Looking for gardening tips

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Looking for gardening tips

Postby chiggerbit » Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:09 pm

I finally started gardening in earnest this year. I had tried it a number of years ago when I moved down here, but finally gave up, as the clay soil was so horrible, always too wet or too much like cement. In the meantime I had horses in the garden area, so now it is nicely manured, and what a difference it makes. I'm trying to do it organic, but....I really hate those bugs on the asparagus. I'm squishing them so far. Any suggestions welcome.

My problem is, I can already tell that I made some mistakes. I definitely didn't give the squash row, next to the corn, enough room. What monsters! I wanted them to vine into the corn, but the squash seem to have their own ideas on that. And what about the blossoms? I vaguely seem to remember that there are male and female squash blossoms. I want to pollinate them, as there are so few bees. Are the blossoms up close to the crowns different than the ones out towards the end of the vines?

As for the corn, it's about to the stage that the coons will be marauding it. Any organic repellents out there? Other than chaining my dogs up there? And the bunnies are eating the bean leaves. Maybe I should have planted more, to share with them.

Any tips on carrots?

The super chili peppers seem to be doing great, not so sure about the bell peppers. Tips?

Tomatoes are doing fine. What are your favorite kinds?
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Postby tron » Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:40 pm

sounds like you need the A team

the A team can be found here if you need them

http://www.selfsufficientish.com/forum/index.php



ive often wondered if i pland carrot seeds up my bottom....will the green bits grow out of my butt?
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Postby tron » Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:42 pm

ps


a mattock is good for breaking up soil
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Postby H_C_E » Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:46 pm

Lucky you, I wish I had a space to garden in...

I don't know what zone you are in, I've always gardened in zones 7 and 8. First Texas, now Georgia. Without getting too specific regarding what you are growing, I can tell you what I've done that works well. I worked with my dad when he converted to organic and he was shocked at the dramatic results.

In addition to the cow manure (composted before applying) we also added lava sand, green sand, bone meal and compost to the soil and tilled it in to a depth of six to eight inches. After planting in the prepared soil we used an organic fertilizer marketed by N. Texas garden guru Howard Garret. I can't recall the name, just that it was his. I'm sure any organic fertilizer will work well. Then we applied a product called agri-spon, which is just mycorrhizae (root zone beneficial fungi) that improve drought tolerance and uptake of elements (fertilizer). We also did foliar feeding once or twice a week with a solution of fish emulsion, compost tea and black strap molasses.

One thing that is simple to do, but is often missed is proper watering. Water deeply, yet infrequently. Get the root systems well established.

For pest problems we used Bt or pyrethrins\rotenone depending on the insect to be treated. But we had almost no problems due to the insane level of health and vigor of the plants in the garden. We did have grass hoppers attack, and it looked bad at first. Then crows and grackles (sp?) moved in to feed on them.

We had so much produce that there was more than my parents could keep. Even the neighbors finally started refusing as they had too much as well. It was nuts, but a lot of fun.

Have fun!

HCE
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Postby tal » Wed Jul 18, 2007 9:13 pm

--

Image
left:male flower- right:female flower (note the ovary at base)

Pumpkin and Squash Production


Pingg-String® Electronic Possum Barrier (prices in Aussie $) recommended by RaccoonTracks They also recommend pepper-based repellents as harmless-to-critters. While these preparations are non-lethal, they cause the animals as much pain as you would feel on getting pepper-sprayed in the eyes... not harmless in my book....

I swear by
[/url=http://www.mehndiskinart.com/neem_oil.htm]neem oil[/url] as an insecticide, fungicide, antibiotic. Much cheaper to buy the plain oil and mix the spray yourself. You will also know what's IN it as the phrase [/url=http://www.checnet.org/healthehouse/education/articles-detail.asp?Main_ID=179]"inert ingredients"[url] code for 'a possible s**t-load of potential toxins'


My favorite tomato varieties are: Brandywine, Green Zebra Strip and Cherokee Purple


Your clay soil may benefit from the addition of wood ash

--
Last edited by tal on Thu Jul 19, 2007 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby chiggerbit » Wed Jul 18, 2007 9:27 pm

Yeah, tron, thirty acres, but you wouldn't believe what these acres look like, considering it's Iowa. Hilly, rocky bluffs, timber. Had to have an area bulldozed to try gardening in the beginning, and that was on the only "flat" top of hill in the whole property. Full of poison ivy, one vine as big as a man's upper arm. Mattock? Ok, googled images. Looks like an adz. I'm 61 and female. Cripes, I suppose I could have done it, may still have to do it--the hay mulch has decomposed somewhat, but sits on top of a basement of very hard layer of clay, probably because the Walkers trod it down so hard. But they wasted a whole bunch of expensive hay, walked on it, pooped in it, so now that is my mulch, in addition to their manure. Glad I got rid of the Walkers, with the price of hay going up due to bio-diesel. I've broken one potato fork and several shovels in this clay.

H_C_E, it rained so nicely this spring, early summer that I didn't get around to getting enough hose--needs 600 feet to get over to the garden hill. A bit late on that, but finally got it. And now it finally rained again, now that I have the hoses. I will check out the availability of greensand. I'm in zone 5. Grasshoppers can be really bad here. Is that mycorrhizae used on tree seedling roots? If so, I have heard of it. Frankly, I'm not sure how to deal with drouth. When it dries up here on odd years, this clay gets huge cracks in the soil, maybe an inch wide, more that four feet deep, as I know because I have measured them. I do know that I can mulch.

I'm doing this so I can learn, because I have this feeling that the weather patterns are going to become very unstable, bouncing back and forth, with global warming, and I don't want to have to rely on California or Florida vegetables or fruits down the line. So I'm doing my learning now.
Last edited by chiggerbit on Wed Jul 18, 2007 9:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby chiggerbit » Wed Jul 18, 2007 9:35 pm

Female blossoms are short-lived. Female blossoms of pumpkins and squash open first thing in the morning and close a few hours later (24 hours at the most), never to re-open again. If these blossoms are not pollinated they abort and fall off the plant. Generally, the female blossom is open from about 10:00 a.m. to about 3:00 p.m.


Wow, tal, thanks! My male blossoms are already blooming (with the round bulge), the female still forming, according to your link. I thought it was going to be the other way around. No, wait, it's the other way around, like I thought. Aack, the female flowers are open and blooming, the males ones are still tight.
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Re: Looking for gardening tips

Postby chlamor » Wed Jul 18, 2007 9:42 pm

chiggerbit wrote:I finally started gardening in earnest this year. I had tried it a number of years ago when I moved down here, but finally gave up, as the clay soil was so horrible, always too wet or too much like cement. In the meantime I had horses in the garden area, so now it is nicely manured, and what a difference it makes. I'm trying to do it organic, but....I really hate those bugs on the asparagus. I'm squishing them so far. Any suggestions welcome.

My problem is, I can already tell that I made some mistakes. I definitely didn't give the squash row, next to the corn, enough room. What monsters! I wanted them to vine into the corn, but the squash seem to have their own ideas on that. And what about the blossoms? I vaguely seem to remember that there are male and female squash blossoms. I want to pollinate them, as there are so few bees. Are the blossoms up close to the crowns different than the ones out towards the end of the vines?

As for the corn, it's about to the stage that the coons will be marauding it. Any organic repellents out there? Other than chaining my dogs up there? And the bunnies are eating the bean leaves. Maybe I should have planted more, to share with them.

Any tips on carrots?

The super chili peppers seem to be doing great, not so sure about the bell peppers. Tips?

Tomatoes are doing fine. What are your favorite kinds?


Build soil, build soil, build soil.

Image

Mulch, mulch, mulch. Use straw mulch avoid hay.

Water very early in the AM. The plants are ready for this at this time. Water at twilight as well. Do not water in the middle of the day.

Carrots:

Here is the single best piece of advice I can give you on carrot culture: Grow them in raised beds. Remember how I said chunks of fertilizer can cause forking? Well, any rock or bit of compacted soil can do the same thing. The carrot seedling puts down a tender taproot very early in life; in uncompacted soil, that taproot will be long and straight. In "regular" soil, that taproot will often run into an obstacle, which causes it to split into two or more roots. Using a raised bed keeps your feet far away from the carrots! I have known people who, in pursuit of the perfect carrot, dig up their carrot bed and sift the dirt through a window screen! You needn't go that far; wait until the soil is fairly dry, then break it up with a spading fork. Be thorough, and try to get down 10-12 inches. This isn't that much work, and you'll be surprised at how much better your carrots grow! In my silt-clay soil, I've found I can grow nantes-type carrots following these principles. Back when I grew in long flat rows, I had to stick to danvers or chantenay types.

http://westsidegardener.com/articles/19 ... rrots.html

All in all the problems with pests are related more to issues of soil than plants. Consider this as you gradually increase your fertility.
Last edited by chlamor on Wed Jul 18, 2007 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby tron » Wed Jul 18, 2007 9:54 pm

raised beds are a very good idea


specially if you are over 60

go to the self sufficientish sit and speak to em....they are angels......you will get all the world of help from there


basically if you get yourself some woden panels....non treated...or treated yourself with boiled linseed oil and make a box with them(rectangular) you have a ready made planter...all you have to do is fillit with muck...ie. your horse shit plus some broken up clay and some sand an stuff(the horse poo has to be composted right though)

hope i helps you

wish i had a wilderness like you has!!!
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Postby chiggerbit » Wed Jul 18, 2007 10:01 pm

Water very early in the AM


Oops!
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Postby chiggerbit » Wed Jul 18, 2007 10:04 pm

the horse poo has to be composted right though


The horse poo is two, three years old by now, they've been gone that long. Is that "composted", if it's just been sitting there all this time, out in the open?
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Postby chiggerbit » Wed Jul 18, 2007 10:06 pm

boiled linseed oil
Err, what do I do with the boiled linseed oil? Paint it on? I had already bought four 10x2x8's, untreated, for the asparagus. I can get more.
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Postby chiggerbit » Wed Jul 18, 2007 10:14 pm

In "regular" soil, that taproot will often run into an obstacle, which causes it to split into two or more roots.


Heh, so that's what causes those weird, porno shapes.

...get down 10-12 inches...


Arrrrrrrrrrgh!!!!!!
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Postby chiggerbit » Wed Jul 18, 2007 10:28 pm

Oh, yes, Chlamor, and lots of bits of rock and bricks and pottery and stuff in the soil. A local guy in his eighties doesn't remember there ever having been a homestead here, and he grew up in this neighborhood, but there was a cistern or two, and LOTS of chards of old pottery, china, bricks, etc., found an old 1868 Indianhead penny near the main cistern, perfect condition, except it was green.

So, carrots don't like all that debris?
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Postby Joe Hillshoist » Thu Jul 19, 2007 2:23 am

Dunno if you have ever heard of a "no dig garden", but it might be the solution to your clay problems.

This is a brief description of how to build one:


The No Dig Garden is built on top of the ground, so you can start building a vegetable garden anywhere. This is organic gardening at its simplest and best.
Building a vegetable garden of this sort is extremely attractive for those sites that have poor soil or invasive weeds. It's also a great way to build a garden for those that can't, or don't want to, dig a good size vegetable garden!




First thing, of course is to choose the site for building a garden. Make sure the site is level and gets at least 5 hours of sun a day. If it's not level, fill the gaps with whatever organic material is at hand (leaves, twigs, washed seaweed) until it is level.


If you are planting the vegetable garden over lawn or weeds, mow the area to ground level and build the garden on top. If you are planting your vegetable garden on a hard surface, put down some cushioning organic material first (as above).


To build your no dig vegetable garden start with a layer of newspaper (no colour printing), at least 6mm (1/4 inch) thick. Surround the garden with some sort of border material. This can be bricks, logs, planks or rocks but should be at least 20-25CM high (8-10 inches) to contain the organic material within and to discourage the weeds around it.


Lay down a layer of pads of lucerne hay leaving no gaps, to a height of 10cm (about 4 inches). Layer some good organic fertilizer on top to a height of 20mm (1 inch). This can be just about any sort of good quality material like chicken, horse, cow or sheep manure. If you don't have this sort of material available, sprinkle a layer of good commercial fertilizer. No need to go the full 1" depth with commercial material.


Add a thick layer of loose straw to the garden 150mm (6 inches) and another layer of fertilizer and then top it off with a 100mm (4 inches) of compost.


Water the garden until it's wet but not soaking. You can now start planting your seedlings immediately for instant garden!


From here:

http://www.no-dig-vegetablegarden.com/build-a-garden.html

The home page is here:

http://www.no-dig-vegetablegarden.com/

Here's the Gardening Australia fact sheet on no dig gardens:

http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s867068.htm

Gardening Australia is a great weekly gardening show thats been going for years in Australia. Its pretty good, pro organic and not involved with or overly influenced by commercial gardening companies. Dunno how appropriate the information their site has is for the US, given its the other side of the world, but the no dig instructions are basically the same everywhere so they should be fine.

I have never done a "no dig" myself, but where I leave there are metres of red/chocolate volcanic soil and I don't mind a bit of digging. But I have heard people rave about them, seen some amazing ones, and I guess they would suit someone in your position. (On top of masses of clay).

Getting a worm farm at home would probably help with pumping it up too.

http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s1620935.htm

BTW Picking the bugs off by hand might seem like a pain but look on the bright side. You get to spend more time in the garden. Chili spray might help too. We try to keep heaps of native insects (ie a good balanced ecosystem) going so that predators of pests are abundant, and there are usually hundreds of little (non stinging) native wasps around the garden, among many other critters. Looking at companion planting might help too, especially companion herbs (ones you can eat or medicinal ones).

Even when our garden is in low production mode due to water issues (like now), the companion herbs are still thriving and are awesome in meals.
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