gardening...first season lessons

Posted by: TeacherRO

gardening...first season lessons - 10/06/08 03:55 PM

Just harvested my first crop from a tiny garden and thought I'd share some things I learned.

_ if I was relying on my garden for additional food, I'd need lots more plants/ area. likely 50-75)

- need to learn alot more about varieties that grow well here

- pay attention to how long a plant needs to grow --90 days for some, more for others.

- start seedlings sooner in the Winter ( indoors)

- Get more books/ info on how to

- Gardening takes a surprising amount of water. Especially growing fruits/ vegetables.

TRO
Posted by: Susan

Re: gardening...first season lessons - 10/06/08 05:21 PM

It's quite a learning experience, isn't it?

- My soil test said my soil needs dolomite lime to add calcium and magnesium, so I need to add that this Fall.

- I need to start stuff sooner and get it into the ground sooner. Those seed packet indications on how many days they take to produce are talking about LAST TRANSPLANT DATE as the start-counting date, NOT the date you planted the seeds.

- Improved soil and growing more intensively seems to be easier to keep up with than a bunch of stuff spread out.

- Mulch, mulch, mulch! It retains soil moisture, prevents wet/dry stresses that slow down growth, keeps the microherd operating more efficiently.

- Keep the chickens out of the garden. It's amazing how much damage four hens can do, given a free rein. Their big feet kick the mulch away from the plants so they dry out faster.

- Keep most plants growing UP. Letting tomatoes, cucumbers and other things flop on the ground really increases insect damage and rot.

Sue
Posted by: CANOEDOGS

Re: gardening...first season lessons - 10/06/08 07:00 PM


many--many years ago when i was living out of town i had a local farmer disc up a big--50x200 foot section of my yard for me and i put in a huge garden--it was during the first gas price shock ---extra hose from the well which ran alot--deer fence--time after work to care for it--hauling manure in the trunk of my car---so on--you get the idea..it never seemed to pay off..the bulk things like tomatos,cabage,corn..i could get at roadside stands..anything else like peppers never came in in the amounts it would take to make it worthwile..the next year i put in half as much and just easy things and after that just a tomato patch--unless we had some sort of WW2 sitution with rationing or a big shut down of the supply system i don't see any advantage to gardening on a big scale for the normal household..in the city now i have tomatos,peppers,onions and herbs--a pasta garden--
Posted by: Susan

Re: gardening...first season lessons - 10/06/08 09:34 PM

"...i don't see any advantage to gardening on a big scale for the normal household..."

The picture can change in a hurry if you lose your job, your spouse loses her job (or you don't have one), or if there's a big local upset of some kind.

I want to do it so I will know how to do it (it isn't as easy as it appears), and I can control the nutrient level of my food. Farmers who insist on chemical NPK as their only fertilizer source have been shorting us on nutrition for many years.

Some people don't store food, either. Some people don't know how to do anything but operate a computer or a backhoe. The more you know, the more you have to fall back on.

Sue
Posted by: DaveT

Re: gardening...first season lessons - 10/07/08 12:11 PM

This year was my first time to raise my own garden, too.

Among the things I learned:
Little critters can get inside the wire fence that has a rectangular shape. I had to add a two-foot-tall chicken wire fence around the regular fence to keep out the baby bunnies.

Pumpkins and canteloupe REALLY spread out and take over the ground. They spread way farther than I thought they would.

Tomatoes grow much taller than they can support themselves. I thought I was doing well with the wire cone cages around my tomatoes, but they all overtopped those by about two feet, then sagged and worked hard to kill themselves as the tomatoes ripened. Next year I'll stake them well and keep track of them as they grow.

I made mounds for my zucchini and yellow squash, then planted rows of carrots in between them...just close enough for the carrots to be totally overhung and shaded by the squash as their leaves spread out.

All my squash eventually got covered with a whitish, mildew-like substance. After it really got out of control, I found Web sites describing the problem and recommending that you spray the leaves with one part milk to 10 parts water out of a common spray bottle. Next year, I'll be able to catch it as it begins and hopefully stop it.


Now, a question for the more experience gardeners. I'm going to work on a compost box setup and raising a bed within the garden for some of the vegetables. Using common (salvaged) lumber, can/should I coat either/both structures with something like a deck stain to prevent rotting of the wood, or would leaching be a problem for these purposes?

Thanks all

Dave
Posted by: thseng

Re: gardening...first season lessons - 10/07/08 12:28 PM

Originally Posted By: DaveT
I made mounds for my zucchini and yellow squash, then planted rows of carrots in between them...just close enough for the carrots to be totally overhung and shaded by the squash as their leaves spread out.

All my squash eventually got covered with a whitish, mildew-like substance. After it really got out of control, I found Web sites describing the problem and recommending that you spray the leaves with one part milk to 10 parts water out of a common spray bottle. Next year, I'll be able to catch it as it begins and hopefully stop it.

Who are you and what have you been doing in my back yard! I did exactly the same thing with the carrots and now I've got the same white mold on my zucchini leaves.

Frost on the car this morning, so that may be it for my garden this year.
Posted by: Nishnabotna

Re: gardening...first season lessons - 10/07/08 03:10 PM

Yup, keep wood treatments of any kind out of your garden.
My squash and pumpkins were invaded by the beatles. Will need to kill them earlier next time.
The hail didn't help much, either.
Posted by: Susan

Re: gardening...first season lessons - 10/07/08 04:16 PM

If you have access to cedar or redwood, it is a little more rot-resistant than pine or fir, and still safe to use with food crops. Don't use pressure-treated wood.

Raised beds are easier to work, but they drain fast. If you have sandy soil, add lots of compost and some (unused) clumping cat litter. The cat litter is clay, which helps hold water and nutrients, just don't overdo it.

Sue
Posted by: DaveT

Re: gardening...first season lessons - 10/07/08 07:39 PM

Originally Posted By: thseng

Who are you and what have you been doing in my back yard! I did exactly the same thing with the carrots and now I've got the same white mold on my zucchini leaves.

Frost on the car this morning, so that may be it for my garden this year.


Here I thought it was just me. smile
Posted by: NorCalDennis

Re: gardening...first season lessons - 10/09/08 03:12 PM

This was our first year of gardening on a much larger scale - the old 15' by 15' garden was enlarged to roughly 90' by 90'.

We had a bad year for tomatoes - a late frost hurt the whole neighborhood, but one thing we didn't prepare for is keeping on top of all that we were needing to harvest.

Too many melons ened up outside the fencing for the deer. We didn't time the sweet corn harvest well enough and most of it became very starchy - part of this too, I believe, was my planting too close to the dent corn.

The spring red wheat we planted grew well, and I harvested it, but the threshing is alot more labor intensive than I expected. I have about 1/3 threshed and the rest is tarped from the recent rains until I can spend an afternoon threshing out the rest of the seed. We planted some hard, red winter wheat in an unprotected pasture last month - unlike in the spring when everything is green, the deer are on this patch of green like a magnet, so it's hard to tell how much of this area will live.

As another post mentioned, our melons and squash, too, ran way beyond the recommended spacing. My wife also thought she could infill a vine or two along rows where some seed didn't take and these vines all but choked out our artichokes and started growing into our grapes.

Our peas and green beans all did real well, in fact we look to be getting a second harvest of them soon. Several potato varieties also did real well - the kennebecs, carolas, and russets all produced well. A couple of the red varietes didn't do nearly as well.

Critters seem to be an ever present problem. The deer fencing worked on the big critters - even rabbits, but gophers, voles, moles, and ground squirrels seem to get in at will. We've been able to trap many of them, but they just keep coming!

All in all, we are real happy with our first year. Next year we hope to improve on our efforts.

Thanks to this site, and the knowledge of its members, we gleaned a tremendous amount of infomration as we started this project back at the end of winter. And the fruits of that shared knowledge is now stocking up in our pantry - Thank You!!!
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: gardening...first season lessons - 10/09/08 03:20 PM

I'm curious, how are you threshing the wheat?
Posted by: NorCalDennis

Re: gardening...first season lessons - 10/09/08 03:54 PM

I harvested the wheat with a scythe (sp), and did my best to keep the heads all in the same direction. From there I set out a tarp and placed a portion of the wheat on the tarp. I used a large leaf rake and beat the wheat until the heads were mostly detached from the stalks. At that point I continue to beat the heads while removing the chalf (sp). Eventually I hand rub the wheat heads until the seeds drop from them. From there I toss the remaining seed and chalf over the tarp during a light breeze until I have almost nothing but seed available.

So far I have spent a couple of hours doing the threshing and have about 7lbs of seed. I estimate that i have about another 30lbs of seed to still be removed.

I am guessing (and hoping) that as I learn how to be more efficient at this, I will be able to get through this process much more quickly. It reminds me alot of gold panning - you just keep working the payload down until there is nothing left but the gold.

Any suggestions here would be greatly appreciated!
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: gardening...first season lessons - 10/09/08 04:32 PM

I imagine the basic process hasn't changed much in 10,000 years.

One of the items we found on my grandparent's farm was a hand-made flail, a long pole attached to a short pole with a piece of heavy leather as the hinge. This design, and its variants for different grains, are older than the pyramids.

I've threshed grain with a combine (but not by hand), and the one thing I remember vividly is the importance of the moisture level. The grain stalks have to be thorougly cured (allowed to dry) before you start. Otherwise it's nearly impossible to separate the grain from the stalks and the kernel from the hull (chaff). After that, be aware of the ambient humidity. Even the big operators with half-million-dollar machines have to shut down when the dew starts to fall.

My 2.
Posted by: KG2V

Re: gardening...first season lessons - 10/09/08 05:41 PM

Originally Posted By: NorCalDennis
...snip...Critters seem to be an ever present problem. The deer fencing worked on the big critters - even rabbits, but gophers, voles, moles, and ground squirrels seem to get in at will. We've been able to trap many of them, but they just keep coming!

...snip...


Just think of the critters as a 4 footed mobile crop.....