have for now :) . I remember the thread you were talking about - I thought it was called "What would you do differently?", but I can't find it. I did find another one though called How long have you done this? What would you change?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 5:23PM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

Hehe I've got a whole blog of this. I doubt I could condense it down to a single post. Let's see what stands out...

1. If you see bugs under your hoop cover, they're BAD. I thought my black flies were so cute til I found out they were making leaf miners.

2. Bush beans don't grow here. I wasted an entire package of bean seeds with little to no germination.

3. Don't let cucumbers turn yellow. That's bad.

4. Not all radishes get hotter when left in the ground. They just split and get woody. If you want hot radishes, buy a hot variety.

5. If you build a bed with 4 foot wood, you won't have 4 SF inside. My beds work, but squares are pretty tight.

6. Cauliflower can go from perfect to bad overnight without warning and no matter what the size of the head. Same with broccoli.

7. Potatoes grow better in some areas than others, and no planting method or container will change that. I apparently convinced people all over to use potato bins, not thinking there is a reason they work here... Washington and Idaho combined produce more potatoes than the rest of the world combined.

8. Take notes and label plants. I tried eating shelling peas whole and let a cucumber get yellow waiting for it to become a slicer.

/sigh Well that's about it for now.

Here is a link that might be useful: See here for daily additions to this list, hehe.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 10:43PM
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1. Zucchini and yellow crookneck squash need their own area. They may work well in your sfg, but they completely overtook mine.

2. My pet rabbit does not need 12 squares of mesclun.

3. Do not plant my bush beans deeper than one square. They may be planted the entire width of the bed, and in every bed, but any deeper than one square makes the beans too hard to find and pick.

4. Find a good outlet for plants, do not buy them at Wal*Mart. They are picked over and not many varieties to chose from after I get back to my WA home around April 1. Pay double if I have to, but get good varieties. OR sell AZ house and stay in WA so I can start my own seedlings *g*

5. Keep a gardening diary and write down EVERYTHING. There's no way I can remember what worked and what didn't if I don't write it down.

6. Quit over-fertilizing. With good soil/compost I do not need to add all those slow-release pellets. I end up with lush, green plants with too many leaves and not much else. If something looks stressed and needs a boost, deal with that plant alone, not the entire garden.

7. Build some sturdy tomato cages and throw away those cheap wire cylindars or use them for the peppers.

8. Plant more carrots. I can never have too many carrots.

9. Liven up the garden with color...flowers, bright colored planters, garden art. Make it whimsical and fun, I'm the only one who really sees it, so make it look the way I want.

  1. Buy some floating row covers (or sheer fabric) so I can have spinach and beets in the spring with no leaf miners.

  2. If I want to build a new garden bed, build it. Tell husband AFTER the fact. Sneak it in while he's napping.

  3. Learn how to type "raspberry". It is not "rasperry".


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

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 11:46PM
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Melissa Houser

Oh, goodie! Can I play? :)

1. Do NOT plant anything in the summer in FL.

2. Plant more than one square of bush beans, but not close to each other.

3. Marigolds reseed themselves easily. Pull the dead heads if I don't want them to cover the entire garden.

4. Taters in barrels don't work in FL, but they make nice compost! (Thanks, Sinfonian!) ;)

5. Just because the lettuce is getting bigger does not mean it's going to taste good.

6. Radishes grow quickly and always taste good!

7. Squash bugs will test one's resolve to grow organically.

8. Nothing kills squash bugs as effectively as the squish 'em method.

9. Succession planting works! I have onions in 3 different stages right now. Yum!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 8:46AM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

Since I am a newbie, I will share my views, as well.

1. I learned that when you plant something that certain bugs like, they somehow discover your address.
2. I learned that squashbugs do absolutley no damage, as long as you go on the offensive - on a daily basis.
3. I learned about male and female flowers!
4. It takes 3 gallons of saved rainwater to water my entire garden when the seedlings are small in the early spring- but, once July arrives - It takes 20 gallons every 2 days!
5. Cucumber plants should be sprayed with fungicide once cucumber beetles have made their presence known.
6. I learned that I actually enjoy killing harmful bugs. I show them absolutely no mercy whatsoever. lol
7. I learned that my garden should always be planted before May 1st.
8. I learned what lays all of the eggs that mysteriously show up, on the underside of plant leaves.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 10:10PM
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The fall of our second year:
 I learned that if something fails, read more and try again. Last year we had no eatable corn and this year we have a 4X4 box worth. Next year should be even better.
 As much as I love square foot gardening, somethingÂs like tomatillos need too many squares. If you think summer squash takes a lot of space wow!
 Keep lots of notes! I will not remember what it was I did to make the peppers grow so well next year. In fact, I have already forgotten.
 Add lots of compost to your boxes each year, they seem to shrink faster then I think they should.
 Keep building boxes- I canÂt get enough.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 11:33PM
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Wow, great info everyone! I have learned alot of the same lessons it seems, but there are a few that I will share.

1. Rectangular beds are best. I thought I would get cute and build "U" and "L" shaped beds. Makes hooping for row covers and frost plastic very much a pain in the a$$.

2. I will be putting on a row cover hoop next year as soon as the plants go in and leaving it on for most of the crops. Leaf miners did a real number on my beets and spinach early this season.

3. Slugs - I hate slugs. They seem to love my marigolds though. Great trap crop: I just have to figure out how to best use them.

4. Cauliflower is just too big for SF gardening.

Keep 'em coming folks.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 11:02AM
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