Getting started gardening

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by Agilityscots, Jul 17, 2007.

  1. Agilityscots

    Agilityscots Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 9, 2007
    Central Ohio
    I know many of you are gardeners, and up until now, I've only dabbled in planting perennials in my front flower beds. We have 3.5 acres of beautiful land, and I'd love to plant a vegetable garden but haven't the faintest clue of how to start. The one thing I do know (ha!) is that I'm too late for this year, but I want to start planning for next year. I've been reading a little, but it seems so overwhelming!

    Questions:

    1. Should I till a patch in the fall to get it ready for next spring and make less work for myself by doing it now rather than later?

    2. I've picked up that the "popular" thing now is raised beds. Why? What's wrong with old-fashioned rows?

    3. Starting things from seed scares me; I like plants in little plastic containers. [​IMG] But I know it will be too expensive to plant an entire garden using started plants. I tried starting herb plants from seed in April and although they never mildewed, they never thrived. Can I really just throw seeds in the ground? Any tips?

    4. I'm completely organic and don't use any pesticides or herbicides. Can I use weed cloth like I do in my flower beds to cut down on work? Any organic gardening hints would be greatly appreciated.

    5. My soil is clay. What do I need to amend it with to make it amenable to vegetable gardening?

    Thanks for any help you all can provide!

    Amy
     
  2. horsewishr

    horsewishr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 7, 2007
    West Michigan
    1) Sure--go ahead and do it now. You'll have to re-do it in the spring (for weeds), but you'll be a bit ahead and it'll keep you motivated. You could start beets or beans now, I'd bet. Radishes when it gets even cooler. Ask at the seed store (I'm no expert.)

    2) not sure on this one. We do plain rows. Raised beds will definitely be more expensive. But you can control individual soil situations for different crops, I suppose.

    3) We grow beets, beans, carrots, squash, and cucumbers all from seed. It's cheap as dirt, and you get greater satisfaction than buying plants. I always buy tomato and pepper plants--but I really don't know why???? (tomatoes take a long time to bear fruit, so it's nice to get them with a head-start).

    4) We just hoe between the rows, and hand pull a bit at a time. It's not that much work--unless your garden is huge.

    5) Our soil is clay, too. It would be worthless as garden soil if we didn't have our lovely composted horse manure. We add tons every spring. Put an add on Craigslist, or at your feed store, and see if you can find some composted manure. Put it on now for next spring. Your chicken manure/bedding is also excellent--but must be composted first or it'll be too hot.
     
  3. Backyard Buddies

    Backyard Buddies Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    1. Sure, do it now. There are probably a few things you may be able to grow this season. Look for items with quick maturity (radishes, beans, squash). Your local garden center will carry seeds that should be good for your area. Check the back of the packet to see which ones indicate it isn't too late to plant. You might even find a tomato plant or two in a large container that will at least let you get that wonderful "I grew it myself" feeling. I know that garlic can be set out about October and should be ready by next summer.

    2. Where I live there is horrible clay soil. I also live in a regular old neighborhood with a small backyard. Raised beds help me deal with the clay problem yet allow my garden to still blend into the rest of the yard. My next door neighbor, on the other hand, has his garden in a mound (raised but not contained in a wood frame) and it works great for him. His yard is laid out differently than mine and he's able to put this in an area that isn't in the way. My Illinois cousins also have theirs in raised mounds. Their gardens looked wonderful when I was there a couple of weeks ago.

    3. Once you get over your seed phobia [​IMG] you'll find that they actually work quite well. Because seeds take longer to get going in your garden, you can always start seeds earlier in the little plastic containers or simply plant them at the earliest date for your area. Plant a few extras and thin them for proper spacing. It's frustrating to get a bunch of seeds planted then to have to go back and replant because some of them didn't take or were snacks for the buggies.

    4. I grow organically as well. We don't use weed cloth but do weed regularly. Once the plants are started, a layer of mulch may help to keep the weeds down and help retain moisture in the garden. With weeds, clearly it's easier if you just keep up on it. I do NOT put weeds into my compost pile in case the heat doesn't completely destroy the seeds. When you're done with your garden for the season, let the chickens out there to do a little weeding and debugifying for you.

    5. Clay soil is horrible for gardening, particularly for root plants. Yes, you will need to amend. But, you've got chickens and their bedding and droppings along with kitchen scraps and yard trimmings make wonderful mulch. If you don't already compost, this would be a good time to start. Anything you start now will be ready by Spring for your new garden.

    Good luck!
     
  4. catballou24

    catballou24 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2007
    Austin, TX
    there are others who can answer all your other questions better than me i'm sure, but as far as weeds go we put down several layers of newspaper and then mulch on top of that. that works great actually! [​IMG] very few weeds get through and what do come up are easy to pull..[​IMG] we have an organic garden as well..[​IMG]
     
  5. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Amy, we used raised beds because it's easier to control weeds and soil condition in enclosed boxes. See the pic below for our garden as it was getting started a few weeks ago. Now the tomato plants are over our heads, LOL. Back in the fall, we shoveled in all the composted poopy shavings and let it sit over the winter. When we were ready to plant, we just broke up the ground some and planted. This is our first real year using chicken litter and it's magic stuff! We also have lots of greenbriar, aka cowvine, and since the garden is where we once had woods, it's been easier to do it this way. The ground has alot of clay in it in places and rock in others, so above ground gardening was the best way for us. Nothing wrong with rows, but I think it's less work to do raised bed gardening, after the obvious work of building the boxes. We just got lumber from the cull lumber bin at Home Depot when it was available.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. hollyclyff

    hollyclyff Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 18, 2007
    NC
    I use raised beds because we have major vole problems. I lined the beds with hardware cloth to keep the voles out. Worked great on the voles, but unfortunately the deer found the beds. Now I have to devise something to keep the deer out! Raised beds also look neater if that sort of thing matters where you live. Regular rows are easier and cheaper though, even if you need to amend your soil.
     
  7. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Hey Agility.....this is what I would do, if I was you. Pick the spot where you want to garden next year. Till it up, but good! Rake out the grass clumps, and till again....we did our 5 or 6 times. Take all of the chicken poo and bedding start spreading it all over the garden spot....water after every time you layer it in.... maybe after 2 layers, till again. Keep doinf this untill the first frost. We did this, and my tomato plants are 5 ft tall...im not kiddin...TALL!!! They are loaded with tromatos...and everything seems to be doing goods, ( if I could keep the chickens out) Fence going in soon!Anyways....good luck.
     
  8. fosterchick

    fosterchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    I plant my garden right in my yard. I will start my tomatoes and pepper plants the first week of April. The rest of the plants I will start the first week of may. I will then plant them in my garden after the full moon in may. something my grandfather always said, the old wise tall is that there isn't any more frost to worry about. on the off season I will put in my chicken poop and till it. Some times this will take 2-3 years to make it good growing soil. I have had my garden in for a month now and Have already eaten many things out of it. I do have to keep it fenced it so that the chickens let me have my fair share
     
  9. jackiedon

    jackiedon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2007
    Central Arkansas
    An old time farmer never used miracle grow or anything. They always threw there egg shells in the garden through out the winter and then till it in. We use rabbit poo and it's great it's like time release.

    jackie
     
  10. Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2007
    Naples, Florida
    We started tilling ours last year around christmas to get it ready for this year. We've already had one garden and DH just plowed it under to start a new one. It hard were we live to keep the grass and weeds out. I've ask him about doing the raised bed garden I'm not sure if he will. We also till in all the horse apples our horses leave us daily.
     

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