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Beginner Vegetables: New Gardeners! Why did you start?

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ParmaJon
Portland, OR

March 28, 2012
6:06 PM

Post #9061122

While browsing some garden and food blogs, I came upon some statistics about how many new veg gardeners there are. The timing of the uptick from 34% of us households growing veg in 2009 to 54% in 2010 coincides almost directly with the fall of Lehman Brothers, kinda interesting. I can say that the economy was definitely the reason I got interested in gardening, but not to save money. Work as a farm hand seemed to be the only non-service job I could get when I graduated in 2009, I thought it was a fall back, but it became my leading passion in life. What got everyone here into growing their own?

speediebean

speediebean
Somewhere in, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 29, 2012
4:38 AM

Post #9061469

Good morning ParmaJon, how are you this lovely morning?

Interestingly enough, my decision to start *any* gardening at all started with the guy who did our front yard landscaping about ... I dunno, I think it was 3-4 years ago. We finally got the jungle removed from the front and had a "real yard" installed, increasing the lawn's square footage by 2/3. He suggested that, with the increase in lawn space, it would behoove us (that means "me", heehee. I'm the outdoorsy one, not DH) to expand the then-boring-rectangular beds into something more interesting and *bigger*. The landscaper's suggestion, combined with my previous neighbor's loving hints/tips/and suggestions aided me on the beginning of my journey. So that's when I started Winter Sowing. I figured it was the least expensive way to start getting lots of plants fast. That was 3 years ago this past Winter. Then, this past early-Summer I read this book called "TomatoLand: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit", and it sickened me. I decided to start growing my own tomatoes, and my first endeavor was a JOKE. ;) So, I decided to re-vamp my ideas, and this past Fall I prepped my first ever soon-to-be tomato bed, and I've now got 6 Winter Sown tomato seedlings out on my deck waiting for their new home. I've also obtained several large containers that are going to house my herbs this year, along with several garlic bulbs that are thriving out in front of my tomato bed in a half-whiskey barrel... and a few green onions that are alive and well out on my deck in a container as we speak. I'd like to eat healthier, and I do LOVE to eat, and to cook, so I figure, while I'm on a roll growing tomatoes (or so I assume I'll be), then why not add to the fun and throw some herbs and other goodies into the mix? The current economy certainly plays a part, but also there's the ever-increasing lack of real nutrients in today's commercially grown produce... not to mention lack of flavour. (store-bought tomatoes have NO flavour, have you noticed that too, or is it just me?)

So, that's how I got started. I think the seeds of the idea were planted by my old neighbor Tom before that landscaper came along, but he really watered the seeds well, and I think he sneaked some fertilizer in on 'em while I wasn't looking, too! ;)

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 29, 2012
11:47 AM

Post #9062051

ParmaJon - I started gardening 60 years ago when I was eight. I am able to remember the year because we had just moved into a brand new house - my 94 year old mother still lives there.

I assume the fact that my mother ran a "guest house" for tourists had something to do with her resolve to grow our own vegetables. It certainly wasn't my, or my step-father's, idea. LOL

I'm sure glad I had hands-on experience, because I still use many of those old tried-and-true ways. What we now call "heirlooms" are what we grew back then.

Will I ever give up gardening? Probably not. My hubby says I'm not happy unless I'm "digging in the dirt".

Gymgirl

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

March 29, 2012
1:53 PM

Post #9062192

I was in a very difficult marriage. I started gardening to get out of the house. My garden became my sanctuary. I became very successful growing veggies in buckets.

I got divorced.

Now, I'm building my VERY OWN garden!

I am very happy.

I hope the plants keep growing...^^_^^
Hastur
Houston, TX

March 30, 2012
7:35 AM

Post #9063011

When I was a kid, I was part of a family that was seriously poor. Our gardens were our lifeline. We had several, and traded vegetables for meat and milk, sold some, had chickens, etc. This was what we ate and if we did not work, we would not eat. We also traded eggs and vegetables for pretty much anything we needed with anyone that would trade.

Needless to say, I got out as soon as I could.

Over the years, though, I remembered how incredibly good the food we had tasted, and I wanted some of that back. Yes, it was hard work (what isn't to a kid, though), but I remembered it as tasting amazing.

Over the years in Houston, I researched a bit about how to garden down here, and when I bought the house, put a garden in. The very first vegetable that I grew tasted like I remembered - sweet and strong and delicious. I've been trying to grow as much as I can ever since then.

(And often growing more than I thought I would - cucumbers seem to LOVE this climate).

dreaves

dreaves
Hutto, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 30, 2012
8:14 AM

Post #9063056

I started gardening when I was a kid. My parents planted and worked a garden to supplement the groceries with fresh food. My mom canned vegetables for year-round eating since they tasted better than "store-bought." My mom died while I was in high school and my dad and I moved into town. I went off to college, got married, joined the Army (through ROTC) and spent 8 years at various assignments in the US. Left the Army, moved to Texas, and went to work in computer support. After 4 or 5 years I built and planted a few raised beds for tomatoes and okra with my two daughters. About 7 years ago we built a house in the rural suburbs of Austin. I started gardening more seriously then, expanding the plot over time to its current size of about 5000 sq feet. I didn't remember that much from the work as a kid--except I could run a tiller! Since I started again, I have learned a tremendous amount of information about gardening from and with other Dave's members.

David
LiseP
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 30, 2012
8:33 AM

Post #9063074

I had tried to grow a few things over the years, but it seemed like we spent a lot of time living in rentals or moving, so I never did much. But I would read about organic gardening and daydream about it and grow my one potted tomato and sigh a lot!

In 2005 we moved to a permanent spot (retired), and in 2006, my dad died. My dad always had a vegetable garden and I think when he died, something clicked in me -- like a torch passed. I just knew that It was time to really learn to garden. And when I garden, I feel close to not only my dad, but my grandparents and family further back. I come from Dakota homesteaders and I often think about them when I'm here in my Texas garden.

blaro
Kingsland, GA

March 30, 2012
12:33 PM

Post #9063358

My father always had gardens when I was growing up but after I joined the military it became difficult to keep up with a garden, since I was constantly deployed. Now that I am retired from the military I am getting back into gardening and trying to teach my children what little I know, as well as trying to learn some new things for myself. One can never know too much about gardening I suppose.
tarheel2az
Tonto Basin, AZ

March 30, 2012
7:57 PM

Post #9063846

I just wanted tasty tomatoes.
lisalevifl
New Port Richey, FL
(Zone 9b)

March 31, 2012
7:49 AM

Post #9064194

As I recently became an empty nester my husband suggested i get a life-lol preferably my own. Meaning it was time I quit worrying about everyone else and do something that I wanted to do. I had always had some form of container garden in which the boys and I would plant 1 or 2 things and marvel in the fact that we could actually grow something. So I sprouted a few seeds last october and bought a few already grown plants from the box store and decided that if I didn't kill anything by spring, that I was on to bigger and better. So we are in the process of constructing an above ground (due to sandy soil) garden. I have many health reasons for growing my own vegetables. I love to cook and the fact that I could save money at the farm stand and know what is in my food, thrills me. So, here we grow-lol
lssfishhunter
Jonesville, SC
(Zone 7b)

March 31, 2012
12:24 PM

Post #9064401

1. Home vegetables taste better than those in the grocery store.
2. Seeing the results of hard work.
3. Watching the growth process.
4. Wanted to learn enough to share with my kids, when I have them.
5. The connections you can make by gardening.
6. Just love the whole process.

Gardening is becoming, in itself, more and more expensive each year. Fertilizer has sky-rocketed. Seeds become more and more expensive even though I save certain heirloom varieties. Tillers are expensive. Tractors are really expensive. Attachments are costly. It takes a lot to get started esp. if you have a larger area to work. Things will continue to go up in price because more people will get into gardening if the economy stays in terrible shape. That is a totally different subject!
scarletbean
Newport, TN
(Zone 7a)

March 31, 2012
2:29 PM

Post #9064528

Hi all,
This is such interesting reading! Funny how the economy tipping over has brought so many back to the old ways. A Victory Garden campaign would really work these days. Each gardener has a personal reason and it is reflected in the type or style of garden they grow.
The first time I grew veggies was back in early 90's (the decade of my 20's). I got an unsolicited seed catalog, either johnny's or burpee, and the pictures of all that beautiful produce had me hooked, I would never have to buy produce from the supermarket again.hahaha! . I had only grown flowers before, and never from seed. So I went out in Feb. dug up a spot by hand with the only tool we had, a big ole pick axe. I was so stiff the next day i could barely lift the seed packets. I grew tomatoes, sweet peppers, and zucchini. Planted everything too close together, didnt leave space to walk and had to battle the weeds to find my tomatoes. I went to the library and got interested in chemical free gardening. The money saving aspect always appealed to me after hearing my grandmother's depression era stories.
Over the years I have had small gardens here and there, always trying something new to me. Even when I lived in NYC a 5gal. bucket on the roof worked ok. Now here in east TN I have room to spread out my roots. yay! 3 nice raised beds and a butterfly / hummer garden going in.
Nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment,and providing nourishment that gardening provides, and the beauty of nature always amazes me.
Oh, and watching those seedlings come up makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

speediebean

speediebean
Somewhere in, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 31, 2012
2:59 PM

Post #9064556

I'm really enjoying reading all about how everyone got started. ParmaJon, if you're still around here somewhere, thank you for this thread, very cool! :)
1plant4me
Granite Shoals, TX

April 2, 2012
9:24 AM

Post #9066812

I started gardening this year because the house I bought last year had a separate garden area with raised beds and a compost bin. I've read a tremendous amount about how to grow vegetables but I still feel like I have no earthly idea what I'm doing. I'll just plod along and see how it goes (or grows)...
WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

April 2, 2012
3:22 PM

Post #9067292

Parmajon, I started gardening for the same reason as you, the economy however, my gardening started when I was a little girl here in UK and the 2nd world war had just ended. Here in UK during the war everything was rationed, you got say 2 oz of butter per person a week six eggs a week, meat, pork, etc was also so many oz per person a week and you had to line up outside the stores to get your hands on this stuff, I still remember the police walked up and down every street and knocked on doors to warn people their indoor lights were showing and this was an offense, the Germans flying over UK could use this as a target to drop bombs, jeeeeez how did cabbages grow with all that going on !!!!.
Anyway because there was such a shortage of food and this began before the USA joined UK to fight the Germans, my Dad, from country folks grew his own fruit, veg, flowers, so while my brothers were at school I was aloud out to play in the garden and without realising, my darling Dad was actually teaching how plants grew, how to make lines and the end of fork to make drills for seeds, watering, weeding, harvesting, winter was a time for making pickles, bottling fruit, veg, baking with powdered eggs if no real eggs available,
at age 6, I got my own little plot where I grew Radishes, lettuce and carrots, not too well but that was when I realised that having your fingers rub lumps out of the soil was a wonderful feeling and I still love my hands in soil today.
Every day we had a horse drawn bakery carrage a come and it stopped outside our house, the horse was fed and naturally it dropped the poo on our road so you got sent out with a bucket and spade to gather up the horse droppings and we were taught this was like gold, it went straight onto the Roses, or fruit bushes. How can you forget your Dad's face when he arrives and sees your very first garden and he gets his sleeves up to show you where you went wrong and how to fix it, as the years passed he was so proud of my gardening skills and was embarrassed when I told people he was responsible for my gardening knowledge, I still remember the garden we had as I grew up, nothing was wasted, not a bit of wood, not a nut or bolt, oil drums were water buts, old tent frames were turned into fruit cages, the fat from the roast tin was put into the bottom of the hole where Roses were planted to fend off green fly along with crushed Garlic, OH my goodness, 60 years later just like Honeybee, there is no more pleasing thing than my memories and my garden, my daughter has now taken up gardening and her little daughter too so never underestimate the power of gardening.
WeeNel.
Jenn1980
Gillette, WY

April 2, 2012
4:23 PM

Post #9067358

After having my son, I started learning more and more about food and where it comes from. And got really disappointed in what i found. We finally bought a home (with a decent yard) and I after a year of living here, decieded I better take advantage of owning my own "land". I got my hands on a rototiller and haven't looked back! Last summer was my first year, and it did better than I thought it would. I had tomatoes coming out of my ears! My friend who has a community plot said that it probably did so well because of the soil not being robbed of its nutrients (like at the community garden). Whatever the reason, I love it! I love having a purpose in the backyard besides picking up dog poop and supervising kiddos.

I also love that i have 1 year under my belt and can start making a more educated decision on what to plant. I know I will be growing way more spinach and peppers and less tomatoes. :P
rwaterspf1
Durham, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 2, 2012
5:21 PM

Post #9067421

We have always had a small container garden with a couple tomato plants and herbs. The last couple years it has grown exponentially to 8 tomatoes and 12 pepper plants last year. Now that I have ripped out the Mrs' rose bushes *grin* I now have a small 40' x 10' plot on the south side of the house to play with. We have always bought seedlings from the local big box places but this year I jumped in with both feet and grew everything from seed. First year so way overplanted and have tons of seedlings that need a good home lol. I am learning something every day (a lot of it from here) and it is just relaxing to be out digging in the dirt. There is also a satisfaction for getting to eat what you grow!

-Vaughn

kevcarr59

kevcarr59
BUda, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 2, 2012
7:46 PM

Post #9067594

Now that I'm retired my medical problems I have the time on my hands, and it's PROBABLY the least trouble I can into. Plus it's nice when you can go out to your garden and grab some tomatoes and beans and have them for dinner.

Don't think Momma wants me to get involved with cows...just too much blood...LOL...

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 3, 2012
9:02 AM

Post #9068107

WeeNel - your post brought back so many memories. Including having to cover the windows at night. I lived in the outskirts of London as a toddler and remember unexploded bombs going off in the small hours of the mornings. All the railings were stripped from peoples' yards to make bullets!

My mother was in the WRAF (Womens Royal Air Force) so I spent my baby years in London with my grandmother. She had chickens, so there were always fresh eggs.

I remember rationing, too. I think it ended when I was about eight or nine.
WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

April 3, 2012
12:34 PM

Post #9068344

Honeybe I think the rationing went right on till 1954, you folks in London had things slightly worse than we did up North in Scotland, but not a lot worse.
We lived in a building where many families shared the same building we called them tenements, anyway we lived very close to the Docks in Edinburgh where the ships came in and out to pick up or unload their cargo, Early one evening my mother had my brother in bed fast asleep when the sirens went off to alert us there was an air-raid about to go off (we all had to run down the back of the buildings where there was air-raid shelters for the people to take shelter till they heard the all clear) anyway this time as my mother grabbed my brother she also grabbed his pacifier that was attached to the cot spars of wood, as My mother sprinted down the stairs to the shelter and my Dad close behind with a kid under each arm, Mum heard this rat-a-tat sound behind her and fearing the Germans were shooting with guns she was heard screaming, "the Germans have shot my family" to be informed by my Dad that it was the wooden spire of the cot that was tap, tap taping the steps as she ran NOT the German's who by this time were well away.
However the building was ablaze because the Germans mistook these buildings as belonging to the dock where they wanted to stop the flow of shipping getting our to sea to take more supplies to the navy, etc. My poor Mum never likes the sound of tapping after that and she was the but of many jokes there after.
I think brought up having to prevent waist has spilled over into my own life and garden, I never see the sense in half the crap thats is for sale in most garden centers like little plastic greenhouses that you know as soon as there is a slight breeze, the owner is going to be running down the street after their plants that have got blown away with the crap greenhouse.
Take good care and have a great gardening season.WeeNel.
RandE
Tanglewilde-Thompson, WA

April 4, 2012
4:08 AM

Post #9069113

I grew up in Ky in the 70's. We were poor and my mom along with many of my neighbors had a garden. My next door neighbor is the one who planted the seed for me. She had me shucking corn while sitting on the porch swing and she tought me how to can. So I grew up and joined the military and never could garden. I retired 3 years ago and slowly I have been getting back into it. I have 5 raised beds my wonderful husband built me and I still use pots and part of the yard. This year I want to try to have a year round garden. So I always have something growing. Right now is garlic, leeks, carrots, onions, spinach, lettuce, kholrabi, bee balm, and collards are coming up. I have my hot weather transplants going inside the house and I plan on putting my cabbage and potatoes in the ground soon. I always read the advice on here and I treasure it. It is always right on the money. May everyone have a wonderful growing season!
Etta
ErockRPh
Glocester, RI
(Zone 6a)

April 4, 2012
7:17 AM

Post #9069309

Wow. I'm reading a lot of posts here and realizing just how lucky I am.

I started gardening a couple of years ago for a few reasons. We had just moved into our new house that had a huge yard. There is a big area in the front yard that was mainly mulch with a few small ornamental trees here and there. It would probably end up costing us a couple grand every few years just to keep up on the mulch. I love to experiment in the kitchen, and our son was due over the summer, so I made the decision to go with a vegetable garden in this spot instead of just expanding the front lawn. With a little one at home, it was nice to take up a hobby that I could do at home, since I haven't had much time for fishing or kayaking over the past couple of years. I get to try out new food, plus my family and I get to eat tasty organic fruits and veggies on the cheap.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 4, 2012
11:26 AM

Post #9069703

WeeNel - I was ten in 1954, so my estimate was close.

Your post brought tears to my eyes. Those were, indeed, dreadful days when one didn't know what tomorrow might bring. Even though I was VERY young, I still remember the tension in the air as the adult women (the men were in Europe fighting the Germans) gathered around the radio listening to the news.

Every male in our family came home safely with nary a scar or missing limb - but o what tales they had to spin!
ParmaJon
Portland, OR

April 4, 2012
4:10 PM

Post #9070023

Wow, what great responses. Its been great reading for sure!
voyagergreg
Lakeside Marblehead, OH

April 4, 2012
4:51 PM

Post #9070056

As a kid all the neighbors had a vegetable garden...I still remb. getting those great tasting radishes as the first treats from the garden..Later it was green beans, carrots, cucumbers,tomatoes, sweet corn, cabbage, bell peppers, onions, bi-colored indian corn, melons, stawberries, etc.
I'm now 57 & work in the Merchant Marines on the Great Lakes...With recent cuts in my work I may be home longer till things get settled...

I've always had beautiful flower beds & when I was gone for 2 months at a time I would have friends water them...Now being home I want to venture into growing veggies..I find gardening very relaxing even tho it's alot of work...The sunshine boosts my energy levels, & it's just great watching things grow which is the big reward in the end!
Greg

kevcarr59

kevcarr59
BUda, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 4, 2012
9:42 PM

Post #9070352

Back in the 70's when I was growing up in northern N.J., we lived around a lot of farms, though mostly dairy farms. We had a gentleman that came around on Saturday mornings during the summer, Mr. Meyers. When I got a little older, about 11 or 12, he'd pick me up first thing in the morning and I'd help him on his "route." He'd give me some apples or oranges as "pay" but it was fun just going with him to help, as he was getting into his 70's.



bellieg
Virginia Beach, VA

April 5, 2012
2:31 AM

Post #9070408

I enjoy picking fresh veggies few steps away in to my backyard. It is also a therapy!!!

Happy gardening!!!

Bellie
synsfun
Lake Charles, LA
(Zone 9a)

April 10, 2012
9:28 AM

Post #9077014

i started a garden this year since about 15 years (that time period we lived in apartments with surrounding tenants with mischief brats). then reason i started gardening was the fact i grew up with my grandparents who always had a kitchen garden in the backyard. today its a lot of work but i find it relaxing from a days work or when i'm having a writers block. And the wife said if i didnt get out of the house, i was going to a summer camp.

This message was edited Apr 10, 2012 10:29 AM

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

April 10, 2012
7:51 PM

Post #9077758

As a kid, Mom owned the garden and I was assigned to turn the soil, break it up and rake it out each spring. She knew about adding peat moss, but that was expensive. I had re4ad about making comp0ost, and another of my jobs was rtaking and burning leaves, so I ghot to create a compost heap and improve the soil that way.

Of course it's much eaiser to turn the4 soil when it's lighty and orgaqnioc, compared to heavy clay! And I knew that *I* had improved it, and was proud. That seemed like a combination of science and magic.

After that, I always wanted my own garden, mainly so I could cultivate the soil! Plants were of secondary interest because I didn't much like vegetables or flowers. I wwas bed-bound for most of a year at one point,, and read a loot about soil improvmeent, drainage, propagation, cold frames, greenhouses and the New Alchem Institute.

Once I got some land of my own (and time to work it), I graded and put in drainage ditches and raised beds. Excavated de4ade clay, screened it, made compost, and then put SOIL back into the beds. Again: pride is a motivator for me.

I even eventually found some interest in some flowers and vegetables. After all, I needed an excuse to play with the soil! Then I got to like colorful flowes: they proved that I could make something GROW. I even like a few vegetables now! Bok choy and snow peas, mainly.

Then I discovered DG and became a total seed-aholic. Trading, saving, organizing. I think that I discove4eed a new mental disease: O Seed D.

speediebean

speediebean
Somewhere in, MD
(Zone 7b)

April 11, 2012
3:16 AM

Post #9077990

LOL Rick, "O Seed D"!!!! Haaahaahaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, I think many of us here are afflicted with that!

Pride in soil cultivation, that's an interesting start to gardening I must say! It really does something to ya though, to know that you took a rock-like span of wanna-be soil and turned it into real loam that you can grow stuff in. What a wonderful feeling! =)

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 11, 2012
8:42 AM

Post #9078342

I always tell new gardeners to start with improving their soil, and it amazes me how many decide to "skip that step" and then wonder why their results were disappointing.
synsfun
Lake Charles, LA
(Zone 9a)

April 11, 2012
8:45 AM

Post #9078351

Bee, those are called Really Lazy Gardeners.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 11, 2012
8:59 AM

Post #9078368

synsfun - I'm not sure they are lazy - just enthusiastic about getting their garden started. They purchase plants from a local nursery, get them home, and want to dig a hole and plant them right away.

Last year I decided to test that theory. I had several (about 16 plants if I remember correctly) tomato plants left over so I transplanted them to an area where the soil had not been amended. One plant gave two tomatoes, one gave one. The rest just sat there and did absolutely nothing.

In other words, I did what some beginners do: I dug holes, put transplants in them, and was disappointed with the result.
synsfun
Lake Charles, LA
(Zone 9a)

April 11, 2012
9:15 AM

Post #9078399

Thats true. Me, I go through the whole shabang, but once I get them in the ground is when I'm excited to start picking. To me that's the fun part.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 11, 2012
9:22 AM

Post #9078410

My thrill is when the seeds start sprouting. After that I'm in control. But there's nothing I can do if the seeds are duds!
synsfun
Lake Charles, LA
(Zone 9a)

April 11, 2012
9:44 AM

Post #9078445

It aggravates me that lost time i spent waiting for duds to grow. speaking of, its time for me to germinate some hollyhocks for the wife this weekend.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 11, 2012
9:55 AM

Post #9078471

The 15th/16th are my set out dates for tomatoes and squash. The peppers and melons will go out towards the end of the month if warm enough.
synsfun
Lake Charles, LA
(Zone 9a)

April 11, 2012
10:03 AM

Post #9078485

this afternoon, after work, i'll transplant 9 serrano chilli peppers to my lil garden. tomorrow i'll do my 6 bell california wonder bell peppers. fun fun fun in the sun

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

April 11, 2012
11:16 AM

Post #9078582

I'm really enjoying this thread.


>> took a rock-like span of wanna-be soil and turned it into real loam that you can grow stuff in. What a wonderful feeling! =)

That's it exactly. Heavy, dead, anearobic clay. Rocks and weeds. Ugly and unproductive.
Mix with a little "Corey Corps of Engioneers" and Abra-ca-dabra! Happy, thriving, living things.

Now I'm about to start struggling with the temptation to over-till. One of my beds is getting to be pretty fair soil, but I'm still tempted to turn it over every fall or spring, "to get more compost down into it". The deeper layers are still pretty clay-ey, and the upper layers are far from "organic enough", but soon I should till less and compost more.

If the local compost vendor had lower prices, and didn't make it 90% sawdust, I would be there already. Howeber, I have been squeaking along with the least amount of bought compost I can get away with, and my progress with making new beds suffers as a result.

But I have fun!

synsfun
Lake Charles, LA
(Zone 9a)

April 11, 2012
11:51 AM

Post #9078606

hmmm sounds like to me you should have removed the weeds and stuck with the rock garden. but that's just me. lol

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

April 11, 2012
8:07 PM

Post #9079124

I wish I had a photo handy of the wonderfull crop of rocks I've harvested already! Looked at that way, this yard is incredibly productive. Thanks to past galciers, it sports an INCREDIBLE variety of native wild rocks. Nothing impoverished about mky rock population's gene pool!

None of those inbred or genetically modified rocks, either! No sir, just pure, natural, organic rocks eactly the way they came out of the earth.

In fact, even though they were never bred for it, I bet that I could pick them green and ship them all over the world without bruising, spoiling, or losing any of their fresh-picked flavor. Those rocks have shelf lives that are practically geological! You would not believe the expiration dates on my rocks.

I've got one small hill of excavated but unscreened clay, another hill of screened stones, rocks and pebbles, and then a few small raised beds where the soil has been gathered together and improved.

speediebean

speediebean
Somewhere in, MD
(Zone 7b)

April 12, 2012
3:06 AM

Post #9079228

Haaaaahaahahahaaaa Rick, you are so funny!!!!!! I'm sorry to hear that your local 'compost' supply is so poor, I wish I could send you some of what we sell, it's really nice stuff! Just composted leaves, grass clippings, and small twigs. When I started amending one area of my biggest bed out front, all I did was use the mulching capability of my mower on a large bunch of leaves, then dump all of 'em into that area and mix 'em in with my gardening fork. Then waited. A full year. < =/ The next year the soil was a LOT better and actually dig-able without giving me a hernia or anything! =) Yes, there were still some parts of leaves that were identifiable as leaves, but for the most part it had decayed and had become very nice black loamy stuff. And yes, there were rocks too. I left 'em in there, just in case it was still too clay-ey and needed the rocks for drainage. I figured, there was lots of earthworms in there so I wasn't gonna worry too too much. Heck, I even found a big ol' spike from when the house was built, so I saved it to use as a 'tool'. Came in handy when I needed holes to insert my little Adirondack picket fencing around the area! (I'll share a pic of the spike that I found... I think it was a left-over from putting the I-beams up in the ceiling of the basement, but I'm not sure).

I, too, have been lured into the "Really Lazy Gardener" trap, but that was long before I learned anything about how to actually grow stuff and take care of it and expect it to live and thrive. Now I get amazed at people (customers at work) who want to just plop their new acquisitions into this local clay garbage and expect it to do ok. When they come in to buy stuff, I always ask 'em "How's your soil? Do you have compost at home? You're going to want it when you install your new babies!!". Only about half of 'em take me up on the offer, the rest come back later complaining about how OUR plants that we sold them died. I WARNED YOU!! < =D

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synsfun
Lake Charles, LA
(Zone 9a)

April 12, 2012
3:25 AM

Post #9079232

well, home grown organic rock garden...hmmm...i see Ebay potential there.

speedie--i remember those kinda folks, when some of the locals ask me about gardening, i tell them the hardest thing about gardening isnt tilling the soil, weeding, or taking the top grass off...it's the wait.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

April 12, 2012
6:02 PM

Post #9080200

>> I wish I could send you some of what we sell, it's really nice stuff!

I wish that, too! I happen to know that "Cedar Grove" gets biosolids free fropm the town of Everett befoe they compost it further with even more sawdust and yard waste, then charge $35 per yard. PPPFFFTTT.

If I had a truck, and could get it really filthy,. I could haul my own Class A biosolids and have the biggest compost heap in town. If they let me!

The park manager recently came by to tell me to fill in the walkways between my raised beds, do more weeding, chip my branches, remove this bed, hide those things away, etc etc. I'm hoping to placate him with minimal compliance. On the upside, he siad they have a "tree contractor" come b y once each summer, and he would ask the guy to dump me a few yards of wood chips. Even if I have to buy and haul bags of manure/compost mix in my Ford Escort's trunk, I could compost that with pleasure!

>> I get amazed at people (customers at work) who want to just plop their new acquisitions into this local clay garbage and expect it to do ok.

Maybe tell them to bring in a handful of the soil surrounding the dead plants for you to "analyze".

If they say the soil is too hard for them to get their fingers into, remind them that they need to grow in SOIL, not concrete.

Or grow in pots.

I would like to give away seedlings at the park where I live, but I picture the over-55 residents looking at a seedling in a Dixie cup, then looking at their bulldozer-scraped, compacted-clay "soil" and parking the Dixie cup on top of the clay.


The sad thing is that even breaking up that clay won't help: shattering and then amending a hole below grade just creates a deep mud wallow. Like a hole in concrete. You need to dig down, create a "floor" that sloopes toward one edge or corner, and then away from that colrner, always going deeper in a downhill direction until you reach a spot where the grade is lower than the floor of your bed.

Or build a raised bed and buy or make the soil.

Before someone gently explained that you should MOISTEN hard clay if you wnat to break it up, I had to swing a very heavy pick 'way up over my head just to chip that stuff.

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yellowTlover
Palmerton, PA
(Zone 6a)

April 12, 2012
9:37 PM

Post #9080461

When we were children we would leave the city and go to the country to a small house that belonged to our Grandparents. To plant large gardens that were hand turned and we pumped the buckets of water from the creek to throw down the rows to jar the food for the winter every summer. My father would go back to the city and arrive every Friday, to go to the market in a town near by for some meat and take back the boxes of jars we had filled.

Then came WWII and we really needed to because we didn't have money to buy much even during the winter with everything we needed required money PLUS ration stamps. Every year the goal had always been to get close to 50 jars of each of the planted, able to jar things. Plus foods were... We walked 3 miles each way, to pick blueberry's for as many as we could carry back in the agate buckets along with "drops" from the local apple orchard that we visited up there to pick to make applesauce, we bought peaches and pears at the farm stands, as well.

I remember the year "Burpee" came out with "BIG BOY" Wow, we could pick a really large tomato and each get 1 bread slice + 1, 1/2" slice of that tomato to made lunch for all 4 of us kids!.

I didn't grow anything for years after because I hated the squash, all the cabbage we had to eat and that many string beans to make into equal size pieces! As well as the memory of the juice that I could never stand running down my hands/arms from the fruits that needed to be pealed after blanching!... I also have the memory of my Mom working so hard in the kitchen to boil all the jars, in the large oval copper wash tub and the lids as well on the wood stove with the 6 metal plates because there was only a small 4 burner bottled gas stove for the food to be cooking on and all the jars in the large pressure cooker for somethings too at the same time!

I have grown some gardens after I bought this land in the 80's but now that we finally moved here after 9/11 away from too close to a Nuclear Plant, I plant some mostly the yellow tomatoes I have to eat for the others have too much acid for me to enjoy. Some years I add some herbs too but now only plant into buckets so not turning the garden anymore! I do buy fresh and only keep can goods for emergency use for vegetables because of the flavor loss! Enjoyed reading these posts, Thanks.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 13, 2012
8:35 AM

Post #9080848

Rick - how far are you from the beach? Seaweed is as close to perfect as one can get as far as "soil amendments" go.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

April 13, 2012
10:54 PM

Post #9081761

>> Rick - how far are you from the beach?

Only a few miles, but I would have to hunt for a public beach. The only place that comes to mind is a very very snooty neighborhood with gated condos and names like "Harbour Pointe".

I never tried - isn't it loaded with salt? Do you collect it wet or dry? If dry, I suppose I could bag it and fill my Ford Escort's trunk and back seat.

Probably less risk of being chased by security guards if I wiated till fall and drove to less snooty neighborhoods and sorunged bags of leaves. Making the time always seems to be the problem. My current fallback is $1.25 bags of a "manure-compost mix". I thin that means the manure is also partly composted, because it's a lot drier, less smelly, and more uniform than what you find in a stable.

If I had a truck, my wildest dream would be to fill that truck with free biosolids from the Everett plant, bring it home and wallow in it (not really WALLOW, haul it in a wheelbarrow to the side yard).

juhur7

juhur7
Anderson, IN
(Zone 6a)

April 14, 2012
11:47 AM

Post #9082248

I'm not new to the garden( feel like it often enough) Why i started with gardening.

I JUST LIKE TO GET DIRTY!!!!
yellowTlover
Palmerton, PA
(Zone 6a)

April 15, 2012
1:44 PM

Post #9083626

It is VERY nice to read all of your post and problems solved however, there are very few posters here that have close to any of the climate or grounds like the others, looks to be a big problem.

Our ground for example in the Blue Mountains of Pa. range so different even from the next property let alone range over. That all went into why I bought this property It was part of a corn field and trees only across the front that came down when power was put in. I saw the earth that looked good for gardens and a nice view so I though this is my "Dreams End"!

The property next door to this field has rocks that can be removed in layers great "quarry area" for them to use for walls as you go down the road etc. The next range you wouldn't like for any gardening at all because they have no soil visible just a flaking off of the 1" thick rocks that you end up with almost mica that you can't bring any of their "look like rock pieces" home to use in the pond area small waterfalls because after 1 winter it is a pile of half dollar size pieces.

We have soil on this mountain with almost all the rocks the same size as your open hand in layers when we opened the electric power wire trench that required to be 5 ft deep it looked like a wall without cement and a lot of picking when you try gardening cause they keep pushing up every year and every shovel full has at least 2-3 rocks that I always wheeled to the front gutter with a 7 degree slope.

All that time the only thing that saved our garden was the "compost pile" that all the leaves from the woods and our neighbors went into a pile 4 ft deep (surrounded by fence to help stop the rabbits) to rot down by spring then we turned it under and covered with black paper or shingles that held the secret not to let the sun on the earth to dry it out with only holes for individual plants.. All that after doing the gardens for the first 10 years without any water became lawn since that was 250 ft behind the house and taps and too far to drag the hose in years like these without a lot of rain. .

So after getting this old with the knees not what they were... I'll continue to read what may help but my growing tomato plants on the window sills will probably go into those containers I gathered last year I figured it was better, everything from 5 gal water jugs cut off to salad buckets from the deli store etc. I have them ready.

I hope to get a huge scoop of "clean out' they sell at the local garden store that they get from the mushroom houses in Pa. . I'm NOT positive what exactly that I'll doctor it up with MAYBE COW PATTIES would help?? that I could put into water to mix ?? OR just some bags of dirt OR time release food pellets??? Any experience of any of these before??

All needed for .. my 5 mystery varieties of tomato seed packets , now plants from Walmart with the only yellow seeds I could find in it instead of an on the internet buy.. ..We will still have the chance of frost till the end of May here. . So our growing season requires large plants by then if you want to see product by winter... Even harder would be to pay over $5.59 for each of the plants at the stores ready to put out here!

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 16, 2012
2:15 PM

Post #9085025

Rick - [quote]I never tried - isn't it loaded with salt? Do you collect it wet or dry? If dry, I suppose I could bag it and fill my Ford Escort's trunk and back seat.[/quote]

My parents and I collected it right after a storm. Yes it was wet and yes it must have been laden with salt. My mother said the salt would kill the bugs, and she must have been correct because we used to grow the same vegetables in exactly the same spot every year. She also said the winter rains would wash the salt out of the seaweed.

We hauled it home in burlap sacks in the trunk of an old Ford. We're going back about 60 years here, Rick!

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

April 16, 2012
7:02 PM

Post #9085438

>> She also said the winter rains would wash the salt out of the seaweed.

I guess that would work for me, as long as I only used it wherte I've created drainage. I have super-heavy clay (I won't say "clay soil" because the unimproved stuff barely supports weeds).

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 17, 2012
9:36 AM

Post #9086165

Rick - the soil my parents had was WONDEFUL deep loam! I hadn't thought about clay soil tying up salt. Maybe you should try it in a small area, first.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

April 17, 2012
7:21 PM

Post #9086897

>> Maybe you should try it in a small area, first.

Always good advice. But for now, I'm sticking with bags from Lowes & HD, with an ambition to snatch leaves some year. The park manager said he can get me a dumptruck of wood chips once per summer.

Or I could ask "my" Chinese restaurant for some of their garbage ... the fruit stand's rejects were already spoken for.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 18, 2012
7:22 AM

Post #9087344

Rick - when we lived in South Florida it was easy to get a dump truck into our yard. We just pulled back a portion of the fence, the truck drove in, dumped his load, and we spread the aged horse manure.

We don't have that luxury here. The load would have to be dumped on the driveway, which means we'd have to shovel it into a garden cart and wheel it into the garden. We are too old for that kind of heavy work!

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

April 25, 2012
2:33 PM

Post #9097575

>> we'd have to shovel it into a garden cart and wheel it into the garden

That's what I have to do. In the case of bags, I lug them out opf the trunk into a wheelbarropw, tghen trundle them to where they're needed.

The garden is where I get 99% of my exercise!

I just wish I could do it without kneeling or stooping. With my legs, kneeling is impossible and stooping is painful. I find workarounds inclusing raised beds and sunken walkways.

dreaves

dreaves
Hutto, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 25, 2012
2:37 PM

Post #9097583

Rick,

Did you see my comment about the "Garden Scoot" that my daughters bought me? It is great for working near the ground instead of bending or kneeling. I don't remember which thread I posted on about it, but here is a picture. It is steerable, has a pull bar for moving it around, and includes a shallow tray under the seat for small items, as well as a basket on the back that can hold a 5-gallon bucket or a garden basket. They bought it online, from Gardeners Supply.

David

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RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

April 25, 2012
2:47 PM

Post #9097587

The scoot looks handy for larger areas than mine. My growing areas are 1-2 square yards here, and another square yard over there.

I've thought of a very lightweight kneeler-sitter, but the affordable ones I've seen are rated for people weighing less than I do.
gmun
Chester Springs, PA

April 29, 2012
9:16 PM

Post #9103331

Hi all, I like this thread! Great idea!
I really started gardening when I was a toddler with my Papa but then didn't take an interest as I grew up. So when I started gardening myself if was because I was recovering from illness. I wasn't well enough to work or be back at university, but I was well enough to start working on a little project and I started growing vegetables in containers in 2010. I don't know why I chose that to be my project, but I got the gardening bug that year anyway! I grew more last year when I was still staying with my parents in PA but at the end of last summer I moved back home to Edinburgh, Scotland and my 2nd floor apartment. My plan for this year was to try to get some windowboxes going, but I actually find myself back living with my parents again, recovering from shoulder surgery which I had at the end of February. I have to have therapy for 5 months and be able to see the surgeon again so I have to stay in the US again, which complicates my life in so many ways... BUT it does mean I can enjoy some wonderful summer weather (never guaranteed in Scotland!) and a garden for the summer. Look on the bright side!
cue_chik
Palm Coast, FL
(Zone 9a)

April 30, 2012
5:06 AM

Post #9103516

Honestly, I started because I was looking for a hobby that was relatively inexpensive. Being a single mom doesnt afford much extra cash, plus, I figured it would be a hobby that would benefit the entire household.

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