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High Yield Gardening: High Yield Gardening: Succession Planting & Intercropping

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Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 19, 2011
4:43 PM

Post #8381312

This thread's theme is "How to Maximize Vegetable Yields using Succession Planting and Intercropping". Please post your expertise, experience, and questions regarding using Succession planting and Intercropping to get the most yield from your growing space.

And, though we love you all, as a courtesy to others, let's try to stay as "on topic" as we can, and take our sidebar discussions to the dmail. Thanks!

Now, let the growing begin!


This message was edited Feb 21, 2011 1:32 PM
lottabeds
Blooming Grove, NY

February 19, 2011
5:13 PM

Post #8381353

Wow, Gymgirl! I was in the middle of posting a complaint/observation about other threads that have had little to no response in too long, when all of a sudden, my computer had a "hiccup", I got back on to DG site, and low and behold, it seems we have a new thread in town! I am in Hudson Valley zone 6...we have had enough meltdown in the last few days to actually see soil. Sigh. We are, alas, still in the dream stage of gardening. To all of us with raised beds out here in winterland, our raised beds will thaw sooner than inground plots. Ready, set, plant!

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 19, 2011
5:24 PM

Post #8381371

Hey, Lottabeds!
I know what you mean! I'm screening pine bark fines for my containers, and the raised beds to be built for the fall/winter season.

So, tell me what you know about succession planting and intercropping! I read a bit on a Google website. My main holdup is knowing what veggie to put in next when I take one out. I like the idea of "pull one out, put one in!".

This would have a garden producing almost non-stop! ^^_^^

Linda
lottabeds
Blooming Grove, NY

February 19, 2011
6:58 PM

Post #8381518

I plant lettuces "a little here,a little there, in between things, always different every year. That is a popular idea, you see this a lot in magazines. " Ornamental edible" style. We grow garlic, and it is ready for harvest by about the 2nd week of July. That site can be followed by quick growing heat loving zucchini. I keep graphs of the raised beds so I can keep track of what has grown where, and try to change it up from yr to yr. A lot of annual flowers grow remarkably fast when the soil is warm in July. And I have not done a lot of this, but a lot of books and catalogs advise putting in the cruciferous stuff in Aug for a fall harvest. The lettuces and spinach grow great in late season. Half of the fun is in the constant re-arranging of these raised beds. A good fast crop for succession planting is bush beans...

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 19, 2011
7:26 PM

Post #8381579

Lottabeds,
I think this thread is underway!

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

February 19, 2011
8:22 PM

Post #8381679

I'm interested and watching, but won't have much to contribute.

If I could use lettuce to draw slugs away from delhiniums, I would be thrilled, but suspect that adding lettuce would just draw even more and fatter slugs!

I'll probably be interplanting Bok Choy, Lavatera, Salvia and Penstemon since I just built that bed, and it hasn't had any Brassica grown in it before.

The Saliva and Penstemon won't be planted out for a while, and then will be small for weeks or months, and the Bok Choy will be eaten as they get bigger.

I may find that I have to underwater the Bok Choy in order to keep the flowers happy, so maybe I do know one thing about interplanting: they should have similar or non-conflicting water and fertilizer requriements at any given time.

Corey
NisiNJ
Bordentown, NJ
(Zone 7a)

February 19, 2011
8:51 PM

Post #8381719

[quote="lottabeds"]A good fast crop for succession planting is bush beans...[/quote]

And doesn't the literature say that bush beans also leave nitrogen in the soil for the next crop? Especially if you leave the roots or till the plants under? (An added advantage)
lottabeds
Blooming Grove, NY

February 19, 2011
8:56 PM

Post #8381725

Hey, Corey...re: grouping similar cultures of plants, time estimate of seed germination to harvest, soil/light/water requirements, rotation of crops...therein lies the challenge! You never get done with planning, and changing it up, evaluating, . And often the plants defy the odds, or dont quite perform as the seed packets and books tell you. Year after year, we try new things. And then again, there is the crazy, erratic weather. You just never know. Living in the Hudson valley, I try to plant a little bit of a lot of things, so as not to be too disappointed if weather conditions dont cooperate. Cool wet summer? Tomatoes may not be great, but oh, those leafy greens will have their best year ever. Speaking of lousy weather, we're getting 3 to 6 inches of snow on Sunday night. (scream).
lottabeds
Blooming Grove, NY

February 19, 2011
9:00 PM

Post #8381728

Hey, Nisinj...Bordentown, zone 7 ...are you in the "Pineys"? Jersey tomatoes are the best!

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

February 19, 2011
9:12 PM

Post #8381737

Hi Lottabeds, glad to meet you.

>> You never get done with planning,

What you say sounds good, but you used a word I don't know: "planning".

Is that anything like "haphazard trail and error"? Hmm.

I've only had my own garden for about three years, but I do realize that eventually I'll have better results if I do more planning and less "Hey, LOOK! Those seeds actually survived! Let's see where I have space to plant them ...".

Corey
NisiNJ
Bordentown, NJ
(Zone 7a)

February 19, 2011
9:50 PM

Post #8381754

[quote="lottabeds"]Hey, Nisinj...Bordentown, zone 7 ...are you in the "Pineys"? Jersey tomatoes are the best![/quote]

Thank you. Yes, we are proud of our tomatoes. Bordentown is on the west border, just south of the indentation, or big bend in the Delaware river. I travel through the pineys on my way to the Jersey Shore (yay!)

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 19, 2011
9:53 PM

Post #8381756

Lottabeds, you make a good point re: the many factors not in our control, and the need for constant assessment, evaluation, and planning.

NIsiNJ,
Excellent catch on beans fixing nitrogen! I'll be sure to make note of that for succession planting. I believe, then, leafy cole crops like mustard and Collard greens would benefit going in after beans, yes? Because of the residual nitrogen left in tHe soil?

Linda

mraider3
Helena, MT

February 20, 2011
4:56 AM

Post #8381931

I don't even know if this is the place to start but I have way too many questions floating around in my head. I have six 4' x 8' raised beds which are made with 16-inch wide treated lumber and dug down to various depths from a foot or more. I have vowed to maximize their use this year for strictly personal consumption and let the garden (60' x 100') serve as general production of potatoes, corn, beans, onions, tomatoes and peppers for the extended family use.

That said I have tried to come up with a plan for the raising of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage in one bed; various lettuce, spinach. boc choi in another bed; baby carrots, beets, radish, bunching onions in another bed, and baby cukes in a bed of its own. I have two deep beds, one filled with well aged cow manure and worms which I am planning to raise a few sweet potatoes; and the other deep bed serves primarily as a hot bed or place to harden plants.

I plan to completely gut all materials from previous plantings and refill the beds starting with a layer of cardboard and topped with 4 to 6 inches of wood chips before adding the soil compost mix. I know this is a crude plan and there is much I don't know about close plantings and possibly some compatibility problems, but that is where I am coming from. This whole thing is a completely new learning curve for me and compared to the rest of you I am at the very bottom of the curve. Any thoughts to get me started would be greatly appreciated.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

February 20, 2011
6:46 AM

Post #8382145

Succession Planting and Intercropping

I've always envied the photos in magazines showing gardens where all types of veggies are growing happily together, but have never been able to figure out the technique.

I'm eager to learn what Gymgirl said: "pull one out, put one in!".

lottabeds
Blooming Grove, NY

February 20, 2011
7:39 AM

Post #8382243

Good morning fellow threadies! Well, I knew it was coming, it does each year. THE OBSESSION. It is a happy mental disorder, actually. Today, in addition to the usual "get ready for the workweek " chores and activities, I will be in the cold basement taking inventory of all stuff seed starting related, and trying to organize somewhat. Not easy for me, an ongoing, never ending process. I'm not a very organized person. I try different methods, but in the end, each year, I have notes all over a calender, a steno pad, and several maps on graft paper of these gardens at various stages of spring, summer, and finally, autumn.
kmom246
Murfreesboro, TN
(Zone 7a)

February 20, 2011
11:09 AM

Post #8382536

Last year I planted spinach in the spaces between the dormant strawberries. The spinach was all eaten by the time the strawberries were leafing out. A few small spinach were left to barely survive the summer and then when the cool weather came, they took off. This year I'm going to purposely see if I can germinate some spinach at the end of summer and see if I can get a good stand before it completely freezes over.

I also followed spring peas with okra. The okra needed a warmer, sunnier site, so they didn't do too well; however, it was still obvious that this combination worked, so I will try it again in a different spot this year.

My gardener's heart is still in Georgia (been over two decades since I lived in The South :-( So I keep trying to grow long season veggies here in the high desert - where our frost free days is half of what The South has. So this year I'm going "winter sow" some cool season veggies and see if I can sneak in a crop of something before the tomatoes go out.

They say sunflowers need to be planted after the last frost, but I saw volunteers up with peas one year, so now I start the first set of sunflower seeds after heavy frosts, but still in the "danger zone" for the frost sensitive. Germination is erratic, they take a little longer from sprout to bloom, and are not as tall as later plants from the same type of seed; however, I have blooms a month and a half earlier than the rest of the neighborhood. Some of the seeds that don't initially germinate will germinate a few days to a few weeks later, thus automatically staggering their bloom time. Seeds I plant later nearly all germinate at the same time and I have to plant every week to ensure fresh blooms all summer. Side note: I find it interesting that the ones planted later know when winter is coming and will "hurry up" their blooms so they bloom before the frost. If only our weather people could be so accurate!

I like the "plant a little lettuce here and there" idea - I think I will try that this year - and expand it to include basils. I am going to try basil to the west of the tomatoes and lettuce to the east. That way lettuce will get morning sun and afternoon shade and basil will get full blazing afternoon sun. As the summer progresses into the three digit zone, I will start planting basils between the lettuce and eventually pull the lettuce and let the basils take over. Well, that's the PLAN, anyway. We all know how plans go...

(One of the reasons I want basil everywhere (besides the fact that it smells and tastes wonderful) is that it is difficult to get the pollinators to find us - until the desert mallow (pretty but stinky) and the basils start to bloom. Squash near blooming basils didn't need hand pollinating a few years back, but ones not close (same variety) did.)

Also, toms appreciate a little shade here. I am going to plant a "cage of sunflowers" about two feet out from where the tom is going to sit. I'm hoping that will be far enough away the chemicals from the sunflowers that inhibit other plants' growth. I figure, the sunflowers can start growing ahead of the toms - probably be a foot or so tall when I plant out the toms. The idea is that they will out-pace the toms and cast a little morning and afternoon shade and contain the toms at the same time. I got this idea because I cannot pound stakes into the caliche and the sand doesn't provide stakes enough support. It's really windy here (regularly 35 MPH with gusts into the 50-75 MPH range), but my sunflowers rarely get knocked over. I grow "mammoth" sunflowers, but they barely reach 5 foot tall here - perfect for tomato cages. I guess that could be a type of succession planting?

Looking forward to seeing what everyone is doing.
yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

February 20, 2011
11:53 AM

Post #8382594

http://www.seedsofchange.com/enewsletter/issue_68/successionplanting.aspx
http://www.motherearthnews.com/uploadedImages/articles/issues/1975-05-01/033-034-01t

These are great articles on sucession planting and companion planting
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 20, 2011
1:23 PM

Post #8382734

To All,

Crop rotation, companion planting, soil pH, heat index & growing season...sometimes it can seem like overload. Most of the time a systematic approach to gardening is the best.

Start with your soil, or dirt as the case may be. This is your foundation.

Look around! What does well in your area? What "tricks" can you use? Solarization, raised beds, floating row covers. Read about each crop. FIND THE OLD WISE ONES THEY KNOW!

I recommend several books;

Riote, Louise; "Carrots Love Tomatoes, Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening". 1975

Damrosch, Barbara; "The Garden Primer, The Completely Revised Gardener's Bible". 2008

Smith, Edward C.; "The Vegetable Gardener's Bible". 2000

Bradley, Fern Marshall, & Other Eds; "Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening" 2009

Stell, Elizabeth P.; "Secrets to Great Soil" 1998

Take a look at the University of California at Davis Horticulture site, for those in the south check Clemson University's site. As always there is a ton of articles here on Dave's Garden and definatly check out your state's agriculture/horticulture website.

I know about the fever, but I discipline myself to start with soil work first. Usually I dig down two feet with a mini trackhoe and remix my dirt by hand with what ever my hand tests and lab tests tell me. I will be planting my first vegetable garden in Colorado after many carefree halyconic years of gardening in Southern California on sandy river bottom. (Sigh) To have fresh guacamole with all the ingredients out of your own garden, accompanied with fresh strawberry daiquaries, folowed by boysenberry lime shark steaks with crushed macadamia nuts, yeah, out of my former garden...Slap me, please, I am daydreaming again! LOL :)) (It's part of the symptoms of Spring fever).

I am looking forward to seeing what you all find out as somebody always finds something new that just works fantastic! Hooty Hoo!

Sonny



Thumbnail by Pewjumper
Click the image for an enlarged view.

lottabeds
Blooming Grove, NY

February 20, 2011
3:26 PM

Post #8382981

Dear mraider3, Your plan is ambitious, be careful of your back. That is a lot of weight to be transferring, so maybe you can have people help you. I dont know, I hope I am not overstepping my bounds. When my husband and I had our first house in 1997, I was very thrilled about starting a garden, and I had read a whole lot about "double digging". SO...our first bed was about 100 sq. ft that we carefully mapped out, dug up the sod, and then proceeded to shovel out all of that thick red stuff called clay. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the BOULDERS we encountered with every strike of the pickaxe. Yes, pickaxe. After all, this place was called ROCKLAND county for a reason. Anyway, we dug down about 18 inches (I was very disappointed in myself for falling short of our initial goal of 2 feet) . By the way, I had not yet read about the thing they call hardpan. (the kid next door asked us if we were putting in a swimming pool). When we were done digging, we then re-filled this hole with layers of peatmoss, peat humus, manure, bonemeal, various sources of compost, topsoil, perlite, etc, and with each layer placed, we added back a layer of the original clay, which we actually had to mush by hand thru a big coarse screen that we stapled on to a door frame. This whole process took over a month, since we both were working so our time was divided. I was new to gardening at the time, and had not yet considered that this is a garden that needs settling time...it was so full of oxygen. Our tomatoes that year looked like the tropics...so much greenery. But the reason for telling this tale...take care of your back. That stuff weighs tons. Literally. This is why, in our next home, we simply bought raised beds and filled them. SPRING IS ALMOST HERE! Claudia aka Lottabeds
yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

February 20, 2011
3:31 PM

Post #8382991

Lottabeds I'm with ya! Buy the raised bed kits! I looked at my hourly salary and at the price of the raised beds and how long it would take to dig and it was a total no brainer. Not to mention the preservation of my precious back.

Here's a great article http://www.earthlypursuits.com/GardenMag/GardenMag0517-231.htm
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 20, 2011
4:04 PM

Post #8383037

Lottabeds,

That's why I rent a mini trackhoe whenever I can get it into the new garden area. $300.00 for a day and I can do all the hard work and preserve my deteriorating spine. It is worth every red cent.

If you look at the picture above this post, all of it was done by hand baecause I had landscaping that blocked me from bringing in heavy equipment. I went down two feet and now I have a wonderful veggie bed for this Spring. Later it will be a flower bed once I move down to the lower level, (32'X75') and set up the orchard & veggie beds.

Sonny

Thumbnail by Pewjumper
Click the image for an enlarged view.

lottabeds
Blooming Grove, NY

February 20, 2011
4:47 PM

Post #8383120

Hey, pewjumper! I am smarter now. And my back definitely gets to vote on any upcoming events. Favorite garden task: picking vegs and flowers with one hand and holding my tumbler of pinot grigio in the other. Work hard each season to get to this place, but finally work smart! I am a readaholic too...in particular, like the veg bible by Smith, he makes it all feel simple , attainable, de-confusing. Barb. Damrosch's book Garden Primer, just picked it up last year. I just can't get enough of this stuff to read during the off season. Sounds like a lot of us are afflicted with this readaholicism. It goes quite well with rheumatism! Thanks to all for sending tips on websites and such. I have yet to get into some of these sites, but will get there. Armchair gardening season continues! Zone 5, how much longer does your winter last in general?
yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

February 20, 2011
4:49 PM

Post #8383122

Good list of companion plants http://www.ghorganics.com/page2.html
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 20, 2011
6:12 PM

Post #8383274

Lottabeds,

I figure I can plant snowpeas, and other cold veggies on May1, row covers are the plan. Tomato plants will go into 12" holes with all their side branches clipped and burried with high quality compost, put a clear plastic cap over the top and hope for big roots.

Most people arond here don't do well with things like tomatoes, but I am looking forward to "early" season melons.

First snow is always before Halloween.

Sonny
yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

February 21, 2011
4:15 AM

Post #8383646

Guess you guys can tell what I've been doing. I really plan on going gang busters in my garden this year. Here's a very good article on crop rotation and succession planting from the Texas Agricultural Extension program

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/vegetable/lubbock/vegrote.html

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

February 21, 2011
6:42 AM

Post #8383910

Pewjumper - until I read your post, I hadn't realized how much I missed my South Florida garden where we grew: bananas, grapefruit, lemons, carambola, Lychees, Longans and Mangos! The neighbor had an orange tree that hung over into our yard, so we picked those, too. Another neighbor exchanged avocadoes for our grapefruit. Florida avocadoes are called "alligator pears". Then there were the orchids and staghorn ferns that grew in those trees, and the bromiliads and ferns that grew under them.

lottabeds - I use MSWord to create a Garden Journal and add to it every time I do some relating to gardening. Then I transfer the info to an online web site - click on the "Our Garden" tab:

http://ncgarden.hobbies.homepagenow.com/about_us.shtml

Saves sorting through pieces of paper.



greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

February 21, 2011
6:51 AM

Post #8383930

Yehudith, thanks for the companion planting link; I bookmarked it for future reference. I keep trying to do succession planting and intercropping; one problem is that it makes my rotation schemes a lot more difficult! For instance if I have garlic or tarragon in several places it knocks out those areas in future years for plants that don't like them or are prey to the same bugs and diseases.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 21, 2011
7:52 AM

Post #8384071

My biggest problem has been with the scheduling of "when to plant what:...

Succession planting seems to be a very precise Tango dance with the food. Again, knowing each plant's requirements, and likes and dislikes probably makes a great bit of difference in how well the rotation goes.

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

February 21, 2011
8:27 AM

Post #8384168

And it all depends on not only your zone but your microclimate!

I have tried planting fall veggies like spinach and carrots and beets, but they never go anywhere!
yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

February 21, 2011
10:25 AM

Post #8384473

Greenhouse
As one Jersey gal to another, Mother Earth News has a great article, "Fall in Love with Spinach" Joh Navazio that covers the art of overwintering spinach. I found it very very informative. Seems most of us are starting it too late. It really needs to be started 8-10 weeks before the first hard frost to grow big enough to get some kind of fall harvest. That means about the first-third week in August. Its in the fall 2010 issue. You might be able to find it on line.

Yehudith

See

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

February 21, 2011
10:38 AM

Post #8384494

Yehudith, we subscribe to MEN so I have that issue. Problem is that when I plant it in the beginning to middle of August it's too hot for it, and it doesn't do anything. It's been really steamy here in late summer, recently.

Where in Jersey are you from?
yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

February 21, 2011
11:24 AM

Post #8384568

I'm from Middletown. We're near Keansburg, Hazlet, Perth Amboy , exit 14 on the parkway. We're actually the oldest township in New Jersey. We lived in the Villiage est 1663. In someways I really miss it, in otherways I'm so glad to be out of there. Where in Jersey are you from?

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 21, 2011
11:25 AM

Post #8384569

Does someone have a succession schedule they could share, so I get an idea of what comes after what?

HoneybeeNC,
Funny, Louisiana avocados are called "alligator pears", too! Must be a southern thing!
yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

February 21, 2011
11:43 AM

Post #8384593

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/vegetable/lubbock/vegrote.html

This article really covers it with some suggestions

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

February 21, 2011
12:30 PM

Post #8384677

Wow, he talks about not only yearly but also seasonal rotations!

We're about an hour north of Cape May, near the Delaware Bay. It's very rural here, and pretty if you like marshes and birding!
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 22, 2011
4:11 AM

Post #8385808

lottadbeds, fortunately the days of pic axing and screening are over for me. It took me four years to double dig the 60' x 100' main garden and remove the boulders and rock. Now I use a 26hp tractor with pull behind tiller which is actually fun to till the main garden. The raised beds are really not much of a challenge even with the removal of old media to the top of my 200' x 10' x6' rock wall which gets planted this year in dill and ground cherries. I learned from my grandmother who was a nurse who was not suppose to live beyond her mid-thirties that regular daily exercising was essential if I plan to continue gardening at my age. I have a daily sixty minute workout which includes free weights and twenty minutes of back exercises. Although this doesn't prevent early garden back pains they really don't last more than a week or two.

Unfortunately I received no response in this thread to my question about lining my raised beds with cardboard and a layer of wood chips before adding the growing media. This whole concept is completely new to me and so little time left to decide what to do. I plan to devote next winter to a more extensive research of the subject. At this point I will just grab what information from each of your responses I can and go from there. Besides much of what I have learned is from making mistakes, but DG has certainly helped reduce those by a large margin.

yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

February 22, 2011
4:22 AM

Post #8385820

Oh raider

I lined mine with two layers of cardboard last year and it worked great!!!!! The cardboard attracts worms like Yuppees to free crack in the 1980's. It kept out all the weeds except a wisteria that is growing rampant through this whole neighbourhood. After the crack I mean cardboard I put down a good thick layer of manure then piled on the potting soil. By the time the roots hit the manure it was fine. Instead of manure you can use cheap dog food. Seriously, the rosarian at the National Arboretum told me that one. Its loaded with nitrogen and does the same thing. It also has loads of calcium, potassium, phosphorus etc.
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 22, 2011
4:56 AM

Post #8385858

Thank you yehudith. I was beginning to think I was completely out of my league here with my dumb questions. So, here is the new plan: layer of cardboard; layer of wood chips (4"-6"); layer of well aged cow manure (4-6"); and a top layer of growing media mix (4-6"). I plan to use some of the aged cow manure in the growing media, but I do like you idea of adding a layer of the straight cow manure as well. Since the cow manure is free I think I will pass on the dog food, but I am intrigued by the concept.

We have a last frost free date of mid-June here and my thoughts on the raised beds are to try and get a six week head start. My biggest concern is the broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage bed which I will start the seed for the first transplants shortly. Using old window panes as covers, some black plastic, and your suggestion of the manure layer I hope enough heat will be generated in this bed to accomplish the early transplants. No one has comment yet on this idea so possibly it's just stupid or not worthy of mention.
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

February 22, 2011
5:02 AM

Post #8385869

Mraider ~ I would say to try your experiment of cardboard and woodchips as a bed base. I have been researching a type of gardening that uses rotting wood for moisture retention and am intending to do that myself. It is called hügelkultur if you are interested in researching it.

This message was edited Feb 22, 2011 7:05 AM
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 22, 2011
5:08 AM

Post #8385877

Thanks podster, added to my list of things to do. I apologize to every one for my dumb questions but there is so little time left to plan my layouts. I will promise to be up to speed on this fascinating subject by time next year. I am collecting all of your recommended readings and plan to devote myself to this subject thoroughly starting in the fall. Thanks.
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 22, 2011
5:43 AM

Post #8385938

In response to Yehudith's comment about using cheap dog food, I must concur as it is what I use to keep some wastewater plants alive during the Winter when the flows drop down next to nothing.

Sonny

This message was edited Feb 22, 2011 6:48 AM

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

February 22, 2011
5:56 AM

Post #8385958

I don't know if I'd want it around food crops, though. Especially if I wouldn't even feed it to my dog!
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

February 22, 2011
6:09 AM

Post #8385984

Here it would draw fire ants to the subterranean levels of the garden. Not at all what I would want to encourage...
yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

February 22, 2011
6:16 AM

Post #8385995

greenhouse

Do you realize there are even more government regulations regarding the production of all pet foods then there are for human foods. Seriously, they had to list nutritional content on dogfood years, decades before they ever thought of putting it on people food. I feed my dog Orijen, ain't cheap, contains in order, boneless chicken , salmon, turkey, russet potato, herring meal, sweet potato, peas, whole eggs, chicken liver, whitefish, alfalfa, organic kelp, pumpkin, chicory root, carrots, spinach, turnipgreens, apples, cranberries, blueberries, licorice root, angelica root, fenugreek, marigold flowers, sweet fennel, peppermint leaf, chamomile, dandelion, summer savory, rosemary and a couple other things. Makes your mouth water doesn't it, she eats better than most of the kids at my daughter's school. She's sixteen and looks like she's maybe eight. Looks like a well done compost pile if you take out the animal products. Notice no grains. That's because its intended to mimic what they would get in the wild, and deer didn't grow wheat corn or rice. Anyway, most cheap dogfood is grain based, some doesn't have any meat products at all in it, so unless you are going for totally organic there's nothing in it to cause problems.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

February 22, 2011
6:25 AM

Post #8386021

mraider3 - there are no "dumb questions" - please ask us anything about gardening, we are all here to help/learn from one another. I've been growing vegetables for 59 years and still have questions.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

February 22, 2011
6:30 AM

Post #8386054


yehudith - my daughter and I also feed our dogs grain-free food. I've tried to convince my neighbor that her dog's incessant scratching is caused by the corn/wheat in it's diet - to no avail (sigh)

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

February 22, 2011
8:07 AM

Post #8386239

We feed our labradoodle a grain-free diet from Taste of the Wild, but the reference was to "cheap" dog food, and I'll bet the list of ingredients doesn't look anything like the list in the foods we're offering our dogs.

My labradoodle still itches, though...
yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

February 22, 2011
8:34 AM

Post #8386300

I'm sorry, what I was trying to getting at, is the cheaper the dog food the more grains and such they have in them. They're mainly corn in various forms , soy in various forms and wheat with maybe enough meat to put a chicken leg in the picture on the lable if you're lucky. That's all the "brown stuff" we add to our compost piles anyway or sprinkle to kill the weeds (corn gluten).

We actually had a dog shrink come to the house for our Jack Russel who is no more who immediately told us to get him off the Pedigree we were using because of its high grain content. We did and immediately saw a difference in his behaviour. It was like taking an ADD kid off gluten and sugar. Now Bonnie, our Corgie won't touch anything but the Orijens. At $15 for a 5lb bag my husband's having a stroke, but if she pops off on us its going to cost us a fortune to get another of her quality so she gets the pricey food.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm dying to get outside in my garden! You know, its like being 8mos and 3wks pregnant. Please G-d let that 40th week get here!!!!!

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

February 22, 2011
11:24 AM

Post #8386638

Yehudith, I knew what you were saying, but I also think that a lot of the cheaper foods are stabilized or preserved with chemicals and also may have things like corn syrup, none of which I'd want in my garden. Some dog foods also have artificial coloring so they look more appetizing to the humans who buy them!

I did a bit of raking and cleaning up in my garden the other day when it soared to almost 70, but since then DH has been spreading compost on the asparagus and raspberry beds and pruning fruit trees and grape vines, but I've been inside.

yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

February 22, 2011
12:01 PM

Post #8386689

OMG!!!!! And its in the upper 20's -30's here. We had snow last night! I had planned to set up my cold frame today but here I am looking out over the snow and working on my garden plan. You have GOT to get the MEN garden planner! It is so cooooool! I mean you can do EVERYTHING on it and it even sets up succession planting FOR YOU automatically! Then they send you alerts to remind you to start your seedlings or plant based on your garden's zone. Dude! You gotta check this thing out! They give you a 30 day free trial. Man and you can even print the trial out I mean your plan. You can add in your particular varieties and all their specs. I haven't been so excited about something since my wedding night. You gotta try it! I think I'm gonna turn on the lights to my hydroponics, I'm starting to loose it. I don't do well this time of year, I need the sun to come back!

Funny you should mention the corn syrup. In carpool ( I get to take 7 little darlings, only one is mine in the a.m.) I got to give my nutrition lecture about carbs. I'm an instructor at the local nursing school and you wouldn't believe the questions these kids come up with. Man, I have to get agile on my feet sometimes. Anyway, all the way to school I got to preach the evils of simple carbohydrates and why you want to have complex carbohydrates that's why you don't want to eat that crappy boxed cold cereal or donuts for breakfast (I can just see the other mother's picketing my house now) and of course my dear child has to inform everyone that we very rarely get simple carbohydrates in OUR home(she gets a good solid hot breakfast no matter what just like I did). Then she says how Mummy made the best brownies the other night but wouldn't put frosting on them. Yep! Everything in moderation. And they were organic I might add. Then to make things really interesting I get to explain why its important for girls to have a good intake of B vitamines and how its important to the neural development of the embyo. Oh yes, it does get interesting! This is all because one of the kids brought a box of cereal and asked me about the grams of sugar listed on the package which is way more than the total daily reccomended allowance for sugar/serving and we wonder why our kids are obese and we're paying a fortune in dental bills. Not to mention the teenage girls with polycystic ovary disease. Ahhhhk!!!!!!! The cereal went in the trash and the kid got handed an apple from my lunch bag.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

February 22, 2011
12:19 PM

Post #8386715

yehudith - I'm so happy to learn that someone else has taught their children the correct way to eat. Mine are adults now, and still eat the way they were raised.

The number one reason we raise our own vegetables is so we know there are no pesticides hitch-hiking on them.

I actually picked something from the garden today - some Arugula (Rocket) has volunteered to grow in one of the walkways, and I added a handful to my organic chicken sandwich.
lottabeds
Blooming Grove, NY

February 22, 2011
3:34 PM

Post #8387025

Hello threadies, I am quickly scanning in between working this week...succession planting schedules and crop rotation has no quick and easy answer, but I have been thinking, and even to the bed layering questions, one of the most detailed and analytical books I have read is by a garden writer named Lee Reich. Weedless Gardening is one of his books that is, how can I put this? If you want details and depth, check it out. There are simpler ways, though. Wish I had more time for this thread. I am a nurse, and this is one of my heavy weeks. SPRING IS PEEKING... Opening day MARCH 1st. Regards to one and all until next time. Claudia Lottabeds
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 22, 2011
4:59 PM

Post #8387148

Hmmmm...

Maybe I shouldn't feed the bacteria in the wastewater plants cheap dog food...The results are not what I am happy with right now. Would you all volunter to come out to the Colorado Rockies and go skiing? LOL!

I am just getting ready to plant a new veggie bed! So the MEN planner will be great.

Just also getting off the ground with planning a new half acre community garden at our church. I am stoked, but there is a lotttta work coming up. I will document the whole thing for your enjoyment. If any of you want to come out this summer and help it would be greatly appreciated. After work you can go soak in the world's largest natural hot springs pool in Glenwood Springs, CO.

Sonny

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

February 22, 2011
10:08 PM

Post #8387622

mraider3,

Please excuse me if you know these things already, but I thought I would toss my two cents in as questions or comments.

>> various lettuce, spinach. boc choi in another bed;

I've read that Bok Choy and its close relatives (Brassica rapa) should not be planted in the same spot two years in a row. Diseases are encouraged that way. Do you plan to rotate them from bed to bed, year by year?


>> dug down to various depths from a foot or more
>> I have two deep beds,

I also like to dig down under my raised beds, to get a deeper root zone. However, my subsoil drains like solid rock, meaning not at all. I have to dig trenches to drain any spot that I dug below "grade" or it would become a permanent mud puddle.

Do you have better drainage under your beds than I did? Or, perhaps, a slope?

If you have good enough drainage that you don't need take-away trenches, I'm envious! And you're going to do a total soil replacement? Can I have the soil you're getting rid of?

- - -

The first year I dug a little trench below a bed, to keep its feet dry, I forgot that after water flows downhill away from where I didn't want it, it STAYS at whatever new low spot I just created. Creating an even bigger mud puddle, like a moat.

So I spent the next two years running an even deeper trench the length of my driveway, and I'm still working on the downhill end. (Pick and mattock, shovel and wheelbarrow. I'm cheap.)

Here are some photos of my "DUHH" experience with raised-and-lowered beds on top of clay.
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1139478/
Soil and Composting: Crude but effective raised beds

Since we're talking about raised beds, here's another thread (jump near the end) talking about a straw bale / raised bed method:
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1144966/
Soil and Composting: Your Opinion and adviceplease.

Corey
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 23, 2011
4:26 AM

Post #8387759

Honeybee, your right...maybe naive would have been a better choice of words, however that won't stop me from asking questions. I have no fear in that department. Being ignored generally means I haven't asked the right question or it's not worthy of response, but I generally get my answers somewhere. Recently in the vegetable gardening thread on broccoli seed I got just exact answer I was looking for on spacing.

Corey, sorry you can't have the throw-a-way soil. I am using it to cover my 200' x 10' x 6' rock wall. It is now time to plant some ground cherries. But thanks again for the great advise. Boc Choi is planted in a different bed this year from last. No one had any idea what to do with the boc choi last year so it went to seed and I have lots of it for this year. Although I gut the beds and start with new media each year I agree that rotation is important. My raised bed bottoms are either clay or solid rock, depending on the depth in which they were dug down. Below two feet is bed rock. That is why I layer with cardboard first, and this year I will be adding a layer of wood chips on top of the cardboard, followed by a layer of well composted cow manure. I have had some feedback on this method and I am continuing to make changes as recommendations are made. Corey I always greatly appreciates your advice. TYVM

My plan for 2011 raised beds is to maximize their use strictly for personal use. I am finished growing lettuce for the masses that expect me to pic, clean and package it for them. In just a short while here I have learned how to maximize the use of my raised beds to grow a large variety of garden to the table produce. I personally think this concept is going to be the rage across the country in a very short time. I believe the down side to this is going to be seed shortages on a scale we have never seen before so I am gearing up on seed saving and storage of seed.

I get the feeling there are a number of you watching these postings with considerable knowledge and experience on the subject. I hope you will suffer those of us with limited experience and keep up the good work. For my last prediction of the day, I see this as being one of the most prolific subjects in DG, maybe second only to the Tomato Forum.
lottabeds
Blooming Grove, NY

February 23, 2011
4:44 PM

Post #8388993

Wonderful website, Yehudith, on crop rotation and succession planting that you posted on 2/21. Inbetween all of the research, study, analyzing, agonizing ...try this for fun, relaxation, and perspective re- allignment: The Gin & Tonic Gardener: Confessions of a Reformed Compulsive Gardener, by Janice Wells. Not to mention all the writings of Henry Mitchell (my personal all time favorite) . Have fun one and all!

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

February 23, 2011
7:46 PM

Post #8389380

Mraider, I think you have more experience than I do!

I eat Bok Choy many ways:
- like celery: I crunch the sweet stalks raw. Sweeter and more tender, and no 'strings' when small
- like lettuce: raw leaves are good, especially before they get huge
- like spinach or chard: leaves steamed as "greens" or boiled very briefly in soup
- like cabbage or carrots or brocolli: boil big old stems for soup or a boiled vegetable

Oh yes! Or you can stir-fry it, (briefly for big leaves - just wilt them to make them more tender). Cook stems longer so they're hot all the way through, maybe splitting them if you like them softer, but they are crunchy and sweet uncooked.

For a while I had no wok, and now I don't have a gas stove. "Stir-fry" works OK for me in a frying pan. Thin strips of any kind of meat, Bok Choy stalks, maybe thin-sliced carrots, lots of garlic - fry for a while, then toss shredded leaves around in it for the last few minutes ...

As with snow peas, they only get cooked if I don't eat them all before I get arund to cooking them.

My mother was VERY suspicious of those alien-looking things. She decided that boiling them for a LONG time would be safest ... and they're even edible THAT way.

Later that reminded her of a story from her childhood, growing up in the Brooklyn melting pot during the Great Depression.

Her family was very Irish and they were in a mixed neighborhood (Irish and Italian). One Italian matriarch ("Mrs. Shackatana" is how her name has come down to us) was very fond of my Mom's mother, and the whole family, and would sometimes bring them a pan of lasagna. Grandma always thanked her profusely (and indeed appreciated the sentiment).

But that "lasgana" was so alien to her Irish culinary expectations that she was afraid of it and threw it away each time, rather than"risk" feeding it to the children. It was neither meat nor potatoes, bread nor cabbage. And that was during the Depression! Maybe she had been taught that tomatoes were poisonous, I don't know.

Corey
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 24, 2011
4:28 AM

Post #8389685

"Yehudith, on crop rotation and succession planting that you posted on 2/21" Can we please have a link.

Corey, thanks for the anecdotes and tips on using Bok Choy. I like to tell some of those hand-me-down stories which go back to those depression days as well. It's actually funny how our kids and grandkids just look at you like your completely crazy. It makes about as much sense to me as their video games, but somehow I get the feeling this younger generation is going to become far more interested in stories about gardening within a very short period of time, and I can't think of a better way to get them started than a 4' x 4' raised bed. I have been installing aquariums as gifts for the past couple of years and now it's time for a change. The information I get from this and related threads will be greatly appreciated. I believe this is a new age of gardening in this country and I would encourage all of us to approach this with our young in mind. I have invited all the kids and grandkids to a harvest reunion this year in Montana. Should get interesting.
yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

February 24, 2011
6:03 AM

Post #8389818

Is this the one you're talking about? http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/vegetable/lubbock/vegrote.html
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 25, 2011
7:32 AM

Post #8391833

yehudith, this is probably the link I tried to access and couldn't. I have had several problems here recently and I don't know what is causing the problem. MaryMcP suggested holding down the Ctrl key, but it didn't help. Is this a video tutorial?
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 25, 2011
7:41 AM

Post #8391861

I figured it out...copy to favorites and the link works there...Thanks

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 25, 2011
7:46 AM

Post #8391874

Or, just copy and paste the url directly into your browser...
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 25, 2011
8:08 AM

Post #8391931

Actually that was the first thing I tried Linda. But thanks for the suggestion.

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