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Anyone with a vegetable garden?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by kevinmoelk, Dec 15, 2006.

  1. sgcsalsero

    sgcsalsero Feeling the Heat

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    Nothing can surpass the taste of home grown, worth the effort alone to me. I've used Pinetree seeds for a couple years now, very reasonable prices . . .some things bomb some things take off . . couple dollars wasted, no biggie. I think we get our tomato seeds from Burpee. You may want to pick up a couple catalogs by calling direct to places like this, and also ask for some recommended resources (probably most if not all of customer reps are avid gardeners). One other resource, check out davesgarden.com.

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  2. PAJerry

    PAJerry Member

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    I've always had a garden. I grow corn, tomatoes, onions, brussels sprouts, green vegetable soy beans, edible podded peas, spinach, and squash. Also have 11 blueberry bushes, raspberries, asparagus, gooseberries, and a plum tree. Our soil here is mostly clay but I have hauled in lots of horse manure from a neighbor over the years and our garden soil is very good now. Stokes Seeds has been my most reliable supplier of good seed and I've used them for 35 years.
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Word Eric. Gardening is great exercise. Like wood warming you many times, a garden rewards your health and mind many times over.
  4. Bushfire

    Bushfire Member

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    We've also had great success with Pinetree. The prices are great. They, as with all teh other suppliers, do run out of some things, so don't leave your ordering too late. Infact, we (my wife and I) usually get togteher with a couple of work collegues and do a monster order (I mean, who needs 200 tomato seeds) sometime in late Jan or early Feb. It's never too early to start thinking about this years veggies. In fact, with the weather we've been having in the NE, you'd think it was already too late to plant some things :).

    It's also never too late to scope out sources of organic matter - another thign to scrounge that will cost you nothing if you take the time. Use that same truck you haul wood around to haul manure (or wood chips for mulch/paths) from local sources.

    Happy planting.
  5. colsmith

    colsmith New Member

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    A little late, but hey it isn't gardening season yet anyway. I garden big time, but the original questions are quite complicated, one cannot really say how much time and money and effort was involved. It would probably be cheaper to get a job and buy the vegies and fruit with the money from the job. I actually get lots of produce FREE from a local market, more than we can eat, but I still grow a lot of vegies, since mine are organic and fresher than what I get free, which means tastier and I don't have to worry about the chemicals sprayed on it. I do mostly raised beds, since we live on a slight slope and most of the topsoil went to live by the neighbors downhill from us a long time ago.

    The method I use is to create a framework from free materials, usually wood. I get the wood from various friends and some was from my brother, and I make lasagna gardens in them. That means layers of free (of course) organic materials like old produce, leaves, horse manure, wood ashes, etc. piled up until they rot a bit and covered with just enough soil or compost to plant in. You get the best darn soil in the world that way, doesn't matter how heavy or rocky or sandy your own soil is. You can get a book from the library called "Lasagna Gardening" or something like that, but you can also read plenty about it on gardenweb. Visit http://www.gardenweb.com/forums/ and read the Soil and Compost group, and the Vegetables group, whatever interests you. LIke hearthnet but about gardening, and bigger. You can learn about growing berries or bulbs or whatever you fancy. I have one raised bed framed with large concrete bricks. I have devious quack grass, so cannot use the no frame method. The quack grass grows under the frames anyway, but makes it a little more difficult for it.

    I strongly recommend growing tomatoes because they taste about 37 times better if homegrown vs. picked green and shipped across the country to you. Fresh things like lettuces and spinach for salad is good, and always grow radishes since they grow fast and are reliable and make you feel like a successful gardener early on. :) I grow about 15-20 kinds of vegies every year plus have rhubarb, asparagus, raspberries in 3 colors, and an orchard of mostly pears and apples. I can a lot of food every year, last year over 200 jars. Tomato sauces, salsa, pickled peppers, jams, and fruit sauces are the main things we can. Of course people who don't know what my life is like ask if I get bored because I am not employed!?! We don't have time to take care of the orchard, we barely pick a tenth of the fruit. Fortunately a lot of it is old and falling down and will become firewood! I am up too late per usual so will stop now, although I could talk about gardening all night. My 'handle' on gardenweb is led_zep_rules.
  6. tjg911

    tjg911 Member

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    actually eric that makes perfect sense. carrots do well in sandy loam but in heavier soils not as well. in loose friable soil (no roocks, clay, roots) they grow straight. also go light on nitrogen (too much manure) or the roots get hairy.

    tom
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I've heard that too much organic matter, in my case compost, makes for bad carrots. This year I think I'll excavate out a section and put in a nice layer of forest sand and see how that works.

    Actually, I was out turning the garden the other day (before it got below zero around here), and dug up some of the remaining carrots from last summer. Pretty darn good. I think I read somewhere that the taste comes out after the first frost. Seems like the case.

    The first seed catalog of the season arrived yesterday. What I wouldn't give for one of those juicy tomatos shown on the cover, right now. And just a few months ago, we were composting what we couldn't eat or give away.
  8. tjg911

    tjg911 Member

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    kevin,



    this is too big so i have to post it in increments!



    the basis of my life is to be self reliant. without living off the grid, that's hard to do but i do far more than the average person. i do buy my firewood cut and split but i have toyed with buying trees. gardening like anything else returns what you put into it. imho gardening is a lot of work - all season. weeding is the most annoying and important thing in gardening, in the heat of summer watering can be time consuming. i start most things from seed growing under lights or direct seed. i buy peppers and eggplant as plants just because i don't want to start them from seeds. they want heat to germinate and i refuse to buy a heating mat to germinate them. pinetree is inexpensive for seeds but fedco will make pinetree look super expensive! seeds last for years, onions are the exception and i buy fresh seeds each year. i save seeds for pole beans and tomatoes so i don't buy them.



    i grow most of the food i eat. i save a lot of money especially when you consider that i grow everything except the eggplants organically, organic produce can be expensive. the eggplants are grown in 5 gallon pails and i do use osmocote for vegetables as the fertilizer, the garden is 100% organic. a simple example of costs is i harvested 32 butternut squash (bns) this past fall. the regular price for non organic bns is 69 cents a pound. the organic price of bsn is 99 cents to 1.29 a pound. my bns average about 3-4 pounds, some are small 2 pounders and some are huge 6-7 pounders. i figure i have around 100-110 pounds of organic bns, they store 6-7 months. the seeds cost $1.50. so that's about $70 worth of non organic bns at the store. but mine is organic so they are worth about $100 to $130 to me. that's just butternut squash! i can't tell you what i save but my grocery bill averages (?) about $20 a week when i buy very little to $70 when i buy a lot or expensive stuff, some weeks i don't even go if there's nothing on sale (coffe, mayo, tp, cheese, bagels, etc) or that i need. say good quality olive oil is on sale for $10 a bottle vs $15 i'll buy 6 or 7 bottles so that'll add up fast. this is for just 1 person tho not a family of 4 or 5. i grow hundreds of dollars worth of mesclun (baby lettuces and different types of greens), at $7 a pound for non organic so at the stores my organic must be worth $10 a pound, seriously. i have 100 pounds of onions in storage, my long term storage onion will store 12+ months. you get the picture. in fairness i do buy food at the health food store. it's hard to say how much, usually spices and herbs or non organic brown rice in 25# bags. i am a vegetarian so beans at 89 cents a pound or rice at the same price is cheap protein vs meat, 2 pounds of protein costs me $1.80 - 1 pound of rice and 1 pound of beans. lentils are even cheaper at just 69 cents a pound.
  9. tjg911

    tjg911 Member

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    my garden is 30' X 40' no raised beds. i plant it pretty intensively and use space carefully. i plant crops with a second or even 3rd harvest of the same thing in mind or replant a different crop after the 1st is harvested. for example, i pull spring planted carrots and seed fall carrots in the same 1' X 6' plot. i get about 15-20 pounds of carrots per harvest or 30-40 pounds for the entire season, my long term storage carrot will store 12 full months. or i'll plant potatoes and after i dig them i plant kale or cabbage or winter long keeping radishes (keep 6 months not your typical radishes these are huge like giant carrots!) in that space. i'll have 2 cabbages growing all season in a 3' X 7' plot by starting seeds every 40 days.



    it takes a LOT of time to do all this. holding a full time job does mean i have to, read that as MUST, work on it on evenings and the weekend. now i don't spend every free minute in the garden but it does require say on average 10-20 hours per week and depending upon when in the season it varies. in august and september i am VERY busy and harvesting/freezing is part of that time as well. when i pick 4-5 pounds of pole beans i now have to blanche and freeze 1/2 of that because in another 3-4 days i'll have another 5 pounds to pick. sometimes it can be too much work but no one forces you to do it, you do it if you want to and since i want to i do have to do it! most of what i've eaten since october has been from the garden and all the vegetables have been from the garden. it's a real treat when i get a pizza or chinese!



    it's easier to tell you what i never grew. keep in mind i have stopped growing some things because they use too much space or have too long a growing season or yield too little for the time/space used so i can't justify them. but also consider i grow for storage thru fall, winter and spring and i buy very little in the way of veggies. if you grew just for fresh eating then smaller amounts of space would mean you could grow more things. for example i have stopped growing melons, watermelons require all season to grow and produce very little and you can't store them. i never grew artichokes, asparagus, celery, corn, kohlrabi, leeks, okra, rhubarb, shallots, any fruits nor any grains. other than that, i have grown it. i have about 20 veggies in the garden, not counting different varieties of the same thing (3 varieties of onions, 8 varieties of tomatoes, 2 or 3 broccoli varieties etc).
  10. tjg911

    tjg911 Member

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    if you do this start small then expand. that's how i did it. the key is to have healthy soil, it's ALL about the soil! clay is a killer, i have sandy loam which is an excellent soil type. i add leaves (free), manure (i buy every 2nd or 3rd year) plus compost i make to enrich the soil. it is fun but you should read online or simple books about how to grow vegetables, that's how i learned. each vegetable has certain requirements for water or fertilizer, weeding (carrots, onions and garlic do not compete well with weeds), sun and of course insect issues. if you go organic you save money on fertilizer (i do buy an organic one) and of course pesticides (i do use an organic one). most insects are not going to harm your stuff but you need to learn which do and how to deal with them, rather easy once you know. for the most part the 'good' bugs eat the 'bad' bugs but you still have to be proactive. it is fun and i like it. but there is a fair amount of work involved.

    hope this helped you.

    tom
  11. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Most of the work, in my experience, is done between mid May and mid July. After that, everything should be pretty much on its way. If you mulch heavily, it cuts down on the need to weed and water so much. So you can enjoy the fruits of your early summer work in the latter part of the season.

    Of course, as tjg suggests so well, gardening can be a lot of fun and you can spend as spare much time as you have in the garden. Pretty much you get out of it what you put in, and there are plenty of things you can fool around with later in the summer if you're so inclined.

    I don't use any chemicals, so I have to stay on top of the bugs. Japanese beetles and cucumber beetles are my main enemies. Gotta get out there and squish or otherwise dispose of them before they get a foothold.
  12. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    Thanks for the continued advice folks. I'm starting to look at some seed catalogs and talking to other local gardeners. I still plan on building a raised bed at near waist height, mainly for my back problems, so I don't have to stoop too much to work on the garden. It will be roughly 4x8 in size. For watering I'm going to set up a soaker hose and put a timer on it so it will be watered automatically.

    I'm considering the following for my first year:

    Tomato
    Zuchinni
    Red Pepper
    Potato
    Cucumber
    Squash

    That's it. From what I've read, all of these are simple to grow. Not sure if and how they will work together or if I can get all of those in a 4x8 bed. Any thoughts?

    -Kevin
  13. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    In a 4X8 bed you might get 1 Cucumber hill and 1 Tomato plant ( maybe 2 ) Go back and look at my garden pic's posted WM to see what these items take for space.

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/2837/
  14. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    The yellow out lined area is about 12' X 6" , as you can see how a Cucumber hill can take over the space and there not finished growing as seen in the second pic.

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  15. tjg911

    tjg911 Member

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    Kevin,

    spike is correct, 32 sq ft is really quite small. For carrots, different greens, beets, onions which are all smallish ok but for the things you mention, they use a fair amount of space. you might have room for 2 tomato plants, 2 pepper plants, if you trellis the cuke perhaps 2 or 3 but that's about it. 32 sq ft of potatoes will yield perhaps 10-12 pounds, potatoes use a lot of space and yield 1-4 pounds per plant. bush zucchini use less space than a regular zucchini which can use a full 4' X 4' all by it's self. squash? yellow? see zucchini, winter? 1 winter squash plant can use the whole 32 sq ft.

    i don't mean to discourage you but you don't realize the space plants need and use. a nicely planted garden in mid june can be so over grown and crowded by august you won't be able to get into it! i meantioned i plant intensively and that's because of the space. i waste room on paths but with a raised bed that is not going to be a problem.

    you may want to try plants in 5 gallon containers. it seems impossible you could grow a tomato plant in such a confined space but it is possible. containers require special consideration for the soil mixture, fertilization and in hot weather MUST be watered every day. i grow eggplants in them and it works fine but i gave up on tomatoes because i get better results in the garden and i have the space. I doubt squash could grown in a 5 gallon pail, forget potatoes (try a trash can). I can tell you how to grow in 5 gallon pails and direct you to a website like this one.

    Multiple 4' X 8' beds will allow you to grow more things.

    Tom
  16. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I'm not sure about the Northwest, wrenchy, but out here on the east coast, it's hard to go wrong with green beans. Pole beans, bush beans--you name it. If you do it right, they produce beans all season long (and I mean lots of beans).

    One good thing about zucchini is that it's a very productive plant as well. What I do is let them get big, then cut 'em up and dry 'em and then burn 'em when the heating season rolls around. Zuclear Energy.
  17. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    Well I was mostly getting suggestions from people of things that are EASY to grow. I'll have to re-think a little, lol. The 5-gallon bucket idea seems great! I'd love to get more information. I'd still like to try my raised bed idea, but in conjunction with the 5-gallon buckets, perhaps I can grow a few more things.

    So.... let me pose this question. If you only had one raised 4x8 bed, what would you grow in it?

    -Kevin
  18. Bushfire

    Bushfire Member

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    "If you only had one raised 4x8 bed, what would you grow in it? "

    Too easy - tomatoes and one or two basil plants.
  19. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I love tomatos and basil, but my vote remains beans. You get a lot of food growing in a small area, and you don't have to wait until the end of the summer to enjoy it. Plus, bean plants put nitrogen into the soil.
  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like you'll be needing another bed Kevin. Look at the size of the mature plants. To conserve space, think vertical. I made several stout vertcial cages out of 3/4" pvc pipe that are 2' x 2' x 5'. they've stood up so far for 6 years and are still going. You can use a cage like this for tomatoes and cucumbers. However, two zuchini plants could take over an entire bed if they're happy, so plan on some severe pruning or crowding. Of all the plants listed, only the pepper is really going to be worth putting in a raised bed. Maybe add some lettuce, eggplant, herbs (like basil), beets and or carrots to the bed. Potatoes don't need the raised bed, but do need some space if you're looking for quantity. You'll need about a 2-3' x 10' bed to get a nice yield. Our beds are 30' long and we fill one with potatoes. We grow Yukon Gold and Red Pontiacs. I second the notion of beans, especially pole beans. Our favorites are Blue Lakes. For squash we grow delicatas, though they had a virus hit the main seed crops and are in short supply last year. Bummer. Another super easy green to grow is swiss chard. Very tender and tasty.
  21. tjg911

    tjg911 Member

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    Well the answer to that question is "what you like the most because it's a very limited space". Based upon your original choices some of those are possible, see below.

    For me, I'd have to say a couple of tomato plants because I love them, some carrots, parsley, lettuce/mesclun and swiss chard because these don't use much space and I can crowd them in between other things, a mini cabbage about 2 pounds at maturity and pole beans because they produce vast amounts of food all season.

    If you had the 4 X 8 bed for tomatoes, pole beans and cukes on the same trellis and 1 or 2 butternut squash that were allowed to grow out onto the lawn (these are vines that will grow to 12' long with 2 -3 fruits per vine) you could grow other things in containers. Eggplant, peppers would work. Yellow squash and zucchini may but they have extensive root systems and I don't think it'd work but I am not aware whether it has or has not been done. Tomatoes also have long roots and can be grown in a 5 gallon container but the yields are reduced and fruits are perhaps a bit smaller so in adddition to watering them each day I stopped and went back to the garden.

    Tom
  22. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I second tjg's suggestions, both on letting the squash grow out into the lawn, as well as using a trellis to get more vertical use out of your limited space.

    Here's a photo of my garden from last summer. Note that the tomato plants are in standard tomato cages while the pole beans and peas (foreground) are growing up a trellis made of bird netting suspended from a thin steel cable. You save lots of bed space with a trellis, since most of the plant's mass is growing vertically. You can do the same with most squash (though not zuccini), cukes, etc. Trellised plants do create shade, however, so you need to put them in a place where they won't shade other plants--or shade plants that can take it.

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  23. tjg911

    tjg911 Member

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    nice garden eric and all good points.

    tom
  24. Webwidow

    Webwidow Member

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    Eric I am duly impressed with your fine looking garden. Last year was my 1st year for a garden in the new house. 10x10 raised bed.
    Dreamed of fresh salsa last winter. Now planning additional flower beds.
    My garden:
    Lots of tomatoes, never enough 'matoes. :coolsmile:
    Carrots :coolsmile:
    Bush beans :down: I think it got too hot and someone didn't water enough
    Peppers never matured :sick:
    Swiss Chard
    Japanese Eggplant :) my best crop
    mixed salad greens :)
    Basil & Cilantro in the flower bed
  25. colsmith

    colsmith New Member

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    Forget the potatoes. You need a lot of space to grow enough for any real purpose, and they are fairly cheap at the store and, IHMO, not that much better homegrown. Grow tomatoes for sure, the taste difference with homegrown is so extreme. Also, if you grow cucumbers, squash, and zucchini all near each other, you could be quite devasted by cucumber beetles and/or squash vine borers. I would say grow cucumbers, and count on some gardening friend to give you zucchini. :) Grow some greens, like spinach or lettuce, intermixed with radishes, unless you hate radishes. They grow quickly, and after they are harvested then the tomatoes grow bigger and take up the space they were in. If you are in the northwest, you don't have such hot summers, so things like peas, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach, etc. (cool season things) will do well for you. Everything you listed except maybe potatoes like the hot hot sunny weather, which I think you don't get that much of. I could be confused, but someone said you were in the northwest.

    Also, if you like herbs, dill and cilantro are really simple to grow and attract bees to pollinate your other crops plus other good bugs. If you stick a few marigolds around the edge of the bed, or onions, or nasturiums, that will help to repel bad bugs. Nasturiums are pretty and you can eat the leaves and flowers. Cilantro seeds are coriander, by the way, and all of the things I mentioned in this paragraph are easy to save seeds from for the next gardening season. That helps save money, too.

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