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CHEEZball
Nov 23, 2006


This year is my first attempt at vegetable gardening! In containers on my porch as well. Anyone have any tips?

It's still too cold to actually do anything, but I'm trying to work out the details of what I can and can't do.

So far I have them broken down into pot types

Large Terracotta (or plastic) pots

Tomato and Basil
Cucumber which I'm going to try to grow with one of those tomato stakes and have a "cucumber bush"
Carrots

Trofts (roughly 8" high and 3' in length)
Assorted Herbs
Assorted Lettuce
Peas! I'm going to find some chicken wire and help the vines out with that

I'm not sure what else I can stick in the trofts

I might try those potato bags, if I can find them

My patio faces east, and gets some of the southern sun as well.

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kid sinister
Nov 16, 2002


is your patio covered? If not, you're going to have to water all those veggies every single day.

HeatherChandler
Jun 21, 2007

Is this turnout weak or what? I had at least 70 more people at my funeral.

CHEEZball posted:

This year is my first attempt at vegetable gardening! In containers on my porch as well. Anyone have any tips?

It's still too cold to actually do anything, but I'm trying to work out the details of what I can and can't do.

So far I have them broken down into pot types

Large Terracotta (or plastic) pots

Tomato and Basil
Cucumber which I'm going to try to grow with one of those tomato stakes and have a "cucumber bush"
Carrots

Trofts (roughly 8" high and 3' in length)
Assorted Herbs
Assorted Lettuce
Peas! I'm going to find some chicken wire and help the vines out with that

I'm not sure what else I can stick in the trofts

I might try those potato bags, if I can find them

My patio faces east, and gets some of the southern sun as well.

I've done container veg before, and as the previous poster said you will probably need to water every day--cucumbers and tomatoes even twice a day when fruit is setting. Be aware that terracotta is pourous and water will not stay as long so when it is very hot it will need attention, vegetables have higher water needs than flowers or plants you might normally use it for. They have stuff you can stick in the soil to keep the moisture longer, I don't know if it is appropriate for veg, never played with it. I mulch my pots, I have no idea if it is effective or not. You should also fertilize frequently, and look out for varieties specifically suited for container gardening. You won't want to stick some super extra large beefsteak tomato plant in a pot.

I already mentioned I like grow bags for lettuce--I've also done smaller varieties of tomatoes in them as well. You can get decent salad tomatoes that grow as a bush rather than a traditional cordon that needs more room and staked. If you like radishes you can do those in grow bags as well.

You can also do french beans or runner beans in large pots. Runner beans never seem to have caught on in the states, but they are easy, high yeild, delicious, and have pretty scarlet flowers. Anyway, since both grow tall on supports, they can be used to provide shade to more tender crops when it is hot.

CHEEZball
Nov 23, 2006


Patio isn't covered no, but I was expecting to water water water anyway since I'm in Saskatchewan. It's really dry here period :/

What would be good tomato varieties for in a pot? Something medium sized for sandwiches and salads?

anaemic
Oct 27, 2004



I don't know what the laws are regarding hose pipe usage in America, but in England for almost all of the year I get away with having an electric timer sitting below my tap like this which simply opens a valve for five minutes once or twice a day to water the garden automatically.
I keep a section of regular garden hose running from it above my most delicate plants, and I've blocked the other end of the tube and simply punched a number of holes into it above the plant area using a thumb tack.
takes the daily hassle out of watering your potted plants and is very easily upgraded to have multiple pipes running all over your yard, which can even be dug in slightly below the surface in beds and is far cheaper than spending loads of on on fancy sprinklers for a small garden.

edit: first timer had terrible reviews

anaemic fucked around with this message at 19:10 on Mar 1, 2009

madlilnerd
Jan 4, 2009

a bush with baggage

CHEEZball posted:

Patio isn't covered no, but I was expecting to water water water anyway since I'm in Saskatchewan. It's really dry here period :/

What would be good tomato varieties for in a pot? Something medium sized for sandwiches and salads?

Go for some hardier less thirsty types- look for types developed for/in climates such as Mexico, Turkey or Greece. Google tells of the fabled Purple Calabash Tomato, some utterly fugly purple tomato from Mexico that's supposedly fairly drought tolerant. If you don't water like clockwork, your tomato skins will split and you'll have tomatoes with little cuts all over them.

Vermiculite or water retaining gels can be put in containers or hanging baskets to help prevent water loss. If you insist on terracotta pots, get glazed ones (pretty expensive, so I'd go for plastic instead).

I finished digging over both of my vegetable beds today, and planted a row of garlic, two rows of leeks and a row of peas. Other things I'm growing this year are blue pumpkins, courgettes and possibly beetroot and tomatoes (my mum is more enthused about those two). Just got to finish the flowerbed now, so I can attract pollinating insects... oh the effort, I feel like I've dragged a 2 tonne truck this weekend!

Anubis
Oct 9, 2003

It's hard to keep sand out of ears this big.

Fun Shoe

anaemic posted:

I don't know what the laws are regarding hose pipe usage in America, but in England for almost all of the year I get away with having an electric timer sitting below my tap like this which simply opens a valve for five minutes once or twice a day to water the garden automatically.
I keep a section of regular garden hose running from it above my most delicate plants, and I've blocked the other end of the tube and simply punched a number of holes into it above the plant area using a thumb tack.
takes the daily hassle out of watering your potted plants and is very easily upgraded to have multiple pipes running all over your yard, which can even be dug in slightly below the surface in beds and is far cheaper than spending loads of on on fancy sprinklers for a small garden.

edit: first timer had terrible reviews

Do yourself and everyone in your neighborhood a favor and either buy a proper backflow preventer for your system or just water by hand. What you have created is basically a drip tube irrigation system and one of the potential problems is that certain diseases that live in the soil can travel up the hose and into the pipes in your house and from there could potentially even travel to your neighbors houses. It's hard to tell from your post if this thing is actually in a place that could get contaminated but it really is better safe then sorry and even if yours may be ok this might prevent someone else from doing something potentially dangerous.

If infection does occur it can get very nasty and very expensive for everyone involved, not even including the heath risk. It's also against the law in almost all areas to have that kind of setup permanently or semi-permanently in place without one. There are several types so here is a page to help you find out which kind you would need: http://www.irrigationtutorials.com/...-preventers.htm


So, in other news the green bean bush plants I started in a wooden planter with dirt from my garden and the leftovers from my seed package have sprouted great. On the other hand, the green beans, tomatoes and peppers I've planted in individual peat pod planters with potting soil has failed to sprout. The spinach is using the same potting soil and sprouted fine in the planters, so I'm going to guess that something is wrong with those peat pod planters. Guess I'll go buy some more regular window sill planters and just transplant the good old fashioned way, again.

Anubis fucked around with this message at 07:35 on Mar 2, 2009

jovial_cynic
Aug 18, 2005



Hey folks -

I've had fairly successful gardening experiences up in western Washington, and have a compulsive habit of documenting everything I do... so this might be useful to some folks:

http://www.newprotest.org/categories.pl?gardening

In order to add to the whole community-of-gardeners meme, I set up a "wildfood WIKI" that includes wild food as well as garden food, here:

http://newprotest.org/wildfood/inde...title=Main_Page

And lastly, I'm creating a handy gardening database that lets you easily track how when you grew an item, where it's growing (for people who forget to label their garden plots), when the plant sprouted, and when it was harvested, as well as any other notes you may wish to add to the thing you're growing.

http://www.newprotest.org/projects/farming/ (woefully under construction: I just started working on this today; it's currently only set up for MY data, but I plan to soon add a user login feature so you can record your own data, as well as view other peoples' data on similar plants.)

Feel free to browse around. I've been gardening for a few years now, and LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I don't think I live on enough land to go full subsistance, but I'll do the best I can.

HeatherChandler
Jun 21, 2007

Is this turnout weak or what? I had at least 70 more people at my funeral.

madlilnerd posted:

And forget eating dandelions- go for nettles instead! The young tips can be cooked just like spinach. Of course, they're also an excellent indicator of good soil quality too.
Forgot to respond to this, the very thought makes me cringe-I have really sensitive skin and like to garden in inappropriate clothes like dresses and bare feet--add this to a 250 square meters covered in nettles.

CHEEZball posted:


Patio isn't covered no, but I was expecting to water water water anyway since I'm in Saskatchewan. It's really dry here period :/

What would be good tomato varieties for in a pot? Something medium sized for sandwiches and salads?

They sell plants especially bred for containers, like 'Patio Prize'. The taste is better than a store bought but not the greatest as far as homegrown tomatoes go. It is reliable though. Any bush type would work, if you read about the seed and it describes the plant as 'determinate' that is a bush type. What I would do is try both specific container plants in 3-5 gallon pots and and a few others in 8+ gallon pots if you want to try something else. It is very possible with attention, but I know from experience that if you go away for the weekend and it is dry all those beautiful Ponderosas you stuck in a pot will suddenly be deformed.

I am planning to start my seedlings in a few weeks to be ready to go out as soon as the last frost date passes, and I am having a major heirloom seed picking crisis! I just can't decide, and have major space and budget restrictions. The farm I am buying them from recommended 'Hillbilly' and 'Chocolate Cherry' as two safe bets in this area, but I am overwhelmed by the rainbow of beautiful tomatoes. I just don't have the space anymore! I really hope I am not the only freak of nature that feels like I am in the most wonderful candy store when I look at tomato varieties.

madlilnerd
Jan 4, 2009

a bush with baggage

HeatherChandler posted:

I am overwhelmed by the rainbow of beautiful tomatoes. I just don't have the space anymore! I really hope I am not the only freak of nature that feels like I am in the most wonderful candy store when I look at tomato varieties.

Too many fricking seed companies, too many freaking varieties and I STILL couldn't find the varieties of anything that were recommended by "Gardening Which?". Seriously, I nearly burst into tears in the garden centre because there were far too many seed varieties.

jovial_cynic
Aug 18, 2005



madlilnerd posted:

Too many fricking seed companies, too many freaking varieties and I STILL couldn't find the varieties of anything that were recommended by "Gardening Which?". Seriously, I nearly burst into tears in the garden centre because there were far too many seed varieties.

Sometimes, you just have to determine your goals and then randomly pick some that fit your goals the best, and document how it turns out. Could be great. Could suck. But documentation will help steer you towards your goal.

For me, it's important that I pick seeds that will grow into plants that'll produce identical seeds. A lot of hybrids are either sterile, or they'll produce seeds from one parent type or the other, but won't produce the same hybrid type. That's not desirable for me, so I try to avoid the hybrids. A few years back, I bought some broccoli seeds, and I'm now on my third generation of broccoli from those original seeds. Every winter, I collect the seeds and immediately replant, and I should never have to buy broccoli seeds again. Same story with my radishes.

Ron_Jeremy
Sep 29, 2003


I've been container gardening for about 5 years now. Mostly tomatoes, herbs and peppers, with the occasional eggplant or something else funky just for shits and giggles.

Does anyone have an opinion on soil replacement when it comes to container gardening? My containers are reasonably large (18" x 18" x 4') and I really noticed a dropoff in production last year. Should I be looking at replacing all the soil, some of it, or sticking with the existing soil and getting better at my fertilizer selection?

madlilnerd
Jan 4, 2009

a bush with baggage

Ron_Jeremy posted:

Does anyone have an opinion on soil replacement when it comes to container gardening? My containers are reasonably large (18" x 18" x 4') and I really noticed a dropoff in production last year. Should I be looking at replacing all the soil, some of it, or sticking with the existing soil and getting better at my fertilizer selection?

You should definitely be replacing the soil and giving the containers a good clean with hot soapy water yearly. Not only does the soil lose nutrients fairly quickly, diseases build up in the soil, especially if you grow the same thing again and again. People who grow their favourite vegetable year after year in the same container and soil are going to run into some nasty projects in a few years.
At the very least you should be swapping round the family of plants you grow (legumes one year, then brassicas, then roots etc.) and mix in a fresh 2 inches of compost into the batch.

quote:

For me, it's important that I pick seeds that will grow into plants that'll produce identical seeds. A lot of hybrids are either sterile, or they'll produce seeds from one parent type or the other, but won't produce the same hybrid type. That's not desirable for me, so I try to avoid the hybrids
Yeah, F1's can be a pain, but I don't collect my seeds apart from broad beans so it's not generally a problem for me. Last year I bought the cheapest generic seeds from Wilkinson (Wilko Quality Brand!) and I got viable plants from every packet, except the swedes that got insta-slugged.

MikeD
Sep 29, 2001


Mnemosyne posted:

Food items in the bathroom grosses me out.

Haha, wait, are we to understand that your windowsill garden was on the inside of the window?

jovial_cynic
Aug 18, 2005



madlilnerd posted:

Yeah, F1's can be a pain, but I don't collect my seeds apart from broad beans so it's not generally a problem for me. Last year I bought the cheapest generic seeds from Wilkinson (Wilko Quality Brand!) and I got viable plants from every packet, except the swedes that got insta-slugged.

For those who don't know all the terminology (like me, who had to look it up), F1 refers to "filial 1," or the first generation from cross-bred parent plants.

An F2 hybrid is a cross of two F1s.

quote:

Although some of these F2 hybrids may show some characteristics of the F1 parents most of this generation of seedlings will not show uniformity and will have a range of varying characteristics displayed by the original and genetically pure Ďgrandí parents.

Here's the source article for the above paragraph and info:

http://gardenofeaden.blogspot.com/2...-f1-hybrid.html


Anyhow, I collect seeds because for me, gardening is about taking steps towards severing dependency on other people for my food. In the end, I don't view depending on the grocery store for peppers much differently than depending on a seed company for pepper seeds. But that's my own goal, and like I said -- I started out by picking seeds that aligned with my goals.

It should be noted that you can grow your own hybrids and create your own F1s, so I'm not entirely opposed to them. However, the sterile breeds (like seedless watermelons) are obviously not aligned with my goal.

jovial_cynic fucked around with this message at 22:48 on Mar 3, 2009

Mnemosyne
Jun 11, 2002

There's no safe way to put a cat in a paper bag!!

MikeD posted:

Haha, wait, are we to understand that your windowsill garden was on the inside of the window?

Um, yes, since that's what I wrote in my first post. It was 17 degrees (Fareheit) here last night. I'm pretty sure herbs aren't going to live through that so well.

TouchyMcFeely
Aug 21, 2006

High five! Hell yeah!



Jovial, can you discuss a bit about collecting seeds for later planting? Are heirlooms the prefered veggies to do this with, how do you collect and store the seeds, etc.

I always figured it was possible but for some reason always assumed it was difficult or not worth the trouble.

jovial_cynic
Aug 18, 2005



TouchyMcFeely posted:

Jovial, can you discuss a bit about collecting seeds for later planting? Are heirlooms the prefered veggies to do this with, how do you collect and store the seeds, etc.

I always figured it was possible but for some reason always assumed it was difficult or not worth the trouble.


As far as I recall, heirloom veggies are supposed to be documented or officially registered as such, making it a bit like a purebred or something in domestic animal breeding circles. However, there's nothing about being heirloom that denotes simplicity of seed collection. It just means that it's been done with that particular strain.

As far as simplicity goes, the easier the seeds are to access, the easier they are to collect, store, and replant. I mentioned broccoli and radishes because they form seed pods that dry up and sit there... like they were designed for us to just pick them, open them up, stick the seeds into baggies, and then stick into the dirt when we're ready. Pretty much the same thing with beans and peas.

Tomatoes, peppers, and other such plants are also fairly easy, because you have access to the seeds as soon as you have ripe fruit. They're a little more work than the broccoli and radishes, since you have to soak the seeds for 24 hours to get the slime off of them, and then dry them out (set them on a paper towel until they're dry) before you can store them.

Potatoes are easy -- you just take potatoes that are sprouting and them cut them into pieces (each with a sprout) and then stick them in the dirt.

Cilantro is super easy, because you don't have to do anything. It just drops the seeds in the dirt nearby, and those seeds grow the following season with no involvement on your part. They can take over after a few generations, though...

Carrots are harder. So is lettuce and cabbage, since the seeds are small and they're not conveniently packaged. I've never done those, but I plan to try and document my results.

So... there you go. The "preferred" are generally the "easy" ones. The more difficult ones are a pain in the rear end, so most people don't bother. But I'm willing to try, in order to jam the process into my philosophical model.

HeatherChandler
Jun 21, 2007

Is this turnout weak or what? I had at least 70 more people at my funeral.

MikeD posted:

Haha, wait, are we to understand that your windowsill garden was on the inside of the window?

Why is that weird? I've always grown herbs indoors on the sill, and my mother-in-law even manages cherry tomatoes indoors and small amounts of lettuce above the kitchen sink (huge windows and lots of lovely light, I envy it).

Ron_Jeremy: You really should be replacing, but if you have a lot of very large containers and money is an issue you could probably dig in some good fertilizer and rotate pots (don't grow the same type of plant in the same soil over and over). I do it with flowers, although they have less needs than vegetables. Only if you like, really can't replace.

jovial_cynic: Your organization is seriously enviable. The only time I ever collected any seeds I forgot where I put them.

jovial_cynic
Aug 18, 2005



HeatherChandler posted:

jovial_cynic: Your organization is seriously enviable. The only time I ever collected any seeds I forgot where I put them.

Forgetting where I put the seeds, and then forgetting where I planted the seeds was me, last year. What you see is a correction from last year's mistakes.

This is the first year that I've really gotten organized, and got books to learn more about crop rotation, crop pairings (what plants grow well together to ward off pests), etc., etc. And I like sharing, so I'm posting everything for other people.

madlilnerd
Jan 4, 2009

a bush with baggage

What's "bolting"? All the books I read tell me that with species like beetroot, leeks, carrots etc, I have to lift them out before they bolt. Is that when those species go to seed? So, if I wanted to collect leek seeds or whatever, I'd leave the a few leeks in the ground until they bolted... right?

The only seeds I've ever collected were sunflowers (put head in paper bag, shake), honesty (that plant that has flat circular seed pods), and pumpkin (eww, gooey!).

jovial_cynic
Aug 18, 2005



madlilnerd posted:

What's "bolting"? All the books I read tell me that with species like beetroot, leeks, carrots etc, I have to lift them out before they bolt. Is that when those species go to seed? So, if I wanted to collect leek seeds or whatever, I'd leave the a few leeks in the ground until they bolted... right?

The only seeds I've ever collected were sunflowers (put head in paper bag, shake), honesty (that plant that has flat circular seed pods), and pumpkin (eww, gooey!).

Bolting is when the plant goes to seed, generally prematurely, and often caused by extreme heat. Here's a quote I found:

quote:

Another explanation is that bolting occurs when a plant goes to flower and seed prematurely - ie before you can use the parts of the plant you really want to use! Coriander and lettuce are good examples, and are notorious bolters. Coriander will often bolt before you can get to harvest the leaves; lettuce will often bolt before a heart is formed.

Bolting is often related to weather conditions such as sudden changes in temperatures, very hot weather etc. It is also associated with transplanting - some plants object to it, and bolt as a protest. Parsley is an example. In short, it can happen to a plant under undue stress.

It's a phenomenon mainly associated with annuals, and in most cases it is a precursor of imminent death of the plant. A last-gasp attempt to reproduce before carking it!

GETCHA PAPER UP
Apr 16, 2003



I'm really excited that I have a yard and can finally grow a garden. I haven't had one since I lived at home 6 years ago. I'm ordering my seeds from the place my parents always get theirs, http://www.guthrys.com.

Here's the spread I've planned so far. Mostly going for variety. Zone 6, Central Kentucky.

Tendersweet Carrots: Good reviews and very popular.
Crimson Sweet Watermelon: These are like crack to me. Hit or miss in Kentucky though.
Sugar Snap Pea: Awesome veggies, planning on growing one double row on trellis.
Kentucky Wonder: Getting these seeds from home.
Tomatoes: Buying cheap hydroponic plants from the flea market.
Bell Peppers: Same.
Chili Peppers: Same.
Gotta Have It Sweet Corn: See below.
Honeydew or Cantaloupe: Haven't decided between the two yet. Seeds from home as well.
Sweet Success Cucumber: There are gynoecious, but come with seeds of a pollinator variety. I guess I need to plant the whole pack?
Early White Vienna Kohlrabi: Roommate requested these.
Magic Carpet Mix: Flowers to attract pollination.
Seashell Cosmos: Same.
Daisy Mix: Same.

I really want the sweet corn, but earlier in the thread someone mentioned you need a 10'x10' plot to make it work. I'm assuming I could do any 100sqft equivalent, but could I get away with a smaller patch? I haven't built my raised garden yet, but I'm afraid that will take up a lot of my space.

Any tips/suggestions/criticisms would be beyond appreciated.

madlilnerd
Jan 4, 2009

a bush with baggage

StoolBot posted:

I really want the sweet corn, but earlier in the thread someone mentioned you need a 10'x10' plot to make it work. I'm assuming I could do any 100sqft equivalent, but could I get away with a smaller patch? I haven't built my raised garden yet, but I'm afraid that will take up a lot of my space.

Any tips/suggestions/criticisms would be beyond appreciated.

Corn is wind pollinated so you have to plant in a block for it to produce large edible cobs. If you don't have enough plants or a big enough block, they just wont polinate properly. It's very hit and miss with a small patch, I had about 9 corn plants last year in a block although my mum says they produced cobs (I moved out so half my vegetables had to fend for themselves for 7 months), there was no mention of her eating any or if any edible cobs were made.

Corn is also not good value for money unless you're buying some weirdass super organic grown by nuns variety at a specialist health food shop for £5 a cob. It's bad premium for space too- I found it took up lots of light, water and space generally, although you could always try the 3 sisters planting method (it's been mentioned a couple of times here- corn provides support for beans and squash produces ground cover underneath to block light from the weeds).

GETCHA PAPER UP
Apr 16, 2003



madlilnerd posted:

Corn is wind pollinated so you have to plant in a block for it to produce large edible cobs. If you don't have enough plants or a big enough block, they just wont polinate properly. It's very hit and miss with a small patch, I had about 9 corn plants last year in a block although my mum says they produced cobs (I moved out so half my vegetables had to fend for themselves for 7 months), there was no mention of her eating any or if any edible cobs were made.

Corn is also not good value for money unless you're buying some weirdass super organic grown by nuns variety at a specialist health food shop for £5 a cob. It's bad premium for space too- I found it took up lots of light, water and space generally, although you could always try the 3 sisters planting method (it's been mentioned a couple of times here- corn provides support for beans and squash produces ground cover underneath to block light from the weeds).

I was planning to grow my pole beans with the corn. I see what you're saying though, I can run to the farmer's market or some guy on the side of the road and get all the corn I'd be able to grow for about $10. Thanks!

HeatherChandler
Jun 21, 2007

Is this turnout weak or what? I had at least 70 more people at my funeral.

Corn might not be cost effective, but it is so hard for a Maryland native to resist growing their own 'Silver Queen' when they are trapped in the midwest and can't find it anymore. The corn here tastes like chicken feed. I don't have room, but I considered trying hand-pollinating it. Does anyone have any experience doing that?

HeatherChandler
Jun 21, 2007

Is this turnout weak or what? I had at least 70 more people at my funeral.

Stupid question time: I finally ripped the carpet off the area I planned for my veg patch, it had been made into some weird makeshift putting green by the people who were here before. It is hard to explain without a picture, but the yard is a hill, and there was that one flat area on it, it is about 10 x 10 but shaped kind of like a baseball diamond if it were a baseball pentagon. Hard to explain without a working camera, but anyway. So I rip it off, and I am not sure what to think of the soil. At first I panicked because it seemed really, really sandy. However, under the inch of so of sandy soil it is clumpy and holds together like the clay soil I am used to. Is there such thing as soil that is sandy AND clay at the same time? Will it balance itself out or will I have the worst of both worlds?

For what it is worth I took advantage of the weather and dug in 300lb of compost, so it would have a few months to work in (I usually do it in fall). That was all I could manage to lug in a day by myself. I might do more in a few weeks.

HeatherChandler fucked around with this message at 00:50 on Mar 11, 2009

Zeta Taskforce
Jun 27, 2002



Just found this thread.

I bought a house last year and I plan on having a vegetable garden for the first time in a few years. A few years ago I had a small community garden plot, but had to give it up when I moved and my life got crazy. Iím in Boston, so its still early, but reading this thread and all the seed catalogues Iím getting, I canít wait to get my hands dirty.

I plan on using a strip of land between my house and my property line. It is about 30 feet long and about 15 feet wide, and slopes gently away from the house. I have big trees on other places in the yard, so this place is the least bad location. The pro is that it faces south west, and Iím in a valley so the soil is naturally rich and loamy. Another potential pro is I am trying to figure out the best way for my rain gutters to drain into a cistern or a series of plastic garbage pails that I will use for irrigation. However its an older house and the gutter on this side fell off so I will have to cough up some money soon to get it fixed. Another con is that Iím probably going to get 5 hours of direct sun right next to the house, further away perhaps 8 hrs direct with a couple more hours filtered light in the morning.

When I bought the house, along the foundation it was overgrown brush and below that was an overgrown lawn. I hacked away and chopped all the brush, but I still have to dig out the roots the best I can. I sprayed the grass with roundup last fall and under the cover of darkness got all the bags of leaves my neighbors but in those brown paper yard waste bags and mulched the entire area a foot deep. The grass is dying, the leave are partially decayed now, and I plan on digging some of them in and composting the rest. I have been throwing all my vegetable peelings, egg shells and used tea leaves in a corner of the yard all winter and plan on composting them when the snow melts and it warms up.

I want to grow a mix of things I will use throughout the summer and fall fresh and things that will store well with minimal processing like root vegetables, winter squash, and fresh and dried beans. Also, I grew a little bit of kale in my community garden a few years back and harvested the last plant in January, so I want to try that again.

I would appreciate any tips, especially with crops and varieties that store well and strategies for collecting all that rainwater without it turning into a mosquito love fest.

madlilnerd posted:

What's "bolting"? All the books I read tell me that with species like beetroot, leeks, carrots etc, I have to lift them out before they bolt. Is that when those species go to seed? So, if I wanted to collect leek seeds or whatever, I'd leave the a few leeks in the ground until they bolted... right?

The only seeds I've ever collected were sunflowers (put head in paper bag, shake), honesty (that plant that has flat circular seed pods), and pumpkin (eww, gooey!).

I know carrots and I think beets biennials, which means that you have to keep them in the garden until next year to get seed, or you might get away with harvesting the roots and planting some the following year.

kid sinister
Nov 16, 2002


HeatherChandler posted:

At first I panicked because it seemed really, really sandy. However, under the inch of so of sandy soil it is clumpy and holds together like the clay soil I am used to. Is there such thing as soil that is sandy AND clay at the same time? Will it balance itself out or will I have the worst of both worlds?

For what it is worth I took advantage of the weather and dug in 300lb of compost, so it would have a few months to work in (I usually do it in fall). That was all I could manage to lug in a day by myself. I might do more in a few weeks.

Naturally occurring sandy clay soil? Probably not. The previous owner put down that sand to help level the surface for his green. That's pretty standard practice. Actually, adding sand to clay is one method to lighten clay soils and makes root growth easier. Well, not all sand... Big grain sand can help lighten soil, whereas powdery sand can do the opposite.

You had the right idea about mixing in compost with the sand and clay. In fact, you'll probably have some kickass dirt for growing! Whether to add more compost or not is subject to how good the soil is now. The ideal soil for growing is black or at least very dark; this (normally) indicates it's very fertile. After you've tilled it, the ideal soil also has a texture of big clumps that crumble easily, and doesn't harden and crack into plates on top when it dries. If you really want to get technical, take a soil pH measurement. For most crop plants you want a pH of around 7. If you remember your high school chemistry , this is neutral pH.

Zeta Taskforce posted:

I would appreciate any tips, especially with crops and varieties that store well and strategies for collecting all that rainwater without it turning into a mosquito love fest.

That's easy, keep it covered with window screening. You can even have the entrance spout be outside the screening, then let the water just flow through the screen. To get water out, I'd put a spigot on the bottom.

kid sinister fucked around with this message at 17:53 on Mar 11, 2009

HeatherChandler
Jun 21, 2007

Is this turnout weak or what? I had at least 70 more people at my funeral.

kid sinister posted:

Naturally occurring sandy clay soil? Probably not. The previous owner put down that sand to help level the surface for his green. That's pretty standard practice. Actually, adding sand to clay is one method to lighten clay soils and makes root growth easier. Well, not all sand... Big grain sand can help lighten soil, whereas powdery sand can do the opposite.

You had the right idea about mixing in compost with the sand and clay. In fact, you'll probably have some kickass dirt for growing! Whether to add more compost or not is subject to how good the soil is now. The ideal soil for growing is black or at least very dark; this (normally) indicates it's very fertile. After you've tilled it, the ideal soil also has a texture of big clumps that crumble easily, and doesn't harden and crack into plates on top when it dries. If you really want to get technical, take a soil pH measurement. For most crop plants you want a pH of around 7. If you remember your high school chemistry , this is neutral pH.

Thanks, I had no idea that there were standard practices for making akward backyard putting greens . I'll be honest, I thought it might have been a garden at some point, and then just covered up with something to sell. I've only been here since winter, so I really didn't have a chance to check it before. Either way, the faux turf at least it choked out all (most) the weeds.

Other than digging compost in, is there anything else I really need to do to improve the soil? All my previous experience is in really really heavy almost black clay. I need to get a jar and get a better look at the soil, it is just so...weird.

I actually had gone out with the intention of buying a ph test but ended up with all that compost instead and totally forgot my original train of thought.

PopeCrunch
Feb 13, 2004

internets



Salad Prong

Heads up: If you're looking for stuff to compost or even just good stuff to mix into your soil to give more nitrogen, Starbucks and most other coffee shops will happily give you their used coffee grounds free for the asking. Coffee grounds are AMAZING for plants, I throw a trash bag or so into my compost every so often and I am going to have more tomatoes and zucchini than I have any idea what to do with.

It is a good problem to have.

kid sinister
Nov 16, 2002


HeatherChandler posted:

Thanks, I had no idea that there were standard practices for making akward backyard putting greens
...
Other than digging compost in, is there anything else I really need to do to improve the soil? All my previous experience is in really really heavy almost black clay. I need to get a jar and get a better look at the soil, it is just so...weird.

I actually had gone out with the intention of buying a ph test but ended up with all that compost instead and totally forgot my original train of thought.
Clearly you're not a cheapass golfer.

It's hard to say what else you'd need to do to your soil without seeing it. It's possible that it's perfect now and anything that you'd add to it could be a waste of money. If your clay is VERY heavy, there are other additives to help. If you were able to dig into it without a mattock however, it should be light enough to grow plants in it. How deep did you even till?

Look into your state university's agriculture department to see if they offer soil testing services. I know here in Missouri that you can request little boxes for soil samples. When you get them, you fill it up with a little soil, mark down on it what you're trying to grow, then send it in. In a month or so you get the results, which should say what nutrients your soil is deficient in (if any) and what you'd need to add to it to improve it to be able to grow what you told them.

edit: pH should be an afterthought for nearly all crop plants. The only one I can think of that would really require an uncommon, non-neutral pH would be blueberries.

kid sinister fucked around with this message at 02:14 on Mar 12, 2009

HeatherChandler
Jun 21, 2007

Is this turnout weak or what? I had at least 70 more people at my funeral.

kid sinister posted:

Clearly you're not a cheapass golfer.

It's hard to say what else you'd need to do to your soil without seeing it. It's possible that it's perfect now and anything that you'd add to it could be a waste of money. If your clay is VERY heavy, there are other additives to help. If you were able to dig into it without a mattock however, it should be light enough to grow plants in it. How deep did you even till?

Look into your state university's agriculture department to see if they offer soil testing services. I know here in Missouri that you can request little boxes for soil samples. When you get them, you fill it up with a little soil, mark down on it what you're trying to grow, then send it in. In a month or so you get the results, which should say what nutrients your soil is deficient in (if any) and what you'd need to add to it to improve it to be able to grow what you told them.

edit: pH should be an afterthought for nearly all crop plants. The only one I can think of that would really require an uncommon, non-neutral pH would be blueberries.

I dug down about 8 inches. I really feel like I should have gone further since I don't know if it has ever been done before. I don't have any perennial weeds to worry about making worse. Anyway, I could probably do it again better, I have nothing but time at the moment. I read a few articles about soil improvement and see them suggesting 3-4 inches of compost, I probably had about one out of that 300ish lb if that. If I am going to add some 800lb or whatever of compost I need to go get something with wheels to get it up the hill, heh.

I didn't even think to use a lab, I am going to look for a free/cheap way to do it, good idea! Googling is teaching me that soil has lots of crazy names.

Oh, and I just wanted to make sure the soil wasn't too basic, since I've got no idea what was thrown in it and it hasn't had anything growing in it. It shouldn't be in this area, but I am persnickity, if you can't tell.

madlilnerd
Jan 4, 2009

a bush with baggage

PopeCrunch posted:

Heads up: If you're looking for stuff to compost or even just good stuff to mix into your soil to give more nitrogen, Starbucks and most other coffee shops will happily give you their used coffee grounds free for the asking. Coffee grounds are AMAZING for plants, I throw a trash bag or so into my compost every so often and I am going to have more tomatoes and zucchini than I have any idea what to do with.

It is a good problem to have.

And you know who's not very fond of coffee? The slugs! That was one of the tricks that actually worked a little last year. Starbucks in England prebag their used grounds and stick a label on saying "grounds for your garden"... I always feel like I'm stealing though when I walk out of there with a bag full!

PopeCrunch
Feb 13, 2004

internets



Salad Prong

madlilnerd posted:

And you know who's not very fond of coffee? The slugs! That was one of the tricks that actually worked a little last year. Starbucks in England prebag their used grounds and stick a label on saying "grounds for your garden"... I always feel like I'm stealing though when I walk out of there with a bag full!

This wasn't one of those, they hadn't divvied it up into the garden bags yet. THey'd had a hell of a busy day, it was a trash bag FULL - like a kitchen size trash bag. They had to bag it three times to make sure it didn't burst under its own weight and I had to really muscle it into my car. I was stoked because god drat a billion pounds of coffee grounds and they were stoked because they didn't have to piss about with the garden bags. EVERYBODY WINS oh god what i am going to put all these tomato plants in

whyrat
Feb 27, 2009


I'd been planning on starting a (very) small veggie garden this year anyway; and I saw this so I figured I'd post my plans for a little feedback.

The plan is to try growing a few things I've heard are impossible to kill (as I'll likely kill anything that requires much skill): green beans and zuccini. I'm starting with ~2 sq meters; maybe adding another meter if I don't feel totally overwhelmed. The location (in North Texas if that matters):

I plan to turn in some potting soil before I transfer the seedlings... that's my idea of "fertilizing". That going to work?

I just started my starter seeds this weekend, March 7 (seems like I'm already running late)?



I have no idea about slugs / pests / diseases / whatever (I'm just hoping my cat doesn't dig around in it).

Anything I'm blatantly missing or not doing (or have done wrong)?

kid sinister
Nov 16, 2002


whyrat posted:

green beans and zuccini
...
Anything I'm blatantly missing or not doing (or have done wrong)?

one zucchini plant could almost fill your entire garden. They get surprisingly big! If everything truly is "bigger in Texas", it probably will take up all 2 square meters. How many of them did you start?

edit: they do make "gardening soil" too, that might be slightly better to turn in.

kid sinister fucked around with this message at 03:54 on Mar 13, 2009

HeatherChandler
Jun 21, 2007

Is this turnout weak or what? I had at least 70 more people at my funeral.

Depending on where in Texas you are, you should have a longer growing season than us further north, so being late with seedling shouldn't be a big deal. My last frost isn't safely until the beginning of May, so I'm not even starting tomatoes until next week.

http://www.garden.org/zipzone/ <--That will give you your hardiness zone
http://cdo.ncdc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/cl...imate%20Normals <-That will let you look up your last frost date and first frosts in fall.

Just for the future, so you can time when to plant your seedlings. Tomatoes and peppers take about 8 weeks until transplant ready, Zucchini only takes 4-6. The idea is to have transplants ready to go out as soon as it is safe. This is mostly important to us that have a shorter growing season.

Be wary of those green beans--they can be bitchy about being tranplanted and are usually best sowed directly into the garden. Depending on how far south you are you can probably sow them pretty soon rather than germinate indoors. If you want to go with seedlings, just be very gentle with their roots.

If you want something else fool proof throw some mesclun mix (mix of salad greens) into a window box. You just cut it as you eat it and it grows back, and since it is portable you can move it into the shade when it gets hot.

I am retarded with soil so I can't really help you there.

whyrat
Feb 27, 2009


I didn't know that about green bean seedlings, well I have a ton of leftover seeds so I'll just sow some directly into the garden if the ones I start indoors don't take.

Thanks for the warning on the zucchini... I started 9 (thinking most of those won't make it) and was going to transplant the best ones. I guess I'll only pick the best 1 or 2.

Is mesclun mix like spinach? That was going to be an option too (I read you can start it later in the summer) but it'll all depend on how full my garden looks. So if the zucchini takes over I'll either have to dig out some more space or maybe plan for it next year.

I'm trying to avoid window boxing and/or potted plants (I have a few flowering plants in pots; but I never move those). I'm lazy is all :/

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Zeta Taskforce
Jun 27, 2002



whyrat posted:

I didn't know that about green bean seedlings, well I have a ton of leftover seeds so I'll just sow some directly into the garden if the ones I start indoors don't take.

Thanks for the warning on the zucchini... I started 9 (thinking most of those won't make it) and was going to transplant the best ones. I guess I'll only pick the best 1 or 2.

Is mesclun mix like spinach? That was going to be an option too (I read you can start it later in the summer) but it'll all depend on how full my garden looks. So if the zucchini takes over I'll either have to dig out some more space or maybe plan for it next year.

I'm trying to avoid window boxing and/or potted plants (I have a few flowering plants in pots; but I never move those). I'm lazy is all :/

What kind of beans are you planning on growing? Bush beans will grow faster and mature earler, but since your garden isn't exactly huge, you might want to think about pole beans. You will get a larger harvest spread out over a long time. Or you could do both. Pole beans will require support and could grow 6 or 7 feet like nothing. In Texas you should have a long enough growing season that assuming the zuccini gets overgrown, or you get tired of zuccini bread, if you plant the bush beans late summer you should get a fall crop. Also, if I were you, I would think about a cherry tomato plant. I say this only because I think cherry tomatoes are like candy and I can eat them by the pound.

Mesclun mix is mostly different types of leaf lettuces with other things thrown in. Read to see what is in it; some mixes contain greens that are spicier or more bitter than the average lettuce. It depends on your preference.

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