I am new to this site but I absolutely love it, so I thought it would be the best place to start for help. My friends say I have the greenest thumb they've ever seen and that I could get "sticks" to propagate if I wanted. I love to can veggies, make preserves, make salsas, etc...I think I was born about 70 years too late...
I have over a half a acre to devote to a veggie garden...but have no idea where to start. From reading many forums online, half say to use raised beds others say not. My choice would be not to. I have full sun all day and a slight slope to the land.
Secondly, deciding on the row method, box method, etc. Here are the veggies I would like to start with this year: corn, potatoes, tomatoes (about 4 types), green beans, squash, okra, cucumbers, peppers...sweet and hot, and some strawberries.
Someone told me I could condition the soil by laying out cardboard, soaking it, then add 6 layers of newspapers and then cover with leaves. Anyone heard of this and when should it be done?
I apologize for asking for so much help but I am single and have no family to ask. Also, I am all about recycling and "can't buy the store" so to speak. But I have lots of time for loving and nuturing my new endeavor. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
By the way, the photo here is of a tomato plant that "sprouted" from no where beside my deck last August. The picture was taken in early December and I still have the plant growing in my spare bedroom.
Hello Pinger42, I am starting a veggie garden here in Raleigh too this year. If your garden area is covered in grass, the first thing you will need to do is to clear the grass in some way. In October I tilled in my garden area and covered it all in chopped leaves, as I read that decomposing grass uses up alot of the available nitrogen. If the area is not covered in grass, then I think the next step is to get your soil tested so you can add any needed amendments. I think raised beds on 1/2 acre would involve alot of added topsoil, but you would not have to worry about the existing grass or weeds if the beds are more than 1 foot deep. As far as method, I am trying out the Square foot gardening method. I really recommend this book, you can probably find the first edition in a used book store for just a few dollars.
And if you can grow a tomato in winter in your house you really do have a green thumb! Good luck, I look forward to reading more about your garden!
Thanks Amarettonc for responding! I've been sitting at my computer all day anxiously awaiting a reply from someone!
As far as the grass/weeds go...it's very "splottchy" where I want to put the garden. Lots of bare spots, so it would be easier/faster/less money to not use the raised beds. I have all sorts of soil testing kits to check the soil to see what is needed. But the cardboard/newspaper/leaves trick...wouldn't that be good for the soil anyway?
I have heard of the Square foot gardening method but not sure what it is...could you explain a bit?
And you didn't add which book you were referring to...I would love to check it out.
Good luck to you as well and keep me posted on your trials and tribulations and I will do the same. I'm sure we will be learning many "to do's" and "not to do's" our first year. Thanks again!
I can't offer you much experienced advice because I am just starting out too but I can give you a few tips. I started about a 3/4 acre garden in August of last year.
Check out your local library for gardening books. Mine had something like 100 including 'square foot gardening' and 'lasagna gardening' (which is layering organic material as your talking about above).
What's your soil like? Does it have a lot of dense clay or is it sandy or somewhere in between? I am mostly using raised beds on mine because it is mostly heavy clay. Clay does not drain very well so giving the water somewhere to drain to helps. Incorporating organic matter will help to break it up but takes awhile so don't expect it to help for a few years.
If you have Sand, most plants will like growing in it better because their roots can get through it easier but it will dry out very fast so keep a hose handy.
What plants were growing there when you started? Mine was a scraggly, patchy yard with grass and bare areas in part of it and forest in another part. The fact that grass does not like growing in part of it told me I had a lot of work to do. If grass has trouble there then vegetables won't do well either until you get it corrected. Where I had forest, the soil was actually very fertile because of all of the leaves and organic matter that has deposited there for years.
The single best thing you can do for the soil no matter what it is like is to incoporate organic matter. Look for places close to you where you can get organic matter cheap or free. The two best I have found so far are poultry farms which will sell me composted chicken litter (manure plus sawdust) and the city/county which will sell me composted leaves. This runs me $7-10 a pickup load. It's a lot of work to unload and spread and smells bad but it does wonders for the soil texture and fertility.
Are you wanting to grow something this season? If so consider starting some seedlings inside. Now's the time and it's one of the things I have had the most satisfaction with. You can get started pretty cheaply with some recycled plastic containers of almost any kind. I like the tupperware things that lunchmeat comes in now. Punch some holes in the bottom and put in some potting soil or seed starting mix and you're good to go. Use a south facing window or read some of the threads under 'Propagation' here on grow lites. You can rig a pretty impressive seed starting system for under $100 using stuff from Lowes or Home Depot.
Overall, the best advice I've read was from a guy named Walter Reeves who is from Georgia and has co-authored several books on gardening and is on several gardening tv shows. The advice is 'Know your gardening site, Know the plants you want to grow and if you don't, plant anyway!'
DYSON - Thank you for the link! It was very informative and I am so relieved to know that Squarefoot Gardening has nothing to do with Square Dancing! I appreciate your time in posting the link...
JEFF - It's comforting to know that there are other beginners starting out about the same time as myself. It gives the feeling that you're not alone and support is right around the corner! And I'm sure we'll be learning all about support when the tomatoes start reaching for the sky!
My soil is not the hard clay but a clayish and just dirt. My neighbor has a water run-off toward the back of the lot where I am planning to put the garden and the grass growing back there is very dark, plush green.
Speaking of your poultry farm...my friend raises show chickens, about 40 of them. I'm sure she wouldn't mind me "cleaning up" the place a bit! And I have tons of leaves at my disposal.
And yes! I want to start growing this season. I think your idea with containers is awesome and very creative...I have tons of plastic containers with no lids that I've been saving for "something"...and now they have a purpose!
From what I've been reading, most of the veggies that I want to grow are winter veggies and to plant the seeds in April...May for the peppers...but is that planting outside? Should I start the seeds inside now? I just don't want my spare room to turn into a jungle!
Well, tomorrow I will get some soil samples, then head to the library, then to Lowe's for seeds. I hope I can find some German Johnson tomato seeds (I think that's what they're called). My Papa used to grow big, juicy, pink G.J.s on his farm.
Or maybe Lowe's is not the best place to get seeds? Any suggestions? I guess I should figure out how much to plant first...any idea as to how much on average that plants yield? Here are the veggies I would like to start with this year: corn, potatoes, tomatoes (about 4 types), green beans, squash, okra, cucumbers, peppers...sweet and hot, and some strawberries.
Thanks again for the input and good luck on your new garden too! What are you planning on growing? Let's stay in touch...
I can't classify myself as a beginner but surely can be a "beginner's Helper" and hopefully help to guide you along the way! You sound very excited and really looking forward to your gardening; that alone is a big plus for you! Yay!
"Here are the veggies I would like to start with this year: corn, potatoes, tomatoes (about 4 types), green beans, squash, okra, cucumbers, peppers...sweet and hot, and some strawberries."
Those are not "winter crops" (except maybe for the strawberries due to the fact that people often over-winter them). Perhaps the confusion came in due to the fact that most people start seeds in "late winter" for some of those (peppers and tomatoes come to mind right offhand).
I'd start your peppers now or at the very latest in about 2-3 weeks.! They need good heat to germinate and may take up to several weeks to do so. Plus they are a bit slow-growing. Tomatoes can be started inside 6 weeks before your planting out date. Cukes and squash can either be direct sowed when the ground is fully warmed or you can start them 3 weeks before setting them out.
The others on your list can be direct sowed (okra, corn, beans) when the ground is warm. As for potatoes, you can set those out around the first of March.
Hope this helps.
Again, Welcome to the site. Hope to see you around!
Thanks Shoe for the warm welcome! But more so...thank you for the starting tips! I am very excited about starting my new garden and it looks like with all the help from my new friends here...it should be a great success!
You mentioned to start my peepers...or even peppers...lol...now. Is that for the sweet and the hot?
And is there one particular veggie that I have chosen, to not go overboard when planting? And vice versa?
Hah! Grinnin' here...love the "peepers"!
As for starting times, yes, that will be for both hot and sweet peppers. I am up around the Raleigh/Durham area and I have mine started now because I like a goodsized pepper plant when I set them out. (Plus I'm a market grower and my customers like healthy pepper plants as well.)
As for how much to grow will depend on how much you like what you are growing. (and how much space you have).
Also, are you growing for yourself only? Or hoping to share with others? Or better yet, are you wanting to put up some of your harvest for Winter use (canning, freezing, drying, etc)?
Those are things to think about when planning your garden.
Pulling for ya, Pinger!
By the way, perhaps you might find a pepper you like mentioned in this article. Please feel free to take a peek!
(and yes, I'm big on pushing many of the heirlooms!) ;>) http://gardens.com/learn/article/16/
As Shoe said, most of the plants you listed are 'heat loving'. Most of them will be killed by frost so they can't be put outside until danger of frost is past. Of those, the most common to start inside are tomatoes and peppers because it takes like 6-8 weeks to get a decent sized plant for setting out in April.
Cucumbers/Melons/Squash I've read are very sensitive to having their roots messed with and because they're sprawling vines they get big quickly. So if they are started inside, it's only like 3-4 weeks before plant out date as Shoe said.
Corn and Beans as well as root crops like Potatoes/Carrots/Beets/Radishes are almost always started outside.
Potatoes can go out earlier. They can be damaged by frost, but they take 3-4 weeks to germinate so you'd probably be safe in March. I've planted mine already but probably I shouldn't have so fast.
You didn't mention Broccoli/Cauliflower/Cabbage (started inside) or Peas/Lettuce/Spinach (started outside) but most of those can be started now if you can work the ground. I have all of them growing now.
Most people that have been gardening awhile seem to get their seed mail order or grow their own. You can go to the 'Garden Watchdog' feature above and check out some companies and order their seed catalogues for free. I sent for like 20 catalogues! They're very fun to look thru if nothing else. A lot of people seem to like 'Johnny's Selected seed' in Maine.
As far as how much to plant, I'm a bad person to ask... I'm hoping to sell at farmers markets as well as grow vegetables for my family so I am just planting a lot of stuff.
I can tell you a couple things though. As you probably know, you can get a lot of Tomatoes from one plant. I have read on here that you could see 8 lbs per plant but you could get quite a bit more than that. Also Tomatoes can be quite a bit of work if you stake/cage and tie them. If you don't (let them sprawl), they take a lot of room and the fruit can rot if they're touching the ground.
The same goes for Peppers to some degree. We had 4 plants last summer and took probably 40 peppers from them even though we planted them late. We had way more than we could use but just chopped them up and froze them and have been eating them all winter. If you have a stand-alone freezer or you know how to 'can' it helps a lot.
So you should probably go easy on Tomatoes and Peppers although I warn you it quickly becomes a bit of an obsession... I have seedlings all over my house including several hundred tomatoes... I hate to let any of them die even though I probably can't use them all.
Do you have a rototiller? If not maybe you could find someone around there with a tractor to till it up for you cheaply?
HI SHOE - Thanks again for the info and I really enjoyed the article you linked me to.
I will be sharing my harvest with friends and family but will be canning a lot as well. If you know of any sites about drying
peppers, I'd love the "hook up". (smilin)
When I looked at the seed site, most varieties come in packs of 30 seeds. Is that enought to start out? Should I plant all 30 of them?
HI JEFF - thanks again to you as well. I didn't mention those others veggies becasue I don't want to get overwhelmed with too many different veggies. I'd rather concentrate on the 6 veggies I spoke of and my strawberries. But maybe next year I'll try some different ones if this year goes ok.
I mostly want tomatoes (can make salsas and sauces) corn and green beans (they freeze well) cucumbers (to make pickles) peppers (for salsa) and the squash and okra are just for chowin' down...(smilin)
I've also noticed that lots of people share their seeds. If anyone has any extra they would like to share with me to help get my garden going with some sure-fire winners...I'd be most happy to except!!! And I can always reciprocate with the goodies I make from the veggies. That would be a nice trade I think...:)
Oh and one more thing...I read somewhere that you shouldn't plant anything northside of your tomato plants...is that because of the height that the tomatoes will grow? If so...what about the corn? I would think corn would be much higher...
And is corn a one time "reaper"? Like if you get 4 ears on a stalk...is that it? Corn done and gone? What's the average amount of ears you get on one stalk?
I'm sorry to ask so many questions but I just want everything to be as right as it can because I know I will run into problems along the way. As they say...you reap what you sow. In this case...I sure hope so!
Yes, you're right on about not planting short things north of Tomatoes and corn. Most things will be too shaded, although I've heard of people planting things that don't like too much hot sun such as lettuce on the north side of Tomatos.
I believe you generally only get 1 ear per corn stalk. Here's a quote from Farmerdill on that:
'All you can can count on is one ear per stalk. Two ears are a bonus ofetn often set by the failure of a stalk to bear. The small cultivars, you can probably get a dozen stalks in a six ft square as long they are not crowded by other plants. '
Pinger...regarding starting all 30 seeds in a seed packet, I guess that will depend on what you want to do with them. (Do you have room for 30 tomatoes, for example.)
As for drying peppers, if they are cayennes or the similar we just string them up with thread or lay them out on a rack. For bell types you might want to slice the bigger ones and lay them out and the smaller ones can be seeded, cut in half, then laid out. If you have an electric dehydrator those are nice, too!
On another note, peppers are really easy to freeze and don't require blanching. Just cut them up and freeze in a freezer bag. They won't be nice and crisp when thawed out but they are still good for use in stews/soups/sauces, etc.
As for planting on the north side of taller plants, yes, as Jeff said the shade may help some plants like lettuces (until the air temp gets too hot for them; lettuces). Any other planting on the north side of tall plants can be done in long season areas for successive planting; in other words, if your tall crops will soon be gone (after harvest of corn perhaps?) you could have a late crop of tomato plants coming on or maybe some Fall plants (beets, spinach, collards, cabbage, etc) that once the corn is chopped down will benefit from the extra sun.
And yes, I agree, corn usually offers one ear per stalk but I often get two (Kandy Korn). As an aside, if you have bigtime worm/caterpillar problems it is often recommended that you don't plant corn near tomatoes due to the fact that one of the worms that attacks corn is also one that will go for tomatoes. If you do so, just keep an eye out and take care of them early on.
Growing cukes? If your corn rows are widely spaced then grow them up your cornstalks. Same for pole beans. I even grew spagetti squash up my corn stalks one year.
I grow tomatoes, cukes, pole beans, etc. next to the chain link fences around the chicken yard and on cattle panels held up with steel T posts. Both can hold up a lot of weight and are/can be permenant. Poultry help a lot to keep the insect population down and will gladly eat any 'bad' veggies you throw them.
I like to use the containers grapes, grape tomatoes, strawberries, etc. come in for starting seeds. They have those nice slots for drainage and ventilation. A paper towel or coffee filter on the bottom will keep the soil from falling thru. With care, they will last 2 - 4 years. I hear that egg cartons with holes poked in the bottom are good too.
One ear per stalk? OMG...seems like alot of space for very little reward. I was hoping you would say about 5 or 6 per stalk.. I was hoping on getting about 6 or 8 dozen ears...oh my.
As far as the tomatoes go, I was hoping to 4 differnet types but not 30 plants of each! I just didn't know if I could count on all 30 coming to fruition...wow. And from you guys wrote...I should not plant them all at one time...plant a couple weeks apart?
And the peppers...I guess I asked the wrong question. How long do you let them dry out and then what's the best way to crush them up? I have my granpa's recipe where he mixes a lot of different crushed peppers (practically pulverized) and it's used as a seasoning like for jerk chicken. But he never told me how to crush the peppers. Do I put them iinto like a coffee grinder? Skins, seeds and all?
LeafLady - Didn't your chickens eat your veggies?
And lastly...does anyone have any seeds they want to share...or is that only done when you can offer some seeds in return?
Thanks again fellow growers for all of your ongoing help and support!
Pinger, fear not! Growing corn is often profitable/non-profitable for many folks depending on their hopes, their likings, and whether they are looking for good tasting corn, looking to save money, and/or looking for the pure pleasure of it all.
Even though some corn varieties may only produce one ear/stalk there are others that dependably produce 2 (I have pictures of corn stalks with 3 ears on them but the 3rd ear may or may not mature).
If you are short on garden space then yes, corn takes up lots of your garden and won't produce (in the same amount of room) what other crops might offer (tomatoes, peppers, greens, come to mind).
However, if you take a 5 x 5 area and sow corn seed at 8" in the row and rows spaced 2 ft apart you should expect a harvest of from 2 to 4 doz. If you plant the same area in a staggered spacing you could get more stalks per footage and increase your harvest (as long as you don't plant too intensively).
I quit selling corn at the mkt for a few years because it takes so long to produce and didn't bring in a big dollar amount. However, now that corn prices have finally increased I will sell a bit here and there (mostly to folks that know its true value).
In the home garden to get 60 ears of harvest (5 dozen) you'll need a minimum of 60 plants (at one ear/per). Each plant spaced a foot apart in the row and a minimum of 18" between rows ( I wouldn't recommend any closer than that) would take approx an area 10 X 8 ft. If you have an area that size, work the weeding by hand (close spacing won't allow mechanical equipment), feed the soil well, then you may grow enough corn to eat fresh as well as put up a few dozen in the freezer. All this will depend on the variety, the amount of sun/water, and the typical growing season. (At the mkt we sell corn for $4.00/doz; five dozen only brings in 20 bucks so for me I'd rather grow it for my family and friends and put it in the freezer. By growing my own, not selling it, I am insured of getting the freshest corn available, the variety I like, and know it is pesticide free.) I guess it'll be up to you to decide your priorities. All in all though, I hope you try your hand at growing a small cornpatch, it has rewards I've not mentioned!
Regarding your tomatoes/seeds/plants...just start ten seeds if you like, the rest can be stored for next year! Depending on the varieties you have chosen to grow will determine if you need to plant them "not all at the same time". If they are indeterminates they'll produce all summer so no need to successive plant those; if they are determinates you may want to plant some at the proper time then set out a few more a few weeks later for a continued crop.
Peppers will produce all summer if you feed them appropriately. As for drying and crushing, if you are a mortor and pestle type, hand grinding works! However, once they are dried a blender (yes, coffee grinder!) will turn them to powder. Depending on the heat you are looking for will determine whether you want to include the seeds/ribs of the pepper, the more ribs/seeds the hotter the ground pepper will be, the less seeds/ribs the milder (for hot peppers).
Hope this is helpful!
As for sharing seeds, check the tradelist on DG. Or you could also start another thread and see if anyone has anything to offer. There are many generous people here. I tend to offer seeds from time to time but for now I can't make any general offers due to time constraints. When I do make time I'll be sure you are notified! :>)
Be careful about using "fresh" chicken manure as it can be too hot and burn your young plants. You can take manure straight from horses and rabbits and use it without composting, but not from chickens. Add it to your compost pile and wait until next year to use it.
I've never had access to fresh cow manure, so I don't know the answer to that one. It sure would make good compost if you can get past the smell for a while. That's the other thing that's nice about horse and rabbit manure--no smell. Horse manure is basically just processed hay. It would be good to know about cow manure, so I hope someone comes along that knows for sure.
Hi Pinger, Welcome to Mooresville. I lived in Mooresville for about 8 years and moved a few miles away to Sherrills Ford but still work in Moroesville. I have some interesting tomato seedlings started that I would be willing to share if you want some. Will DMail you.
Hi Pinger. The list of vegetables on your wish list at the top of the thread is exactly what I grow each summer, with the addition of beans, zuccini, potatoes, and eggplant ( you call it aburgine, I think..?), which leads me to think that the climates are similar.
A couple of points- as you can see from the pic, I have access to all the cow manure I want, and I don't use it, because it's full of seeds, and it tends to cake up in hot weather. Lebanese cucumbers give the best yield by far here I find, cherry tomatoes don't have the wilt problems of ordinary tomatoes in hot humid weather, and Yard-Long beans are well worth a try.
Would be glad to share some seed if you are still interested.
I have some seed that I've planted--have some tomatoes outside stilarted growing and doing well due to the warm weather we've been having.
Most I have growing are from Wal-Mart and Totally Tomatoes. I ordered from Totally Tomatoes primarily because I wanted to get their variegated foliage tomato. I've read that it looks more like something for flower garden but is pretty good to eat as well. I love variegated foliage on plants.
I have a few others of theirs--couldn't resist the picture and name of 'Pink Ping Pong!' Got a few others as well. I only planted a few from each packet since seed last pretty well and I don't need loads of the same one though I do have ten plants of 'Jubillee' since I really like the yellow tomatoes.
I'm still waiting for an order of a good many heirloom tomatoes from Heirloom Acreas and some other seed from Valueseed.com or is it valueseeds.com? Then I should have a lot more varieties though no German Johnson. Do have 'Aunt Ruby's Green German Tomato' on the order. Also 'Black Prince' for a purple and, of course 'Brandywine Pink' to see if it is as good as they say. Some purple, pink, yellow, orange, etc. varieties. Just to try.
I love fried tomatoes--and they are really good prepared when ripe if they aren't too watery. Also, they are so easy to freeze. Just put them in boiling water, take them out and squeeze out of skin into freezer bags, then squeeze the bag, so it is mushy,and air comes out. Lay it flat in the freezer then and it stores easily and is ready when you want to take it out for cooking.
You might want to check for some of Ruth Stout's books from the 69s. She believed in putting down about eight inches of mulch, pulling it aside to plant. Can sow early and just pull back over it if a frost comes, then move it away. It also almost eliminates weeds and any that do come up are so long they just pull up easy for throwing on the mulch.
She has a lot to say about ways to get manure (offer to clean out a person's stables for example) and a lot of things that can be used and found at little cost.
An awful lot of people develope their own variation of her ideas like the "lasagne gardening," etc.
Better close. if you still need some seed, let me know and I'll send you a few of the varieties I have. Sure hope I get my final orders soon.
Good Morning Lanewalk,
I have a few Black Prince seeds left if you want them. - just send me a DMail with your address. I am not that far from you - I'm in southern Catawba County. I know your a bit cooler than we are being up there in the high country.
Hello Maria. I've got 'Black Prince on order from Heirloom Acreas and I hope to get the order soon but I understand they can be slow sending seed so would be glad to have a few to get in the ground.
Actually I'm in the foothills so we are having really good weather and I've got a lot of of tomatoes out already ('Early Girl,' 'Better Boy,' 'Jubilee,' and some cherry tomatoes.
When I get the shipment, I could let you know what I've got and send you some of the other ones I've got then or the ones I got from Totally Tomatoes.
I have seed stored in packets still of 'Anna Russian,' 'Christmas Grapes,' 'Isis Candy,' 'Mexican Midget,' 'Pink Ping Pong,' 'Red Currant,' 'Ultimate Opener,' 'Variegated,' and ' Wins All' if you are interested in any of them. I put down a lot of the variegated and a few each of the others. Since tomato seed lasts well, I hope to plant some from them next year as well. Or at least the ones I like.
I'm not sure how to send an email to an individual to give address so if you will reply with one, I'll then reply directly to you.
Hi Carl...very nice to meet you! I love the area where you live. In fact, I talk online with one of the deputies there, Chris Hightower quite often. Lenoir is a great place to live...
It's also good to see that I'm not the only newbie gardener in the area...we can share our trials and tribulations together! And if you ever need any expert advice...Horseshoe is the best! Shoe knows a litlle bit about everything! It's good to know that there are so many helping hands out there.
And the great thing is...they're all right here in this little box in front of you! Right here in Dave's Garden.
I personally think we should rename it to Dave's Backyard because that's what it feels like when you talk to people in here...like you're in your neighbor's yard just chattin' away, sharing ideas, encouraging each other, laughing...I have more support here than my own family!
But it's all here and never hesitate to ask questions. Just be careful what questions you ask...hee hee...just look at a post I made named 'Aliens in my Garden'...you'll see what I mean! It was too fun!
Well, stay in touch and good luck with your gardening!
And by the way...I would absolutely love to have some seeds!
I can't believe you already have tomatoes out in the garden! I am very envious...my lasagna bed will not be ready for planting until right after April 15th, maybe a bit longer.
You said you have 10 Jubilee plants...oh my! That's a lot of one type. I've never grown yellow tomatoes...are they good?
Thanks for the tip on the freezing of tomatoes. It seems much easier and way faster than my boiling them in my canner. I'll definately try the freezer method this year.
I've never heard of Ruth Stout but her work/methods sound like something I would very much like to learn more about! I'll check into it next trip to the library. I went today and was disappointed that they did not have Pat Lanza's book on Lasagna Gardening. I'm on a very tight budget and just can't afford to buy all these great gardening books out there! Plus, I would spend all my time reading instead of working in the garden...lol.
I do have a book that I am finding tons of information from that's called Crockett's Victory Garden from the mid 70s...
What else are you growing in your garden? This is my first year having my own garden and I'm very nervous about doing something wrong and messing the whole thing up! But I guess that's how you learn..
As far as the tomato seeds go...if you have them to spare, I'd like to a couple of several of your varieties. I am thinking I might make an attempt at a small business next year if all goes well this year and this would be a great way to learn which varietals grow better than others in my area and which ones my customers will prefer.
You are very sweet to offer to share your seeds. I have met some really nice people here on David's Garden.
Are there any seeds that you are looking for? I have lots of flower seeds and a few extra veggie seeds...??
I will be happy to send you the postage...just let me know!
Nice to meet you, Carl and I'll talk again with you soon!
Hi, Angela. Here is a link to some things that I think would help with a garden that size. Last year was my first garden and I did two totaling a little more than 1/4 acre. My caneloupes, okra, and cucumbers did very well, while everything else was not so well.
A large garden will have pests, some minor and some major. The earworms got most of my corn that got enough water. My cucumbers did well at first, but then got bacterial wilt from cucumber beetles and died.
Weeds were a constant losing battle. I plowed up billions of weed seeds that had probably been buried for years. Millions of baby mesquit trees came up all over the place. Maybe I need glasses, but to me at a glance the baby mesquits looked like my baby carrots and I have been told it is johnson grass that looks alot like my young corn.
You can usually find a horse farm that will be glad to give you all the manure you can haul for free. Be sure to compost any manure especially chicken manure before using it as fresh manure can burn your plants and is apt to have weed seeds.
If I were starting all over, I think that I would go one year without gardening and just prepare. I would either put the amendments available in compost size piles or put them down over the 1/2 acre garden area. I would plow the whole garden area and then put some clear plastic over the entire 1/2 acre all summer to hopefully kill weeds and seeds. If not, I would recommend using a plastic mulch like the one in the link below. I would till it again in the fall and plant some type of legume crop like alfalfa
If you are as dry as Texas usually is watering is almost a full time job. I would try a drip system like the one in the link.
A garden that size if taken care of right, could feed a small army. If planning to do a garden every year, I would probably either do a quarter acre or less each year rotating by crop families on a quarter acre the first year and then do the same on the other quarter acre the next two years which would give you a four year rotation.
Unless you have a pretty good slope for drainage or unless you are sure you have a soil and location that will not ever have water just sitting, I would use raised rows. You do not necesarily have to bring in a bunch of dirt for that. I use a six foot tiller and then a 3-bottom plow making in between rows about 3-4 inches below grade and my rows about 3-4 inches above grade which gives me about 7" high rows.
I would definately start tomatoes and peppers in doors. Pretty much everything else that you mentioned, I would start outside in the row for a garden that size. Large hard seed like corn and melons can be soaked in warm water 8 hours to over night to speed germination time and you could mix a fungicide in too to help with damping off. If using cut potatoes for seed, I would leave them in the sun for a day or two as that makes them toxic to us and insects but the potatoes that come from it would be okay. I would not do that to the whole potatoes as when you harvest, you might harvest it not knowing it was the original seed potato that had solanine. You could also dip them in sulfur and let them dry for a few days before planting as you want to have a low ph or you could have scab.
Sorry for being so long winded, I woke up thinking about the late cold front with nights expected in the mid thirties the next 3 nights, with everything above ground in the garden hoping that I covered them right and about my potatoes that I did not put raised in rows that stood under water for a week when we had unusual rains a few weeks ago.
Anyway I hope somthing I said makes since and helps, take care,
Link did not work I will try another way in the next post.
WOW...How fortunate to be the recipient of your knowledge during your sleepless night! I've had to reread your post several times to make sure it all sunk in...thank you very much for taking the time to comment. As a beginner, I welcome any and all advice...and it's obvious by what you wrote, that much thought was put into it. I have started to cut and paste several of the posts responding to my inquiries, to keep sort of a log. In the beginning, it was easy just to go back and forth between the forums, not only to read new posts to my questions but all of the other posts that might be helpful. Now I can just go to my folder that I have created, choose a topic and refer to all of the much needed advice in my new endeavor. Then when the time comes, I know just where to go to start for next year...which I now know that I need to start my composting now and to start my lasagna garden in the fall vs. February. As you know, and I am learning, that gardening is a work in progress and there is no 'said way' to do anything. I was very nervous in the beginning about doing something wrong. But with so many variables to consider, ie: climate, soil, slope, drainage, attention or lack of, as long as you know the basics, it's more of a 'try it this way and if it works, great!' If not, hopefully you were able to recognize what phase or step you can improve or change the next go round.
I'm planning on doing what you suggested about preparing the soil. This seems to be the basis of all successful gardening. People these days, including myself at times, want everything now! And that's not always the best choice. I plan on tending and improving my soil this fall, if not now...to be ready for a much more productive garden next season. In fact, I find my alacrity (love this word but hardly get to use it) for next year's garden to be quite humorous...I haven't even seen what I might produce this year and I can't wait until next year's crop!
So thanks again for all of your thoughts...no need to apologize for being long winded...if someone wants to share their trials and tribulations with me...and I listen intently.
Thank you for the links as well. However, with my Funzalow disease...(funds-are-low), I will have to wait until next year to purchase what I would call, 'an eloborate system' and will have to rely on the "make-it-yourself" soaker hoses I have rigged up. (It's quite scary looking!)
Well, enough of me rambling on myself...I have a lasagna cover to repair. We've had some strong winds lately and last night I noticed where I had taped two pieces of plastic together to cover my bed, had come apart. Just as well...it will be good to see how well everything is decomposing and to give it a drink of water.
Have a wonderful day, a Happy Easter and get some good rest tonight, Mike...
The last couple days with temperatures falling into low 20s pretty much destroyed the tomatoes I had put out. When I looked, the leaves were gone with only some green stalk left. After last night I don't know if that much is left.
I'm glad that I have "back up" ones that I had in pots that I've carried inside. I've been so busy covering plants and bringing the "back-ups" in that I haven't got to reading messages or doing anything much. Didn't help that I had four medical appointments last week plus took my 86 uear old sister who is in a wheel chair to Wal-Marts.
I can get seed out to you right away of 'Black Prince, Brandywine Yellow, Cherokee Purple, Yellow Marble, Aunt Ruby's Ger,am Greem. Greem Zebra. Kellogg's Breakfast, Persimmon Orange, and Cantaloups Minnesota Midget and Iroquois Cantaloupe if you wish.
I got them from Heirloom Acres Seeds and you can check them on their website and let me know any of these you would like and I'll get them out in a couple days when it is supposed to be warmed up.
I also just found my seed from 'Totally Tomatoes' whitch include 'Christmas Grapes, Raad Red, Red Currant, 'Wins All,' Variegated, Isis Candy, Pink Ping Pong, Mexico Midget, Anna Russian, and Ultimate Opener Hybrid.
Just let me know whitch from that list you would like to try.
I had really good luck last year with my tomatoes and decided to try a lot of different ones and see whitch I like the best.
I had an order in with Value Seeds as well but they returned my check and order with a note they only accepted Credit Cards whitch seemed weird to me. That messed up my ordering and planning a bit.
I'm not growing a lot of different vegetables really, just the ones I really like.
My covered plants didn't make it so I'll have less extras for my friends but I still expect to have more than I can use--and I can use a lot. I love tomato sandwitches and Fried Ripe Tomatoes even more than Fried Green (Can have more liquid in some whitch can be a problem but they have more flavor to me)
I just hope I can get them out before I have the heirna surgery!
Hey Pinger, As I haven't seen any fruther mention of your newspaper idea I thought I'd better throw in my 2c worth- vey little nutrient value in print /newspaper but excellent for layering in compost heaps and on new beds to prevent weeds. Iwould definitely recommend the raised bed method especially if you already have clay in your soil - good drainage essential. I only used a 3m sq. patch last year with tomatoes over 6ft high and kilos harvested every week, same with zucchinis and capsicums. Sydney not so humid as fourx's north coast, still 30c ave. over summer. Go for it!
Raised beds work great on North Carolina's clay based soil. Mushroom compost is a great sterilized soil component if you can find it to mix with top soil, ground leaf mulch, and decomposed manure. Our raised vegetable beds, finished in March of 2009, were a huge success. It's costly building the beds, but way less work than trying to work additives into the clay for a workable soil base as a growing medium.
To the person suggesting the use of Malathion, shame on you. A well know carcinogen, I'm wondering why grow your own food if you're going to poison yourself, the animals that share your space, and the water table beneath your feet. Pick those bugs off, or release predatory bugs into your garden. Attract birds who feed on them but don't use chemicals. Be generous with marigolds, pick them often to increase flower productivity and look hard for an aphid. Most likely you won't see one. It worked for me in Illinois and also here in N.C.
And the person broadcasting diatomacious earth in a cloud must not be aware there are two types, neither healthy for human or animal lungs. Google it and read up. Just because something is a natural from this earth does not mean it is healthy for humans or a plus in your garden. Consider "beneficial nematodes" instead, costly but long lasting with no negative affects on yourself or your surrounding environment. Common sense is a healthy tool when it comes to organic gardening. Livestock eat grasses and weeds, seeds included. If you use manures, they should be composted to cut down on the potential of weeds in your garden soil.
Seed Saver Exchange is a great place to acquire heirloom seeds or starter plants. Mexican Midget, Green Zebra, Yellow or Red Brandy Wine, Siberian, and Cherokee Purple are a fabulous tasting, diverse group of tomatoes, beyond the popular Romas or other canning varieties. All were very productive. We planted 12 different vegetables in our garden last year. In five 16' by 3' raised bed, we grew enough organic foods to feed our family and 4 others in our area and intend to expand with additional beds this spring.
Be careful to consider how much space you have when choosing what to grow. If in a small space, then plant only what continually produces rather than a one time pick like corn. Use the "real estate" wisely in other words. If you can handle the work involved with no stress, then consider expanding the next year rather than getting over whelmed with a hugh space the first time around, eventually quitting because it becomes too much. And don't forget fruit. Trellis your cucumbers and squash and grow lettuces and spinach beneath in partial shade. You extend those leafy crops a great deal because they don't do well in the high heat of summer. Squeeze in onions wherever there's a little space and don't be afraid to crowd your crop slightly. I've never had trouble pushing the envelope so to speak beyond the suggested "spacing" on a seed package.
Accept your failures and learn from them...and be proud of your successes. Gardening is not only healthy for the body but for the spirit. Good luck to all.
Hi im4organics. Good info. I have a question about the mushroom compost. I bought it once (probably even still have it) but when I went to use it, read that it was already "used up" by growing the mushrooms. I was at a point that I couldn't wait (patience is not my strong point) to research better, so went to more composted manure stuff.
If it's a good thing (and I can find it), I'll use it in the new beds this year, which are now a bit snowy...:)