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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:18 pm 
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Location: Zone 5B Pennsylvania
I have noticed that many of the people, who are posting about SFG, are mostly new to gardening. I have seen photos (Google search, including the official SFG Web site) and read posts about there harvest. It seems that they are ecstatic about there results. I would implore you to go to the next County fair and tour the exhibition hall. Talk to the people that have veggies on display and ask them about there gardening techniques. Is my RB harvest up to par with my conventional garden, no way? Will it ever? I think so if I do things right. The difficult part will be determining what the right way is.
John

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:16 pm 
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Location: Zone 5
Good post, John. Although I like my raised beds, that's only one successful way to garden. It's intensive planting, so it needs intensive soil building. It's a trade off.

Personally, I find one foot between plants pushing the envelope just a little too far. Roots need more than just nourishment and water. Some plants need space, too.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:09 pm 
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Location: Sunol, CA (9B)
Things work differently in different climates too. Raised beds can extend the growing season in colder areas by allowing the soil to warm up faster, but they can also dry out faster in hot arid areas and stress the plants out. Frankly, in the summer I like sunken beds so I can pour water in and it will stay put with the plants, with no natural rainfall too much water is impossible.

I also think that part of the initial success with raised beds is that when you fill them with soil one generally amends it and you get 12-18" of well tilled, amended soil - in many cases it's trucked in soil that's better than the in-the-ground soil too. Naturally plants are going to grow better in that than if you tilled and amended only the top 8" of soil in a flat garden. Over time as the bottom 1/2 of the raised bed gets depleted and compacted, it's yields probably decline towards the in-ground plants with the only advantages being temperature and drainage - which could be positive or negative depending on climate or soil and the plants in question. Of course reduced stress on the knees and back can also be a factor, and they look nice. ;) So, if you want to improve on your success in the raised beds, you would want to double-dig them so that the soil stays as loose and full of organic happiness as when you first made the bed.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:19 pm 
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I think that one of the main factors behind the success of the SFG approach is that it is nearly foolproof. A beginner can pick up the book, follow a set of explicit directions, and get positive results. They may not be the best possible results, but they will get something positive. There is no ambiguity and nothing to figure out. I think that's a main reason why beginners crow so loudly about how great the book it is -- it's a perfect introduction to gardening.

That doesn't mean that beginners can't try other approaches, as you said, or that experienced gardeners can't also learn things from SFG, but I think it's what is behind the great enthusiasm that you are responding to.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:17 pm 
I grew up using the regular straight & narrow row method of gardening, like my father, grandfathers, uncles, & great-uncles did (uncles & great-uncles grew for the commercial supermarket trade). I gardened this way from the 1960's onward.

But once I started experimenting with wide rows & the "French Intensive" method, I've never gone back. Yields are much higher, weeds are fewer, water use is less. And I've been using this method since 1994.

It certainly doesn't make any difference to me what gardening "methods" folks prefer, but I've had long-time first-hand experience with both methods, & I'm sticking with wide-bed/intensive.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 3:19 pm 
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I realize I'm jumping in this thread late, but I kinda had similar thoughts about the whole lasagna gardening thing...which was really (I thought) just a take off of Ruth Stout's no work gardening.
Where SFG kindof borrows from French Intensive...
Not unlike business that is in constant search of the holy grail of techniques to produce higher quality products at reduced costs - quality circles, Deming, ISO 9000, Lean Mfg., Six Sigma .....
Repackaged tools with shiny new marketing to be purchased over and over again...


Thinking back to my grandfather's conventional garden with single rows of vegetables with 3 foot walkways in between, I see how beds of say 3 feet or so are a more efficient use of space. Especially here in the northeast, I can see how raised beds offer warmer soil temperature and better drainage. Last, I can see how good soil management of enrichment and mulching can lead to no till, enlisting the worms to do the work as they fertilize the soil further. So in reality, we have a blending of all of these 'methods' into what makes the most sense.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:37 am 
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Location: Alaska
So far I'm happy with the results. As several mentioned, learning what works in different areas increases productivity. Everything I've planted (except the beans) is doing well. I'm anxious to see the yield & much less weeding is a BIG plus.
Being my first year using this method, I see it improving as I learn & the soil builds. Let alone the amount of earth worms I'm finding, which I understand will be a huge help.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:16 pm 
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Location: NH zone 4/5
If I have any axe to grind with raised bed-squarefoot-french intensive gardening it is not from the perrenial tinker who tries new stuff and amends his/her garden based on what they've learned. Its usually with newer gardeners who read (often quite a bit), but try to create the new perpetual motion machine--by gardening.

One citizen (fer instance) desided to speed things along and built a HOT actively composting raised bed. Um its not working up to his hopes.

Too often, rather than live within the pace a garden has as it matures; new gardeners go to 'the books' to pare off a year or three.

I'll wager the row and hoe gardener works off more ill will towards others doing his/her chores than that whiz kid does.

OK I'll get off my sopa box now...

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:00 am 
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Location: Little Rock, AR
This is our third year in this kind of vegetable gardening. We have tomatoes, cucumber, zuchini squash, peppers, cayennes and several kinds. We bought all these from plants too. We just recently planated beets and swiss chard from seed. Each season we put more store bought dirt into it, we work it up and and turn it up. We can't grown deep root vegetables such as long carrots. There is always advantages and disadvantages to all you do. So whatever works best for you and your enjoy doing, that what one should do, IMO.

We use lumber from a deck we torn apart.

I'm the type of person who jumps in head first and tries to find what is what. BUT my husband is the exact opposite, he will read and read lots b4 he attempts anything.

We do have to water a lot here in Little Rock since most of the summer we don't get rain. It just hot and dry. It only going to get 98 2day (HA) And seems like all week the temps will be about the same.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 5:02 pm 
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I don't have raised beds yet.... but working on that. I have been working on the overall soil in my garden which is taking forever. At least I can grow things in it now. When I first started digging it... at not quite 2 feet down we discovered the unpleasant surprise of a bunch of rocks and even some broken concrete. Only dug down about 3 feet... refilled with a mix of soil from the property, compost and topsoil. (Yeah I know... I am a geek. Trying to get the ground conditioned first before I put raised beds over it... but this is more a war with bindweed and thistles... and I can grow some pretty nasty thistles!!)

Raised beds are on my list though... mainly because my back has gone out several times and I refuse to be laid up for over a month again watching my garden go down the drain.

Baby steps.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 6:37 am 
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Location: NH zone 4/5
[quote="WiggleIt"]I don't have raised beds yet.... but working on that. I have been working on the overall soil in my garden which is taking forever. At least I can grow things in it now. When I first started digging it... at not quite 2 feet down we discovered the unpleasant surprise of a bunch of rocks and even some broken concrete. Only dug down about 3 feet... refilled with a mix of soil from the property, compost and topsoil. (Yeah I know... I am a geek. quote]

Topsoil, that organic-ly enriched stuff from the top six inches or so of your yard and garden are-is already where it needs to be.

I have had very sandy soil on some sites which did benefit from working in something into the top foot (or more) of it to hold water.

Unless you a feild prone to drying out as I describe, I guess my sermon is: "you're working too hard".

I live in scenic cow-hampshire, if'n I pulled all the rocks out of my yard it'd look like a large well.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:17 pm 
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Totally arid here and several years of drought. When we moved in the yard was like concrete with random crabgrass sprigs, canadian thistle and bindweed struggling. Soil is clay like and was cracked. Work in progress.

Just put in a raised garden of sorts... 5 1/2' x 11' and just under 2' tall. Built over previous hot composting site.. 1/2 is planted and 1/2 is currently cold composting. Soil worked down and double dug (didn't till because of earthworms) to mix finished compost with clay before building back up.

Next is sort of a raised bed for herbs made of brick to define grilling area.

Will now be able to also protect plants from our many spring hailstorms.


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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 11:04 am 
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Location: New York
(I know this is an old thread, but I'm off work and I got nuthn' to do!!)

You gotta love "The New Gardener"!! I have 2 neighbors that are brand-spanking-new gardeners! Last year, one came to show me his peppers. They were pitiful, but they were his, he grew them, and he was thrilled!!

Remember that little warm spell we had back in early March? I came home from work to see my other neighbor had planted his whole garden. He had grown sets in his basement, 1 light bulb in a desk lamp for 4 trays of plants. He planted all his long stringy greenish seedlings!! We all told him what was gonna happen, but he wanted to get a head start, and was proud that his garden was done, while ours were still barren. In the next 2 or 3 warm days, the seedlings burned to a crisp in the sun light. Eventually, it got cold again, even snowed a foot.

Both neighbors come over to tell me the latest, new-fangle way to do something in the garden. (topsy-turvy to name one!)

I try to inform, but also try not to stifle their eagerness. Basically I tell them about the "Law of Nature", that nature does what it dose! Some years are wetter, some are warmer. We can stretch things or speed things up a bit, but it's call The Law of Nature because it's a Law!

I'm far from a pro, I'm always asking questions looking for ideas. (I gotta admit, I gave that topsy-turvy thingie a thought or two! But I figured, "That's all I need, a 40lb bucket of mud hanging over my patio!!"

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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 11:36 am 
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Location: PNW
I figure that there are always things to learn, no matter how long you garden.

I also gave those topsy turvy things some thought, but decided it didn't make much sense. I know of a few people who tried them and weren't impressed. I like your analogy of them! :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 4:04 pm 
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Location: Branson MO/Zone6
Not all of the joy of gardening is in the harvest.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:33 am 
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mikestuff wrote:
Not all of the joy of gardening is in the harvest.

right...the real fun is in the weeding.....NOT.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 9:33 am 
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Hi. This is my first post here as I just joined after spending a few weeks reading through posts.

I realize this is an old post, but I think there are very good observations in it.

I plant raised beds and containers with a mix similar to the square foot gardening mix. I plant in this method because our soil is so lousy with clay and I have watched my neighbor break his back over a tiller the 4 years with continuous ammendments. This include truckloads of sand and compost. He cannot seem to produce enough compost as this is a large garden.

Another concern of mine is weather effects. The midwest was a tropical rain forest this year and most traditional gardens in my area suffered from an onslaught of bugs, rot, slugs/snails, and fungus. This was a bad year for those things. The containers allowed me to move the plants under cover to dry out and then to get additional water when we would hit 105 between monsoons. The containers actually "saved the day" in meeting our canning goals.

The raised beds did ok, but the wet conditions made it tough. I tend to look towards efficiencies while considering stress relief and the fun of growing veggies. I also plan my expected yield with how much I want to share, can, etc.

Great thread folks and great debate!

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 8:31 am 
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Location: Branson MO/Zone6
Hi halfway,

I noticed the hydroponic link at the bottom of your post. I'm experimenting for the first time this year with hydroponics and plan to continue.

I have an 8 x 10 hobby greenhouse, and I'm growing some lettuce in hydro setups to see if I can grow it throughout the winter here in southwest Missouri.

One thing you might consider, if they do well, s keeping them cut down to produce more leaves. I let mine get pretty tall and the lettuce was great, but they had stems about the size of pencils, so I'm keeping them cut down now to produce leaves.

I also have a hydro setup in my basement office where I'm growing 2 tomato plants. This may or may not work as I'm using fluorescents. Right now they are about 10 inches tall and look as healthy as anything I've grown outdoors. Time will tell. These are in a deep water culture, which seems to be dead simple to put into place.

In August, I planted a single cucumber plant in the greenhouse. I had tried to grow them in soil in the greenhouse without much success. This one literally took over and produced probably 70 cucumbers before we got sick of eating them and no one was nice enough to take them any more.

I'm looking forward to setting up cultures for tomatoes and peppers in March.

Anyway, I thought I'd touch base with you on the hydroponics. So far, I've been pleased with my results.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:51 pm 
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mikestuff wrote:
Hi halfway,

I noticed the hydroponic link at the bottom of your post. I'm experimenting for the first time this year with hydroponics and plan to continue.

I have an 8 x 10 hobby greenhouse, and I'm growing some lettuce in hydro setups to see if I can grow it throughout the winter here in southwest Missouri.

One thing you might consider, if they do well, s keeping them cut down to produce more leaves. I let mine get pretty tall and the lettuce was great, but they had stems about the size of pencils, so I'm keeping them cut down now to produce leaves.

I also have a hydro setup in my basement office where I'm growing 2 tomato plants. This may or may not work as I'm using fluorescents. Right now they are about 10 inches tall and look as healthy as anything I've grown outdoors. Time will tell. These are in a deep water culture, which seems to be dead simple to put into place.

In August, I planted a single cucumber plant in the greenhouse. I had tried to grow them in soil in the greenhouse without much success. This one literally took over and produced probably 70 cucumbers before we got sick of eating them and no one was nice enough to take them any more.

I'm looking forward to setting up cultures for tomatoes and peppers in March.

Anyway, I thought I'd touch base with you on the hydroponics. So far, I've been pleased with my results.


I'm gonna move this over to viewforum.php?f=141 as I don't want to derail this thread. I see you have posted on it as well :)

Thread Title is Hydro System November 2010

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 3:21 pm 
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Location: NH zone 4/5
To the new gardener: We hope nothing so much than you aquire a love of gardening.

If we council you to go slow it is not to curb your enthusiasm, rather all we hope for is for every trial to lead to the next step in your perception of growth.

If you read far and wide on the internet you will find skilled grardeners who could just as well be described as artists. Your learned skill of expressing your art is our only aspiration for you. The artisinal gardener was not hatched out, s/he grew into it. You will too.

Grow forth and prosper over this new year!

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 8:48 am 
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"Grow forth and prosper".

Love it!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

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