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Beginner Gardening: New vegetable patch

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Miami, FL

August 23, 2013
5:59 AM

Post #9638878

I just started again to see if I get better luck this time around.
Last year I started a vegetable garden and I planted Corn, Tomatoes, Havanero Peppers, Reddish, Broccoli and Jalapeno peppers and I lost them all to bugs.
This week I planed Corn, Reddish, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Cucumbers and Green Peppers.
The only difference I did this time, I just used top soil and no fertilizer at this time.
I was surprised to learn that all the Jalapeno including the Havanero Peppers were eaten by small almost invisible bugs.
I'm open for suggestions, I need all the help I can get.

This message was edited Aug 23, 2013 9:02 AM

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Contra Costa County, CA
(Zone 9b)

August 23, 2013
10:33 PM

Post #9639699

Really basic:

Know what you are starting with.
Know your goal.

What you are starting with:
Is the soil sandy? High possibility of nematodes. Water flows through it really fast. Fertilizers do not linger. Best way to improve it is to add LOTS of soil amendment. Things like compost, manure, certain types of sawdust, leaves, lawn clippings and other things that are mostly plant-based.
These materials will decompose to form humus which will hold more water, hold fertilizers, and alter the soil chemistry so that beneficial microorganisms are willing to live in the soil. (Including predators of nematodes)

Is the soil clay? High water retentive, high fertilizer retentive. When it dries out it is hard to get it to accept water. Compacts very easily. Best way to improve it is to add LOTS of soil amendment. Things like compost, manure, certain types of sawdust, leaves, lawn clippings and other things that are mostly plant-based.
These materials will decompose to form humus which will latch onto the clay particles so they clump into little clumps (not rock-like clumps- nice clumps). This allows better water and air exchange in the soil, and in other ways makes the soil better for roots and soil microorganisms. NEVER walk on soil like this. Set up beds (raised beds are best, but any way you can, designate beds vs walkways). Walking on the soil breaks down the structure the humus is building for you and compacts the soil.

Is the soil peat or other high organic? No need to add more compost, but it may need minerals, especially calcium.

What sorts of fertilizers are already in the soil? A soil test is about the only way to really know.
Then you will be able to add the right fertilizers to replace what the plants are using, and what is missing in the soil.


Research the plants.
1) What diseases or pests do they get. Can these pests build up in the soil over the years? What is a good crop rotation to minimize the pest and disease problem.
2) Do some crops need high amounts of some fertilizers, and other crops need low levels of that fertilizer? Rotate them so you grow the greedy plants first, followed by the plants that prefer less fertilizers.
3) Which plants need the full heat of summer to ripen, and which bolt to seed in the summer?


Here is another way to get rid of the tiny bugs that may have been responsible for the prior vegetables' failure.

Prepare the soil for planting. Add compost, rototill, rake smooth.
Water the soil.
Cover it with clear plastic.
Seal the edges by shoveling soil over them, or holding them down with something continuous like long pieces of wood.
Let it stay set up for a couple of weeks to a month.

The heat of the summer sun shining though the plastic will heat up the soil and kill many soil borne pests and diseases. (Think of how hot a car can get sitting in the sun!)

Allow it to air out for a day or two before planting.
DO NOT dig or rototill. This might bring up disease or pest organisms that were too deep in the soil to be killed.
They will work their way back up over several months to a year, but no need to help them!

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