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Advisor

Gardening this year?

Some of us are more avid vegetable gardeners than others, from our past discussions.  We only planted a few containers of tomatoes and peppers, with some herbs and greens around them in the pots, as our meager effort last year.  Even those got ratty looking by August. 

Mike and I emptied the old sheep trough "beds" last Sunday.  He has promised to drill extra drainage holes in some of them tomorrow morning, and to scoop some fresh soil and compost into them.  One of the issues we had with using them a couple of summers ago was insufficient drainage, so we drowned (quite) a few things. 

I'm going to drag out my old Wall-o'-waters and get some early veggie sets going...they can buy an extra month of growing here.  Gets us ahead of some of the bugs and worms.  Planting without the protection would just be time and money wasted....

So, everything in tubs or troughs here, planning for no weeding.  Stretching the season a bit.  Some of you have been still getting snow, so are probably limited to dreaming about being outside in the garden.

Everywhere you turn, magazines and books are popping up on the virtues of gardening in hard times.  I'm just looking forward to a quiet spring and summer, with nothing much more demanding to do for once. 

Anyone else gardening yet, or making a grand plan for one? 

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12 Replies
Senior Contributor

Re: Gardening this year?

Yes, I am planning to garden again.  I hope to get my flower beds cleaned off some today if it doesn't rain.  I hesitate to do too much; I've seen it snow here on April 1.  How's that for an April fools joke.  (also DH's birthday)  I figure the perennials will do OK if I start plus it's going to take awhile to get it done.  The yard has a lot of sticks that need picking up & I've been piddling at that.

I hope to take over with the vegetable garden from DH more this yr.  He starts out good but then it's a mess by late summer.  If I can get my way things will be planted differently & hopefully I can get my tiller down the rows.  I already trimmed the raspberry bushes.  Any advise for keeping those weeds that already seeded last yr. out? 

I also need to dig up some perennials & redo or pitch.   Just hope my body holds up to my needs.  The new trend kind of reminds me of our parents Victory Garden days. 

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Advisor

Victory Garden

Your observation about the old "Victory Garden" reminds me of precisely the emphasis I am seeing in TV segments on gardening starting up this spring, the free Lowe's ideas magazine I got in the mail this week, and the titles that are turning up on my amazon recommendations right now, too.  I finally have time to garden this year, at least as it looks now, and everyone and their brother will be buying seed and supplies this year...so, I am sure their prices will be sky-high.   

Ironically, my reading of that history of American ag book is just reaching the post-WW II era, and I struck the phrase "farm provenance" this morning.  As the war resolved and peacetime economics reasserted, fewer and fewer families returned to pre-war self-sustenance.  More foods were purchased than ever before. 

It seems that this is the general pattern of our society...as family members took off-farm employment in droves during the war effort, then stayed in those jobs, less food was raised at home.  Then, in our generation, as women went into the outside workforce, more preparation of food moved outside the home kitchen, too.  Convenience and takeout foods trickled and then flooded in.

How we think all of these folks will be able to support the time and effort it takes to garden effectively escapes me. (Maybe some who are unemployed will find it a good way to pass their time and support their family in a different way.)  As you say, planting it is one thing...finding it in the jungle of weeds come August another. 

To answer your weed question, I think it takes a variety of approaches.  The best one I ever used was mulch, when we had access to a stash of peanut hulls from the sheller.  They were pretty clean, and made the weeds that did erupt very shallow-rooted, since they held moisture nearer the surface. 

You have to be sure your mulch material does not bring in weed seed passengers of its own, and that it's not going to create a removal/disposal problem down the road.  My family used black plastic in the vegetable garden for a few years, and it is very effective, but it got to be a pain to remove in the fall.  So, I like mulch that rots and adds its organic matter to the garden soil. 

Leaves are looking like a good thin here this year.  I've got tons of them to deal with this coming week.  Of course, they will stay put better if chopped to bits, which takes a leaf mulcher, or maybe the mower run over rows of them would work.  Can you blow leaves towards your garden with your riding mower?  By the time you run over them a few times, they'd be pretty well pureed. 

My all-time favorite gardening expert is Riuth Stout...she pioneered deep mulch gardening.  I alos liked the "lasagna garden" idea.  I really think the best approach is probably a mixture of mulches and tillage.  It does not make sense to me to use the same culture patterns for vining crops like pumpkins as for upright crops like corn. 

Yes, space your rows for some crops so you can till in-between, even when their roots spread a bit. Or, plant in wide beds and till the paths between them.  I am going to try pumpkins in my deep-layered mulch "tramposter" this year.  May modify the square foot Mel Bartholomew approach to plant my troughs, instead of just planting rows of stuff in them.  His newer version basically uses raised beds anyway. 

I am interested in the "Magic Square" book that I've been eyeing on amazon, too.  Vertical gardening is trendy rightnow, and stuff that grows up is not getting wrapped in weeds while crawling across the ground...so I may try to trellising this year, at least a bit. 

We need to touch base with each other on this one, and share some ideas as the season goes on. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Gardening this year?

With the way they are pushing gardening and home canning in these times I've been waiting for the stories of families getting sick on home canned goods. 

My mother didn't garden, my grandma did a little when I was very small.  My MIL always had a huge garden and she is who I learned home preseving from.  I think it's a daunting task if you don't have a mentor to show you the way.  Can be very scary if you think about it.

 

We haven't really had a garden since we came to the farm.  That was my husband's thing.  I don't miss it much at all.  Only canning I ever really enjoyed was making jelly.

We've talked for a couple of years about just putting out a few things, just to have fresh during the season.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Gardening this year?

I agree canning is work but the flavor is so much better.  Can't beat the flavor of canned tomatoes and I also make pickles.  Used to can peaches (yummy) but our peach tree is dying & not enough last yr.  I make raspberry jelly & freeze those & strawberries & sweet corn.

I've not gotten on to freezing asparagas; always is mushy for me. 

The one I don't like to do is can green beans and my DH & DS love them.  They are so time consuming & so cheap in the stores.  The taste isn't THAT  much better, is it?  I did a few last year but froze some too.  They don't like them as well but it's so much easier.

 

We have some older friends who are retired (time to garden) and have a beautiful garden.  He plants in wide rows and "rectangles".  That's what I want to try along with the row spacing to fit my small tiller.  And mulch.  Maybe straw. 

I remember my grandparents garden when I was little.  Big garden on one side with a divider of grape vines.  On the other was a double row of fruit trees.  When they built their new home there was no garden at all that I remember.  Older & burnt out I suppose.  Plus my grandmother had arthritis in her knees so bad they were bowed.  Knee replacements weren't heard of then.

We have some pictures of my FIL, DH & oldest son weighing their potatoes.  It used to be a competition between them.  Lots of fun memories & thumbs on the scale.  LOL 

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Honored Advisor

Re: Gardening this year?

Does your local newspaper still publish people's photos of their giant or odd-shaped vegetables?  Remember those? 

We planted a trio of grapevines lst year...I am anxious to see if they survived this harsh winter.  The two little white peach trees I picked up on clearance are both budding to beat the band...so, we are SURE to get a frost to kill the fruit. I'e always heard we get peaches one year in ten.   

Haven't checked the blackberries yet.  Figured I'd get around to them whle raking this weekend.  Every day is getting eaten away with office stuff and long phone calls from friends that I didnt' anticipate right now...and like with anything to do with the kids, I always stop for a friend's call. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Gardening this year?

We plant the gamut of things. Haven't had to buy potatoes yet, they stored so well this winter. The usual big farm garden with everything. We try to keep the weeds down. Straw the potato patch after flowering and keep the rows of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower tight so they shade the ground. Trellis tomatoes, peas (wire is fine with these), and lima beans (wood only to prevent rust). Had a disappointing harvest last year, but this year is a new opportunity. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Gardening this year?

How tight is tight on the rows for cole crops? Leaves touching between rows or tighter together? I plant mine close together but wide enough apart for the tiller but I am willing to try anything to keep the weeds down.

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Advisor

Re: Gardening this year?

Our garden is about 50 X 50 and we plant pretty much everything.  I am still hoping to get a couple of raised beds built for the small stuff like lettuce and carrots and such. 

 

We plant about 16 rows of corn and six rows each of peas and beans.  We usually plant potatoes and about 30 tomato plants. 

 

I have an herb garden right outside my kitchen door with basil and cilantro and chive and thyme and a few others that escape my thoughts right now...but I love to season all of my cooking with fresh herbs during the summer months when I have them.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Gardening this year?

Leaves touching when mature. Anything closer and you may have problems with funus. I figured out a trick to use less land area. We set our plants diagonal from each other for the recommended distance instead of side by side. I know, we have to pull out the calculators and the Pythagorean theorem again for determining the row spacing. Won't have the spots of weeds where the four plants can't cover, though.

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