Author Topic: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods  (Read 16977 times)

horsepoor

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Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« on: February 12, 2014, 03:37:36 PM »
I'm curious about gardening methods employed by people on this board, and hoping to get some money-saving ideas.  I like to DIY stuff, but also tend towards a more built-up veggie garden (raised beds, pavers and so on).  Please tell me about your veggie garden and whether it pays for itself.

My garden - still a work in progress.  I have 3 4'x12' raised beds and 2 4'x16' raised beds.  Planning to put in two smaller beds for more intensive growing a'la square foot gardening if I can find the time this spring.  Blueberry plants are currently in containers, and will be transplanted into a dedicated bed as soon as the ground can be worked this spring.

There are also 2 8x16' raised beds for perennial crops (berries, rhubarb and asparagus), and another area that is sort of informally planted with hops, a fig and a cherry, plus a couple fruit trees and a jostaberry along the back fence, though they are not producing yet. I also have a homemade lean-to greenhouse that is 8x11'.  This will be the first spring that it will be in full operation, and I'm hoping it can give us a good jump on the season with greens and radishes and things in early spring.

As far as running the garden, I'm hoping to get a pump this spring so I can start taking advantage of irrigation water instead of paying for city water.  I start most seedlings in the basement under standard shop lights, then move them out to the greenhouse, saving about a month's worth of lighting cost.

Most soil amendments are free.  I've gotten 12-yard loads of horse manure/hay delivered in exchange for some canned goodies and homegrown eggs.  That gave my soil a good base, and now I have the stable owner load my pickup and do smaller volume compost loads.  My neighbors have also been happy to have me take big bags of leaves off their hands in the fall, and kitchen scraps and chicken poop also contribute.  Basically all I buy is Miracle Grow for starting seedlings.

For tomato cages, I invested in a 150' roll of CRW mesh, which made about 20 heavy duty 6' tall tomato cages.  The CRW is also good for trellising certain things, such as green beans.  My other favorite hack is using electrical conduit.  I use it for the uprights on trellises, then drill an appropriately sized hole partway through a piece of 2x4" so it fits snugly on top of the electrical conduit.  That makes a sturdy frame, which can support twine, CRW or bird netting, depending on the kind of plant you want to support.  The electrical conduit can also be bent into 1/2 circles, which are great for making low tunnels. I covered most of my beds with bird netting this way last summer to keep both the birds and my dogs out of the beds.  Of course they could support season-extending plastic or other row covers as needed.

Lastly, excess slats from vinyl mini blinds make great plant markers.  They're easily cut with scissors to whatever size you need, and can be written on with sharpie marker.  They can also be hole-punched, so it's easy to tie them onto my tomato cages or wherever else they're needed.  I pretty much have a lifetime supply from just shortening a couple blinds to the proper length.

happy

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2014, 07:56:02 PM »
Raised beds etc are expensive here if you buy them, and I'm not very handy. I decided by the time I worked out how to make my own, I might never get to growing veges.  So no raised beds.  My latest discovery is that corflute (sort of plastic cardboard) is easy to fashion into low borders/edges, can be pulled out and reassembled according to need and can be got for free. (here electrical wholesalers usually have some from packing).

I have a few polystyrene boxes close to the house that I use to grow some things from seed e.g. currently chives, lettuce, basil. These things don't grow well from seed in the vege garden as they get eaten at a young age. Boxes free, came filled with bulk lamb.

Again I made my own netted enclosures to contend with the wildlife ( wallabies, possums, bandicoots, birds etc).  I didn't want to invest in expensive structures, so I used 6 foot tomato stakes, which I lashed together with string ( uprights with cross beams at the top), using good ole squarelashing from my girl guide days. Covered same with bird netting. Initially I made a "door " with shade cloth at one end, but discovered it was very easy just to duck under the net and now just use net. Main cost was bird netting about $30 for a huge amount (still going).  It looks quaintly rustic, and can easily be pulled down or altered. Despite apparent fragility, the oldest section has been up for 3 years and withstood the weather/storms no worries.



Milspecstache

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2014, 08:50:57 PM »
I built on some of the last buildable land around here and barely at that, lots of wetlands with poor drainage.  That means to do a garden I need to do raised beds.  Last year I built raised beds out of cedar fence panels but it was a lot of work and they will probably rot in a few years.  Then I saw a youtube video which claimed old railroad ties are suitable as the creosote is well flushed and won't affect vegetables.  So this year I am adding a couple more raised beds out of RR ties.

I am with you on the irrigation and plan to install my own shallow well for water as that will give me an additional, closer well source than my existing well.  Plus I believe I can do it myself and will only need to go 10' or more to get suffficient water.  Would like to put in a hand-pump but haven't made that decision yet.
Method I'm planning on using:
http://www.drillyourownwell.com/

I also do the Back to Eden style of gardening using cardboard and mulch.  Has really cut down on the work to maintain a garden and orchard/vineyard/etc.

What is CRW?

soccerluvof4

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2014, 03:12:53 AM »
I want to start by building 4 raised planting beds this spring and was either going to use RR ties or Green Treated 4x4. I have to build on a slope so really have no choice.  If anyone has any ideas or links let me know please. Also as to whats the sturdiess best mistake proof for the brown thumb! haha. Live in the midwest and pretty much love all veggies so whats the easiest. Dont want corn. I am also going to build a mesh fence around each one.

horsepoor

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2014, 05:36:54 AM »
CRW= Concrete reinforcing wire.  Basically heavy duty mesh on 6" squares.

markstache

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2014, 09:02:29 AM »
Honest question: why are people so interested in raised beds? We just turned over the section of yard and started planting. Other than dumping our compost pile on top and turning again in the spring, we aren't great about amending the soil. We've had good yields on some plants but not others. I suspect these results have more to say about our plant selection and weeding habits than the soil, but I could be wrong.

ArcticaMT6

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2014, 09:10:16 AM »
Raised beds etc are expensive here if you buy them, and I'm not very handy. I decided by the time I worked out how to make my own, I might never get to growing veges.  So no raised beds.  My latest discovery is that corflute (sort of plastic cardboard) is easy to fashion into low borders/edges, can be pulled out and reassembled according to need and can be got for free. (here electrical wholesalers usually have some from packing).

I have a few polystyrene boxes close to the house that I use to grow some things from seed e.g. currently chives, lettuce, basil. These things don't grow well from seed in the vege garden as they get eaten at a young age. Boxes free, came filled with bulk lamb.

Again I made my own netted enclosures to contend with the wildlife ( wallabies, possums, bandicoots, birds etc).  I didn't want to invest in expensive structures, so I used 6 foot tomato stakes, which I lashed together with string ( uprights with cross beams at the top), using good ole squarelashing from my girl guide days. Covered same with bird netting. Initially I made a "door " with shade cloth at one end, but discovered it was very easy just to duck under the net and now just use net. Main cost was bird netting about $30 for a huge amount (still going).  It looks quaintly rustic, and can easily be pulled down or altered. Despite apparent fragility, the oldest section has been up for 3 years and withstood the weather/storms no worries.

If you have a powered screwdriver and a hand saw, you can make raised beds pretty quickly.

You can buy construction lumber (Here it's 2x6's or 2x12's, for you it would be somewhere around 40mm x 150mm or 40mm x 300mm) and only need to make 1 or 2 cuts per bed. If you take the standard length it comes in (usually 8' here 2.4m for you), you would need 3 pieces per bed. 2 will go uncut for the long sides, and the remaining one will just be cut in half for the shorter sides. Screw in 3 or 4 screws per end just by butting them up together and call it a day.

Make sure you do not buy pressure treated wood though.

Milspecstache

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2014, 09:16:24 AM »
CRW= Concrete reinforcing wire.  Basically heavy duty mesh on 6" squares.

Hmm, never heard it called that.  Instead, WWM = welded wire mesh.  I made a gate using that and rebar a few weeks ago for goats.

Milspecstache

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2014, 09:19:30 AM »
Honest question: why are people so interested in raised beds? We just turned over the section of yard and started planting. Other than dumping our compost pile on top and turning again in the spring, we aren't great about amending the soil. We've had good yields on some plants but not others. I suspect these results have more to say about our plant selection and weeding habits than the soil, but I could be wrong.

My property has insufficient drainage.  The first year we just did a regular garden with rows and everything rotted because of the dampness.  Alternatively I could have brought in sand and then covered with topsoil but raised beds were preferred as it helps with the back, too (you can kneel/sit easier).

horsepoor

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2014, 09:59:07 AM »
Honest question: why are people so interested in raised beds? We just turned over the section of yard and started planting. Other than dumping our compost pile on top and turning again in the spring, we aren't great about amending the soil. We've had good yields on some plants but not others. I suspect these results have more to say about our plant selection and weeding habits than the soil, but I could be wrong.

Several reasons:  It gives me a clearly delineated area in which to add soil amendments, and plant intensively.  The paths between get no water, so water use is effficient and weeding between beds is minimal to non-existent.  The sides of the beds hold mulching material in place, and they're also a useful framework for holding up trellises and hoops.  Also, as mentioned, don't have to bend down as far to reach the soil.  It never gets walked on, so there are no compaction issues.  I really wanted to edge all my beds with 6x6" juniper timbers, because they are comfortable to kneel on, making it even easier to work the garden. Unfortunately, my source for the timbers quit carrying them last year, so I only have one bed with this edging and the rest are 2"x8"s.

Milspestache, not sure if it's the same as what you used or not.  The CRW/remesh is used for concrete work, and is more rigid than the stuff usually used for fencing, but it does rust since it's not galvanized.

Miamoo

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2014, 10:48:51 AM »
Honest question: why are people so interested in raised beds? We just turned over the section of yard and started planting. Other than dumping our compost pile on top and turning again in the spring, we aren't great about amending the soil. We've had good yields on some plants but not others. I suspect these results have more to say about our plant selection and weeding habits than the soil, but I could be wrong.

Markstache -  as you can see there are a variety of reasons for using raised beds.  The only space set aside for gardening in our yard - as we found out after picking out a ton of gravel - was at one time a parking lot for when this place was a 2-flat.  Between jobsite leftovers and Habitat Re-Store DH has built us (8) 4x5 raised beds for maybe . . . $25.   Also, added benefits are the many reasons horsepoor stated so eloquently!!!!

Miamoo

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2014, 10:51:13 AM »
Another PS . . . we call it WWM (for welded wire mesh) here too.  Used in slabs and some walls.

Rural

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2014, 12:22:34 PM »
Honest question: why are people so interested in raised beds? We just turned over the section of yard and started planting. Other than dumping our compost pile on top and turning again in the spring, we aren't great about amending the soil. We've had good yields on some plants but not others. I suspect these results have more to say about our plant selection and weeding habits than the soil, but I could be wrong.

There are a lot of advantages to planting in beds in terms of having set paths and avoiding soil compaction, for example. But unless there's a drainage problem or you have some difficulty reaching your beds, there's no real advantage to raised beds. In fact, in dry areas, they dry out more quickly. So it all depends on what you're looking for. I have done beds at ground level, double-dug and planted using French intensive principles. I had great luck even with things that often overheat in the south because the beds were nearly sunken and retained water well.

I'll be starting over this year now that our heavy construction is done. I'll be doing raised beds in areas where we stripped down to subsoil/bedrock (our atrium), because I'll need to add soil there. In other areas, though, I think the sunken beds make more sense here, and it means I don't have to find sides for the beds. I'll be going with 3 foot wide whatever I do, because I'm short and I've found 4 foot wide beds were very difficult for me to access --  I can barely reach the middle to weed or to harvest.

TrMama

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2014, 12:27:28 PM »
I use a system like this, http://thewisconsinvegetablegardener.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/rainguttergs.jpg

Each container has an old piece of t-shirt threaded through the bottom that hangs in the gutter and extends up into the soil. This makes the container self-watering. I've also built a tunnel over the plants using 12" piece of rebar hammered into the ground to anchor pex pipe supports in arches. Then the tunnel is covered with plastic deer mesh. The deer here are ravenous and my yard is very difficult to fence. In the winter I also cover the tunnel with clear plastic sheeting to keep the plants from rotting in the rain (PNW).

I use the containers because the only area I can protect from the deer that also gets some sun is in the backyard, which has crappy soil (think 6" of fill over bedrock) and is a flight of stairs above the only street access (ie. really difficult to get soil up there in any sort of quantity).

The plants grow like crazy in these pots and the only issue I have is protecting them from the bugs, who also seem to like veggies ;-)

I also plan to grow strawberries in towers made from milk jugs on the second story balcony this summer.

phred

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2014, 12:28:54 PM »
Raised beds are useful when your garden soil is of pottery-making quality

Miamoo

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2014, 12:43:10 PM »
I want to try this as well.  Reason being the last bit of unused 'garden-able' space I have is on the north side of the house and there's a slope toward my neighbors yard.  Don't want to and really shouldn't level and fill in that slope but can set and level the pallets (somehow) and I'm thinkin' move my strawberry plants over there.

http://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/pallet-gardening-101-creating-a-pallet-garden/

Has anyone else heard of or tried this?

ArcticaMT6

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2014, 03:10:07 PM »
I wouldn't use pallets strictly for the reason that they are either a) chemically treated or b) have a high chance of some nasty chemicals spilling on them. Same reason why I wouldn't use them in making projects for outside the garden (plus the nails will ruin tools).

I think you're better off buying construction grade lumber. Search craigslist and habitat for humanity re-store's for non pressure treated wood.

Miamoo

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2014, 10:10:17 AM »
ArcticaMT6 - She tells you to only use pallets marked "HT" which means heat treated.  So supposedly no chemicals used in treating.  Maybe something that was shipped on the pallets leached something?  No idea.  We pilfer the HT pallets from the loading dock dumpsters behind grocery stores.    If they're in a dumpster with a bunch of other crap they're fair game (as in not stealing as they've obviously not been set aside for return) to my way of thinking.  Still going to try it here.

How do the nails ruin tools?  Curious!?  What has your experience been?  Take the claw end of the hammer & pull 'em out.  What happened to you?  Please elaborate?

ArcticaMT6

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2014, 11:41:11 AM »
ArcticaMT6 - She tells you to only use pallets marked "HT" which means heat treated.  So supposedly no chemicals used in treating.  Maybe something that was shipped on the pallets leached something?  No idea.  We pilfer the HT pallets from the loading dock dumpsters behind grocery stores.    If they're in a dumpster with a bunch of other crap they're fair game (as in not stealing as they've obviously not been set aside for return) to my way of thinking.  Still going to try it here.

How do the nails ruin tools?  Curious!?  What has your experience been?  Take the claw end of the hammer & pull 'em out.  What happened to you?  Please elaborate?

Even though they have been heat treated, you generally don't know what they were used for transporting, hence me avoiding them. Personally, I'd rather spend a few bucks at the Habitat for Humanity store or on Craigslist instead of pallets, but that's me being overly cautions. My main reason for starting a garden this year is to keep it as natural as possible.

You don't necessarily see all nails. Some may have their heads cut off if they didn't go in properly, so if you try and cut through it, it will seriously mess up your blades. $20-30 circular saw/table saw blades add up.

If you want to use them, go right ahead. Those were my reasons for not using them, and just sharing a counter argument to the constant "ZOMG USE ALL THE PALLETS FOR EVERYTHING!" mentality that's been sweeping, no... swiffering, the internet/pinterest in the last few years.

Miamoo

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2014, 01:27:44 PM »
LOL.  Thanks for that reply.  Didn't realize there was a pallet craze swiffering the www.  Darn it.  Thought it was something new and different.  Guess there really is "Nothing new under the sun".

little_owl

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2014, 01:17:03 PM »
I want to start by building 4 raised planting beds this spring and was either going to use RR ties or Green Treated 4x4. I have to build on a slope so really have no choice.  If anyone has any ideas or links let me know please. Also as to whats the sturdiess best mistake proof for the brown thumb! haha. Live in the midwest and pretty much love all veggies so whats the easiest. Dont want corn. I am also going to build a mesh fence around each one.

I have made 5 raised beds our of RR ties on our backyard hill, exactly the same as you want to do.  RR ties are cheap and robust, but they are heavy.  My beds usually end up being 4 RR ties tall on the downhill side.  I then dig into the hill and level the area just where the ties are going to lay - I don't dig up the whole bed area (this saves you money on dirt).  Once you get the first layer of ties down and leveled, then the rest go on as fast as you can lay them down.

A nice trick is that you don't need as many layers of ties on the uphill side.  Maybe only two or three layers.  It still ends up looking like there are four layers, just that you buried them in the hill side (too much work for me to dig down that deep).  I make mine into rectangular boxes that are one tie in length and the half a tie in width.  I use an electric chainsaw to cut them in half and it works quite well.  All I need to do to secure them once the whole thing is stacked is to screw in a cheap 90 degree angle bracket at the corner of each layer.  I don't even bother bolting the various layers together - I weigh 200lbs and can jump all over from one bed to the next and the ties don't even budge with the dirt in them.  I also staple landscape fabric around the inside before putting dirt in to keep it off the ties

The biggest challenge is getting them from the driveway to the dig site.  Some of the better ones weigh over 200lbs.  I'm a bodybuilder so the easiest method for me is to just carry them - ruined two wheelbarrows trying to cart them over.  If you can pull it off, it really impresses the neighbors to see you walking around with a full sized RR tie in you hands :)


phred

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #21 on: February 15, 2014, 01:22:01 PM »
save the cost of those angle brackets.  Flatten a tin can, bend it in half to a 90 degree.  Drive the nail thru the can and into the wood

little_owl

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #22 on: February 15, 2014, 01:28:08 PM »
save the cost of those angle brackets.  Flatten a tin can, bend it in half to a 90 degree.  Drive the nail thru the can and into the wood

Dude they cost 99 cents at the local hardware store.  You would need 16 cans per bed which would end up costing even more.  I use screws, not nails though.

phred

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #23 on: February 15, 2014, 02:31:39 PM »
how so?  Just take them back out of the recycling bin

wordygirl

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2014, 10:12:09 PM »
Because I live in the "pacific northwest" region of North America, my gardening Bible is Solomon's "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades".

We are on rocky territory here in post-glacier-land and topsoil was minimal. I successfully built up some lovely soil using a lasagna method. In fall, I layered cardboard, compost (even the not-finished stuff), and anything else I could think of that would rot, including tons of leaves. By spring I had some really nice soil, not mature yet but good enough to grow some veggies. I plant cover crops in winter and do a bit of layering and so far, so good. I think you need a mild and wet winter climate (which we definitely have here) - freezing halts the breakdown process I would think.


horsepoor

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2014, 08:32:15 PM »
This year, I am experimenting with seed mats.  They are the cheapest possible paper towels, with the 2-ply split into 1-ply for the smaller seeds like carrots.  Seeds are then glued on with Elmer's school glue at appropriate spacing.  I'm hoping that these will make succession planting more streamlined.  Just throw the mat down in an empty spot, sprinkle soil over, water, and wait for seedlings to pop up.   I put several down in the in-ground greenhouse grow bed last weekend, and am hoping to see some sprouts soon.

This weekend I'm planning to top dress the raised beds with composted horse crap, which will make way to put the blueberry bed where the pile currently sits.


Nancy

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #26 on: March 14, 2014, 08:34:44 AM »
I've started my broccoli seedlings. Has anyone made their own row coverings? I'd like to protect the broccoli, but I'd rather not purchase row covers (unless I have to). What do you think?

peppermint

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #27 on: March 14, 2014, 03:46:00 PM »
I am a novice gardener and moved into a place with 3 raised beds with winter debris. I want to clean it out and plant veg for spring this weekend... ideas for what to add to the soil? I'm in central North Carolina.

Thanks :)

reginna

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #28 on: March 14, 2014, 05:03:35 PM »
Raised beds are useful when your garden soil is of pottery-making quality

+1. Adobe bricks are made of this.

horsepoor

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #29 on: March 14, 2014, 08:27:53 PM »
I am a novice gardener and moved into a place with 3 raised beds with winter debris. I want to clean it out and plant veg for spring this weekend... ideas for what to add to the soil? I'm in central North Carolina.

Thanks :)

Since you want to plant immediately, you could add:

Finished compost
Rabbit poop

You won't want to add uncomposted chicken/horse/steer manure because it would be too "hot" and burn the plants. 

If you look on Craigslist, there are usually ads looking to have people take away their composted manure for free or very cheap. Then, build yourself a good compost pile so you'll have lots of your own organic matter to add to the beds later on.

FIRE2034

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #30 on: March 15, 2014, 06:23:09 AM »
You guys are inspiring me! 

Last year I did one 4x4 bed with tomatoes (got a lot) and one 4x4 of strawberries (didn't get a single berry).  My kids were totally overwhelming me, so I didn't put much effort into it.

This year they are slightly more manageable (3, 3, and 4 years old), so I am adding in a 4x8 for beans, peas, cucumber, and some lettuce.  I am also going to randomly plant watermelon and cantaloupe vines in our "landscaped" beds around the house.  My husband is also going to build me one for 4x4 to plant some raspberries in.  I don't want to plant more than I can care for.

I filled my 4x8 with our kitchen compost and some purchased mature manure/compost mix.  I will have to buy more for the raspberries.  We have a creek outside our fence that I am going to haul water from.  I might invest in a rain barrel to harvest the run off in our gutters as well. 

Though it isn't very mustachian, I think I am also going to utilize the sprinkler system to water this year.  My kids just don't always let me get out there as often as I need to water.  Their "help" usually ends up hurting the plants.   Maybe this year will be better, though.

Any tips for a new gardener with too many little kids?


plantingourpennies

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #31 on: March 15, 2014, 07:05:13 PM »
Raised beds are useful when your garden soil is of pottery-making quality

Or of beach sand quality, shells and all.  I had a raised bed in a community garden that did well, tried modifying ground soil with pretty sad results, and am now mostly just growing in a handful of pots inside our screened lanai.  Plan on adding more pots slowly over the years.

horsepoor

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #32 on: March 15, 2014, 10:45:00 PM »

Any tips for a new gardener with too many little kids?

Turn one of the raised beds into a sandbox?

Rural

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #33 on: March 16, 2014, 05:01:40 AM »
Cheap seed source: Dollar General. I came home with Swiss Chard, radishes, spinach, cilantro for 25 and 50 cents a package. The offerings are limited, but I fed us almost completely on what DG sold one year -- they seem to germinate as well as more expensive seeds.

They're not organic, but my 4th generation will be. :-) I did that before, saved seeds from those DG-origin plants, and had just gotten to the fourth gen when we moved here to a construction zone. Haven't had a garden in five years, so I'm mostly starting over. I'll test my saved seeds and see what germinates, but I don't expect much.

TrMama

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #34 on: March 18, 2014, 02:47:20 PM »
Any tips for a new gardener with too many little kids?

Make them each a watering can out of a yogurt container with a few small holes poked in the lid. Then they can "water" without damaging much. Tell them they each get only one container's worth of water.

Also, kids this age looooove water tables. Try to find a used one somewhere. Otherwise give them a big bucket of water and a few rinsed out yogurt containers. Put it as far as possible from the garden. They'll be out of your hair and if they decide to transfer water from the table to the garden, it won't do much damage and will wear them out.

Also, get a trampoline. Those are the best invention ever. They're like hamster wheels for kids.

horsepoor

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #35 on: March 23, 2014, 08:15:40 AM »
For sowing peas this time of year, I like to put them in a sandwich bag with a paper towel indoors for a couple days.  This way, the germination process begins before the seed has a chance to rot.  As soon as the seed root starts to emerge, plant outside as normal, and you'll get a much faster start than directly sowing into cold soil.  Looking forward to eating lots of sugar snap peas!

RetiredAt63

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #36 on: March 30, 2014, 05:20:49 PM »
I like to start my peppers early, since they are such slow growers.  The seed I had left from last year was germinating really poorly, so I put the rest in damp paper towel in a plastic bag, in my oven with the light on (for heat).  Oops.  I now have 34 plants potted up to grow on, wasn't planning on that many.  I will plant most (when the 3' of snow is gone) and give the others away.

horsepoor

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #37 on: March 30, 2014, 07:26:19 PM »
Thanks, I will have to try that with pepper seeds!  I thought I had poor germination from my saved bell pepper seed, but now they have all come up, and it's been, I think 3 weeks since I planted them, and even with a heat mat, they took their sweet time.  Oddly, the peppers have been slower than the eggplant this year, and usually it's the other way around.


RetiredAt63

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #38 on: March 31, 2014, 05:59:02 AM »
I like eggplant but have never grown it.  The sweet peppers are marginal in my climate, I have to be careful to get the early varieties.  Which one tends to bear first where you are? i.e. is there any hope for me?  I don't really start to get peppers until late August or early September, whereas I can have tomatoes by early August.

horsepoor

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #39 on: March 31, 2014, 06:09:12 AM »
Eggplants - you could probably grow some of the slender Asian variety eggplants.  I think Ichiban is a fairly early one.  They love heat, so you might have the best success if you can put them near a south-facing wall or something.  I actually had Japanese eggplants before I got any peppers last summer.

This variety is 70 DTM, for example:  http://www.rareseeds.com/ping-tung-eggplant/

RetiredAt63

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #40 on: March 31, 2014, 07:30:36 AM »
Thanks, those look yummy.  How early do you start them?

horsepoor

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #41 on: March 31, 2014, 09:13:42 AM »
I started mine about 3 weeks ago.  Our frost-free date is typically around May 15.

MayDay

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #42 on: April 04, 2014, 06:43:58 AM »
Quote from: markstache link=top=13685.msg219639#msg219639 date=1392307349
Honest question: why are people so interested in raised beds? We just turned over the section of yard and started planting. Other than dumping our compost pile on top and turning again in the spring, we aren't great about amending the soil. We've had good yields on some plants but not others. I suspect these results have more to say about our plant selection and weeding habits than the soil, but I could be wrong.

Better drainage (we have a wet yard and clay soil, I had to bring in topsoil regardless)
We are on a hill

If we were flat i would have dug beds but not used lumber.  My community garden plot I just dug in paths and shoveled the dirt from the paths onto the beds to raise them. It kept my tomatoes alive and semi disease free last summer when it rained for a month straight.

mrsggrowsveg

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #43 on: April 04, 2014, 07:15:55 AM »
We plant in a greenhouse and outside with raised beds.  The raised beds are easier to weed and have healthier soil because it doesn't get packed down.  We start most of our seeds indoors and then transplant them.  We also grow in hoop houses.  I have written about my gardening on our blog:  http://mrandmrsggrowveggies.com/category/garden/

Milspecstache

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #44 on: April 04, 2014, 05:07:32 PM »
We plant in a greenhouse and outside with raised beds.  The raised beds are easier to weed and have healthier soil because it doesn't get packed down.  We start most of our seeds indoors and then transplant them.  We also grow in hoop houses.  I have written about my gardening on our blog:  http://mrandmrsggrowveggies.com/category/garden/

Nice blog!  Love the pictures of your hoop houses as my raised beds look very similar to yours.  Will have to consider this next year.

markstache

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #45 on: April 16, 2014, 12:01:59 PM »
We made the upgrade to raised beds this weekend. We built the beds themselves out of old fence sections that we had from when our neighbor replaced the fence along our shared property line. We now have  48 sq ft by 11" of beds. We've filled about 6" with peat moss, compost, manure and vermiculite (we'll probably fill them up the rest of the way next year). My wife is reading up on square foot gardening, and hopefully the slightly easier layout and access will help us maintain weeding better this year.

mariejm

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #46 on: May 02, 2014, 08:03:42 AM »
Eliot Coleman is my garden guru, low cost and no chemicals - I started with The New Organic Grower and read the rest of his books. He is a small scale farmer and his methods apply to the backyard garden.

Rezdent

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #47 on: May 23, 2014, 08:00:01 PM »

Any tips for a new gardener with too many little kids?
Turn one of the raised beds into a sandbox?
+1
Also:
Plant extra for them.  Especially stuff that is fun for them like sunflowers.
Tolerate their clumsiness.
Don't push them past their attention span.  Let them help till they want to stop and then let em go play.
Enjoy them.  I once had a toddler that wreaked havoc on the garden (taking bites out of the middle of the broccoli while saying " I EAT plants!  Dinosaur! "   Aaaarrrggh!...stealing peas and hiding them in her diaper...WTF?).
She's 18 now and a much better gardener than I am.  Well worth the investment but at the time I would get so frustrated.

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #48 on: May 24, 2014, 08:25:10 PM »
My kids love to plant the seeds. Sometimes I lay them out and just have them poke them in. For things planted in rows, I have them spread the seeds and my older two can very easily use a hoe to cover them.

The small watering cans are a good idea. I will probably do something similar soon.

Generally, even small kids can weed effectively. My then 3 year old was quite diligent. I just told him to ask me if he wasn't sure. Raised beds help avoid trampling damage.

+1 for planting a few fun things. I'm doing sunflowers, corn, and pumpkins for my kids more than anything.

TforTennessee

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Re: Food DIY - share your veggie gardening methods
« Reply #49 on: June 05, 2014, 11:23:05 AM »
I used to mess with tilling and raised beds until I read a book called Weedless Gardening:
http://www.amazon.com/Weedless-Gardening-Lee-Reich/dp/0761116966

In short, this style of gardening leaves the natural strata of the soil intact, preserving pathways for oxygen and nutrients that plants naturally exploit. It's a lot less work than "traditional" gardening in that all it requires is for you to smother weeds/grass/whatever grows where you want to garden and then plant directly into that smothering mixture once it's had time to kill the weeds.

I've used leftover grocery bags as a base, but it's a lot quicker to pick up a big roll of brown builder's paper from the hardware store and cover it with whatever you can find: straw, leaves, compost, etc. It's best to give it a couple of months to kill all the weeds, giving you pristine dirt to plant into

Repeat the process in the winter after every harvest and you're improving your soil as the years go by. Weeds never really have a chance to take root, so you waste minimal time keeping things neat and clean. This method also requires less watering because everything's mulched to the hilt.