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Merry or contrary? How does your garden grow?

Spring fever. I have a window full of starts and a yard full of snow. Itchy digits longing for dirt under the nails must settle for keyboard under the fingers. Lets talk "garden."

Do you love to plant but dread the harvest? I got a little sick of canning and freezing and dehydrating like a mad woman all summer and fall. AP lets me harvest year round, as I need it. I will still do some food preservation, but having fresh produce year around makes it a more manageable task. I also live in the desert, so the water conservation aspect is very important to me.

Do you have to water all the time too, but are not ready to try AP? Have you heard of "wicking beds?" I have never tried them, but may give it a go this summer. It looks like a great idea. Essentially, you line a raised bed in plastic, poke an overflow hole in near the bottom. Wind some drainage pipe around the bottom, then bring one end to the top. Put a layer of non-organic drainage material to cover the pipe, then screen cloth or fibrous mulch to make a dividing layer between your gravel / sand and dirt layers. Next add your dirt and plant it. You water through the exposed end of the drain pipe until you see water come out the overflow. Supposedly, the plants will wick water from the bottom for a week or more. It appeals to me as a way to keep voles out of my garden, also. You will need to put a cut off plastic water or pop bottle over the open end of the drain pipe or critters will get into the bed through the pipe.

Do you have nasty soil? I had one garden that was a nutrient depleted weed patch. In one year, I transformed it using deep mulch. Nothing expensive. I got cardboard boxes and covered the ground with them then spread straw over them, about 6 inches deep. I watered it down, and deliberately did the project in the rainy season so it would keep getting watered. Within days, I had worms, beetles, fungi - workhorses of the dirt reporting for duty. By fall, my soil looked and smelled like dirt again.

Do you plant the same thing, year after year? Have you considered looking at some perennial edibles? One of the things we really like about the food forest concept is the use of self-sowing and perennial plants. By using heirloom seed, and depending on your local climate, you may be able to have things like spinach and lettuce that volunteer year after year and naturalize into an edible yard.

Trying anything unusual? We want to grow goji berries, but the voles got to them last year. I have one shrub left that might still be alive, should know in a few weeks. This year I am trying tobacco - little tiny sprouts showed up in my tray yesterday. I am encouraged, but have never been good at the "seedling" phase. I cannot seem to find the happy medium between parched and damped off.

Plagued by pests? In our area, deer are one of the biggest problems. I discovered this utterly disgusting brew recommended by Sepp Holzer that he calls "bone sauce" and the deer did not bother my baby fruit trees at all. It is supposed to work for ten years! Of course, the voles dug down under where I treated and ate the roots off underground... so I lost most of them anyway. I would still recommend the sauce against deer. When we get around to our "food forest" planting, we will use mulch and such to try to change the environment to one the voles do not like, and hope that will reduce the population to a more reasonable number. For now, I will enclose my entire garden area in bird net, including going a foot underground beneath the bed.

One thing I noticed that I found fascinating... My little vole garden from last year is a small patch on a south facing slope. The entire slope is still snow covered, except my garden spot where I had heavily mulched. It is all thawed out and the soil is warming up. Next year, I plan to have a little hoop-house cold frame, I think I could get a 6 week head start by mulching in the fall and planting under protection in the early spring.

So, merry or contrary, how does your garden grow?

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Toxic

This is true, when I made my deep beds out of them I used a liner to make them hold water. I'm using them in the green house as lumber supporting the grow beds so they won't be in any contact with grow media or water. I did like this idea till you reminded me of the crap they soak these things in to preserve them. I have came across some that appear to be untreated, usually is the lighter weight softwood pine type pallets. They probably figure they aren't going to last long enough to treat.

The bold effort the present bank had made to control the government ... are but premonitions of the fate that await the American people should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it-Andrew Jackson

Thats pretty

slick, I broke some pallets down and built some raised beds out of them, but for a shallow bed that's an easy method that doesn't look bad either.

The bold effort the present bank had made to control the government ... are but premonitions of the fate that await the American people should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it-Andrew Jackson

The only thing growing on my balcony...

...is a pile of pigeon poo.

Time for the ol' spring cleaning.

I'm doing a key hole garden this year

It's too hot here in Texas to go out and weed every day. I'm almost finished with filling it. Then only add soil. I've already started my tomato seeds.

http://www.texascooppower.com/texas-stories/nature-outdoors/...

I'm still knee deep

in last year's over 700 lb winter squash harvest, and it's almost time to start this year's plants indoors.

They are a big part of our plan

We are going to try to create microclimates to grow things that are not supposed to be hardy in our area, and Hugelkultur is one of the tricks up our sleeve.

Love or fear? Chose again with every breath.

BMWJIM's picture

Things are going great!

Already eating cucumbers,romaine and tomatoes planted in greenhouse back in October. Tomato seedlings now 5-6 inches tall (100) four varieties. 165 pepper plants. Everything from sweet bells to bhut jaloki ghost peppers(1,000,000 scoville units). Squash, Artichokes, Iraqi eggplants, special yellow strawberries. All ready for transplant. One raised bed of regular strawberries.

Will start tilling the garden Saturday and planting when the pecan trees start to bud. Will directly sow Corn, Butterbeans, cucumbers, watermelons, field peas, green beans. I will also be planting marigolds among the veggies to help draw the bees and repel certain bugs.

In addition Susan had me help her start over 4000 flowers in the green house. They will be ready for planting shortly also.

I spend many an evening reading good gardening books in the greenhouse. Something about the soothing smells and silence. It is as close to total serinity a person can experience.

Jim

1976-1982 USMC, Having my hands in the soil keeps me from soiling my hands on useless politicians.

I want to see a picture

when those flowers bloom!
And I agree, the greenhouse is my last bastion of sanity in this nut-house we call "earth."

Love or fear? Chose again with every breath.

BMWJIM's picture

I'll be sure to do that

fishy. We did the same last year and I can't wait to see it for just about all of last years flowers were perennials.

Jim

1976-1982 USMC, Having my hands in the soil keeps me from soiling my hands on useless politicians.

Have over

300 starts going right now of about 25 different varieties of vegetables. All heirloom varieties from Baker Creek aka www.rareseeds.com they are an awesome seed supplier of heirlooms located in Missouri, can't say enough good things about them. I have two wick beds, going to do a couple more this season. I take the straight waste from the vortex filter dilute it in a few buckets with water and dump them into the wick bed feed pipes. Then top off with water till it comes out the over flow. My big project this season is my greenhouse, and I'm going to try and grow artichokes but more importantly I'm going to try and overwinter them as a perennial. Might be tough here in Kansas but I think it can be done.

The bold effort the present bank had made to control the government ... are but premonitions of the fate that await the American people should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it-Andrew Jackson

I always buy from

Baker Creek. Some seeds I only need to buy once, like carrots, because they reseed everything everywhere the wind blows with no effort, and some outbreeders like squashes I have to buy fresh every year.

Their catalogs are beautiful. They have various quotes from here and there, and this year they included a quote from Ron Paul.

try the Hugelkultur!

I want a perennial artichoke forest, LOVE the 'chokes! We are going to try to use Hugelkultur to make a mini-zone for them.
By the way - ever tried sunchokes? They taste a LOT like artichokes and grow like weeds.

Love or fear? Chose again with every breath.

Sunchokes

I've read about them but haven't tried them yet. I've been looking for some unusual fruits and veg to grow this year. I think I'll give them a try. I've heard the Hugelkultur are great for growing mushrooms as well. Mushroom hunting, another vice of mine. We should should see if we can organize some kind of seed trade page on the DP, I save a lot of seeds.

The bold effort the present bank had made to control the government ... are but premonitions of the fate that await the American people should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it-Andrew Jackson

Give them lots of room.

When I say "like weeds" I mean it.
Someone started a seed trade thread once, but that is the only down side to this format - good threads still get lost over time. And dragging that one up again would just bring up posts that are no longer current - maybe make it an annual "harvest time" event?

Love or fear? Chose again with every breath.

Does this sound

like the variety you planted?

http://rareseeds.com/yacon-or-bolivian-sunroot.html

The bold effort the present bank had made to control the government ... are but premonitions of the fate that await the American people should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it-Andrew Jackson

3 pound chokes?! Not even close!

Thanks for that link, though! The ones I planted I got from a guy off craigslist, and they make tiny little tubers, "new potato" size. The worst part about them is they are really knobby, so peeling them is a hassle, but they are SOOO yummy, they are worth it even tiny. I am definitely going to have to try to gigundo ones!

Love or fear? Chose again with every breath.

Gonna try tomatoes from seed

this year. Need more disease tolerant plants.

Sprouts have just started poking their heads through...

Hopefully I will have some decent plants by May.

Snow peas are coming up in the garden. Gonna plant some spinach and brocolli this weekend.

Best part of it all is that my 17 yo son loves gardening along with me. He's such a great kid.

So --> very Merry.

PS. regarding damping off...have you tried bottom watering (wicking water through holes in the bottom of your seed tray by setting tray in a pan of water for about 20 minutes? I'm gonna try that when the seedlings are ready for lights.

And deer...grrr...fence around veggies but they ruined my Golden Euonymus' along the driveway.

The law cannot make a wicked person virtuous…God’s grace alone can accomplish such a thing.
Ron Paul - The Revolution

Setting a good example is a far better way to spread ideals than through force of arms. Ron Paul

Merry!

I have peaches, plums, an apple, macadamia nuts, pomegranates, lots of bunches of bananas, avocados, loquats, lemons, limes, figs, guavas, and strawberry berries ripening now.

Wow

Must be warm were you are. A fig tree would be a lot of work for me. My grandmother brought some fig seeds back with her from Italy. Living in Connecticut, she'd wrap the trunk in insullation and plastic, then bend and bury the tree- not sure if the trees were young and immature- but I'm pretty sure fig trees don't like the cold.

In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.

Figs are deciduous.

They grow in hardiness zones 8-10. Your grandma must have been busy with them!!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2012_USDA_Plant_Hardiness...

I live in zone 9. New trees are constantly being hybridized to survive in multiple climates. Growing apples, plums, and peaches here is brand new. But they seem to be doing great. So far though, my trees have been an expensive hobby. I am hoping I am over the hump now.

Started Seeds!

Just started the seeds fishy! Started them indoors under florescent light. I have 21 tomatoes pushing through. 7 Black Krim, 7 Heirloom varietals, and 7 Cherokee Purples.

I also have some hot peppers which germinated in under their specified times. That made me real happy. I have 5 jalepenos, 5 habeneros, and 5 thai pepper. Also germinated some melons, and swiss chard, and some pickling cukes.

For the past few years, I'd always subject myself to spending money at a nursery. I'd come away with maybe $200 worth of seedlings. It always seemed tough on them acclimating from the greenhouse to a hot, dry colorado summer. I'd end up losing about $50 on the transplant or some freak frost in June. Those days are over.

I used Colorado's grow stores where I can buy simple compact florescent and grow all year round. The plan is to grow in my front yard. Hoping to make it look artistic and pleasing to the eye, yet affordable.

In the back yard, I'd like to have many different garden locations to suit Colorado's microclimate in my back yard. I'd like to one day work my way into an aquaponics system. Perhaps when I have that greenhouse. Just the other day, I was thinking couldn't this be done with like a coy fish pond or something of that nature; or do you have to keep the fish in a separate tank for ease of fertilization.

At the moment, I now have to transplant all those seedlings. I've waited as long as I can wait. That's what gardening teaches me. You can't be lazy. You can only procrastinate up to a point, until it manifests into laziness. There is no room for laziness in gardening. But, I'm with you on the Harvest. I at times dread the harvest. It's weird- you anticipate and look forward to the bounty and your reward, but sometimes when you are doing it by yourself it's overwhelming.

I'm looking to you to give me some ideas. Keep up the good work. Happy Gardening!

In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.

I still can't resist the nursery.

I have been buying less an less, but there is always some little treasure that just has to follow me home.. lol! I usually fall for a pretty face - got a pony pack of pansies smiling at me right now.
Yes, you can use coy. You can be very creative with the principles of AP. Check this out, Sepp Holzer doing aquaponics before anyone coined the term:
http://boingboing.net/2010/03/26/sepp-holzer.html

Love or fear? Chose again with every breath.

My garden is contrary so far

The weathe rhas been far from agreeable for the last few weeks. I do have winter potatoes planted in the hoophouse, and lettuce and spinach in a raised bed in the hoophouse under a second cover. The sun is really starting to get strong during the days (when it has stopped snowing long enough for the sun to shine)and the hoophouse is reaching nice warm summer like temps in the daytime, but nighttime temps are still falling into the low teens so too cold for even hardy seedlings I think. Those seedlings are still on the living room mantle under a grow light, as are the peppers and tomatoes. The summer crops I need to repot into larger pots, but I do not have space in the house, and as before it is really too cold to put them in the four season greenhouse off the garage since the heat there is a wood stove and I am wary of forgettign the stove and losing my plants. At any rate the forecast says the weather is about to improve, and high temps should soon be close to normals rather than 10-15 degrees low as they have been for the last month here in northern Illinois. Strange to think that this time last year we were having a very warm early spring, and I was already planting the tomatoes in the hoophouse beds, this year I might not get them out until the middle of April. On the plus side, my improvised gutter watering system is performing well (it collects water runnign off the hoophouse and redirects it to the raised beds inside the hoophouse) and it seems that will cut down on my watering chores and the water bill quite a bit this year.

Josh Brueggen
Engineer
Entrepreneur
Gardener
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

gutter on the hoophouse?

Interesting idea. I am always looking for ways to keep what water falls working for me.
I hear you on the woodstove. I just started my eggs incubating, with my handy little electric incubator. Next spring, I will be trying to do it with my rocket mass heater... could be interesting... I'm already planning on an alarm clock to remind me when to stoke the fire. It will be in the dome, out of sight, out of mind...

Love or fear? Chose again with every breath.