Sustainability in the garden

Sally PB

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
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Belding, MI
Re: Saving seeds. I have the book "The Seed Garden," which I find extremely helpful. Enough so that I bought a copy for $30. I have seen Suzanne Ashworth's book in bookstores, and imagine it's in the same price range. Large books, excellent photography, usually equals $$. But then you have it. Of course you can look stuff up online or ask other people.

Re: Companion planting. "Carrots Love Tomatoes" is another great book I refer to a lot. Or look stuff up online... but I'm old(ish) and really like to have books.

NatJ--your comment about onions and broccoli made me laugh. I don't grow broccoli, and Michigan has moose, but not near me. My husband and I have an inside joke about being aware of moose, so when I tell him this, a new page of the joke will be about having onions at the ready. Thanks!

Potatoes will sometimes make a seed ball. I have never had one, until this year. When people talk about "seed potatoes," they mean saving some potatoes to plant. Seeds from potato plants are called "true potato seed," and you will have to look to find them, you won't see them in stores. Planting the chunks of potato will give you a clone of the plant that grew it. Planting true potato seed (TPS) is a breeding project, because you have no idea if you will get usable potatoes from the plant. I saved the seed, so next year, I will try growing a few. But I will be saving some potatoes to plant too... really like potatoes and need to count on a reliable harvest, not an experiment. But the experiment will be fun.
 

piminuse

Songster
Jul 17, 2020
369
1,528
161
Portland, OR
Avid gardener without a 100% self-sustainability goal chiming in:

I'm not too particular with companion planting as I've read too many perpetuated myths and just don't want to waste space growing certain things that I can't/won't use.

One thing I will pass on tho is that space is always at a premium so max it out! Rows don't need to pretty, radishes will grow anywhere there's an inch of space and anything vining (tomatoes included) can be trained to grow anywhere you need them too. Get creative with layout and smoosh everything in to get the maximum yield.
 

Bird_Lover_17

Birds are Life
Premium Feather Member
Apr 9, 2020
348
708
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Upstate New York
Avid gardener without a 100% self-sustainability goal chiming in:

I'm not too particular with companion planting as I've read too many perpetuated myths and just don't want to waste space growing certain things that I can't/won't use.

One thing I will pass on tho is that space is always at a premium so max it out! Rows don't need to pretty, radishes will grow anywhere there's an inch of space and anything vining (tomatoes included) can be trained to grow anywhere you need them too. Get creative with layout and smoosh everything in to get the maximum yield.
My garden works, but it looks like a hot mess lol. Smooshing the different plants together is the definition of my garden. ๐Ÿ˜‚
 

Sally PB

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
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Belding, MI
LOL, I love smooshing things in! :goodpost:

I am fortunate that space is not at a premium as much as for many other gardeners. I have the room to spread out, so I have. However, then I have to manage all that space... Weeding, watering, taking care of any pests.

There were many years I took on too much and got very little for my efforts because I could not keep up with the work. I had to remind myself that "garden" is a verb as well as a noun.

I tell people that gardening is my second job. It pays in food instead of money. Some years it pays well. Some years it doesn't. But I don't pay taxes on the income. :clap Well, the property taxes have to be paid anyway.

Oh, wait. I'm retired now. Gardening and chickens ARE my job. And for all the people who told me it wasn't a "real" job? Oh, man, did I sweat this last summer! ๐Ÿ˜… Pre-salted potatoes, anyone?
 

ChocolateMouse

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
Jul 29, 2013
4,214
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Cleveland OH
Grow๐Ÿ‘ What๐Ÿ‘ You ๐Ÿ‘ Eat๐Ÿ‘!

It's one thing to say "I'll only eat things that grow locally" but a lot of times that's the opposite of how you wanna view it. Instead, try to grow what you already know you want to eat. It's such a waste of time and garden space growing things you won't eat even if they do well and you THINK you'll eat them.

Instead, look for staples in your diet and grow those. For me that's tomatoes, carrots, squash, potatoes, radishes, peas, beans, etc. Start with things you know you'll eat and add things in slowly. Dedicate maybe enough space for a few plants of each kind each year you don't eat regularly and see if you can ramp consumption up.

Kale does great here but my household just can't possibly eat that much. We don't like it enough. So we only grow a few plants a year. We dedicate more space to carrots even though they do poorly because we know we'll eat those and it's better than growing kale there and it rotting in the ground.
 

UnShelled

In the Brooder
Sep 21, 2020
12
34
36
Grow๐Ÿ‘ What๐Ÿ‘ You ๐Ÿ‘ Eat๐Ÿ‘!

It's one thing to say "I'll only eat things that grow locally" but a lot of times that's the opposite of how you wanna view it. Instead, try to grow what you already know you want to eat. It's such a waste of time and garden space growing things you won't eat even if they do well and you THINK you'll eat them.

Instead, look for staples in your diet and grow those. For me that's tomatoes, carrots, squash, potatoes, radishes, peas, beans, etc. Start with things you know you'll eat and add things in slowly. Dedicate maybe enough space for a few plants of each kind each year you don't eat regularly and see if you can ramp consumption up.

Kale does great here but my household just can't possibly eat that much. We don't like it enough. So we only grow a few plants a year. We dedicate more space to carrots even though they do poorly because we know we'll eat those and it's better than growing kale there and it rotting in the ground.
I cannot agree more! I would also add- grow what your chickens eat! For my flock thatโ€™s kale, Swiss chard, oat grass and sunflower seeds.
 

Bird_Lover_17

Birds are Life
Premium Feather Member
Apr 9, 2020
348
708
161
Upstate New York
I have another question and since it regards to sustainability in the garden, I'll post it here:
How would I save the things I grow?
Like if I wanted to freeze some corn I would put it in boiling water and then blanch it in cold water?

Does anyone have any tips regarding saving vegetables without pickling or brining.
 

21hens-incharge

Slightly nuts
Premium Feather Member
Mar 9, 2014
21,040
86,562
1,542
Northern Colorado
Grow๐Ÿ‘ What๐Ÿ‘ You ๐Ÿ‘ Eat๐Ÿ‘!

It's one thing to say "I'll only eat things that grow locally" but a lot of times that's the opposite of how you wanna view it. Instead, try to grow what you already know you want to eat. It's such a waste of time and garden space growing things you won't eat even if they do well and you THINK you'll eat them.

Instead, look for staples in your diet and grow those. For me that's tomatoes, carrots, squash, potatoes, radishes, peas, beans, etc. Start with things you know you'll eat and add things in slowly. Dedicate maybe enough space for a few plants of each kind each year you don't eat regularly and see if you can ramp consumption up.

Kale does great here but my household just can't possibly eat that much. We don't like it enough. So we only grow a few plants a year. We dedicate more space to carrots even though they do poorly because we know we'll eat those and it's better than growing kale there and it rotting in the ground.
We have rock hard clay here. I found carrots do wonderfully in pots. I use 10-12" diameter and 12-15" deep pots with soil I have run through a 1/4" mini compost sifter I made. I add a little potting soil each spring when I resift it before planting. I had 6 pots this year and grew enough to fill 3 one gallon zip bags.
Worth a try.

I have another question and since it regards to sustainability in the garden, I'll post it here:
How would I save the things I grow?
Like if I wanted to freeze some corn I would put it in boiling water and then blanch it in cold water?

Does anyone have any tips regarding saving vegetables without pickling or brining.
For corn....husk, clean the silks off, have a deep pot of heavily boiling water ready, boil for 4-5 minutes then immediately into a deep pot of super cold water. I put enough ice in that I am literally shoving the corn through the thick ice to submerge it. It should stay in the super cold water at least as long as it was boiling. Drain it well, cut it off the cobs and freeze right away. I use a vacuum sealer on the moist setting.
The same goes for green beans. Prep them by washing, snapping the stem end off and snapping into 1" sections. Cooking and cooling is the same as for corn.
 

ChocolateMouse

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
Jul 29, 2013
4,214
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597
Cleveland OH
I have another question and since it regards to sustainability in the garden, I'll post it here:
How would I save the things I grow?
Like if I wanted to freeze some corn I would put it in boiling water and then blanch it in cold water?

Does anyone have any tips regarding saving vegetables without pickling or brining.
I pressure can or dehydrate most things. Freezers are for meats only whenever possible IMO. If I can make something shelf stable, that's better than spending electricity on it.

But blanching and freezing is OK. I'd do it on a cookie sheet so they can be spread out as they freeze and then put them into a bag so they don't stick together.
 

NatJ

Crowing
Mar 20, 2017
3,635
5,767
366
USA
I have another question and since it regards to sustainability in the garden, I'll post it here:
How would I save the things I grow?
Like if I wanted to freeze some corn I would put it in boiling water and then blanch it in cold water?

Does anyone have any tips regarding saving vegetables without pickling or brining.
Freezing is good.
For many vegetables, you blanch them in boiling water or in steam, then cool them in ice water, then freeze them. My Mom had a cookbook with a chart saying how long for which kinds of vegetables.

Another way to "save" them: eat a lot of whatever is ripe at the time. So you eat a lot of asparagus in early spring, peas later, corn later yet. It would be a little silly to freeze corn the same day you eat previously-frozen asparagus (unless you really need a change of flavor.)

Some are easy to store in a root cellar or other cool place. Most of them are root vegetables: potatoes, carrots, turnips, beets, etc. Cabbage is not a root vegetable but also stores for a long time in a cool place. (I can buy a cabbage head at the store, and it's still good after a few months in my refrigerator. I have no idea how old it is when I buy it.)

Onions and garlic store fine in any dry place that is neither hot nor cold (room temperature is fine, a little cooler is better, but not as cold as the refrigerator.)

Winter squash (pumpkin, acorn, butternut, etc) also store just fine around room temperature.

Dry beans, peas, lentils, corn store the same way they would if you get them from the store--just make sure they're nice and dry, and put them in a bag or jar. Some people put the package in the freezer for a week or so to kill any insect eggs, then take them back out to store at room temperature.

Zucchini can be shredded and frozen, to make zucchini bread later.

Tomatoes can be cooked into pasta sauce and then canned or frozen. Of course tomatoes could also be dried, canned, or frozen without cooking them into anything.

ChocolateMouse has a good point about spreading things on a cookie sheet so they freeze into separate pieces instead of a big lump. My Mom froze them in lumps in plastic freezer bags, but she made sure each "lump" was the right size for one meal or one loaf of zucchini bread or whatever she was going to use it for.
 

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