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starting a sfg, advice, suggestions...

Posted by juniortx (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 1, 10 at 12:01

I am new to the forum and have zero experience gardening. I purchased Mel's book and am reading but I have a few questions.

I am in South Central Texas (near San Antonio) how do you know what to plant and when to plant it?

It gets HOT for long periods of time in the Summer months and I want to garden with my do I know what will be the best veggies to plant?

We have moles and many animals around, what is the best way to set up the garden to protect it from the neighboring wild life?

What do you wish someone had told you when you first started?

Any other tips and suggestions are welcomed.

Thanks in advance.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: starting a sfg, advice, suggestions...

Hi Tex,
I started my square foot gardening 4 years ago, when my hubby suggested it cause I could no longer garden the traditional way. It sounds to my like you have the perfect set up to grow a lot of things... try tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in the summer, they love the heat. Plus lots of flowers do well in full sun like sunflowers, zinnias and marigolds. Look for dwarf varieties.
In the fall and winter in your area you can have the cool season stuff that the northerns have to wait till spring for like lettuce, radishes and peas.
For kids melons and pumpkins should by popular, just build a sturdy trellis and go with mini types.
Good luck, you will love it.

RE: starting a sfg, advice, suggestions...

I think somewhere in the book he has suggestions about how to keep animals out. Fencing around and buried into the ground, putting mesh under the bed before putting soil in if you have digging animals. The forums have many suggestions like things to plant/spray to help repel animals. Heck there are sprinkler systems that are set off by motion to scare the animals away.

Just keep reading and start doing searches on the forums and in google and you will get ideas.

RE: starting a sfg, advice, suggestions...

There was a post a while back concerning how someone set-up an animal free garden.

They put chicken wire under the box (good for most burrowing animals, but voles will be small enough to get inside the holes, if they want to. He also created an elevated hinged chicken wire box for the tops, to keep critters out of the tops, as well. That sounds like a pretty hefty financial commitment. If you are really committed to the garden, then it's a great idea.

As far as gardening with the kids, that's an interesting question. There are a lot of things to consider: age, level of interest, height, etc.

I would suggest peas as a great "kid" plant. #1 - seeds are big, so even the youngest child can plant to seed fairly easily. #2 - grows to be taller than they are (if trellised) which kids love - gives them a sense of accomplishment. #3 - they are sweet as anything and most kids will eat them right there in the garden - rarely do my peas actually make it into the house! #4 - easy to do. Very little care needs to be given to them. They grow up any support you give them with little to no coaxing, they are very cold tolerant (not an issue much for you, but you should be able to grow them in the winter pretty easily. Finally, they add nitrogen to your soil, so you can plant more heavy feeders in that spot later in the year, like tomatoes or even pumpkins (also a kid favorite).

Other kid favorites: lettuce (eat right out of the garden as well...little fuss, but the seeds are pretty small), cherry tomatoes (more bite size than the regular and again, can be eaten right there in the garden - are you picking up a pattern?!), carrots (the sweeter the better, and very easy to do, overwintering carrots are the sweetest...the carrots convert their starches to sugars in colder weather!).

RE: starting a sfg, advice, suggestions...

For under the beds, there are hardware cloths with different sizes and should be one suitable for keeping voles out. We often staple it on the bottom.

There will be times in the summer where your plants may seem to do poorly. Above a certain temperature, tomato pollen dies, but once it cools off again, they will revive. To get started, you could contact a master gardener in your area and they can give you ideas of what to plant when. Also, gardening is a learning process. Some years are better than others and you will learn a lot by just doing. Some plants may need some shade cloth some of the time or some shelter from the sun as your sun will be more intense than it is for people farther north. Enjoy the adventure!

RE: starting a sfg, advice, suggestions...

You'll find a lot of info on these forums via the search box. As you look through all the posts, check to see of the poster lives in the same zone as you do. Most importantly though, your county extension office will have info on which varieties of plants grow well in your area as well as info on what kinds of pests and diseases are typical and how to manage them.

Here is a link that might be useful: County Extension Horticulture and Gardening Link for your area

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