Hello I am a new gardener and not very good at it either. I guess you could say I have a brown thumb. But nonetheless I love gardening and expecially fresh veggies.
About a month ago, my husband built me 2 beautiful raise beds and so I went to lowes and home depot and decided to buy their organic manure and compost. After reading the book lassange gardening I decided to take some of the ideas from the book and implement them to my gardening method, so I went ahead and just layered the compost the cooffee grounds the manure and peat moss, unfortunately I did not have old leaves or straw to place in my beds but I decided that I would just use what I had in hand.
I was so happy with my new beds that I started planting right away, in one bed I placed some Kentuky bush beans and beets and in the other my poor cucumber plants which did not look too good and some chard, and so my lets say experiment begun. It's been raining constantly here in Mobile AL for the last month or so so no need of watering, in fact I think my plants were over watered.
About a couple of week later my beans seemed to be doing well and so I was very happy with the results, my cucumbers were doing poorly they never got really big at all and my swiss chard and beets never came out. About a couple of days later I was horrified to watch half of may beans beign devoured by something, some of my beans leaves had maybe a leaf left and nothing else just stems, I started looking for the pests that were doing this damage and nothing I could not find a single cattterpillar in sight, so I took diatomaceous earth and started sprinkling the dust all over my beds, unfortunately like I mentioned before it was raining constantly so the diatomaceous earth just did not do the job killing the pests, then I decided to use BT a organic encyme that kills all kinds of catterpillars amongst other bad stuff, that seemed to work a little, but by the time I prayed, my plants looked extremely bad.
Before I started gardening I decided to purchase a couple of DVD's called organic gardening made easy just so I could learn a little more, practickly the Dvd's talk about how to plants vegetables in a small space using organic methods of gardening only. He always makes the point that if you feed the soil first and have a good heatlthy soil with good microorganisms and worms that can make castings that your plants will end up growing strong and that will help the plants deter any bad critters that can damage the plants, oviously he does use organic methods of killing bad critters but he also does point out that thanks to the healthy soil he is able to use a lot less pest controll.
This time I decided to take his advice and do exactly what he said on his DVD. So I practically pulled out all my plants out of my raised beds , thru them in my compost pile.
The first thing he recomends to feed the soil is to put alfalfa hay or meal in the beds and dig them into your raise beds, this will help put good bacteria and will create more food for the worms and therefore will decompose in your garden. Step two is to plant a cover crop such as legumes which will help add nitrogen into the soil and add other beneficial bacteria, once the legumes grow tall but just before you are getting the flowers is when you have to chopped them down and dig them into the soil as well.
I just purchased my cover crop seed from peaceful Valley I love this web store they practically have everything you need as an organic gardener. I already digged the alfalfa hay in the beds about a week ago and I am planing to start my leggumes in September, I would imagine it will take a good 3 -4 months for the legume to get to a good height and then I am planing to chop this down and digg it to the soil, then let the soil rest for a couple of weeks put some bone meal, fish meal and kelp meal down (NPK) this will add additional nutrients to the soil and start planting your crops, by this time the soil will have all the nutrients and added beneficial bacteria necesary for healthy plants.
I am just starting with all this and I wish I could tell you whether or not it works but hopefully I will be posting my results later on the year. You obiously don't have to buy his DVD's to learn his method, in fact his website provides tons on info and he does personally answer e-mails even if you don't buy his product, but for me it did help me see it first hand, I guess I am just a very visual person. His website is organichomegardener.com if you are interested in learning more about his method.
Another thing that has helped me is to catalog all my seeds acording to growing dates, I was able to find a really good site that tells me when to plant what in my area, sometimes the seed packages don't have a lot of info on them.
I would love to hear from anybody that has tried this or other methods of feeding the soil and that had good results with it. I will be posting pictures as the experiment continues. Also if any of you want to start this method of feeding the soil please let me know your results as well.
Carminator1 I live about 30 miles from downtown Mobile so I think our conditions are the same except Mobile County has far better soil. I've got relatives in Grand Bay that are small commercial farmers. I think your lasagna bed would have worked but it takes more time to break down.
For soil building in this area, Southern Peas or cow peas or field peas are a very cheap and effective legume. They're available at every seed and feed store and make for very good eating too. I just cut mine off at the ground because the roots are what holds the nitrogen. The tops are great for compost. I will eliminate the few weeds that were growing under them and hurry to plant some snap beans. When they're done, I'll cut them at the ground as well. By then, the old pea roots will have decomposed and released their goodies and any winter crop can then be planted. We are blessed to be able to grow something year round and you will soon want more beds.
I suggest you collect all the leaves you can this fall and start on more beds. Once you enjoy a little success you will never be satisfied as you think of more things to try. I'm going to try English peas (legume) in October. This week I've germinated broccoli, cauliflower and bak choy. I wish you lots of fun and success.
Carminator I just realized I neglected to say anything about your pest problems. You will find we don't suffer any shortage of pestilence. Rabbits like to strip beans. There's something I think called leaf cutters. I've never seen them and haven't looked them up. They usually spare some of the leaves, move on and the plants recover. Rabbits and caterpillars usually leave some excrement as evidence. Neem will repel a lot of things so you might want to try that. I got some Greenlight 3 in 1 with neem at WM. It's organic.
Wonderful twiggybuds, I guess we are neighbors! thanks for the pointers, I will definetely try the cowpea next time. Actually I did end up seeing some small catterpillars muching on the leaves before I decided to pull everything.
Bolino, sorry about not putting more paragraph breaks, yes I just reread it and it is kind of tough, also if I might add, english is my second language so please excuse my spelling.
carminator1 - I loved reading your "new gardener" story, and I must complement you on "following directions."
I've been growing vegetable for 57 years, and I can tell you that you will learn from your mistakes, so look at them in a positive light. After all these years I've learned to grow more by instinct than by design.
As to those pesky bugs - learn to disguish the good guys from the bad ones - and don't be afraid to "squish" the bad ones with your fingers - I've only known a few that will bite back - such as Japanese Beetles and June Bugs.
If you don't know if it's a bad bug, my advise would be to leave it alone. Sooner or later a good bug will come along and have it for dinner!
Using organic methods - over time your soil will reward your efforts, so keep at it. This has been my third season here at my North Carolina home, and I've managed to transform hard-packed clay into beautiful well-drained soil. It wasn't cheap by any means as I purchased lots of bagged stuff from Lowe's.
Good luck with your future gardening - you are off to a great start!
I am thrilled to start growing veggies, and even some flowers as well, to try to attract more benefinial insects into my garden. I am paciently waiting for September to plant my cover crop, the instructions said that is will perform best if planted in September-october time frame.
Part of my problem is I am a very impacient person but I have to learn to be more patient if I want better results with my gardening, I am sure I'll make many mistakes along the road but hopefully just like you said I can learn from them.
My local Feed and Seed store gave me the number of a gentelman who raises horses, and according to them he has enough to give away for free, so as soon as I can get my third raise bed built, I will grab some of this free manure and mix it with some straw, coffee grounds and I even have left over alfalfa hay.
I intend to mix this up in my new raise bed water it really well and then cover it with clear plastic so no air escapes, leave it like this for 2 or 3 months, I would imagine by then the manure will be all cooked up and ready for planting.
I'm also trying to improve my soil. I did much better this year by adding lots of amendments and it is paying off now with nice veggies. I now have two composters going and hope to add it to the beds before the first snow.
I need advice from you experts. As you can see, I have created terraces for my beds. Could I plant a cover crop to grow over the winter? Would that crop grow on the sloping edges to hold the dirt? In the spring, could I just cut the tops off, and leave the roots to help hold the soil during the spring? What crop would grow well in zone 7. We get snow at an altitude of 5700 ft.
Yout veggie patch looks great. I am definetely not an expert but would check peaceful valley and see what tipe of ground covers they have available. The one I am planting says that it can be grown in the colder climates, one of the reasons I am waiting a little bit to plant it.
I am sure you'll get an answer from somebody that is a little more seasoned than I am though.
By the way I just had my DH build me a composter my second one, I can't wait until I can get some home compost made.
[quote]I will grab some of this free manure and mix it with some straw, coffee grounds and I even have left over alfalfa hay.
Wish I could get free manure. I think I am right in saying that manure, coffee grounds and alfalfa hay will all add mostly nitrogen to your soil. You might want to even-up the nutrients by adding some other stuff, like leaves. The straw should break down and add some great humus to your beds.
Twiggy and Honey,
I've been following this thread and a light bulb went on in my head. I think I've been mixing apples and oranges in my garden operation, and I need ya'lls help with some clarification. Here's what I've been working with:
My patented EBs call for potting MIX only. I've always used MG potting mix.
Last planting season, I introduced Bocabob's coco coir into the garden, mixing in 3 parts coco coir to one part MG potting mix, in last season's EBs.
I've been using 100% MG potting mix in all my homemade eBuckets.
I had a small raised bed that I grew root veggies in last fall. I filled it with 2 bags MG potting mix, 2 bags Black Kow composted manure, and approximately 1.5 bags of sifted homemade compost from my bin.
My question is this. What, if anything is organic in the equation above, and am I on the right track with mixing these 3 together? If not, what should I keep together?
Now. Fast forward to the upcoming Labor Day weekend, when I will secure 2 yards of Rose mix from a local Living Earth business. I have sifted one wheelbarrow full of my homemade compost.
The Rose mix is to fill up my two expanded raised beds to grow the veggies in.
I still have to empty out the eBuckets that currently have some varying ratios of MG potting mix and coco coir in them.
How do I incorporate the Rose mix into this planting equation, if at all?
I need help sorting out this madness I think I've created. After reading this thread, it got me to thinking I may be mixing the wrong things together (organic and non-organic?).
Linda - I'm unsure as to what "Rose mix" is. Is this something that roses have grown in, or is it a brand name? If the former, you will have to ask the rose grower what kind of mix it is - if the latter, the information should be on the packaging.
Mixing potting soil, coir, compost, and kow manure together sounds like a "good thing" to me! Personally, I throw anything organic I have together, and then add some natural fertilizers and a little dolomite lime. As long as you keep the mix light and well-draining, I don't think the ratio matters much. The earthworms and soil microbes break down anything organic, and that's what feeds your veggies.
It's persistant pesticides that you have to be careful of. If the mix you mention was previously used to grow Roses, it could very well have systemic pesticide residue as most roses are heavily sprayed.
I grow Knockout roses and my pesticide of choice is: "finger-and-thumb" (giggle)
Alfalfa also adds other nutrients to the soil. I use alfalfa pellets, I get them at the farm and ranch store along with dry molasses. Tractor supply usually has both also. I think it also improves the flavor of the vegetables. I know I've had lots of compliments on the taste of the veggies and melons.
Alfalfa pellets contain: Nitrogen, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper, Manganese, Zinc, Magnesium and Selenium.
How do you use the dry molasses? I thought that was just to get the compost started?
I saw pics of your turnips and the tops are very healthy. That's what I'm going for 'cause I love the tops. My first time last season, I grew nice turnips and beets, but the pillbugs invaded my root bed with a vengeance. I noticed none of your tops were chewed on. Please help me understand how to battle them this year. Thanks!
My definition of organic matter is simply plant matter. It all works. I would say the coir is 100%. Your compost really depends upon how you make it. For instance, some people add plant residue to a pile and cover with a bit of soil in layers. I favor this because it introduces the soil microbes which speeds the process.
It's a fact that plant residue nourishes and conditions soil so the important thing is to apply it to our gardens. If we simply get in the habit of ALWAYS gathering and incorporating everything we can reasonably acquire, our soil will improve exponentially. That's the best advice I could give. Cover crops are great too. You will know you're on the right track if, at the end of the season, you can find worms in your soil. That includes normal open containers. I think a variety of amendments such as leaves, grass, weeds and vegetables is better than a single source because they harbor micro-nutrients in different amounts.
Gymgirl I don't see a need to sift. Whatever you are trying to exclude will either break down by microbes or plant roots will penetrate and further break it into smaller units. The only time sifting helps me is for a fine cover of small seeds so it's easier for them to emerge.
I'd say just jump in and don't stress about it. Much of it is simply intuitive. The richer the soil, the healthier the plants and the less fertilizer, lime, etc. Some recent studies have also noted that really healthy, naturally grown plants can better repel some disease and insects.
I just previewed and can agree with Honeybee and Cala. I've used alfalfa pellets with good results.
When I arrived at terra non gratis (grata), I believe there were 5 earthworms in the dirt. When I lifted my compost pile to sift into the wheelbarrow (I sift because I think it's the prettiest "dirt" I've ever seen, and I just love how it looks when it's all nice and uniform. Also, the root crops don't have to fight to grow in it, 'cause it's loose enought to plunge my hands into, up to my forearms) I could not do so without lifting a shovelful teeming with HUGE, 5-7" earthworms.
So, if earthworms love organic "soil," I guess I'm well on my way, and on the right track.
I was concerned about the addition of REAL DIRT (the rose mix) to my equation, and whether it constitutes as "organic," 'cause the stuff I found when I got there was simply pitiful, hard, dry, and clumpy, like clay.
Thanks for the feedback, ya'll. I'm confident now that I can mix what I've been working with together. I'll keep finessing the ratios to get a consistently good growing medium.
Gymgirl you made me laugh out loud for real. I know what you mean about that beautiful sifted stuff. So long as you are enjoying it then, by all means, indulge. I'm not convinced that the plants really care though.
Yep those worms know more about it than we do. Now you can officially quit stressing. lol.
Twiggybuds, thanks for setting me at ease. BTW, here's how I've been "making" my compost:
I started on a bare patch of dirt in a corner of our yard. Layered confetti shredder paper from work, spent coffee grinds from the coffee bar at work (can get a 5 gallon bucket almost every 1.5 weeks), leaves and grass from the lawn (although it just occurred to me that my DH spreads Scott's weed and feed on our grass...hmmm...), and all my veggie peels and non-protein table scraps.
These ingredients are layered and sprinkled down between each layer, and kept as moist as I can stand in the summertime holding the hose. Then it handles itself in the rainy season. I used to turn it regularly when I was an UBERnewbie, then I learned better. Now I manage to move it around periodically when I pull a trench open to chuck in my scraps to feed the wormies. And, maybe when I get a bug on me and I'm feeling like I need a good workout, I've actually shoveled it all out, then shoveled it all back in -- but -- only in the fall, when it's at least 50 degrees out and I can push the sleeves up on my sweatshirt -- learned that as a newbie!
I used to lament it wouldn't get "hot" but then I learned I could have "hot" or "worms" but not both, so I chose worms. I love the worms, cause they represent "good earth!"
Actually, the compost I sifted a coupla weeks ago in the wheelbarrow has been breaking down since last summer. I didn't need it for anything before now, so I just kept adding to it, and kept it watered down and well-fed so my worms wouldn't go house-hunting elsewhere. I could've pulled from the bottom after about 2-3 months or so.
Once I sift the other 1/2 of the pile, I'll start layering again for next fall. I think I'll start using more of it, and sooner from now on, though.
[quote]One thing I have noticed about the straight MG potting mix is that it begins to compact over time, bonding together like hardpack.
I usually add perlite to this potting mix so it doesn't pack down.
By next year (my fourth growing season here in NC) I hope to have enough "home grown" soil as to not to need to buy potting soil again. The earthworms have been turning all the leaves hubby gathered last fall into wonderful soil. We put the leaves between the raised beds to keep the weeds at bay. These areas are finally clear of Burmuda grass. When the weather gets cooler, I'll take-up all the worm castings and add them to the beds.
Then I gotta get a drip-irrigation system going, 'cause my hubby gets worn-out hand watering!
So, perlite come in bags at the Box Store? What ratio of perlite to potting mix/soil?
Also, isn't there a huge difference between potting MIX and potting SOIL? It's ok to mix these two? That's the dilemma I'm trying to resolve now, cause most of my eBuckets have potting MIX and coco coir in them.
My take on it is that potting soil is dirt plus some organic stuff, often referred to as compost, mixed in. It's usually not much organic content or if it is, it will usually be a cheaper type such as composted tree chips and bark.
Potting mix is supposed to have much more organic content, usually peat and those little white beads (pearlite?). It may or may not actually have some dirt depending on the brand. The mix usually is higher priced and is often billed as being sterile.
I don't see any reason you couldn't mix it. I would question the rationale of purchasing the more expensive potting mix and then diluting it. Gymgirl you are now comfortable in the conviction that you know how to make some excellent compost. In your position, I'd take potting soil or even soil from your yard and mix it with about 1/3 to 1/2 of your good compost and call it better than store bought.
I haven't had any problems with soil-borne disease in my pots or with starting seeds. I start seedlings with peroxide water and that kills anything that might be lurking in it. I just keep adding organic materials and recycling. I'm using some potting soil that I know is 4 years old, with good results. I get some foliage disease on my tomatoes but so does everyone else. It's in the air and inevitable. I just remind myself once in awhile that humans have been growing crops in the soil for a long time.
Thanks Twiggybuds. You make good sense. The only reason I'm entertaining soil at all is to fill those two beds. It'd cost WAY to much to fill em with potting mix. I'm gonna do as you suggested. Get the soil, fill those beds, and build on them with my homemade compost. I think I'll stick with the mix for the EBs and when its time to rotate it out, I'll dump it into the raised beds. Thx again!
It sounds like a good plan Gymgirl. Yes it does cost quite a bit to fill up your beds when you use the stuff from the stores, I think I have spent about $60 in my 2 raise beds.
I am planning to build a 3rd one and will use stuff that I have at hand. The soil you made is way!!!! better than the one you get from the stores that's for sure. You can also add some organic materials in your beds as well, like straw or leaves, they will eventually dicompose as well.
As to the difference between potting mix and potting soil - I don't know the answer. I usually poke a hole in one of the bags, and whichever looks "good" to me is the one that goes home (LOL) I seem to remember buying bags of Miracle Grow garden soil this year. I added perlite, vermiculite, coir, compost, and an endless assortment of other organic stuff to it. There was another brand at Lowes, but there seemed to be too many wood chips in it.
I never measure anything - just throw it all together into my garden cart, mix it well, tip it onto the garden and grow stuff in it. Maybe when I was much younger, I worried about the correct amounts of what, but now I just grow by instinct. We get enough to eat/share each year and that's whart I love best about gardening - especially the eating part :)
Gymgirl, hope you have a good trip. I've been so busy with the new irrigation system we're adding that I haven't had time to get online.
The dry molasses I use by sprinkling it around. I put down a thick layer of grass clippings(fresh from the bagger), sprinkle dry molasses and alfalfa pellets and water it all in. Within 6 months it turns into beautiful soil. We fill the trenches between the beds with the grass clippings too.
The turnips, I just prepared the bed, planted the seeds and covered them with compost. When the plants were up and going I started adding mulch. The worst pest I had on them was those darned little snails that are everywhere down here.
Yes, definetely have a great trip! I have been busy as well, I just planted out my cover crop of legumes in my 2 raise beds.
I really hope this helps my soil get more nutrients and beneficial insects.
I have also planted lettuce on containers and mesclum salad, if this does well, I might as well use my containers to plant greens such as lettuces and use my raise beds for other veggies.
Calalily, how long do you have to leave the grass clippings, molasses and alfalfa lettuce to decompose before planting? I am planing to build another raise bed this month and really would like to make it as cheap as posible.
Carminator I had wonderful mesclun mix last fall that really lasted into early March. I took some scissors with me and just took the largest leaves every couple of days. I grew them in a large pot and had it under a tree for dappled sun. I think our sun is too intense for their liking even in winter because I started a second pot later in full sun. They never thrived. I'm going to start a couple pots soon so I can have salad every day all winter. Good luck with it.
Carminator, I plant first, then add the mulch, alphalfa pellets and molasses. As the mulch decomposes I add more. It helps cool the soil and conserve moisture. The earthworms love it.
Twiggybuds, we can grow lettuce here in full sun in winter, I wonder why it won't grow there?
I blamed the sun because the second pot was right beside the first. It didn't germinate as well either. If it wasn't the sun, I bet it was a different soil mix. I'm going to be trying it again soon and I'll surely make sure there's plenty of compost in all of it so it holds moisture well.
Twiggybuds,I agree that different packs can germinate differently. If lettuce seeds have been exposed to high temps (lowes here has their seeds outside in the garden center area all summer, I know they're too hot), it has to be exposed to light to break dormancy and if it was exposed to really high temps, it won't germinate at all unless GA is used on it.
I've also gotten lettuce to germinate when it's a bit too warm by mixing the seeds with a little damp sand, putting in a baggie, put in the fridge for a few days, then sow the lettuce/sand mixture in the garden. Fools the little seeds into germinating!
I have my 2 pots under the shade, sometimes they do get a little bit of sun but I also heard that lettuce don't like full sun.
Calalily, what a great idea! I might try that with my 3rd bed that I am going to start this month.
I just planted a cover crop of leggumes in my other 2 so I have to wait at least 2-4 months to plant anything.
The problem is that I really don't have any worms in my beds, so I am doing this to be able to attract more worms and also have a better enriched soil as well.
By the way talking about germination rate, I had purchase some seeds from Parks, some swiss chard that was on sale, this is my third time trying to germinate the seeds and nothing comes out, I wonder if it is just a bad batch. I was wondering if I should write them about it and if they would replace the seeds or not. Have any of you had something similar happen and if so what did you do?
Thanks for that baggie trick Calla. I always plant small seeds way too thick and I bet the sand would help solve that problem as well.
Carminator the worms will find your goodies. I tried to rush the process several times by buying a container of fishing worms. They weren't my native kind and disappeared. I don't know why. However some large worms do like my potting soil far better than my native sand. I don't know how they got in there but every time I dump a pot out, it has worms in it. Maybe they ate the foreigners. If you have an area that has old leaves or grass clippings piled up, I bet you could find some to transplant.
Twiggybuds, the large worms find my pots too. I have no idea where they come from because I don't see them in the soil except in areas where I've added lots of organic ammendments. I take them to the garden when I find them and they do survive there.
Our native worms are very small compared to the ones I had in TN. These are more red also. I wonder if they're a type of red wiggler?
Carminator, Twiggybuds has a good suggestion, especially if you keep the area around the leaves/grass clippings damp(not soggy). Worms like the moisture.
As far as I know, earthworms come out at night, especially if it has rained, or there is a heavey dew. They crawl all over the place, and I assume if they find a nice damp pot to crawl into, they will do so (through the holes in the bottom of the pot).
This is what I have read, I have never gone out at night to watch for earthworms doing their nightly rounds :)
Unfortunately I don't have any old leaves or leaves at all, I live in a prety new neighborhood and the trees that are around are tiny.
I did however place all the straw that I bought in the ground, and believe me with all the rain we've been having it is all wet and soggy. I am hoping this wet straw will atract them as well. I also placed some cardboard in the bottom of my raise beds and got it extremely wet, I had heard somewhere that wet cardboard attracts them as well, and also helps with the weeds.
I have some red wigglers in a tub in my laundry area, and did place some in my raise beds but a lady that sells them in my area told me they problably wont survive the harsh temps, since this worms are just composter worms.
I actually have never gone to check whether there are worms in my raise beds at night, I'll have to do that.
If you sow lettuce, spinach, and such outdoors now for fall crops, very lightly stir the soil over the seed...covering much of the seed a bit and not covering some of it. Then put a strip of weed barrier on top with something to hold it down. Then water well. This works very well and the seeds should come up pronto. Some lettuce seeds need light and some do not. I think it is a matter of white seed and black seed.
Thanks Indy. I actually used the worm castings to cover the seeds, I love this stuff! is is fluffy and not coarse at all, it is very refined soil plus it's one of the best composts. Actually all my seeds germinated within 3 days, I was really surprised to tell you the truth.
I also have some oriental mix that I am thinking of putting on another container to see if it would do well.
In the meantime I am waiting for my cover crop to emerge from the alfalfa hay, nothing just yet, I guess I am just to impatient.
My Swiss chard finally sprouted, but I have to say very poor germination rate, out of 6 planted only 3 came out, I decided to place some more seeds in wet paper to see if I can get it to germinate like this and then plant the ones that have germinated into the containers.
That rain you got today ought to bring them out but I see a what may be a problem. Most legumes like peas and beans sprout with very large cotyledons. If you have the large type, they might have some trouble getting past the straw. I'd be checking for signs of green and trying to help clear their way a bit if they need it..
I think you're going to learn a lot this fall and have some great results next year. Those beds look really nice and I think you're going to want some more before spring planting time.
Thank you twiggybuds, actually I was instructed to place the alfalfa hay on top just enough to cover the seeds, some of the seeds you can see through the hay so they are not extremely covered up. This mix I purchased from grow organic and it Contains: 40% Bell Beans, 20% Magnus or BioMaster Winter Peas, 15% Lana Vetch, 15% Purple Vetch,10% Cayuse Oats. I did see a few sprouts but not sure if they are legumes or not.
I guess if I start seeing that the legumes can't get passed the straw or alfalfa I might as well take it out, fortunately I have a lot more seed I can put down just in case this one does not sprout correctly.
As far as more beds, yes I can't wait to get more, I have so many things I want to plant that these will definetly not be enough.
Twiggybuds, I decided to go and took my top layer of alfalfa hay to try to thin it out more than it was, I think I might have overdone it.
It was not very difficult and I was able to do it without disturbing my seeds. We are definetelly getting lots of rain here in Mobile so I really don't think they will dry out.
Thank you so much for helping me out, sometimes it really helps when people can see it in a picture.
I also planted some beets a while back in another of my earthboxes but they are getting devoured by tinny caterpillars so I decided to spray the tiny plants with BT, hopefully this will take care of the problem.
She's baaasaaack! With a tropical island tan and sunburn to boot. Swam in the ocean every day. Laid out on the sand. Margaritaville was at my fingertips. Sea breezes wafting, Caribbean swells crashing upon the rocks at the shoreline. Somebody please punch me and tell me it wasn't just a dream. 'Cause today I gotta move this mountain of soil & compost into my two new raised veggie beds. Too bad I can't do it in my swimsuit! Ya'll pray for me 'cause the DDH ain't even about 2 help me.
Hello I wanted to post some pictures of my raise beds so you can see how much the leggumes are growing since this is an experiment an all.
The legumes are doing fine but one of my beds is getting bad damage because of a black ugly caterpillar, I will post a picture as well. I am trying to spray with BT and see if this will take care of the ugly pests.
Also I wanted to post a picture of what I think are tomato plants growing along with my leggumes, maybe you can tell me whether or not these are tomatoes or not.
That sure looks like a volunteer tomato plant to me! Good going. Sorry about the cats. Off on another vacation trip this weekend, but off Monday and Tuesday. Can you guess what I'll be doing all day Monday and Tuesday.
Yes that's a tomato plant. And that's the same cat that's plaguing all my fall stuff. I've been putting on the BT like a mad woman and then the rain comes right behind me to wash it off. I know it's been getting some of them but there's still more everyday. I'm about to give up on the maters. I had a few of these in early June and the BT worked great. Now all this rain is just helping them out. They're probably getting your legumes because you don't have plenty of other stuff they like better. I've got green beans blooming and southern peas but they don't mess with them. They've killed one of my cauliflower seedlings and are trying to ruin the rest.
I know I think the same, I think the rain is definetely helping the critters, so do not give up please keep spraying, I was told you wont hurt the plants with this stuff and I am sure some of them will die eventually.
I was told these are cut worms, they tend to attack small seedlings and like to cut the seedling right at ground level.
We are now having a couple of days without rain so I am going out and spraying BT like mad when my backyard is not in full sun. The instructions of the BT sais to spray when you don't have sun since the sun will void the killing power of the BT.
Twiggybuds I want to send you this link, I found it the other day on the internet, it is a planting wheel for the Mobile area and since you are pretty close to my part of town I thought you might find it useful.
Thanks for that link carminator. You're right, that takes out the guesswork. I can see already that my timing was off on several things. I've been watching the TX folks and subtracting or adding.
Dipel dust is what I've been using and it does work on all my caterpillars to a degree. I think I could get much better coverage with the Thuricide spray and it would be a lot easier to apply. I bought this nice new duster back in June and was hoping to get my $ worth out of it. I've noticed some unusual patterns with the insects this year and I think it has a great deal to do with our unusual weather. I sure don't wish for a drought but this has just been ridiculous for rain. Not so much the quantity but the frequency.
So what I see in this article is that this Bt will not kill the cutworm that I have eating all my leggumes, so my question is what should I use to kill them. I also have diatomaceous earth in my pantry, so can I use this product to kill these critters. I would love to keep it as organic as possible.
Lise P I am not a 100% sure but I would imagine your timeframe and mine is not so different since we are both in zone 8, now I think for zone 9 probably I would substract 2 weeks since their weather is milder than ours.
twiggybuds, I completely agree, too much rain is just too much rain, it is depresing alsmost, I have 2 little ones and I've been wanting to take them to the pool this last couple of months but it's been imposible so we've been stuck at home. I was told Mobile is one of the rainiest cities in all US, boy I sure hope we get a little break.
Carmin I'd try the diatomaceous earth because it surely won't hurt anything. I've read that it won't hurt earthworms. I've not had cutworm problems, knock wood. My worms look like yours plus the corn ear worms which I think are called fruit borers. They burrow into the green tomatoes and peppers. I've also had a few of the big green horn worms but far less than last year. Those black ones like in your photo are trying to strip the leaves off my broccoli and such. The smaller the plant, the more tender and appealing to them.
I've also got some Greenlight 3 in 1 that has neem and pyrethin in it. It's organic but will kill everything. Sevin will do the trick but I hate to use it because it surely will kill everything, earthworms too I think. If it would just quit all this raining so often I could make some progress. There was a shower just an hour ago that was pretty hard but only for 5 minutes. It's getting old.
I will try the diatomaceous earth today and see if there is any progress. I was told that the worm in my picture was a cutworm, but maybe it is not since cutworms only come out at night and they are hard to spot, plus these worms have been tearing my leaves and not so much the plant itself. I do see a little bit less of these worms everytime I spray the BT so hopefully it is doing something.
Good luck with your plants, I just got some Calabrese broccoli seeds in a trade today, I am so excited!, unfortunately it is too late for me to plant it from seed right now, according to the wheel I have to start seeds in June and transplant the seedlings in September so maybe next year I'll be able to have some broccoli.
Sorry about the rain, lets hope next month is not so rainy.
Honeybee, after reading the article for the 3rd time I just saw that this article talks about the Berliner strain, there are about 50 different strains of BT in the market, the most widely used has Bacillus Thurengiensis, Kurstaki as active ingredients, this one does kill the cutworms and many other worms that might attack the plants. Just wanted to mention it just in case there was a confution with my previous e-mail.
Carmin put some of those calabrese seeds in water right now and add a tsp of hydrogen peroxide. They'll be sprouting tomorrow and you can plant them exactly where you want them. Gently cover them 1/4",.water in and they'll be up Monday. That's what I've been doing with all my cole crops. Mix up some more of the peroxide water to use for watering and don't let them dry out. I use 1/4 Cup to a 1 gallon jug. This practically eliminates problems of over watering, kills any disease in your potting soil and keeps them healthy until they're good sized.
I planted calabrese as late as November last year and was eating off it starting in mid-Jan. It just keeps sprouting and will start bolting in February if we get several warm days in a row. It just won't do past mid March because it likes cold weather. I use that peroxide trick for all my seeds and add weak miracle grow after they get first leaves. It pushes them along quickly. I guess you could use fish emulsion or whatever more organic stuff you like so long as it provides adequate nutrients. We can put out cole crops almost all winter and the frost won't kill them. They sometimes will sit there a bit until it warms up just a bit or the daylight gets a bit longer. The trick is to keep setting plants and mostly they all work. I'm fixing to start onions and lettuce.
That is wonderful twiggybuds you are full with knowledge, I am going to take your advice and do exactly what you said. By the way could I plant it in Jiffy pots once they sprout and then plant them in the ground once the plant has some true leaves. Since I am doing a cover crop in my raise beds I have to plant in containers just for now, and all my containers are full right now. I just actually planted some beets yesterday and also some radishes in another.
I also started some onions yesterday, I place a bunch of seeds in a small yogurt container so once they emerge and get big ebough I'll transplant the seedlings to my raise beds, I am sure by then the beds will be ready to plant.
Yes I use it for anything that I'm starting in the house or initially in the small pots. It's really not so important this time of the year but lots of folks, including me, have had the dreaded damping off, especially in the winter. I don't worry about trying to use sterile mix for starting seeds with the peroxide. It just seems to me that as a general rule, the faster the germination the better and the faster seedlings can get a decent stem and several leaves, the less chance of problems.
Soaking the seeds always shortens the germination time even if you just use plain water. It's not really practical to pre-soak small seeds or even something like the calabrese if you're planting a lot at one time. It works just as well if you sow the seeds and set the pot in something deep enough to thoroughly soak all the mix. I do that with the peroxide water too and then just set them under a tree to germinate. If they get dappled sun, it eliminates any need to harden them off. It works even if you set them in the full sun but you can't let them dry out. I like to bottom water because it doesn't disturb the seeds like top watering can, at least the first time.
After your calabrese have soaked overnight, you'll see the seed coats splitting open and some of them will have their little white root sticking out. Make your holes for the seeds, dump them into your palm and use a butter knife to lift each one. Tap the knife and it will fall off approximately where you want it. Don't worry about which way the root is pointing because it's programmed to turn down once you cover it. If any of your kids are old enough, this is a great learning experience for them.
You can hold the plants until you're ready for them. They might get a bit leggy but then you can just plant them deeper. They don't seem to mind that at all.
Thanks twiggybuds, I'll check the seeds tomorrow and see if their seeds coats are open or not, these seeds were collected in 2007 so it might take a little longer for germination to occur, but we will see.
I tend to use the seedless mix to start my seeds but it tends to be expensive, I've also heard other people that use coconut coir, perlite and vermiculite to start your seeds, and garden girl actually mixes a couple of rabbit pellets to the mix as extra nutrients, I have not tried this yet but might in the future.
Boy I can't wait to start planting in my raise beds but I am waiting for the legume to get a little bit bigger so I can digg it to the soil, they say to wait until just before the leggumes flower to dig them to the soil.
I am also waiting on my DH to be done with the shed so he can build me another raise bed so I can have more space to grow veggies.
HoneyBee, I tried the peroxide mixed with water but unfortunately my seeds did not sprout, I am not sure if I did anything wrong but followed your instructions to the T.
A couple of days ago I decided to take a couple of the seeds and place them in damp paper towels, I mainly wanted to make sure that I the batch of seeds were good, anyways out of 10 seeds that I place on the paper towels 4 sprouted so I just placed them in individual paper rools and under my grow light, hopefully I'll have little plants soon, but we will see.
The only think I can think of is I used regular tap water, also my peroxide was kind of old so maybe this was the reason the seeds did not sprout.
Carminator I'm just so disappointed that it didn't work. You got 4 out of 10 with plain water in the towel and that's still poor germination. I think old peroxide just turns into water so it wouldn't have hurt anything.
I think there may be a problem with your seed. I've got loads of purchased and saved seeds from this year and if you'll dmail me some idea of your wish list, I'd be glad to share.
You've still got time to start and grow any of the cole crops. Last year I started some cauliflower and never got around to planting it. Sometime in December I noticed 2 of them surviving my neglect and I planted them. They never received good care because I thought it was too late. They both made a small head in spite of me.
The seed that I got in a trade was collected in 2007, I still have lots more seed thankfully, I am definetely not complaining, the nice lady also sent me a few dragon tongue seeds which I've been wanting to try for a long time now.
If I can get 4 plants to grow for me this year, I will not be dissapointed at all, I might even try to save seed from one of these broccoli to try to get newer seeds.
I also started some Broccoli Rabb seeds and almost all of them sprouted, so I planted them in containers as well. ( not sure if I will like this one, but I got them for free with the purchase of other seeds so I thought I might try them out).
I might start a couple of more Broccoli seeds in moist paper and see if I can get a few more to sprout to plant more.
Twiggybuds, I have a question for you. As you know I have some green manure growing in my raise beds right now with the hopes of improving my soil quality.
I was wondering if I should let them grow to completion which would take most of the winter or if I should turn the green manure now in one of my raise beds , let it rot for a couple of weeks and and plant winter veggies, such as the broccoli, carrots, and lettuces. The green manure or beans are pretty high now so I am sure it will give some nutrients to the soil. I also have the horse manure that I got for free which is practically finnished composting and worm castings.
I have been wondering if this would be a good idea or not for a while and wanted to get somebody else's opinion.
I don't have enough experience with growing as you are trying to do to properly advise you. Assuming your cover crop will die down with the first hard frost, I think I'd set the broccoli plants without disturbing any more than I needed to. Your soil in those beds should still be fairly loose and rich. My thinking is that the legume roots will slowly release their nitrogen as the winter passes and the top growth will be a nice mulch for the new plants. It would keep the soil from splashing up and by spring planting time, it should have almost disappeared.
Everything I've read says green amendments worked into the soil deplete nitrogen as they break down. I do it but I always use chemical ferts plus micros to try to mimic a good compost pile. It sounds like your beds are already superior to my container soil. The broccoli makes big leaves that should just push the legumes out of their way as they grow. I would definitely try it and if they seem slow to grow, give them some more fert of some kind. If for some reason this doesn't go well, you can have some more ready to go in around New Years.
I sense that you're really wanting to get started and it would be awful if you spent the winter kicking yourself. Besides, as soon as DH starts getting something to eat from those beds, the more willing he'll be to make more.
twiggybuds, thank you for your input. That might actually not be a bad idea.
The cover crop that I have consists mostly of oats and vetch along with a few winter peas and beans, it is supposed to be winter hardy so I am not sure if it will die with the frost.
Since the only thing I am planting is broccoli and rappini and a few lettuces that I started a while back, I'll just wait until I am almost ready to plant them out.
About wanting to start, yes you are right, I keep thinking that if I don't start now I will have to wait until the tomato season to be able to plant stuff, and I want my DH to build me more raise beds but I also want to show him the benefits of growing your own veggies as well.
Actually I planted this lettuce about 3 weeks ago, it's been doing great. The first batch that I planted I ended up having to compost it because the leave were just too bitter plus they were very yellow with all the rain.
Boy! yesterday I went nuts in Lowes and bought all kinds of lettuce seeds, 4 seasons, endive, arugula etc... I am planning to plant all these and my broccoli and broccoli Rabb and beets in my raise bed. I decided to turn all the green manure into the soil and place some clear plastic on top to decompose it faster, I was told in about a week I'll be able to plant some veggies. I can't wait to start.
carminator, that sounds like a great plan! Do you practice succession planting? Especially with lettuce, it's good to plant your initial crop and then 1-2 weeks later plant the next and so on through the latest time you can plant that crop. It gives you a more continual harvest and not all kinds of stuff maturing at once. That can get a little overwhelming - lol. How cold does it get where you are? I can plant greens all fall and winter, pretty much up until early March. Any later and they bolt as the temps start climbing!
Your lettuce being bitter was maybe due to it being too warm out still? Most lettuces will bolt in the heat and go to seed or become very bitter.
Actually this is my first time planting lettuce, but yes I was planning to do a succession planting expecially with the lettuce since like you said you have to eat this stuff fresh and you just don't want too much of it at one time.
I was also thinking of planting 2 rows of beets but this ones I was going to plant all at once, that way I can just pickle and can the beets.
I am starting some onion seeds as well, hopefully by the time they are ready to be planted outside, my other raise bed will be ready. According to the companion planting book, onions do well with tomatoes and so does carrots, so I will plant tomatoes and carrots and onions in the same bed and then plant a few basil plants as well.
Hopefully my DH will build me some more raise beds, and that way I can plant more stuff.
Have any of you checked the Dervaes family in Youtube, it really is amazing how much they can plant in such little land. If you have not seem them you can type dervaes family in you tube and see them, they really are an inspiration.
I will have to check them out on my home computer! Work one blocks YouTube:^(
I have a square foot garden and was amazed at how much I could grow in little space, especially when you grow stuff vertically.
Glad you have the succession planting in mind! It's the way to go. I plant a few different kinds of beets because we love the greens. I really don't like the beets so much - lol. I'll send them all to you - hee hee hee. Good idea to plant all at once of you plan to can or otherwise preserve them. You're doing a good job for being a beginner. Keep it up! You learn something every season. I like to succession plant carrots too. My whole family loves to walk through the garden and eat what they can, so I need to make sure I have plenty going all the time!
Once your DH sees how much you like gardening and eating the fresh produce, it won't be hard to get him to build you some more beds. Worked for me!
About to leave for the day, but would like for you to discuss beet varieties that grow BIG leaves. I've learned to LOVE beet greens, and the roots have become a by-product for me, although I do like pickled beets.
I posted on the Osaka thread that I planted some seeds yasterday!!!
I like Detroit Dark Red and Early Wonder, both Heirlooms, for greens. The EWs greens grow up to 18" tall and they are very delicious. Both varieties I've even eaten the older (bigger) leaves and they are not tough or bitter at all if you cook them. For raw eating I use the small leaves and toss a few in salads.
The EW are also I think like 48 days to harvest or round about - good if you want to succession crop them, but I've always just kept the greens harvested and they keep producing for a long long time. Of course the roots may not be so good by then, but I mostly don't eat them anyway - lol.
Actually I have to tell you that I don't like beets either but my DH loves them so I am doing the beets more for him than me, but heard that the greens are delicious so I thought I might give them a try. I bought a mixed beet package of beets so supposebly it comes with lots of different varieties, even the yellow kind of beet which supposebly are sweeter.
The carrot thing is a good idea, I was just going to plant them all at once thinking that they take a long time to mature but succession planting sounds better.
Yes I think my DH will build me more raise beds, he also sees the benefits of planting your own veggies, I am hoping to have at least 4 raise beds this year, so far I have 2 raise beds that are 4x8 so I am hoping to be able to raise a lot of veggies.
Not a problem Linda, I know they really are an incredible family, it kind of makes me want to go back to the simple way of living.
Check also claires allotment on you tube she does give good tips on growing veggies as well, and of course don't forget about garden girl , she is also a lady that grown in the city, she also has great tips as well.
I started with 3 - 4' x 4' beds. By the time my veggies were coming up, I had DH building me a 4' x 10' bed and a 2' x 12' bed. In total I have I think 108 sq ft of raised beds and I already want more more more - lol. If you get a chance check out the All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. I don't follow it to a T, but there are some great concepts in there on growing a lot in little space!
Let me know how that beet mix does for you, esp with the greens!! I have a really good recipe for beet greens I will post when I get a chance. I'll probably post it on the recipe forum and link to it from here.
Last year I planted some beets in a pot and forgot to water it regularly. Only one came up and after awhile I pulled it out so I could use the pot for something else. I just threw it under a tree thinking it would be unrecognizable in a few days. The silly thing lived and had beautiful leaves. Everyone that saw it wanted to know what it was. They thought it was some kind of fancy winter ornamental. So anyone that has ratty looking flower beds and can grow beets through the winter...it's an idea.
>>Have any of you checked the Dervaes family in Youtube, it really is amazing how much they can plant in such little land. >>
Yep, Carminator1, I love all the Path to Freedom videos. So inspirational. (locakelly, you really have to check them out!). They have a nice website with good blog-reading on it too.
Just think, if we can do even 10% of what that family does, we're looking at 600-1000 lbs of produce per year. That is what I hope to learn to do.
Yes that's my goal too, expecially with the rising prices of produce, plus the fact that a lot of store bough veggies just don't have a taste at all. For example I love artichokes and have a really nice recipe for artichoke hearts and rice but artichokes here are about almost 2 dollars a piece, and so I haven't had artichokes for a long time, you can also use frozen but I am not able to find them here at all so I am hoping to grow them myself and see how it does.
Right now I am reading all their blogs they are really nice and I am learning a lot from them. Plus I am getting tons of good recipes, check the jalapeno jelly one, I like jalapenos but never know what to do with so many so this is a good alternative.
Is nice to know that you don't have to live in the country or have tons of land to be able to get a decent produce.
Carmen, Lise, Loca et al,
I've been wondering if my return is anywhere near my $$ investment, though. I'm thinking that it's probably very NOT at this point, but the return of peace in the garden is what's working for me right now.
I've invested considerable $$$ and time since I started in 2007, and my return, produce-wise, has been minimal.
I would like to know that, one day, I'll be getting more OUT of the garden than I'm putting INTO the garden!
I am just starting right now and I am just spending lots of $ trying to a get a garden going. I am hoping that one day I will be able to produce more than what I spend in the garden. There are ways to save though, like for example to start a compost bin so in the future you can use that compost to fill your raise beds instead of buying manure from the store, also I got some free horse manure recently so I am planning to put that in my new raise beds as well. I also have a vermicomposting system that I built myself out of a rubbermaid bin and so I get worm compost as well.
Another way to save money is to save all your toilet paper rolls or big paper rolls, I tend to cut toilet paper rolls in 2 sections and regular paper rolls into 4 sections and plant the seeds there, the toilet paper will biodregrade once the little plant is ready to be placed outside in the garden, they act just like jiffy pots but without the huge cost, I also use yogurt cups as well.
I really think you do spend $ initially but once the beds are stablished and you get your own manure going, you will be able to save money in the longrun, plus think of how much better the veggies will taste.
I am trying an organic method used by Lee Ohara, I really like his organic method of planting veggies, but we will see how it goes.
Thanks for the link, LiseP. I plan to check all these out!
Linda - inititally the investment does seem to far outweigh what you get in return produce-wise. A lot of stuff I grew my first season was also just a little of this and a little of that, kind of a test garden so to speak. Now I'm full on into succession planting and trying to keep all my available space producing something year round. I also initially had to buy seeds (mostly) and a few plants, but now am able to save seeds and trade here on DG. Had I found DG before I started I probably could have kept the seed costs down with all the awesome traders here willing to help a newbie out - lol.
carminator - I like you try to be frugal. My kids are always asking me why are you saving this or that - lol. I tell them it's for the garden and they think it's cool. Now they ask me all the time, hey, mom - can you use this? LOL
My reason for gardening is this: I love to be a part of the miracle of those plants growing from those seemingly lifeless little seeds. I enjoy being outside working (well, except during the summer here - lol) and digging in the dirt. I love being able to walk into my backyard and pick my dinner.
I'm nowhere near the point yet where I get more out than I put in, but I think that is OK with me. The more time that passes the more I learn. I hope to instill that same passion for growing things in my little boys. I want them to know that you don't have to live on a farm or have lots of land to grow things. I live in the heart of the city, my backyard separated from a major avenue by a mere block wall. I want folks to look over that wall and say - WOW! All that in the city!
If you all are looking for any particular veggie seeds, let me know. I have a pretty large variety, mostly heirlooms, and am always looking for new ones to try. I have plenty of some to share!
P.S. carminator - thanks for starting this great thread!
Are those stacked cinder blocks toward the left end, with the tall stuff growing out? What is that, BTW?
You have a really neat operation. See. You've already given me an idea for an area that I could probably convert to another raised bed, probably using stacked concrete cinder blocks as a border, since it would be along the DH's brand new cedar fence. I'm thinking I could do approximately a 3x8' bed, accessing it from the front and 2 sides, and bordered by the fence...hmmmmm...
Hey, you gave me an idea to grow stuff out the top of the fence - lol. I think the green you see that looks like it's growing out the top of the wall is a neighbor's tree. Just the angle of the pic I think!
In the first pic, the block wall in the background has a space between the bottom of the wall and the concrete patio that is maybe 6-8" wide. Originally there was a wooden fence there and then my DH and my FIL built the block wall many years ago but left that space. So, it became gardening space for me. I have pics somewhere of the plants in full bloom there - fascinating. It is a small space that runs the length of the block wall. I normally fall sow annuals or flower mixes there, sometimes sunflowers. It's very pretty when in bloom. I haven't decided if I want to put perennials there as the wall has a full on western exposure. OK in the winter, but in our summers it would fry most anything within a few feet of that wall. Maybe I can find a vine that will take that sun, but I like planting different seeds there every year.
I wish I could use the concrete block here like you are talking about. It just gets too hot here in the desert. I have more pics of the shade structure at home too. I also have some on another thread here somewhere...
Kelly, I agree with you, I have so many seeds thanks to generous people from Daves and tomatoville, I have more tomato heirloom seeds now than I can plant in a lifetime.
Also, I went to walmart about a month ago and was able to purchase a package of seeds from walmart for 10 cents, they were trying to get rid of all their 2009 seeds and they had just a few packages of flower and a few cantaloupe seeds. I will in the future look for seed sales as well.
Another thing I am doing now is to place my seeds in wet paper towels and let them sprout before I plant them in containers this way I don't use as many seeds and I can plant only the ones that sprout. I tend to keep all my seeds in the refrigerator since I've heard that this way they can last a long time.
I love the picutes of your raise beds they are so neat looking plus I am sure your kids are enjoying helping you in the garden.
This thursday or friday I am going to put my 4 year old to work to help mommy plant some lettuce seeds and swiss chard.
I see you do a square foot gardening configuration with the 2x12 section. There's a piece on the Instructables.com website that has a raised bed on a concrete surface. The builders also made a series of square foot boxes, that would stack on top of the wooden frame to extend the height on a square foot section.
I could see how utilizing a series of stacked SFBs (square foot boxes) would allow for angling a raised bed into just about any configuration needed. And, they can be easily constructed. From your pic, I see you accommodated a taller section in the same way.
I could build an initial raised bed, then add height with SFBs. Stabilize them by drilling holes and anchoring them to vertical 2xs. Even I can do that, with my brand new power tool set!
See what sharing starts? My DH will probably be calling asking you why you showed me that pic!
carminator - My kids love to help me out in the garden - lol. Especially if I give them a square and let them plant and tend their own crop. Radishes are easy as they sprout and come to maturity quickly, plus they like to eat carrots out of the garden, so we interplant them. By the time the radishes are pulled, the carrots have room to grow. It's fun for them! I've also found seeds really cheap at the 99 Cent Only stores we have around here, and they germinate very well and are usually 10 packets for 0.99 cents!! I've gotten flowers and green onions and chives and melon seeds I can think of off the top of my head...
Linda - all my beds are done in the square foot method. They are all open boxes with wood lathe laid out on the top to divide the bed into sq ft sections. It's cheap and easy to replace if one gets broken. Some people don't mark out their squares, but I loke the visual effect it gives, plus it helps me keep my crops in their intended place. Well, except for the zucchini and sweet potatoes that tried to take over the entire garden. On one end of the 4' x 10' bed I have the last four squares boxed off. That will be for potatoes come January. I think I have pics of those at home as well. The SFG book talks about building the riser boxes - very simple to do.
Just don't give your DH my phone number - lol. See what we started here...
Oh - I've never tried the paper towel sprouting method but hear good things about it. With the square foot method, you plant with final spacing in mind so no thinning (aka wasting perfectly good seeds - lol). I poke holes with my finger at the proper spacing, pop a seed in (or 2 if I'm using older seed) and voila! Now if both seeds come up (and they usually do!) then I need to pinch one off, but I love this method. I'm from the old school of row gardening and never knew there was another way until I had to try and maximize the space I had in an urban setting!
If you go to the website www.squarefootgardening.com or can find the book at the library it has a wealth of information! I got mine really cheap on Amazon. The website has links where you can look at pics of people's gardens and the materials they used to construct them. It's pretty cool!
Edited to say . . .: the book gives spacing layouts of how many per square for most common crops, or you can determine by the final spacing (or thin to) for seedlings. Carrots for example are thin to 3" so you can put 16 in a sq ft. You can look and approximate the spacing pretty good after you do it a few times...
locakely, I bough the square foot gardening and gave it to my dad a couple of years ago after I read it of course LOL. It was very good and had tons of useful info, I do have a question regarding this book though. If I remember correctly the book says you can plant 1 tomato plant per sq foot, but wouln't this be fairly close for tomato plants? Or is this book talking about determinate tomato plants?
I am devating whether or not to buy the book for myself to have it, but I am also trying to save some $ to make a better growing light system for my seedlings, the one I have is very small and I am only able to place a small amount of seedlings under it. Also he talks about purchasing compost, potting mix, peat moss etc and I am looking for cheaper alternatives such as making my own compost, free manure etc...
I've already divided my raise bed into squares for planting and was able to find a chart online that tells you how much per square you can grow so is it still worth it to purchase the book?
carminator - sounds like you have the basics down. While Mel's growing mix recommendation is awesome - we used it in one of the 4' x 4' beds - it can get expensive depending on the availability of the materials in your area. I use my own compost. As long as your beds have light textured soil so they drain well you will be fine. Some of my beds are the peat/vermiculite/compost mix and some are compost (2/3) mixed with my crappy native soil (1/3). All seem to work well. I just wouldn't use straight native or garden soil - it will be too heavy. You can use compost, manure, whatever organic material you have available.
I don't think you need to buy the book. Check the website and maybe you can find it at the library to check out.
carminator - I forgot to reply to your tomato question . . .
One per sq ft is tight for indeterminate tomatoes but it can be done as long as you stake or cage them. You can also cut suckers to keep the plant more compact. You'll get more but smaller tomatoes this way, depending on the variety you are growing.
That link is good. In my experience those are good estimates for #/square foot. I learned by trial and error and also by paying attention to the final spacing for seedlings. Especially with stuff like leaf lettuce - you can plant tighter if you keep the outer leaves trimmed - eat lots of salad!
Gymgirl, one thing I've been useing lately is rubbermaid tubs, they are a little smaller than the famous earth boxes but I follow the same planting guide as the earthbox. You might want to check their website. earthbox.com
Thank you localkelly for your answer about the tomatoes, I think next year when I am ready to plant matters I am going to plant 8 total in my 4x8 square foot just in case, I also want to use concrete reinforce wire cages to support them so I know I need space for them.
Those cages will do you well and they last forever - so much better than those "cages" you can buy everywhere. I use those cages for peppers and that's about it. I'll use for 'maters in a pinch, but they really can't handle an indeterminate tomato without bending or worse, falling over - been there, done that - lol.
I think 8 in the 4' x 8' bed should work fine. You should have plenty of room and you'll be able to tell if you can squeeze more in next time.
Locakelly, Yes that's what I thought, plus I was thinking of planting some onions on the edges of the raise beds and some carrots, and maybe place some herbs like basil, parsley etc...
Today is the day! I am going to plant all my seeds in my raise bed, I have some letttuce seeds and some beets and swiss chard, I'll have my 4 year old help me.
I also have some broccoli in little containers but I've heard that you are supposed to harden these before planting in the raise beds,so I'll place them outside for a couple of hours and then tomorrow as well and hopefully in 3 days or so they'll be o.k to plant outside.
I will do succession planting with the lettuce, and radishes, butl will plant all the beets and swiss chard, we will see how this goes.
Linda - I just finished planting yesterday - lol. Normally I would have planted most things maybe mid-September, but the temps have been up over 100° until this past week... So, you are right on track if your temps have been anything like ours. Of course the low desert in which I live is it's own little quirky place to plant, but we're probably similar enough that the planting chart I use might work for you or at least give you some guidelines. . .
c - I think your plan for the tomatoes should be great! You can plants stuff around them no problem. That will also help to keep your soil cooler and help cut down on weeds! Plant lots of beets and chard! You'll have lots to eat, lots to share and plenty left over to pickle or can (beets) and freeze (the greens). Does it snow in Mobile? Just how cold do you all get in the winter?
Yes temps over here in Mobile have been wacky as well, we are still pretty hot and humid, right now we are in the high 80's. and a couple of days ago we had a little cooler weather, probably the reason why I woke up with a pretty nasty cold this morning, all this variations in weather will do that to you.
Acording to my planting wheel I can sow lettuce and kale until almost the end of November, beets until the middle of October.
Broccoli I was suppose to have started in the begining of July and transplanted in the begining of September but I am taking twiggybuds advice and started a little later, hopefully I'll be able to enjoy a few pieces of broccoli before they bolt in march time frame.
Locakelly as far as I know we don't have any snow here in mobile but it will get cold and we will probably have a couple of days here and there where we have frost, but the weather is been so crazy lately that who knows maybe we'll have a mild winter. Once thing is for sure we've been getting tons of rain here these last couple of months, sometimes daily so my plants are all overwatered.
You're very welcome Linda! I find that to be a great guideline that takes into consideration the unique hot dry conditions of the low desert. It may generally apply to Houston as well! Glad it helps!
c - twiggybuds gives good advice! You can always plant, even if it's late, and see what happens. That's the fun of gardening - no hard and fast rules! Broccoli is unaffected by a light frost - it actually improves the flavor or so they say. Never had that experience here with no frost, but I know they grow broccoli all over northern Maine where I'm originally from and often times they harvest after frost (comes pretty early there). You can pretty much grow lettuce anytime except when it's hot out. You can always protect from a light frost with cold frames over your beds or simply sheets, blankets, towels - whatever you have to throw over the plants - lol.
Don't have the overwatered problem here too much - lol. No significant rain for months at a time is the status quo here. My raised beds drain well, so not much danger of me overwatering there either. Good thing cuz I like to water - lol.
How exciting to be moving into full gardening gear! I miss the 4 seasons that other places I've lived actually get to experience, but the desert has it's own unique characteristics that sorta grow on you after a while...
I'm gonna buy some 10' lengths of 1/4" PVC pipe to bend over my two expanded raised beds for any chilly nights -- which we rarely have in succession in Houston -- only about 1-2 nights in a row of less than 30 degrees. I'll anchor them into 1/2 PVC sections pounded into the ground, and cover them with 4-6 mil plastic or lightweight blankets for protection. I can also use these portable hoop houses as cold frames to start seedlings for the spring! How 'bout that?
"High Hopes, High Hopes, it's off to work we gopes!"
(Lines sung by a beginning gardener with renewed enthusiasm, after meeting even more encouraging friends in DG. Not to be confused with lines of a famous tune whistled by tiny little men in tight green tights...)
Ok. I just called my local seedling supplier and I can get replacement cabbages, califlower and broccoli plants after work today! Also white sweet, and yellow, onion bulbs, which they say I can plant now (although all my Houston-area plant schedules say to plant in January). But hey, I can
[quote]"always plant, even if it's late, and see what happens. That's the fun of gardening - no hard and fast rules!"[/quote]
It's back to mid-summer temps here and steamy too. It's hard to focus on the cold weather crops when it seems so far away. I've got a bunch of stuff started but the weather might stay crazy and make everything bolt.
I'm getting excited about ordering from this site because it might be just what we need that live in hot climates.
They have lots of stuff that they say will take a lot of heat since it is commonly grown in SE Asia and Taiwan. I haven't checked summer temps in that region but they actually claim some of these varieties of cole crops grow all summer. It sure would be nice to have a very extended season.
I had my first Canton Pak Choi night before last in my version of Moo Goo Gai Pan. It was wonderful and I started more seeds yesterday. I got those seeds from Baker Creek and it sure does take the heat and is very fast. I also have some from Heirloom seeds and can't possibly use them all. If any of you want to try some, dmail me.
twiggybuds, that's great website, I am a big fan of oriental veggies.
By the way I have a question, I planted some oriental stir fry about a month ago in one of my rubbermaid containers, I think it was bout begining of September, and well it is doing horrible, the leaves are turning yellowish and some even have white spots on them, I am not sure whether this is weather related or not, or maybe I just planted them too early.
Also the leaves have not grown much they are still pretty small and so I am thinking of pulling the whole thing out and plant somethng else instead.
Linda, I think the hoop houses is the way to go, it will be kind of having your own mini green house in a sense. I am thinking of doing the same if the weather ever changes.
I also love Dave's it is great and have found many great people too.
Now I want your recipe for Moo Goo Gai Pan since I planted some of the Canton Pak Choi seeds you sent me with the Calabrese Broccoli seeds (planted those too)! I love Oriental veggies to and love to cook with them - mostly stir frys and eggrolls...
c - you all had a lot of rain, right? The yellowing could be they are overwatered due to the rain. Check the soil - stick your finger in to about 2" and make sure it feels dry before you water. Not sure about the white spots - may be some kind of mold or something due to the dampness? I live in such a dry climate I really don't have too much experience with those things that happen when there is too much moisture - lol... If it's just too wet, they may be salvageable, but I think you have plenty of time to start over too. You may have planted them a bit early as they are cool weather crops . . .
If it's any consolation as we wait for cooler weather, the cabbage in this picture grew for an entire year. It's one'a those 50 lb. cabbages the Bonnie Company gives to the 3rd grade school kids for the annual contest (largest one grown in each state wins a $1,000).
My neighbor brought me 3 leftovers and, being an UberNewbie, I planted them in the middle of Spring, 2008. And they did absolutely nothing except keel over and look pitiful. But, leave it to the heart of an eternal optimist (as long as it shows ANY sign of life, it wants to live, and should be given a chance!). So, I forgot about 'em until early Fall 2008 when I was repotting some stuff. The three had only grown leggy with little resemblance to what they would become. Mercy rushed in, and Grace grabbed some dirt and repotted all three. One went into a 5-gallon eBucket. The other two went into a 24" planter (I DID say UberNewbie, didn't I?...)
Well, they started perking up. By the time the winter hit those scrawny little seedlings that had limped through a scorching summer, they actually looked... happy? ... contented? ... at peace with the world and the bugs, too? (This is the honest truth -- best as I can tell, I would guess-timate that the cabbage in the eBucket had maybe ONE bug and it didn't even eat a hole through. The 24" planter is another story, cause the bugs attacked one cabbage and totally IGNORED the other one. Before it was over, one cabbage looked like a lace doily!)
Well, here's what an ugly ducking can turn into... and the only reason it got picked off the top of the eBucket when it did (in February 2009) is because I had just read a DG post that said if a cabbage splits, pick it as soon as possible. My eBucket cabbage split the next day! Otherwise, it'd probably STILL be growing (I distinctly remember saying, "UberNewbie!")
What I've got looks just like this and the description sounds like it too. It's the Canton Pak Choi from Baker's Creek. I know ya'll have eaten it everytime you get Chinese. It's that crunchy white stemmed veg they stir-fry with. I think 1 plant for each adult per meal. The names of this kind of thing confuses me because I really don't know the difference between Pak Choi, Bok Choi, and Choy Sum. This is my first time trying it because I love Chinese food too and thought it would be good to start experimenting.
The seeds look just like broccoli and cabbage and I started them the same way, then transplanted. I think I can successively plant this until mid-March. I didn't really know how big they'd get so I used several different sized containers. The ones I ate the other night were grown 3 to a 10" hanging basket. They did fine in that and 2 were larger and I think as big as they get since they'd slacked growing. The other one is still growing some. I wish I'd had more plants to go in as I harvest. I also put 4 into 3 gallon pots and 5 into my 7 gallon pots. I'd say a 5 gallon bucket would do 4 or 5 plants but they don't need anything nearly that deep.
They have shallow roots, love rich, loose soil and are done in about 45 days. They seemed to love all that rain I've been getting. They also are plagued with caterpillars but so are all their kin folks... cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. I'm having a time fighting many different kinds with BT and the rain washes it off.
Carminator I think your problem is probably weather. Many of these things need cooler weather than we have had. That's why I'm excited about that seed source linked above in that they have varieties actually developed for our climate. If it isn't the heat, maybe they need more fertilizer. The only thing that works without fert for me is pure homemade compost.
Good to know, Linda, since I planted me some cabbage this season. Never was big on cabbage, but I figured if I can grow it it has to tast better than that store bought stuff. I'll find a way to eat it!!
Yup - twiggybuds is one of the reasong I like the veggie forum so much! There are some really nice knowledgable people here who love to help out, and she is one of them!
Lol. That's a beautiful cabbage that ought to go in the Guiness Book as the most abused plant in 2008. Truly a miracle. Some of my best success has resulted from my being too ignorant to know I shouldn't try something.
Kelly I forgot I sent you those seeds. And it sounds like you know more about cooking Chinese than I do. I was afraid somebody would ask about a recipe. I looked for a recipe and didn't have half they called for so I winged it. I cubed some chicken breast, let it sit for 30 min. with a little sesame oil and soy. Then coated it with corn starch and browned in a little canola. Then I stir fried some sweet red pepper strips and coarse chopped onion, then added the Pak Choi, greens too, that I'd chopped about 1". I took it up when the stuff was half cooked. I used some corn starch, water, 2 TBS oyster sauce, 1 TBS soy and some chicken buillion powder to make a sauce, added everything back to the skillet until it thickened and served it over rice. It worked but needed mushrooms and carrots at least.
I have trouble growing spinach and I think this could be used in soups and whatever that calls for spinach. I can't detect much taste but it has texture, color and has to be healthy.
Well I'm truly flattered by all your kind words but I assure you that ya'll teach me far more than my little contributions. Linda, maybe you should be designated our cabbage specialist. I even learn lots from the Yanks on here but along the Gulf Coast and the desert are different worlds garden-wise.
Linda can sure be the cabbage expert looking at the size of that baby!
I sure didn't forget you sent me those seeds - lol. I've been so waiting for fall to plant all the fun veggies! Gardening in the summer here is a lot of work just to keep some things alive! Fall and winter are more easy going and more forgiving if you plant late. Summer you plant too late and you can kiss your plants goodbye!
Your recipe sounds good! And you can sub the leaves for other greens like spincach and chard and whatever. I like Bok Choy (I don't know the difference between all the names either - they all look the same to me!) in a recipe I got from Martha Stewart of all people. The woman can cook, I'll give her that. If you google Martha Stewart's Sauteed Bok Choy & Broccoli you'll find it. And you're in for a treat! It's very delicious and pretty easy to make. She also has a recipe for pork egg rolls I've made a few times. A little more work (but not so much that I swore never again - lol) but very delicious!
Well, I'm off work in a few so gonna head home. Maybe I'll see you ladies tonight?
How Linda what a beauty! It's funny I don't like cabage much either but I am sure that it does taste different when you grow it than when you buy it in the store. I do love Chow Chow though and I think one of the main ingredients is cabbage.
The asian greens look pitiful and with all this rain I just have not added any fertilizer, since the fertilizer I have is either fish emultion which you have to mix with water or compost tea, I just did not feel like adding more water to the plants that already look overwatered anyways.
Yes twiggybuds I agree with Linda, you are full with knowledge and the best part is, you don't mind sharing it with us newbies, thank you for all your help.
Thank you for the website too, I just added it to my favorites and I will look there from now on for all my assian veggies, I think I might like to try the bock choi or pack Choi.
By the way the recipe looks delicious, I'll have to try it out.
c - you can foliar feed with the fish emulsion. Just mix as directed and spray on the leaves. Just don't do it when the leaves are in full sun as they may burn. If they're in containers you could feed in the evening and they should be fine by morning. I would let them dry out first maybe and see how they do, but the foliar feed won't introduce any more water into the soil . . .
c - I haven't yet, but sure plan to. It is supposed to be good stuff . . . I saw some info on it somewhere here - maybe sustainable alternatives? Can't remember. There are so many great forums here I keep finding new ones I need to check out . . .
Hey Linda - I planted those Osaka Mustard seeds on Sunday and I saw teeny tiny sprouts today!!
Butcher a cabbage by slicing and dicing to about 1/2 inch. Homegrown is always preferred but even one of the antiques from the grocery store will be transformed. If it's a fresh one, put a little salt on the core and munch that while you cook. Don't let the kids have any because they'll like it too much and you'll always have to share.
Brown 3 or 4 strips of bacon in a pot or skillet big enough for the cabbage. Add some chopped onion and fry a little. Add the cabbage, mix the works and add just a tad of water to start steaming. Put on a tight lid and turn the heat down some. It will be done in about 20 mins or less. Toss occasionally and don't let it burn. It should be sweet and still a bit crunchy. Yum
Another one that comes out totally different is to use bacon or ham and add a bit more water so it's more like boiled but not drowned. You cut it in wedges and it breaks up when you stir it a few times as it cooks. Treat the core as above.
Cole slaw made with a homegrown cabbage is superb. I butcher the cabbage with a knife to about 1/4" to 3/8". Toss it in a bowl with 1 tsp. sugar for a homegrown and 2 tsp for a store bought. That gets the juice flowing. Then stir in a tad of minced onion, some sweet pepper and sweet relish. Just before serving add some mayo. Excellent with barbeque, fried fish or chicken.
Ok. I ended up with EIGHTEEN cabbage plants (they were cheaper in the six-paks) and 6 broccoli plants. To add to the seedlings I already bought...not to mention the ones I had already bought which have since died!
Next season, I will not buy ONE seedling from anyone!!! I have enough fresh seeds to feed and entire small nation. There is no reason for me to have to go spend money on seedlings someone else started...
carminator1 - [quote]I planted some oriental stir fry about a month ago in one of my rubbermaid containers, I think it was bout begining of September, and well it is doing horrible, the leaves are turning yellowish and some even have white spots on them, I am not sure whether this is weather related or not, or maybe I just planted them too early.
Also the leaves have not grown much they are still pretty small and so I am thinking of pulling the whole thing out and plant somethng else instead.[/quote]
If your rubbermaid containers were fairly deep, this might be your problem. It's a very strange thing, but if you sow very small seeds directly in the garden, they do fine, but if you put them into deep pots, they sometimes don't. Has something to do with the roots staying too wet in the pots.
The yellowing of the leaves could be a sign of too much water. The plants staying small could mean that the roots are dying (because of too much water) which means there are not enough roots left to take up nutrients.
I have found - that if I want to grow veggies in pots, I should start the seeds in seed-trays, or small pots, and then pot-up as they get bigger. I sometimes have to pot-up several sizes before I feel comfortable transplanting into the "final pot"
Today I checked the rubbermaid container and I noticed that the container just does not have enough drain holes. With all this rain we've been getting the container always feels wet and the compost is always wet, this plus the fact that the temps are just too hot. Next time I'll try to grow the oriental stir fry if I get more seeds in my raise bed and see if it does better.
I have some broccoli rabb that I can place in this container, once I solve the problem with the drain holes.
Thank you so much for your advice, please keep them coming. :)
I also started some sugar snow peas about 3 weeks ago, this ones are in an earthbox and for some reason some of the tips of the leaves are a little brown, I probably planted this too early as well, but I will keep it in there and see if it recuperates, hopefully we will start our normal winter temps soon.
Boy if I knew this heat was going to last so long I would have kept the tomato plants that I started back in September, I ended up throwing them in my compost bin because I thought that they would not have time to produce before the colder weather got here, I guess just live and learn. LOL.
Ha ha ha - the year of the cabbage as 2009 will forever be known...
Like Honeybee said smaller pots then move up to larger pots does work better in my experience too. Some things like greens and lettuce you can grow fairly close together in fairly small pots. As long as you keep harvesting the leaves here and there they will keep producing more yummy leaves...
twiggy - that cabbage recipe is making me hungry. Is it lunch time yet?
You know, I can't stay outta my garden for a whole week...I had my purse on my shoulder this morning, and gazed across the yard to my little growing corner wondering what was happening. Since I was already late, I decided, hey, and stepped on back to see what was up. Good thing I did!
I pulled two small hornworms off the rooted cuttings I've kept alive (I'm hopeless) since before the summer, not soon enough but just in time! They'd stripped almost all the lower leaves, but met their Maker before they got to the growing tip!
I simply cannot stay away too long...things must be checked regularly...so much for the housework...
I have the same problem gymgirl, I always forget to spray and when I do remember is sunny outside and my pest control just does not work very well in the sun.
I just had another bowl of my delicious Black seeded simpson lettuce, I am thinning it out and taking a few leaves here and there, they are still very small and fragille but hopefully very soon they will grow bigger and stronger. I love to eat salads daily and veggies so if I can just grow lettuce and eat it at least once a day that will definetely save me some $ in the store.
Well I have to go and spray the plants with some BT expecially the legumes.
Everything is sprouting in my newly planted raise bed, I am very excited, some seeds just took 3 days to sprout, very fast if you ask me. No catterpillars on the raise bed just yet but I am keeping my eye open just in case.
So far I've planted some mesclum salad, beets, swiss chard, oak leaf lettuce, endive and radishes, 4 season lettuce and iceberg lettuce.
The beets have not sprouted just yet but I guess they just take a little longer.
Also I need to do something with my 2 rubbermaid containers, I think I am going to place some more holes and also prop the containers up for better drainage, plants in these containers are just doing horrible and I am not sure why but I am going to see if this will help it or not.
Boy I really hope we get some normal weather here, I am getting tired of the rain and the hot humid temps.
Thanks Honeybee, things in my containers just don't seem to grow very well, I have a couple of earthboxes and these are doing a little better but plants are just growing very slow, probably all this rain is not helping at all. How are things growing on your containers?
Carminator - Right now the only plants I have in containers are herbs. During the summer I had plum-type tomatoes in 25 gallon pots. I also had some sweet pepper plants in pots at the beginning of the summer, but they seemed to be doing so poorly, that I transplanted them to one of the garden beds. Unfortunately, this sent them into "shock" and they took so long to recover, that (so far) I've only had one red pepper. If the frost holds off long enough, I should get some more, because the plants really look great now!
Boy yes my containers are doing horrible, the plants are just so small and they just don't seem to want to grow at all. I planted some radishes in my raise bed and they are already bigger than the ones in my container which I planted about a week earlier plus the ones in the container look yellowish. I don't think is the soil, I put organic potting soil that I purchased from the store and mixed it with my own worm compost to give the plants a boost, plus just the other day I sprayed with fish emultion to see if that was the problem, but I really think is all this rain we are getting, the soil is just saturated with water and for some reason my containers don't seem to want to drain too well, I even proped them up with some blocks to help them drain.
Even my Earthbox containers are doing poorly, I planted some beets and chard in one of them and they just stay the same size no matter how many weeks pass, I am probably going to have to take them out and try something else, maybe loose leaf lettuce or something.
I also have 2 small containers where I planted some mesclum salad, they are looking a little yellowish but I'll just live them there a little longer and see if anything changes.
If anybody has any suggestions as what will grow well under this conditions please let me know, part of me does not want to keep wasting seed if the plants are not going to be doing well.
We are supposed to get into teh 70's starting tomorrow we'll see how long that lasts.
carminator - Unfortunately one can never "second guess" what the weather is going to be from year to year. If I could, I would mix lots and lots of perlite into my potting soil in those years when it was going to rain like heck, and much less in those years when it rains everywhere else but my backyard (giggle)
Yes, I think your over abundance of rain is the cause of all your potted plant problems. Another problem with pots is, that you can keep adding fertilizer, but heavy rains will wash it right out again!
I wanted to post a picture of my raise bed with the new seedlings comming out, so far they are doing well, much better than the ones in the containers. I will probably turn my other raise bed's green manure tomorrow so I can start planting on that one as well, so many veggies, so little space!
Yes, I am following his method on this raise bed, I am not sure if i'll do the same in the other raise bed or not. I guess I am just experimenting to see what method is better.
I am also thinking of doing what is called intensive gardening, this method is used by the Dervaes family, mainly what it is, imagine you plant tomato plant in your raise bed, well you can plant other smaller plants underneath such as lettuces, mustards, onions, carrots, bush beans etc... this way you use as much space as possible, you get various crops from one bed and also this acts as mulch. They also seem to plant lettuces and other plants a little closer together than what the package says.
I placed 4 lettuces for every square foot but I am thinking of trying to put one more in the center and see if I can do 5 lettuces per square foot or even more.
"I placed 4 lettuces for every square foot but I am thinking of trying to put one more in the center and see if I can do 5 lettuces per square foot or even more."
Do it Carmen. 2 or 3 will grow faster than the others and the smaller ones will continue growing after you harvest the larger ones. That's what I'm doing with my Pak Choi and will do with my lettuce. I also will try to have some babies to transplant into any spaces that open up when I harvest the others.
Last winter my lettuce got tip burned only twice with frost and I just trimmed that off with scissors. I was just taking the big leaves and it grows so fast that it didn't hurt a thing.
Cucumbers do much better with some shade and should do very well running under tomato plants.
I went to bed with my windows open and woke up freezing with just a sheet on. Yaaaaay. My plants are happier too. I hope it has convinced the bugs and caterpillars to give up. They've been unmerciful and it's hard to find a perfect leaf on anything.
c - I plant 5 lettuce and pretty much any greens 5 per square. Like twiggy said they'll grow at different speeds. If you keep the outer larger leaves trimmed here and there they will do just fine in the tighter space.
Thank you for your imputs. I started many little seeds today, I even have some baby lettuces under grow lights, as soon as I get the true leaves I will transplant them out and see how they grow.
Also I started more broccoli seeds than I was going to put out, I am glad I did since one of my broccoli plants died of transplant shock, I was able to replace it with a new one in no time.
Yes twiggybuds, I can't tell you how happy I am with this weather change and so far no rain in the forecast for this whole weekend, I really hope this lasts, last night we had a huge storm come thru, this morning I looked at my black seeded simpson and the poor thing took a beating last night, we will see if it survives.
I wanted to share this site with you, you can find rebates and coupons for many stores in here and I even found some rebates for some of the seed companies. I have not tried it myself just yet. www.Retailmenot.com
Carminator - as long as your soil is high in organics and nutrients, I see no reason why you cannot plant several types of veggies together.
This past summer, I had a volunteer cucumber grow up a tomato plant, which in turn was in a cage. Both did fine.
Two summers ago, I planted sweet peppers in my strawberry bed and they did fine, too. Then I read that these two should not be planted together, so I didn't repeat this summer. As it turned out, the peppers planted with the strawberries did waaaay better than this past summer's sweet peppers!
Carminator1 - I read your link about grow lights for your seedlings and I thought I might share with you the cheapest seedling lights I've found. Daylight CFL bulbs you can buy for roughly 4-5 dollars apiece. Then I put them in a reflector from box hardware stores for roughly eight dollars. Low heat- great light- and most of all cheap. The wattage of the bulbs is very low also. I also have switched to using coconut coir for seedling medium. Hope this helps.----------- G
Ditto what Linda said. I have to start seedlings beginning the first week in January and have limited space. I put a bookcase in front of a French door to germinate my seeds. Then I have to rush them out to the greenhouse to make room for more. That contraption would be a great help.
Just plain 'ole flourescent shop light kits from HD ($10). Some DGers advocate using one cool light and one bright? light in the fixture, to more effectively mimic real sunshine. I keep 'em 1"- 2" from the top of my 'mater seedlings at all times, and raise them as the seedlings grow taller. The great part is you can keep raising the shelves as necessary by putting blocks/phone books, etc. under the shelves, after the seedlings outgrow the height of the cinder blocks.
Also, your shelves can be painted to match your room decor, to help it blend in and not be an eyesore! (Ask me how I know this...)
What I've found that works is this: Keep the 'mater seedlings growing close to the light to keep them from getting leggy and, after they germinate, grow them in the coolest (non-drafty) room you have available. The cool and the light makes 'em grow stout, fat, healthy. Keep them out of drafty areas, and feed them a very WEAK solution of fertilizer after they germinate. Bottom feed from your tray.
Now the only place I can place my lights once they are built is the dining room, unfortunately my DH has the garage filled to the top with stuff, he used to be a builder so he has every tool in the trade. Plus even when he organizes it, he is going to want it for himself.
I've been looking in Lowes and home Depot for shelving units that I can use to place the fluorecent lights but they are expensive specially the good sturdy ones.
About the maters growing in the coolest (non-drafty) room. I was told in other forums to place a small fan close to the maters and to let it blow for a couple of minutes per day, I was told that this helps grow strong and not leggy maters.
[quote]Now the only place I can place my lights once they are built is the dining room, unfortunately my DH has the garage filled to the top with stuff, he used to be a builder so he has every tool in the trade. Plus even when he organizes it, he is going to want it for himself.[/quote]
My light shelf is in our formal dining room against a back wall! The wood is blond and the room is a pale yellow, so it blends in perfectly! Also, when you walk into the living room and look into the dining room, the unit sits on a wall you can't see from that vantage point! Camoflauge!
I run my lights from the time I get in from work (around 6:30pm) until I get up in the morning (6am). Two reasons I run the lights at night:
1. The dining room is fairly dim during the day, simulating night conditions, and
2. If I leave the lights on during the day, my DH will turn them off when I leave for work...
The man follows me through the house turning lights off...a very annoying habit...
P.S. I think we're not Identical twins 'cause our garage is packed bottom to top, front to back, and side to side! Also, my DH used to be a welder. And, he just built an additional room on the back of the garage for yet more of HIS stuff. It's his new "man cave"...
That's great! Yes that's what I call the garage the man cave. We are in the process of building a shed, it is almost completed and it looks prety nice. This will help me a lot, this way I can keep all my garden stuff on the shed. I made my DH promise that he was going to give me just one wall just for me to put my stuff in it, if not he'll just take over the shed as well LOL, he is a little bit of a pack rat if I may say so.
I am going to show him the shelf unit you have since I am running out of space with my grow lights, and it is not even tomato season yet OH BOY!
By the way I got the square foot gardening book from my library and I am reading it again, it is a great book but a lot of his suggestions I already now and I am implementing them as we speak. I found tons of great gardening books though, so I guess I wont be buying any more books anytime soon, YAY!
I agree, an empty garage is just unheard of, my father in law has a 3 car garage and it is packed to the top plus did I mention he has a wonderful basement and that is also packed to the top as well.
I am reading some of the books I got from the library, one of them is starting seeds manual by burpee and the other is the vegetable Gardener's Bible, great books to read and learn from, high;ly recomended, try to get it from your local library if you can.
Also I finally decided to turn the green manure on my 2nd raise bed, I have giant ants crawling all over it, I think they were man eating ants because they were huge! I sprinkled some grits, I hope they like it!
The other bed is doing great. By the way I am trying a new experiment. I planted some broccoli Rabb and they are getting pretty big, pretty quick so I decided to utilize the ground underneath to start some mesclum mix and arugula, I figure the broccoli Rabb will get bigger and bigger and the mesclum will grow at a different rate than the broccoli so maybe I can get 2 veggies on 1 square foot, also this could help diminish the weeds as well plus also could be used as a mulch, we will see if it works or not.
I experimented with LED bulbs costing 30 + dollars then found a website that used christmas leds and didn't like any of it. It didn't work for me. I have to put this disclaimer here - everything that follows i developed through trial and error. The system is made from cheap components easily available. So I have no doubt it will be packaged by some big company cause it works and it is the bomb! Here Goes.
It is in two Steps- Step one - Starting the seeds
Get a plastic tub that will accomadate the size container you plan to use such as flat, permanest box etc. I start in a flat. I put the seeds in soaked rockwool and leaving standing water in the flat for germination. In the past I have started seeds in 1x1 rockwool cubes then transplanted into 10-12 ounce plastic cups from any store. I use the see through ones to see root growth.
Anyway treat the rockwool or use coir which is better there is a DG supplier who is awesome.(hint-hint). Cut two circular holes equal distant in the box lid. Fix the CFL daylight bulbs inside the reflectors and suspend in the newly cut holes. I did not use bottom heat but the tubs where in a room that stayed roughly at 70 degrees. There is nothing special about the inside of the tubs. I had roughly 95% germination in roughly two weeks for tomato seeds.
I have bought the plastic humidity domes - and to keep moisture up put them on the flats and leave the lights on continually till germination. The domes I use have two vents so I can adjust the humidity level. Here is a list of sample of what I have grown. Tranplanting instructions follow.
It looks like a great set up. I bet you can even use bigger tubs if you need more room for your seedliglings right? the only question I have is what do you do when the seedlings grow really tall and reach teh light, are they big enough for tranplant in the garden? Also I was told that you need the lights pretty close to the seedlings when they are starting to come up to avoid getting leggy like some of mine do get sometimes and that you need to be able to prop the lights up and down to accomodate this, how are you able to do this with your system? Sorry about all the questions.
I have not been checking Daves as much lately, sorry. I have been reading the books I got from the library, I already read 2 of them and I am reading now "the Vegetable Gardener's Bible" by Edward C Smith, I love this book, it is full of great info, I am even thinking about buying it and keping it, it really is a good book and I live in the south but most of the information in the book can be used even by people living in the south as well.
The garden is doing great, and thanks to this cold spell we are having I have not had to spray for caterpillars, but I've had to put grits for the ants, sometimes they really like to crawl all over my raise beds.
The 2nd raise bed is already turned and I've placed some clear plastic to help decompose all the green matter. I am sure in about a week I'll be able to start planting. I have tons of seedlings under my grow lights right now so I will be placing these in my second raise bed.
The peas that I was growing in my EB is finally flowering, I almost gave up on these since they just looked pitiful but I am glad I decided to keep them, we will see if I get a good yield from these or not.
I've decided not to plant anything on my containers for right now, we are still getting a lot of rain and everything I plant just does horrible. I will post a pic of my raise bed as soon as I get my cameras battery recharched.
I planted beets on my raise beds as well, germination rate on these were not really good, I planted them when it was still hot out about almost a month ago and I've had to reseed the bed again about twice now, acording to the package I could start these in September but I am wondering if they just don't germinate well in hot weather, they are also growing pretty slow and I am wondering whether or not to just pull them out and try to grow them again in jan-Feb time frame when the weather is colder.
Have any of you in the deep south had any luck with beets
I grew beets last fall. The greens were to DIE for! And I THOUGHT that I like the pickled roots best -- now I LIVE for the beet greens!
I sowed my seeds the week of Thanksgiving last fall, and actually, that was a bit late. Carmenator1, try again for the first week of November (which is actually THIS weekend), and sow every two weeks thereafter until around December 1st.
Here's a pic of my beets: Bull's Blood (the reds) and Chioggia (the greens).
P.S.. THIN IS IN!!!!! Don't be tempted to let 'em all grow cause they're soooooooooo cute...they're even MORE cute when you have a nice big root ball hanging off of those lovely greens. THIN! THIN! THIN!!!!
P.S.S. I preferred the Chioggia greens to the Bull's Blood greens, and don't think I'll grow the BBs again. Also, I hear there's a specific type of beet that has huge greens and negligible roots. I'm going after these next fall...
I almost pulled the ones that I am growing out but since the cold weather is getting here I decided to leave them in place, they do look a little bigger now than they did before so I'll give them a try, my DH loves beets so I thought I would try to plant some and since I can use the greens as well I thought this would be a good allpurpose veggie to plant this winter. I am thinking next time I'll start them later though, the package of beets I bought was from Jungs seeds and it has a mixture of different beets, even the golden type, I thought this would be a good way to try different ones and see wich one I would like best. There was a spot where only a few sprouted so I decided to take that square and planted some spinach mustard greens that I had under my grow lights and were just getting too big.
They don't like it but you sure could give it a try. I'd use a small small trowel or even a spoon - lol. Pull them out and plop them into a premade hole and see how they do. Disturb them as little as possible.
The plants will grow tall in the bins but the kind I have is roughly 2.5 to 3 foot tall. When the transplants get tall- I use cut window blinds and pipe cleaners to support them and start harding them off outside. The only thing I left out by accident is when you buy the CFL bulbs get the highest wattage you can find. This equals more light.
When I say reflector this is what I mean. It is roughly 8 dollars at HomeDepot or Lowes.
Measure the reflector and cut the hole smaller. for example if the reflector is the size of a 8 inch pot cut the hole the size of a 6 inch pot. Lay the reflector flush with the lid with the bulb in the hole shining down on the plants. I don't have a picture of the plants inside. I just place the cups side by side until there is no more room. Yes the plants do eventually get tall. I roatate them and then make supports out of window blinds and pipe cleaners and begin to harden them off for the garden. I also should say CFL come in equal to 40 watt bulb or etc. Buy the largest wattage you can it gives you more
Use a protractor? compass? to draw the circles on the lid. Then, use an Exacto knife with a sharp blade to cut out the circles!
Gymgirl I never thought of that lol. I just found a old saucer traced the circle and hacked it out with a pocket knife. I don't know if an exacto knife is strong enough for the plastic- mine was kinda thick. It definately will be sharp though.
I wanted to post a couple of pictures of my raise bed, the lettuce patch is growing well. Not much damage by caterpillars at all.
The second bed that I planted yesterday was infested by little catterpillars of all colors and sizes. I spent about 30 min picking them up and throwing them in a glass with soap, then I also sprayed with BT, boy those little plants, I really hope they survive.
Gymgirl please don't mention other kitchen implements to my grandchildren. It's hard enough to find a spoon nowdays- lol. Carminator I was thinking there of a good gardening books I've read. One would definately be One Straw Revolution- it's in paperback. It turns agriculture on its head with how things don't have to be. For example rice does not have to be grown in water. etc. Another topic that is awesome is biodynamics. I know there is the mystical side i.e. earth breathing etc but many of the concepts are good. Feeding / building the soil every time you plant with natural substance vs petroleum fertilizer, cover crops etc.
Thank you gerry, now that I have a really nice library I'll be looking for those books.
My mother in law is here visiting for hallowing and since her birthday is coming up I bought her the book "The Vegetable Gardeners Bible" for North american regions. She lives in Michigan and plants a veggie patch as well, but only does it in the spring and summer time, I thought maybe this book would help her get ideas on how to build cold frames so she can plant even in the winter time frame.
On another note, I was very dissapointed yesterday, I went to Lowes, the only place were I could find seeds and no seeds were to be found, they said that they usually take out the seeds and then don't bring them again until spring time, I was looking to purchase different lettuces and other greens and nothing. Walmart and other stores are not carrying seeds at the moment, so I guess I'll have to order my seeds through seed companies. Anybody know when Walmart starts carrying veggie seeds? Is it after Christmas?
One Book I forgot to mention that is really awesome is The Family Kitchen Garden.
It is new. It has monthly to do lists, vegetable descriptions. Also I was thinking about the catapillers in your lettuce. Is it possible to plant a trap crop in the far end of your raised bed. We have problems with little flea beatles in our garden eating up everything. We have found out that they love and I mean love eggplants the most. So we put out 2-3 eggplants and they swarm all over them. Unfortunately for the eggplant. The wipe out the eggplant but leave everything else alone. Also catapillers are usually from an egg laid by moth or etc. what if you covered you beds with a light remay which didn't all the moths to lay. Just a thought.
Please read the last part of your post, and resend. Not quite getting it...Thanks!
P.S. Thanks for the light kit instructions. Hope you didn't mind my edit and photo collage of your grow box. I'm visual and thought some others might be, too.
P.S.S. I'm slowly moving toward the winter sowing idea for starting most all of my spring veggie seedlings. The more I've read, the more it makes sense (to me) to start the seeds outside, let God take care of them like He does, and they'll already have begun the process of hardening off. I figure those that make it through winter sowing will be the hardiest of the bunch, and ready to take off in the early spring. I'm shooting for a much earlier plantout than the past (February 13th), with a stagger planting every other week from then.
This'll be an interesting experiment with my timing...
c - Our stores carry seeds year round since we can plant year round. You can plant most greens as cool season crops, including Asian greens. A good site I like to buy seeds from is Botanical Interests. They have great seeds and good prices, plus their shipping is fast and cheap. I have had excellent results with their seeds.
Linda - I prefer to direct sow all my veggies. I've heard the reasoning that transplants have better production but direct sown plants are stronger and more resistant to pests and such. In my experience I've had the best crops with direct sowing. Here we can direct sow tomato seeds as early as January! I've always started my peppers and tomatoes inside and transplanted, but this year I will direct sow and start some for backup just in case - lol. In the wild seeds have no help (interference?) from humans and do just fine on their own...
That's the logic I'm going with. Wasn't sure which spring veggies I should winter sow and which I should just direct seed. Could you post me a list of which is which?
Besides tomatoes (which I'll do like you propose, 1/2 & 1/2), I've not grown anything else in Spring. But, I have brand new seeds for lots of warm/hot weather stuff, so I've got that base covered. Just need to know which to direct sow and which to winter sow in protected containers for future plantout.
Also, would like to winter sow some garden plants for springtime, too.
I think most ornamentals can be winter sown unless they are really frost tender. In the wild they drop seeds and survive until they're ready to sprout, right? With veggies, in my mind direct sowing is the same as winter sowing (since it is winter - lol)...
Attaching the link for the planting calendar I use. You are probably similar in temps though I think our summers are more brutal than Houston. We really don't get frost or even close depending on where you live here in the valley. The calendar has a great legend and shows optimal and good planting times, planting times with protection and when to plant transplants. Of course it's only a guide, but I find it pretty useful. I always figure if I direct sow something and it doesn't come up for whatever reason, I'm already ahead of the game and can resort to Plan B - re-sow or set out transplants...
The dates gived for direct seedind could also be your guideline for winter sowing, no?
I think it would be a very interesting experiment to both winter sow and to start backups for the ones that are most important. It would narrow down what temps and times work best in your area. I have had some experience where it was warm early and then a rogue frost came along to wipe things out.
Just last week I found 3 tiny onion plants in a pot with a pepper. Last year this time, that pot had green onions sown from seed. That's clear evidence that seeds can last a long time and emerge whenever they like the conditions. It's hard to believe it took them this long to get happy.
I was typing to fast. What I was badly saying was that if you block the adult bug from laying the eggs on the plants then no caterpillars. Remay (Brand Name ) is a floating row cover that some people use to do so. Tulle Fabric is one also. In the book One Straw Revolution the author talks about taking a seed and making a clay ball around it.
Then tossing it outside where he wants it to grow. Rain and general wheather break down the clay ball and when the seed is exposed it is close to time for it. I agree with direct sowing in general but don't always do it due to price of seeds and abundance of birdies watching the planted garden. Seed Vigor tests measure the ability of a plant to germinate in less than ideal situations. Needless to say many can germinate outside of what is ideal but that is not always a good thing.
Boy, getting busy and trying to prepare for this hurricain- tropical storm. I am devating whether covering my raise beds with plastic would do any good, but I certainly don't want my hard work to be ruined by this storm.
I finally purchased the shelving unit to build my seed starter, hopefully I'll have my DH build it for me this week so I can start more seedlings.
I agree with Gerry, I tend to start my seeds inside as well to try to save $ and so that way I don't have to thin as much, some seeds can last a long time, unfortunately according to a book I am reading it says that onion seeds and lettuce seeds only last a year. I also use the pinch method if I am to sow seeds outside, I've gotten pretty good at it and even lettuce seeds I am able to just grab 3-4 seeds max.
I just went to check my plants after the storm, I decided yesterday to cover them with plastic, even nailed the plastic to the raised beds so the plastic would not blow away thinking that this way they would be better protected and I did more damage than anything else. It had been raining all night so the water puddled inside the plastic and crushed all my plants inside, the broccoli gone, the swiss chard gone the radishes gone and the list goes on and on. The plastic was pretty tight so I never thought the water was going to puddle like that but it did. Oh well I guess live and learn. I guess I'll have to restart some of the plants again.
Thanks Kelly. At least my lettuce and my mesclum salad survived and also most of my beets. My second raised bed did better, all the plants survived, the plastic did not get quite as much water and the plants seem healthy.
I have a lot of plants to restart again in particular the broccoli but I am wondering which one to start whether the calabrese or a gypsy broccoli that twiggybuds sent me, I want to plant the one that takes less time to mature. Any ideas?
c - the leaf lettuces and such are pretty hardy. If you cut them they come back, so a little damage shouldn't hurt them... Glad some of your plants did survive. That rain can really come down hard and wreak havoc on little plants!
I think the Calabrese is about 48 days and the Gypsy about 58. Of course those are average days to maturity, but they're close enough you could plant some of both. If you want to save seeds plant the Calabrese as Gypsy is a hybrid and won't come true from seed.
Carmen I surely sympathize and hate that you have this disappointment. Many times I've seen plants laying down from rain and such bounce back so you might ought to wait a few days to see if they will straighten out.
Last year Calabrese was the only broccoli I planted and I think I set out in Oct or Nov. I know I was eating off it in January til late Feb. Nothing is ever as fast for me as the seed packets say. I grow them in 3 gallon pots so that may hold them back some. You have to have a few more plants of Calabrese to make a meal since the sprouts are small.
This year I've got Gypsy and a couple plants have started heading. I started it in mid-late August. I really think the heat has held it back. I just got my order from Evergreen Seeds a week ago and planted some Lucky Green which is supposed to be more heat tolerant but it hasn't germinated yet. Seems slow to me. I just found a few Packman seeds I got in a trade and will also start them.
So I'm not really experienced enough to give good info. Just plant something, maybe both.
Well, I just started both broccolies and also the broccoli Rabb along with the cabbage and Bock choi you sent me twiggy.
I also went outside to look at the damage again, out of the 8 plants of broccoli planted, I decided to take 2 very damaged ones and leave the rest, there were some broken branches and all but they might come back, also the broccoli rabb was the worst, so out of 4 plants I had to take out 2 but that's o.k. I am leaving everything else intact to see what will survive and what will not survive.
I really can't complain though I've been eating salad greens from my garden for the last 2 weeks and that's been great, I am now enjoying a homegrown salad as I am typing this.
Thank you for all the encouraging words, I guess it could have been a lot worst.
Carminator1! So sorry about your loss. But, there's still plenty of time to sow new seeds. That's the beauty of winter sowing! Aside from what I put out in the eBuckets, I'm going to sow some cole crop seeds in containers (maybe 1-4 milk jugs), and germinate them OUTSIDE in their vessels until they're ready to go into an eBucket. I'm thinking that with our weather, I could wintersow now and and continue planting out all the way up to around mid-January, at least.
1. Sow seeds this weekend OUTSIDE in milk jugs
2. Germination in about 8-10 days
3. Let 'em grow outside for about 2 more weeks (to December 12th)
4. Transplant them to the eBuckets/raised beds
5. Grow them for the next 45-60 days in the cold/cool weather
6. Harvest by March 27th.
That's 107 days from December 12th to March 27th, and they've been outside the whole time! I'm going for it!
Thanks for that Calabrese info Kelly! Now I know which ones to plant, too!
I'll post a pic later of what I did ALL DAY Saturday. I was worn out, but my cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflowers were standing at attention and saluting the sun this morning!
Great Carminator1! What seeds are you going to grow under those lights?
Anybody ever thought about that humongous cold frame sitting outside your door? It's called a CAR! Everytime I get into it in the winter, I think, I gotta find a way to leave some seedlings on my dashboard during the day. Think about it. It's protected all around, no extraneous bugs crawling anywhere (at least not in mine...), there's a heat buildup factor that could serve the germination, and that sunshine pouring in through the window keeps the soil warm.
Comments? Are do I just have too much free time on my hands?
Wow Gymgirl, nice homemade EB you got there, definetely your broccoli looks a lot better than mine, I am sure you'll be having some in no time.
I have started lot of seedlings, the problem is going to be where to put it all, for some reason my earthbox containers are not doing good, my last resourt is going to be to add some compost to the existing dirt I have on them, maybe the plants are just not getting enough nutrients, I am also starting to make compost tea so hopefuly this will also help.
I have started some more broccoli, some cauliflower, spinach mustard, Bock Choi, and kolrabi, also I just started yesterday 2 types of onions ( since onion seeds are only good for a year) I decided to plant them all.
Hopefully next month I'll have enough $ collected to have my DH build me another raise bed. I am still looking to see if I can find any nursery that will sell top soil by the truck load instead of buying bags at Homedepot or Lowes, i've heard this way is cheaper and you get better quality. I do have the compost almost ready so I only need the top soil.
It is pretty big, we do have a nice size flea market where they sell fruit trees and animals but as far as farmers market's I am not sure I am still to new to the area. I also went to craighlist to see if anybody would post anything but with no luck.
How is everybody doing, I thought I might post an update of my raise beds.
Things are definetely comming along, I keep eating my lettuces and mesclum salad and have not had to go to the store to buy salad greens for quite a while, so I guess I am saving $ there since we do eat a lot of salads.
Also I was wable to collect some bock choi leaves to make a stir fry the other day, flavor is O.K but I am looking for new recipes to cook it so if you have any in mind you like, please share.
I also tried some kale chips yesterday and they were out of this world, I definetely need to grow more kale since I am hooked on the chips.
I have been eating a lot of my spinach mustard, either in salads or cooked, I really love this veggie not only it is ready very quick about 30 days but I think is very versatile, so will definetely plant more of it.
Everything else is comming along, my beets are growing slowly but surely, sometimes I wonder if they will make a bulb at all.
Yesterday I tested my PH level, I have a little alkaline problem the meter said that my ph was about 8 so I have to make it a little more acidid, I think I added to much lime when I planted the veggies, any of you know how I could rectify this? I have some peat moss at hand so I was wondering if I could use it as a side dressing since I have things planted all over the raise beds. I really need to test my soil for other things as well but really don't want to have to send my soil to a lab since it would probably be a lot of $, any ideas on a good soil test kit that I could do at home?
Please if you have the time let us know how your veggie patch is doing and what you have been able to collect.
Hi carminator! Glad to see you reporting in and that your garden is doing well!
A couple of things...
This is my favorite recipe for bok choy... I usually add onions and fresh sliced mushrooms to it with the garlic or sautee them seperately in a little olive oil then add to the recipe when you add the garlic... It's very good!
I have beets out the wazoo - lol. We grow them mainly for the greens as I don't care too much for the beets themselves. Beet greens are excellent. If you go to www.elise.com/recipes and search beet greens she has some excellent recipes.
Our soil here is highly alkaline and soil sulfur is recommended as an amendment. Peat is acidic, but I would not use the peat as a side dressing. The reason being is that if peat gets dry, it is very hard to resature it. If it is on top of your soil, it will form a crust that water will have a hard time to penetrate. The best way to use peat is to mix it really well with your soil and saturate the area to hydrate the peat. You don't want it sitting on the surface...
I have been harvesting beet greens, chard, several different lettuces, mustard greens and bok choy. Have thyme and oregano and dill going strong and my peppers are still producing. I have several tomato plants that were full of blooms and tomatoes and then we had a slight frost a couple nights last week. The eggplant bit the dust and the tomato plants sustained some frost damage even though they were covered but they are still alive. I did pick the green fruit before the frost just in case and will try to ripen it inside. The plants may or may not do anything now. Depends on how mild our winter is. After the frost we had 2 days and nights of heavy rain and crazy wind. Besides a few leaning plants everything appears to be ok. More rain for the weekend. We sure need it!
Thanks for reporting in. I look forward to hearing everyone's progress!!
I'm still trying to figure out how you guys are EATING stuff, when I'm still trying to get stuff planted...my timing is sooooooooooooooooo way off, it's not even funny...
I am NOT having a good day...8--%
Although...I DO have 10 cabbages growing in my eBuckets. They survived the BIG snow of '09 here in Houston, and the leaves are about 8" today. They look great, and should start making heads in the next few weeks...
I STILL haven't planted my root crop seeds! Last year I planted them Thanksgiving weekend. I'm already 2 weeks behind last year's LATE schedule...but, I think I still have some winter left...
I think my eggplants gave up the final yield Friday. I pulled about 10 orange size fruits off before the BIG snow of '09.
Lost the three tomato plants that were 4ft. and just starting blooms. But, not to the BIG snow of '09. I think the fluctuating temps did em in...
Been preparing winter sowing vessels (gallon milk jugs from Starbuck's) so I can begin sowing next season's plant and veggie seeds, hopefully, on TIME for planting out come March 1st.
Gonna pull the cardboard off the raised beds and sow those root crop seeds this Saturday if the weather is agreeable...
Supposed to dip into the 30s tonight and 40s tomorrow morning. Gotta rush home to spread the sheets over the eBuckets again. But they worked really well against the BIG snow of '09, and my cabbages, broccoli and cauliflowers were saved.
Kelly thank you so much for the recipes I'll definetely try them, I also love broccoli, unfortunately my broccoli is not ready yet so I'll have to buy some from the store, but the recipe really looks good.
Thank you for telling me about the peat moss, I really did not know that it could harden up so much, I'll try the sulfur instead and see if I can get this soil to normal levels. I still have to buy a soil test kit to test what else I need to add to my soil before I plant my spring veggies.
Gymgirl, I feel your pain, sometimes is just looks like it just takes forever for the veggies to start popping up but I am sure very soon you'll have plenty to harvest, by the way did you plant any lettuces or greens, they tend to be one of the crops that is just a very fast grower at least for me, I have been eating fresh salads greens for over a month and really has saved me trips to the stores and some $ as well, arugula is another that I have plenty of and I really like it, you can also make arugula pesto for pasta, it is really good. My cabbages are tinny tiney, they are just small seedlings right now but hopefully in a month or so they'll get bigger, and Oh I just can't wait to try some of my broccoli but right now they are full of leaves and nothing else, patience is just a virtue that I do not possess unfortunately.
I am glad that your veggies did not do too bad considering the big snow of 09, we only got freezing rain here in Mobile and thank God with a little covering my veggies did not die, still I need to plan for a better covering system for my raise beds.
Localkelly, I wanted to share a you tube video that I found very interesting. The video is about a guy that has a veggie garden in an area with hardly any rain at all, he even says that they get watering restrictions all the time expecially in the summer. He shows you an innovative way to water your plants without having to use the regular faucet.
We obiously get tons of rain here in Mobile, in fact it is supposed to rain again today, we get to much rain if you ask me, but oh well.
Hiya McP - that is a good thing. I have a bucket under the pipe where the runoff drains. I use it to water my hanging pots or whatever else is in need. It does add up. I think the 5 gallons/day is about right, though sometimes I think it's more because if I forget to switch the bucket or use it it overflows...
When I saw this I thought it was a great idea, expecially in places where you don't get hardly any rain. Definetely check all his videos, he has a great idea on how to use homemade tomato cages to grow melons on tight spaces, i am definetely going to try his method.
Now any ideas on places where you get too much rain. It has been raining for almost a week non stop, boy I am so tired of it, I really hope my plants make it.
My temps have been up and down for the past week. Today's highs are in the 60s, but tonight's wind chill will be in the 30s. I've been covering and un-covering my eBuckets with sheets and a hugh plastic tarp (NOT touching the plants, of course...).
Actually, covering the eBuckets is a pretty easy task. I just pull the 4ft. garbage cans alonside and drape the sheets and then the tarp over them. It makes a tent. I've had some cabbage seedlings underneath a patio table covered with another sheet, and they're doing just fine. Seems that enough light gets through the sheets that they're looking better underneath that table than they have in 3 months!
STILL haven't managed to get any seeds into my two raised beds. Although, this past weekend I uncovered one bed, and raked through the top 6" to uncrust it (not much of a crust). Then I sprinkled Sluggo Plus on top, watered the bed to runoff, and covered the soil with a sheet of hardware cloth to keep the cats off. So far, so good. I'll do the same with bed #2 this weekend, and try to throw some seeds down.
Oh, and I did mark of square foot sections to guide me in my seed sowing. I have 30 sq. ft. of surface to plant in bed #1. And I should have 32 sq. ft. in bed #2, although #2 is in a more shaded location (best I could do under my circumstances...).
I'm trying to decide what veggies I want more of. Discovered the turnip seeds I ordered are the ones that produce big leaves (YUMMY!) but don't wanna crowd them out. Working on my planting scheme between these two beds and 6 earthboxes...
I think I have roughly 90 more days (from today) of cool to moderately cold weather left for growing in my Zone 9a...
Linda, I also have a hard time figuring out what to plant where, I keep drafting something on paper and then change it a buch of times. I have the companion planting book and I try to implement it to the way I plant things on my raise beds see if does make a difference. This thirsd raise bed that I'll be putting together hopefully this weekend is going to have onions, cabbage, kolrabi and maybe some lettuces as well, all suppose to be good companion planting.
I've also had a couple of freezes here in Mobile where I've had to cover my plants as well, it takes me a while to cover them and secure them to my raise bed, that is why I want to come with a better and easier system to cover my beds.
I also bough the farmers almanac book for this year and I want to implement it as well. Hopefully this will also help into having big and healthy plants as well.
I just decided to pull all my endive out of one of my squares and decided to place some lettuce seedlings that were getting prety big to be under the lights anymore. The endive is just a little too bitter for my taste, but I will probably cook it tonight with some garlic and onion see if this will make it taste less bitter.
I'm still eating from lettuce thinnings. I haven't ever gotten them to the point where I need to do the cut and come again. Linda couldn't that work for your leafy turnips? My first planting of Pak Choi is bolting. It's only a few plants and they held for a long time so I'm not devastated. I wonder if they'll be able to mature the seeds in the winter. The second planting is ready and I guess I need to plant some more. My kohlrabi is swelling up but the largest is less diameter than a tennis ball. How big does it get? I had to put my first planting of cauliflower and broccoli in the freezer because it all got ready at the same time and absolutely wouldn't hold its' quality. The second plantings are coming along but no heads showing. I've got cabbage and more broccoli seedlings to plant if it will ever quit raining. The record has already been broken for rain in December and it's only the 15th. It's better than snow and ice so I shouldn't complain too much.
I'm pleased with the cole crops so far but feel like I'm slacking because I have empty space. In a month or so it will be time for planting potatoes. I just got a sack of red ones to sprout for seed.
I already gave myself a Christmas present, a heat mat and domed tray. Right after New Years it will be time to start tomatoes.
I haven't covered anything so far and even the smallest babies are taking the cold well. I think the coldest it has been is around freezing but only for an hour or so. The grass is still green and it hasn't killed my peppers. Low 30s are predicted this week so that will probably get them.
I'd recommend building a hoop house over your raised beds. Go to this link to see what I mean.
I'd just pound some 1" PVC tube pieces equally spaced around the circumference of the raised beds, and then bend and insert some 10' lengths of 1/2" PVC into the 1" tubes. Then (depending on how long your bed(s) are) run a straight length of PVC down the middle (can be fastened with zip ties!) to stabilize the structure. Now, cover with either sheets, or row cover, or 4-6 mil plastic sheeting. Voila!
And you can take it down when it's not needed, too!.
Linda, that's exactly what I want to build, it is just a matter of getting the tubes and plastic. Thank you for sharing the pictures.
Twiggy, boy it looks like you are way ahead of me, my kolrabi just started swelling up so it still has a way to go and just now I am able to collect the pack choi you sent me, I am taking the outer leaves first so I can let the inside of the bulb get bigger, I saw a you tube video where the lady did it this way and I thought it seemed like a good idea instead of collecting the whole plant.
My broccoli di rabbe is the only one that is showing a little sprout but I have to let it grow a little bigger before I start collecting it, I am not sure if I am going to like it or not but I thought I might just try it since I was sent these seeds by mistake, I asked for regular broccoli and they sent me these instead, but Oh well.
Boy Twiggy that is great about the heat mat and domed tray, I've often wondered whether or not to get at least the heat mat to try and start the seedlings this way, for right now I place them on top of my fridge and germination rate is o.k but I've heard that with one of these heat mats you get better germination and a lot faster too, expecially for veggies such as peppers etc... I am sure that this investment now will reap of benefits later and it will pay itself over and over again. Please let us know how this works for you.
Ok I've mapped out my sq. ft. garden planting grid for the remaining winter season. I figure I have approx. 90 days of cool/cold weather left. In one 40 sq. ft. raised bed I'll sow seeds for 8 diff veggie varieties: Black Dragon & Touchon carrots, Viroflay & Monnopa Spinach, Red Romaine Lettuce, Seven Top Turnips, and Chioggia & Detroit Supreme Beets. I'll put the longest DTM seeds along the back, and group the shortest DTM stuff toward the middle and front. All should be ready 2 harvest by mid-March or early April. As Cole crops get cleared out, spring WSed seedlings will go in. I also got a lathe grid prepped 2 lay on top of the raised bed. Still have a 32 sq ft bed 2 lay out and plant. Here's a pic of the planting grid.
Wow Linda, this definetely looks great, I should do the same with my raise beds, sometimes I think they are a little disorganized. Yes I think you are right you should have plenty of time to start seeds right now and besides the lettuces and spinach grow the fastest so you'll be able to pick up some before April I am sure. Now the beets and cole crops will take a little longer I am sure, its been 2 months or even a little more since I've planted my beets and the bulbs are still very tiny and some of them are not even producing a bulb at all just greens, I think next year I'll try a early growing beet and see if this makes any difference, my beets are just a mix of different ones so I don't even know what I have.
Yesterday I found that I have small spider mites in some of my salad greens expecially the kale, so I went to Lowes as fast as I could and bought some neem oil concentrate, hopefully this will take care of the problem, I also went ahead and bought a soil test kit, hopefully today I can test my soil and see what it needs.
Kelly, yesterday I tried your recipe for the Bok choi and it was delicious, unfortunately I had to buy the broccoli since mine is not even heading up yet. I did put the whole ginger grated into the bok choi instead of just the liquid, I really love ginger so I do not mind the extra flavor. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe.
Yes I had a hard time trying to feed my kids the broccoli, they just don't like it, they do eat salad and other veggies though but broccoli and other cole crops are just difficult, my DD does love beans and sweet peas so I can't wait to plant sweet peas coming up in january time frame.
I am going to try to follow the Farmers Almanac and see if it makes a difference on how my crops grow etc... some people really think that growing by the moon phases really help their crops grow better so I am all for trying.
C & L,
Thanks for the positive feedback on my plan!
C: I planted turnip, beet and carrot seeds for the 1st time last year, Thanksgiving weekend. As I recall, I think I was harvesting beet greens sometime between March-April. I do believe they will sit and pout until the weather is cool enough to their liking. Then they take off!
I'm actually almost 3 weeks later than last year, so it'll be interesting to see how slow/fast my seeds will germinate. I remember they took a VERY long time to germinate last year, but it was still relatively warm for Thanksgiving weekend (I think).
What would you guys recommend planting in my second raised bed? I ask because it's further back under some trees and gets less direct sunshine than bed #1. Last year I planted only beets, 2 varieties, side x side.
I'm thinking I might try to sow some of the new Candie onion seeds in that bed, or will they need much more direct sunshine? It'd be great if I could devote that entire bed to onions!!!! Or potatoes, come January 9th...
I could actually build a set of boxes for half that bed, naw...not enough sunshine for potato vines...
Linda, this is what I found if you want to grow veggies under partial shade, this info I took from an article I had found a while back when I used to live in a house with hardly any sun at all.
Basically, a good rule to remember is that if you grow a plant for the fruit or the root, it needs full sun. If you grow it for the leaves, stems, or buds, a little shade will be just fine.
The following crops will produce with three to six hours of sun, or fairly constant dappled shade, per day. Beets
Salad Greens, such as leaf lettuce, arugula, endive, and cress.
Leafy Greens, such as collards, mustard greens, spinach, and kale
Hope this helps.
Potatoes would probably need full sun to grow but this year would be my first year trying to grow them. I am thinking of growing my potatoes on a container, not sure what to use just yet, maybe one of my earthboxes or maybe I'll just make my own wire container. Anybody has tried this before. It does rain a lot here in mobile so I want to make sure that watever container I use that it does have sufficient drainage, and the mix that I put in lets the water drain, any ideas?
The numbers are a bit squirrelly for Phoenix, but it is a cool tool!
Linda - you should be ok sowing those cole crops. Until they get some size though I would protect them if it gets close to freezing. Once they have a little size they should be ok - they can handle fairly low temps!
c- there's also a thread somewhere on growing potatoes in straw bales. I can't think where it is off the top of my head. Anyone know? If no one finds it I'll post it when I do.
Actually I would not mind trying this if it works, it does seem like the cheapest way to grow your taters and it would also help with the drainage but can you use brand new straw or do you have to let it decompose for a while before using it, that's my dilema, and space as well.
C I compared the GS potato bin 2 the Smartpots, and decided on two. 20-gal Smartpots for my potatoes. Check with hypie local feed store 2 see when they expect 2 start selling seed potatoes. Or, you can buy some certified organic potatoes from your local Whole Foods Store or some other organic seller. Since you can select ur own potatoes, pick the smallest ones that have at least 3 "eyes". You can plant those whole w/o having 2 cut and scab them. You could also select larger spuds and start your own slips. There's time for us both 2 start slips. Keep reading that thread for more tips. Linda
Thank you Linda, yes I will definetely keep reading that thread it has loads of good info. The smart pots actually sound a little better since they are bigger for just a little bit more $. Thank you for giving me the info, I'll probably will do the same and try those smart pots as well.
Thank you kelly I'll definetely check it out, but I am seriously thinking about the smart pots just to keep things more tidy looking.
By the way a question, this morning I've checked 2 nurseries that are close to my house and none carry veggies or potato seed for that matter, then I went to my local super Target and saw that they had a small section of organic veggies such as potatoes, garlic, shallot etc... I was wondering if I was to purchase any of these and plant it in my garden would they grow? They are definetely cheaper than buying online but unfortunately your choices are not quite as good.
If they're cheap enough you could always try some. Check the packed for date (year) on the packs too, although that is no guarantee of fresh seed.
Personally I like the prices and reasonable shipping at Botanical Interests. They carry some organic seed too! I have excellent germination with their seeds as well... Check them out when you get a chance...
P.S. Buying organic seed is only good if you plan to grow it organically;o)
I have had good results planting regular grocery store potatoes and garlic.
Last year my potatoes were a failure but I think the problem originated here. I used some reds and a yellow fleshed type that was in a bag labeled "Colorado Gold". They all had some sort of blight problem as well as all the tomatoes near them. I think they caught it from the tomatoes because they looked fine until some of the tomatoes started looking ill. They are kin and subject to many of the same problems. Avoiding disease is the main reason people recommend buying certified potatoes for seed.
I bought a 5lb bag of red potatoes 2 weeks ago to sprout for mid to late January planting. I'll put them on the far side of the garden from where the problems were last year and use new soil.
Kelly thank you for the website, actually I did not know about this one and I have a lot of them added to my favorites. After much thought I am thinking of spending the extra money and just ordering some online, this at least will give me peace of mind and I can be sure that the seed is good for growing. If I had more space I would take a chance but since my yard is limited, I will only be able to grow a small amount of potatoes, I was thinking of trying the yucon gold, I've heard they are really good tasting and I know that I can't get them here in the stores.
As far as beign organic, I like to think that I am, I have not used any chemicals or pesticides in my plants at all except for organic pest control, and the soil is either made by me or organic.
Twiggy, I found a good recipe to combat blight it is organic and not sure how good it is, it is mainly a mixture of apple cider, vinegar, molases, baking soda along with compost tea. You spray it on your plants as soon as you notice the blight or as a preventative as well. I found this on the Dervaes Website, I am taking a lot of notes on what they do to combat diseases and pests, they seem to be very succesful so it is worth a try.
L - if you google "certified seed potatoes" you will find a lot of sites that sell them. Maybe there is a place local you can but them like a feed or ag store? I've never bought them online, so can't recommend anyone. Maybe look in the Garden Watchdog for companies or ask on this forum for recommendations.
I got the new Baker Creek catalog today - I really need to stop looking at seed catalogs - lol.
c - maybe the same as I told Linda... Not sure how big Mobile is, but maybe you have an ag or feed store there that sells the potatoes. Bonus to buying them locally is you can find out what types grow best in your area since not all varieties are suited to all climates...
I do have a local feed and seed store, I will ask there first and see if they will carry any. They sell more animal grains and straw but now a lot of seeds, I will try anyways.
Linda, Park seeds sells them as well, I've been looking at other companies but they want to sell you at least 5 pds, since I only need a small amount Park's was the only that I could find that sells 2 lbs bag.
Thanks Kelly. I'm gonna go with using some organic Yukon Golds and reds I get from my local Whole Foods Store. I can pick the tiny ones and plant them whole so no cutting and scabbing. I Actually have these Yukon Golds sprouting from LAST January!
Wow Linda I had no idea that you could keep potatoes for a whole year that's great. When I used to live in Pensacola Fl, I used to have a wonderful whole foods store there called ebermans, here I will probably have to ask since I am new to the area, yucon gold is exactly what I am looking for.
You betcha! Anything that survives a whole year in a cabinet, that sat in a vacant office building trashed by hurricane Ike for 7 months, then survived the move-in, deserves a chance. If it's that strong, those are gonna be some mouth watering, tender potatoes! Linda
BTW - I took some pics today of my Osaka Purple Mustard in the garden. I'll try to downlaod the million pics I have on my camera before the weekend is out and post some on the thread in Heirloom veggies. Love love love the taste!! And they are very pretty as well! Purple is my favorite color!
Kelly, are you going to also place the picture on the plant files? I love to look there for things I might grow next and having pretty pictures help me decide sometimes. I'll have to try this mustard sometime, I love the color purple as well. How do you usually cook this veggie? can you eat it raw, or do you have to steam it first?
Linda, you have to let us know how your taters turn out, please!!!!! I will go today to my local whole foods store today to see what they have, hopefully they have some yucon gold ones.
c - you can use it in salads or stir frys. It is slightly spicy. I'll see how the pic looks and will definitely put it in plant files. I too like to see the pics there when looking at plants!! I got the seeds for this from our Ms. Linda!
Ok, I am very excited! I just bought my yucon gold organic potatoes, unfortunately they did not have very small ones so I am thinking of dividing them. My question is, do I cut them now to form the callus, ot do I have to wait until they chit for a while and form their sprouts and then cut them?
By the way, this store was wonderful, it was huge but very expensive, I am so happy that they are selling some of the varieties of veggies that I am growing, it makes me feel like I am eating and growing good veggies that a lot of people pay a lot of $ to have.
Thank you Kelly, I can't wait to see it. Will definetely try it in the future, expecially because it looks like a very versatile veggie kind of the ones I like to grow.
Now I am off to making one of my favorite soups, the olive garden zuppa toscanna, with kale and swiss chard from my own garden, this is great!
Kelly the soup was very good. I have not had the soup from olive garden for years but I remember liking it a lot, and going for lunch there all the time and asking for all you can eat soup and salad.
The soup I just made today was a little less spicy I think for what I remember but still pretty good. Now I did just use chicken broth that I made and also real bacon that I cooked to make my own bacon bits and precooked the onion and garlic before adding the rest of the ingredients. Here is the recipe. http://www.recipezaar.com/Olive-Garden-Copycat-Zuppa-Toscana-38298
Carmen your enthusiasm is wonderful and contagious. We are all blessed to love gardening and to appreciate the rewards. I hope we all gain a lot of freedom from the grocery stores. In case no one noticed, I'm a self appointed advocate for naturally grown local food.
You wait until 3 or 4 days before planting to cut your potatoes. The cuts will dry like a scab to help prevent rot. Some people dust or dip them in some kind of fungicide to also help. Leave at least 2 eyes on the pieces.
My potatoes always start sprouting if I don't use them fast enough. My question is do they sprout better in light or darkness. I know they'll do it in both but which is better? Mine aren't sprouting yet and I only have about a month.
That recipe looks like one I need to make. Thanks.
Thank you Twiggy, yes I do get excited about growing veggies, expecially now that I am seeing the results of my labor. I am also trying to gain freedom by growing local and not have to go to the grocery stores to buy everything, (expecially walmart). I am starting small now but hope to grow little by little.
I have also been talking my husband into getting a few chickens as well, I live in a new neighborhood but we don't have an association thank god! so after a lot of research I found that I can actually have chickens in my backyard as long as they are kept clean and in an enclosed area, so hopefully as soon as we are done with all of our projects we can build a small chicken coup and get a few chickens maybe 4 or so.
I placed my potatoes in a dark and cool place, they are in the laundry room. I read various articles saying that this is how you chit the potatoes. Not sure if this would be faster or not.
Is funny I've been trying to convince some friends, they have 8 kids that they need to grow their own food in their lot, they have an acre, tons of sunshine and perfect location and they just keep giving excuses of why they can't grow anything, they did try last summer and they had tons of squash but everything else did not produce very well, the vegetables got overtaken by bugs, but seriously they never took really good care of their veggies and never sprayed or did anything regarding the bugs. I guess if you don't love it you just see it as a chore.
If you would have asked me about 4 years ago to squish a bug I would have thought you were crazy, now I do that all the time every morning I am looking for new bugs in my veggies to kill, and I mean bad bugs of course.
Chickens! I can just see your little ones feeding them. I bet I know what you're thinking. Four chickens are enough to compost everything you can put in their pen and also prep the space for future garden beds right in your "poor" soil. No new raised beds required.
The feed and seed here starts selling them in March. They get 3 or 4 different kinds each week until it gets too hot to ship them in. They always have some hybrid egg layers that are all female and the standard breeds are mixed. I miss having chickens although I used to cuss when I had to go buy feed. I always tried to have too many and I rarely eat eggs. Homegrown eggs make a noticeable improvement in baked goods.
lol Linda - not sure you'd want to share your straw house with a chicken!
We've talked about getting chickens as well. We're allowed 20 hens (no roosters) in the city limits;o) You have to have them 80' from your neighbor or have permission. We live on a corner lot with no neighbors on the west side of our property - yeah!!
I love to kill bugs too! Well, except maybe big hornworms. Those I pay my boys to kill or I chop them in half with my garden scissors. They give me the creeps!
Linda you could send him to summer camp on a dude ranch so he can become acclimated to all these wild ideas.
I've never minded hearing roosters but I know for a fact that many people do object even out here in the country. I'd lots rather hear a rooster than barking dogs which all my neighbors have plenty of.
Twiggy, you read my mind. Yes I was thining of having a small number 4 or so, even though I can have as many as 10 chickens, no roosters though, I don't think the rules applied for roosters.
This morning I woke up to see my plants, I am very sad, I did not realize that we were going to have a freeze so I did not cover any of them. They are all a little druppy but they don't have any black spots on them. I went ahead to the house and got a watering can full of warm water to pour ot top of the plants I really hope they make it, expecially the broccoli, it was already forming little tiny heads. Only god knows though.
carminator1 - don't worry about your broccoli, it will pick right up again once the frosty weather has gone. My broccoli and collards have come through several freezings already this winter, and I'm a zone north of y'all :)
They taste better once the frost has kissed them :) :)
I felt the same way about the hornworms, until I began studying them closely this past year. In fact, I actually held one in my bare hand! (of course, a fellow DGer was standing by my side when I did...)
Now, I find them to be very intriguing and beautiful, and I'd actually be willing to give them a chance to turn into the beautiful moths they become, if I grew plants (Other than my tomatoes!) that would satisfy their voracious appetite!
I can now pick them up with my gloved hand, when I'm alone!
Hornworms are beautiful if you take the time to look at them. Maybe we'll have to try planting a few mater and pepper plants away from the garden a little bit. Then we can relocate them and see them change. My kiddos would like that - lol.
Congratulations on graduating from the yuck factor - lol. What bothers me is when they start thrashing around - reminds me too much of a snake!
Carmen I think your plants will be ok. My lettuce got a little tip burned once last winter and I just cut that off with scissors when I harvested those leaves.
It is better to have 4 chickens and buy a carton of eggs once in awhile than to be buying feed often and have a surplus. I love roosters. They're useless but sooo beautiful.
I also admire the hornworms and hate to touch them. I feel guilty killing them. I have woods at the back of my place and really should transplant some of my volunteers for them. It stays so shady there that I doubt they'd thrive but at least I could salve my conscience.
Linda a new thread is in order but I'm posting one last time because I'm already here. Thanks.
Gerry41, it's been a long time since we visited your lightbox kit! I have need and will be making one tomorrow. And, since I've gone off and learned a lesson or two, how about a couple of modification suggestions to your desIgn?
First, you think I could use a cardboard box with a lid instead of a plastic tub? I have a Staples paper case box that's about 2/3 the height of your tub, and square (the cups would sit flat all the way round). I could line the bottom with plastic, or a drip tray might fit inside. The lid fits snugly, just like the tub. And, since the box is shorter, the light would be closer to the seedlings.
Second, I could use a glue stick and line the inside of the box with Aluminum foil to reflect even more light!
I think the box will be fine. I also found higher watt CFLs online. I tried a new product this year sure to grow cubes instead of rockwool starter cubes. I could not get good germination and growth in the sure to grow cubes.
I used the equivalent of a 100 watt daylight bulb- about 23watts. It did pretty good but you can get 50 watt CFL daylight bulbs online. The 23 watts are pretty common at wallyworld and box hardware stores.