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Gardening question

Post in 'The Green Room' started by timfromohio, Oct 26, 2009.

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  1. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Continuing...

    Colebrookman,
    I may need to do more testing, but it is really expensive here in MA - at least the only place I've found that does it is UMASS and they want something like $20 / test :bug: My home testing, which I did on the soil, but not the compost, showed that I was a bit on the acid side, and needed more basic stuff which is why I was doing the ashes... I may do something different with this years batch I guess.

    Project for this fall is to run more of my leaves / partially composted stuff through the shredder and fill the beds back up to the top, maybe a little over. When I filled them this spring they were up to the top, but they've settled about half way over the course of the year... I haven't decided whether or not I'm going to try to get some more "Llammadoo" from my bee supply lady to throw in the beds or not, probably wouldn't hurt if I did.

    I may try the fencing over the lettuce, and some of the other plants as you suggested. Part of it is a question of figuring out what both grows well and that the GF and I like to eat...

    Dboon
    I wish I could get testing for that little... It is really a pain that there don't seem to be reasonably priced alternatives in MA...

    Gooserider

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  2. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    Gooserider - if you're that far north I'd definetly recommend row covers, clotches, and maybe even covering the soil with black pastic in the Spring before you plant to help it warm up sooner. There's a great book called "Four Season Harvest" by Elliot Coleman - the guy lives in Maine and has incredible gardens. He uses moveable greenhouses - I know that way beyond what you're probably looking to do, but he has a lot of good ideas that are applicable to your situation since you both live up in similar garden zones. See if you can get it from the your library.

    I echo the recommendations to get a soil test - great idea.

    One other question - how much sun does your garden area get? It looks from the pics (nice beds btw) that it might be a bit shaded. I would think, especially up where you are, the more sun the better. You could always harvest some of those trees in the background!
  3. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I use raised beds, but they are not a solution to every problem. Here on my rocky, clayey, limestone-based soil we have excessive drainage, and raised beds only seem to accentuate the dry conditions. Another problem I have seen with raised beds occurs when sandy, light soil is piled on top of clay - this was a common situation in Baton Rouge. You'd hire a landscaper to plant shrubs, and they would plant them on a turtle-back mound of sandy soil over your native play. The sand dries out fast, so you'd water often, and the water would immediately sink down to the clay and keep it saturated all the time, so you shrubs would never root below the imported soil becaue the saturated, anoxic soil is unsuitable for most plants. After a few years, they would start to die as they got too large for the limited amount of soil available for them to root. By that time, you're convinced that they were planted properly and it must have been disease, your fault, etc. that resulting in the death of your plants.

    I am not saying that raised beds are a bad idea, just be aware that they don't solve all problems. Mine don't have anything holding up the sides. I like to be able to easily turn them over, change shape, etc. and sides make those things a little tougher. Also, I'd have to find material for the sides.
  4. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Well I could certainly do that black landscape fabric - I was thinking about that anyway for weed control, and if I layed it out early enough, it should help warm the soil, probably the row covers would help as well, just have to figure out what size to get that would work with my row layout.

    Will keep looking I guess, see if there are alternatives to UMass... I have friends in NH, maybe they can get testing done cheaper?

    It is on the shady side, problem is the GF likes the trees. There are also a lot of trees across the road that I can't touch because they are on town land... I would say that with the current situation, all of the garden gets at least a couple hours a day of full sun, and partial sun the rest of the time. Ironically though, the areas that I think get the most sun were among the ones that seemed to have done worst...

    Gooserider
  5. colsmith

    colsmith New Member

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    Gooserider, as for your onions, sounds like you planted them too deep. If not enough of the onion is above ground, they just do the green onion thing and the leaves grow a lot, but not the bulb. It has to be mostly out of the ground for a good sized bulb to develop. Could also be they didn't get enough sun. Onions love sunlight.

    As I said in an earlier post in this thread, Gardenweb is an excellent site for all sorts of gardening questions, whether about compost, tomatoes, fruit trees, whatever. They have a gazillion different forums. I recommend "Soil, Compost and Mulch" the most for raised bed info, but the vegetable forum is great, too. I learned a lot about growing and harvesting garlic and potatoes there and in the Allium forum. Then the Harvest forum is helpful with canning and preserving and things.

    http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/cornucop/ is the vegetable forum.
  6. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    I thought it was bizarre how high the onions are out of the ground the first year we grew them. We tripled out production of them this year because they are so easy and so good. When they are small, it seems you have to really stay on the weeds as they do seem to like sun. However, if you space the rows wide enough for your favorite cultivator, it isn't too hard to do. After they get going, we mulch with grass clippings and don't do much else other than consume them.
  7. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    Maybe I've been putting my onions in too deep as well. I've used purchased sets the past two years and was unimpressed with the size of the finished product.
  8. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    Tim, we use starts for the onions and barely cover the bottom with soil. We did white red and yellow this year. All seemed to do fine in clay with compost mixed in.
  9. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    The onions I was using, according to the tag were "yellow giants", 100-120 days to maturity, 3-4" diameter... They came in a cardboard tray looking like a batch of chives. I dropped the dirt and plants into a bucket of water in order to wash the dirt out and make the plants easier to pull apart. I planted them a couple of inches deep, on about a 4-5" grid pattern - stick finger in soil, drop plant in, cover, move a handspan over and repeat.
    I tried to stay reasonably on top of weeding them. I noticed that the green tops never seemed to get more than a few inches high at a time and then got kind of floppy and would just straggle across the ground.

    When I was harvesting yesterday, I would say average was less than an inch in diameter. Most of the bulbs were sticking out of the ground anywhere from 1/8 to 1/2 their diameter, (which surprised me, but I let them do their own thing...) and it didn't seem to make a lot of difference in the size about how far out they were...

    Gooserider
  10. dougstove

    dougstove Member

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    If there alot of skunks, it might mean alot of soil grubs. Around here, the skunks are thick but I like them because they eat the various june bug larva and other grubs that damage roots.
  11. Bobbin

    Bobbin Minister of Fire

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    The Garden Web is a wonderful resource. I've been a contributing member since 2001 and mourned the day Spike sold out to iVillage. The result of that transaction was a dive in the quality of participation and an overall "net loss" of valued members. Many treasured and valued professionals "submerged" never to resurface. Mercifully, I managed to cultivate something akin to "relationships" with some of them and know where to seek them out in related gardening forums.

    Several forums have remained relatively unscathed in the years hence, but the overall quality of the discussions has plummetted since the sale. You can time it; every ding-dong in the world turns up in May wondering when they should plant their bulbs...
  12. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    Hi Gooserider, you may want to get a soil test for nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. You can by an inexpensive kit, or pay $3-$5 for your local extension office to do one for you. The deficiency of one major nutrient could lead to really poor yields. Just a thought.
    For $20, you can buy a home test kit for Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorous. Wood ashes definitely help with the Potassium - add about 10 pounds/100 square feet/year. Other organic fertilizers can help with nitrogen and phosphorous - these are better than synthetic since they break down and release nutrients more slowly. You could also have a deficiency of trace elements - this is harder to test for. Dolomitic Lime (also counteracts acid soils) has a lot of trace elements in it. My soil is deficient in magnesium, so I add a little Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate) to counteract that - a half gallon per 1/4 acre is about all you need of that.

    Since I did the soil test and learned that my soil was deficient in nearly everything, I added some NPK fertilizers and corrected for missing trace element. I spread my wood ashes on my lawn and garden each year (these have a lot of trace elements also). My lawn is looking 2 to 3 times as lush as before, and my garden produces like crazy. It was well worth the cost of the kit.
  13. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the condolences and I apologize for interrupting the thread.
    I'm glad you carried on with it.
    Great exchange of information!
    My dad always said that a man isn't a man if he doesn't produce some of his own food.
    I toast, to you men.
    Kenny
  14. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    Kenny - don't apologize for interrupting the thread. We all here talking about gardening or woodburning, etc. - things that few of us probably do for a living and just really enjoy investing time in - your sentiments re-affirm my own determination in these kinds of activities - the stuff that really brings joy and richness to our lives.

    Gooserider - you could always make sure your onions from this year are dried out well, store them in mesh bags or something similar, and plant them again next year. It sounds like you have the equivalent of onions sets - they would likely pick up growing where they left off.

    SolarandWood-I'll try planting less deeply next year. It may also have been the source - I just picked up a couple of bags of sets at Lowes or HD. The quality was probably not the best. I've wanted to grow onion from seed, but in the gardening books I have that illustrate doing this, the onions are transplanted a couple of times and it looks like a lot of trouble, especially given the size of the onions. I already transplant all of the tomatoes, peppers, and herbs we grow from seed once from small dixie-cup size pots to larger ones and just didn't want to mess around with the onions.
  15. colsmith

    colsmith New Member

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    Onions from seed would work, but it takes a lot longer and more effort. Since onion sets are so cheap, I would say just buy them. Plants work well, too, but are a lot pricier than sets (the little onion bulbs, for those not in the know about how they are named).

    Gooserider, sounds like I guessed right, you are burying your onions and that makes the bulb not develop much. You should just place the set into the ground enough that it doesn't fall over when you water it. Even if you have a plant, just put the roots underground, not the bulb part. The bulb should be almost completely above ground when it develops.

    I know more about gardening than burning wood, because I have been doing it much longer. :)
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