Author Topic: How to start a garden  (Read 3760 times)

BallardStubble

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How to start a garden
« on: February 28, 2016, 01:11:27 PM »
There are resources online for getting started, but are there any experienced veggie gardeners out there? I live in a high-desert climate with hot summers (around 100F+) and cool winters (around 10F and below). I'm hoping to use the side of my house which sees sunlight 4 hours each day (shrubs and the house block either side). How do I get started? What other info do you need to know? I saw a thread on the forums on gardening, but it was mainly focused on garden improvements, not getting one started.

RetiredAt63

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Re: How to start a garden
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2016, 01:55:22 PM »
If it is gardening, we will talk about it  ;-)  (over on Throw Down the Gauntlet).  I can't help because my gardening situation is totally different, but someone over there might be able to.

Thinkum

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Re: How to start a garden
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2016, 02:00:19 PM »
For you, in such harsh conditions, you will have to find veggies/herbs that grow in that sort of environment. Then you will have to assess whether or not your soil is good for growing what you want to grow.

In my situation, Texas soil, north Texas in particular, has a lot of clay and limestone. Not a good soil for most veggies. So instead of conditioning my soil, i opted for a raised garden bed. This might be a viable solution for you too.

I would try to to find some information about your local area and go to nurseries and talk to the staff. They are usually very helpful.

Axecleaver

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Re: How to start a garden
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2016, 03:32:12 PM »
You typically need six hours of full sunlight at a minimum. But less sun means some protection from the summer heat. Might work out. I recommend things that love the heat, such as basil, tomatoes, and peppers. Greens must be grown in spring/fall, buy a bunch of different seeds and mix them together, then plant a thimble full a week. They take about 6-8 weeks to mature.

Radishes are a good beginner crop, you can harvest them in 14 days. Use the radish greens in a salad or saute them in olive oil and garlic like spinach.

There are some great online resources available, squarefootgardening.org is a good place to start. Plant things you like to eat, don't go too big to start or it becomes too much work, and make some mistakes. You'll be hooked in no time.

RetiredAt63

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Re: How to start a garden
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2016, 04:53:30 PM »
I just found the garden blog of someone in Albuquerque - it might have some useful ideas.
http://albuquerqueurbanhomestead.com/about/

Kaydedid

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Re: How to start a garden
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2016, 05:05:06 PM »
Check out square foot gardening-it's a really nice, scale-able way to start. 
Pick a couple of things that you already like to eat. 
Buy a couple of plants or plant something like green beans (bush) that you can plant directly in the ground.  Try to diversify a little-don't just stick to one crop.  Flowers are nice in veggie gardens too!
Expect to have some plants die every year-even the most experienced gardeners lose plants, and it's a valuable learning experience.
+1 to checking out other gardeners in similar climates for tips.
Start small, and work your way up as you learn more!

Thegoblinchief

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Re: How to start a garden
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2016, 07:45:32 PM »
How much space are you talking? What do you want to attempt growing? My climate is pretty different but I can suggest some specific cultivars that are widely adapted.

Average rainfall? Average frost-free days? (Dave's Garden has a tool to look up frost-free days.)

Have you dug a few holes at least one shovelful deep in the area? You want to get a sense of the soil you've got.

Any irrigation restrictions?

In general with hot climates you want to ride the shoulder seasons as much as possible. In other words, plant as early as possible so that harvest is achieved before the dead heat comes. Depends on exactly how hot, for how long, it gets. With arid climates, avoid raised beds. If the existing soil in the garden area is crap, excavate and backfill. Then add mulch over top to shade the soil and retain moisture.

There's an independent breeder who develops specifically for a high desert who sells seeds for a few species quite reasonably. Look up Joseph Lofthouse.

ooeei

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Re: How to start a garden
« Reply #7 on: February 29, 2016, 06:15:28 AM »
You typically need six hours of full sunlight at a minimum. But less sun means some protection from the summer heat. Might work out. I recommend things that love the heat, such as basil, tomatoes, and peppers. Greens must be grown in spring/fall, buy a bunch of different seeds and mix them together, then plant a thimble full a week. They take about 6-8 weeks to mature.

Radishes are a good beginner crop, you can harvest them in 14 days. Use the radish greens in a salad or saute them in olive oil and garlic like spinach.

There are some great online resources available, squarefootgardening.org is a good place to start. Plant things you like to eat, don't go too big to start or it becomes too much work, and make some mistakes. You'll be hooked in no time.

Be careful with tomatoes, they do need a slightly cool period (~<80F) during the night or they won't be able to fertilize and set fruit.  Living in Houston my tomatoes were out of commission for most of the summer last year.

ooeei

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Re: How to start a garden
« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2016, 07:44:47 AM »
OP, despite my warning above, I would encourage you to read up some on what to do then just dive in with minimal supplies.  Get 10 or so small plants from a local nursery your first year to avoid dealing with seedlings, and just try some stuff out.  I can get baby herbs, tomatoes, peppers, etc for $1.00 each here.  Even if they're $3 a piece (try to find somewhere cheaper though), just try some stuff out.  Don't get analysis paralysis and avoid getting started because you want everything to be perfect.  Learn by doing! And reading.  Dig up some ground, break it up, and plant some stuff!  Use containers and some commercial potting soil if you'd rather.

If the first wave of plants dies off, get 5 more and try something different.  Maybe put some in containers if your soil isn't great. Rinse and repeat until SOMETHING survives.  Mint, chives, and oregano have always been solid tough to kill herbs for me.  It's going to be a max of $30-40 per failure, a pretty cheap lesson.  Don't worry too much about fertilizer, get some foliage centered fertilizer (nitrogen heavy) and use 1/2 strength to play it safe.  Don't fertilize if you don't want to.  Whether to use pest control is up to you, I have some family members who like Sevindust.  I garden purely as a hobby on my apartment balcony, so I just let the bugs eat what they will, and spray with a bit of soapy water occasionally if they're bad.  The first year, just focus on trying to grow some stuff.  Next year you can worry about yields, special varieties, organic fertilizers, etc etc.

MayDay

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Re: How to start a garden
« Reply #9 on: February 29, 2016, 08:14:20 AM »
Does your state have an ag extension department?  I am not familiar with gardening in your climate, but up north here, some of the best info is to google "Minnesota ag extension" and then whatever crop you want to know about. 

If you can't find basic info pertaining to your climate online, check your local library or local master gardeners association (although overall around here MG seems much more focused on ornamental planting). 

I will ditto the PP who said you will mostly be growing in the spring and fall, except for a few heat lovers like peppers that will go all summer long.  Again, google your area + when to plant ______ and you should find info. 

If you want to plant cool season crops like lettuce, spinach, etc, you may need to plant now or soon.

In terms of making your beds, what is growing there now?  If you want to make raised beds (necessary if you have very rocky or high clay soil) you can build the bed, layer cardboard, then cover with your new soil.  If you are going to plant right into the ground, you can probably get away with turning the soil, loosening it up, pulling out what grass (or whatever is growing there) you can, then weeding regularly the first season as more grass pops up. 

Fishindude

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Re: How to start a garden
« Reply #10 on: February 29, 2016, 08:23:16 AM »
I like my raised beds for ease of care and upkeep.
Gardening isn't rocket science.  Stick some seeds in the ground, keep it watered, keep weeds pulled and enjoy the harvest.
It's not quite that simple, but you will learn the details as you go.

100 Degree heat will be tough on plants.  You might even need a bit of shade over your plants, and keeping things adequately watered will be critical.
Anyplace that hot, might also have poor soils?   You may have to import some good soil or improve what is there?

Your best source of information, is jut talk to other folks in the area that are gardening.

bognish

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Re: How to start a garden
« Reply #11 on: February 29, 2016, 12:59:31 PM »
I do lots of veggies in Salt Lake City. 5000 ft elevation with July & August temps in the 90-100 range. I grow most of the same plants as my dad in CT, just different varieties.  Lettuce won't work in the summer, but is fine in the spring & fall.

My yard gets full sun for most of the day and very little natural moisture. The most important thing for this situation is to get your watering system dialed in and consistent. If you forget to water or go out of town for a week in July everything is cooked.  This doesn't have to be fancy, just a hose & spray will work for a small garden, but you need to be consistent. Early morning, pre sunrise is the best time to minimize excess evaporation, but not let bugs & fungus grow on wet plants overnight.

The other thing to worry about is late spring snows. The popular plants, tomatoes, basil & peppers, are sensitive to cold. The rule of thumb in SLC is to plant summer crops on Mothers Day, about mid May. You can start earlier, but one late snow and you either have to run around covering things or start over. Cold crops (lettuce, kale, potatoes) can usually be started from seed outside around St Patricks Day.

My first few years I would head to the local nursery mid-May and grab plants that looked fun or they recommended. Big box stores will sell the same plants at every store. The local nursery will focus on plants that are suited for your climate.

Altons Bobs

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Re: How to start a garden
« Reply #12 on: February 29, 2016, 01:25:04 PM »
I'm a novice myself, you may want to check out gardebweb at Houzz.

Thinkum

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Re: How to start a garden
« Reply #13 on: February 29, 2016, 02:14:03 PM »
A quick tip about no effort watering to keep those veggies alive and well. Use a soaker hose and a timer. I left my garden for a few days and worried about my veggies. With the time/soaker set-up, they did really well in my absence. If I didn't like watering my plants, I would have used that on a daily basis. The timers are pretty cheap at Home Depot or online. Same with the soaker hoses. You can even set them up to water twice daily if needed.