My largest project this year

My largest project for the year was converting my garden to raised beds. It was time consuming and a good deal of work. About half of the project was completed during the 2007-2008 winter months and the second half after the 2008 growing season. While converting the garden, I was thinking SFGing but have concluded that my garden does not qualify for a SFG since I do not use Mel’s mix, the grid system, companion planting or the plant spacing. What I have is raised beds in a box.

People that say that you cannot grow vegetables in 100% compost have never tried it. I have always used more compost in my gardens than what is recommended but this is the first year for 100% compost. After the growing season, I dug into the beds and the red worms are very active. This photo is during the mid growing season.


In my opinion, Mel’s suggested plant spacing is too congested. A plant’s roots will usually extend in all directions as far as the foliage. If a plant’s foliage is competing for space, then the roots from both plants are competing for the same nutrients. In addition, nobody told the plants, they were supposed to stay inside the box. This photo was also taken during the mid growing season.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cabbage and eggplant were planted one plant per 1.5 squares. Harvest was ½ size compared to my conventional garden. Also with abundant rain every cabbage split, I had this problem before but not to this extent and not with heads this small. The eggplants were 1/2 size and only two eggplants per plant.


Cucumbers did fantastic with conventional spacing exceeding 10# per plant. Photo taken early in the growing season


Zucchini is doing even better; I have picked about 35# per plant at one plant per five squares. Tomatoes have patches of beautiful fruits scattered thought the vines. The Supersteak seems to be more sensitive to the night temperature and we have had some chilly spills off and on thought the summer. Spacing was at five squares per plant. Photo taken mid season


 Potatoes did very well exceeding 1.5# per plant at one plant per square. Next spring I am going to chit my seed spuds so there are only two plants per spud. I hope to get fewer small potatoes and more larger ones. Photos taken early season and after harvest.


Bell Peppers did ok with less than 1# per plant, at one plant per 1-1/3 square. Photo taken early in the season.


Cantaloupe is too early to tell but some nice fruits on the vines. Spacing is one plant per four squares. Harvest was one lope per vine. A waist of time and space. Photo taken early in the season


Salad greens did only average. Photo taken early in season.


Weeds were virtually nonexistent. I pulled less than a coffee can full all year, previously it would have been several 5 Gal. buckets. My biggest contribution to the garden this year was installing an irrigation system.

Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “My largest project this year

  1. Well done John! I totally agree that Mel’s system is an alternative and doesn’t need to be followed any more than you like. Heck, his system he teaches in third world countries relies 100% on compost. Who’s got vermiculite and peat moss in Zimbabwe?

    Boy those cabbages are space hogs. I don’t grow cabbage but now I know. Good looking garden!


  2. engineeredgarden

    Thanks for showing those pics, John. It was the first time that i’ve seen some of them.



  3. John
    Beautiful garden, an incredible amount of work. Thank you for visiting my blog and for the observations you wrote on GardenWeb SFG forum. I think I have reached many of the same conclusions you have reached about SFG, Mel’s Mix and Grid system. I still think it is an excellent way to garden, but not necessarily the only way. The best description I can think of my type of gardening is “Intensive gardening in Raised Beds”. I plant in rows not grids because I have a drip irrigation system with emitter drip lines that run best in straight lines. But I space plants much closer than most conventional gardening books tell you to do.



  4. jbest123

    Thanks all, I am not against Mel’s mix, it is that I have had too much luck doing it my way. In fact, my one son is renting and cannot compost. I recommended Mel’s system on raised legs with the mix for his deck. Then when/if he moves, he can take it with him.



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