Since there's so many people participating in the thread, and so many pages of replies, I'll reply based on the subject, rather than the person, to
make it easier:
RE: Potatos - The straw-potato and tire-potato ideas sound intriguing! I have neither straw nor tires, unfortunately, but we might very well
end up with either at some point in the near future.
RE: Earwigs and certain other pests - One trick the Ferry Morris guide suggested is to get some wide PVC pipe and cut it in half, lengthwise.
Then partially bury it in the trenches between your rows of crops, so that the dirt forms a little cliff leading up to the edge of the PVC Pipe,
forming a plastic valley. Alternately, you could use shallow catfood tins, bit of old garden hose, etc. Bait the trap with tuna fish oil, or vegetable
oil with a tad of bacon grease. In the morning pull up the "traps" and empty them into a coffee can or bucket of soapy water. Repeat day after day
until you don't catch them any more.
RE: Harsh Sunlight - If you get an incredible amount of harsh sunlight on an apartment patio garden, you might ask the maintenance office if
you can have some old screening from any windows they replace the screen on. Use the screen, a stapler, and some scrap wood to make a mesh-box big
enough to cover plants that could use a little less sun. The mesh should block enough sunlight to help keep the plant alive, while allowing enough
sunlight for it to get in. If it's a flowering plant, try to leave two walls of the box open so that bees can still get to it to pollenate it.
If you've got a house and a large quantity of plants to cover in an extremely hot area, you might just bite the bullet and set up a greenhouse. You
can construct a fairly sturdy, good greenhouse for around $100+ depending on how resourceful you are. The greenhouse walls will reflect some of the
sunlight, can be supplimented with screening, tinting, or whatever, and will also protect the plants from harsh winds, and keep a good deal of
moisture from disappearing. Instead, it'll just get really muggy inside. If you're particularly clever, you could probably rig up something to catch
the condensation from the walls at night, channel it to a bucket or something, and reuse that water the next day.
RE: Efficient Watering for "Thirsty" Plants - Since some plants require more water than others, like tomatoes, if you want to keep them
well-watered without drowning your plants that want less-water, then save your plastic jugs and bottles. Ditch the cap, wash the bottle/jug out,
rinsing all the soap off, then cut the bottom out. Shove the neck of the bottle/jug into the ground near the plant, so it's partially buried. Repeat
for each plant that needs extra water, so that each has its own jug. Then walk around with the hose and fill each bottle. Presto! You've got a slow,
steady distribution of water into the soil. This is extremely efficient and has minimal waste.
If you want to further reduce water-wastage, save the bottoms of all the jugs and bottles, and poke a couple of holes in them. Then use them as
"caps". Once you're done filling all the bottles and jugs with water, cap them. The air-holes will allow the water to still drain downward, but the
cap will prevent most of the evaporation that you'd otherwise see from an open-topped container.
RE: Mobs Taking your Garden - This is a particularly interesting question. What happens if an armed mob decides to claim your garden as their
own? The answer depends on your resources and your disposition. Most bandits/thugs aren't going to try and take your garden. If they were the sort to
work a garden, they'd simply start one of their own, or enslave others to work it for them. What they -will- do is take the food your garden has
If it's an armed mob of people that pulls up to your home, and you don't have an armed and organized resistance ready to fight them off, you'll
probably have to simply give them a good portion of your crop. The understanding being that they won't kill you in return for your feeding them. If
you are particularly diplomatic, you might be able to make an arrangement so that you pay -this- gang in food to protect you from the others. If you
think this sounds like a ridiculous option of surrender, keep in mind that in present-day you are already performing this action by paying local city
taxes, a portion of which go to your police force, state taxes for the state guard, and federal taxes for a standing army. In a Situation-X, if you
had your own armed gang to protect your homestead, then you would be feeding them with your crop anyway. So the idea of paying an armed gang with your
food crops to protect you from the other gangs really isn't that ridiculous. Just be sure that this arrangement is fully understood, so that the
armed gang doesn't decide to have a bit of fun and trash your garden. If they know a portion of their food is coming from it, then they're less
likely to pillage it.
If, however, you have your own armed militia to protect your area, then you're already feeding them, and the outcome is pretty much the same. Either
way, it's the food that people usually want. Not the garden.
RE: More and more people Gardening/Composting - This is both surprising and logical at the same time. It's logical because climate change is a
certainty, but the end-results are not. As always, it's starts with the conscientious people who are thinking ahead, way in advance, realizing that
they may end up suddenly having to provide their own food source, and providing it via a garden takes months. It's one of those things you have to
really have done in advance, because by the time you actually need it, it's too late. Well, the best people to learn from, are from those
who've already been gardening for personal enjoyment for years.
From there, student and teacher talk. The student, because they're excited and want to share what they've learned with others, and the teacher
because they're delighted someone else has taken interest. This gets others involved, and from there you get a gamut of people, from those who are
doing it for emergency survival preparation, to those who are just doing it for fun and tastyfood. After enough people do it, it becomes a trend that
people join in on for the sake of being a part of what's popular, and the end result is that more and more people are getting into it. Which, IMHO,
is a very, very good thing. I would much rather my community be self-sufficient food-wise, because the last thing I want is a hungry, armed mob of
people coming to raid my house.
RE: Lack of time for maintenance - I feel your pain. I work 45 hours a week, then I pick up the boy from daycare, make dinner, and go to
night-school. On the very few hours of the weekend that the wife hasn't filled up with social obligations, errands, and chores, I might get a couple
of uninterrupted hours to do yardwork. Of course, I still have to mow, edge, and weedeat, and keep the trees and bushes groomed, and the flower beds
weeded. However, a lot of this work compliments the garden work and vice versa. The yard waste that I used to bag up and put on the side of the curb
can now be used to feed my compost heap. The compost, in turn, saves me money and trips to the store. The garden is an area I no longer have to mow,
so that saves me a little time, and the veg, in turn, will also eventually save me money and a trip to the store. It might even generate enough extra
to sell to the farmer's market. So, yeah, it's definitely extra work that's hard to squeeze in, but it also subsidizes other work you'd otherwise
have to do if you didn't. Plus, like any vigorous excercise (and make no mistake, hoeing a garden is vigorous excercise), it gets easier with time
and repetition. Your body begins to adapt with muscle and extra energy, and what was a grueling process that took hours a month ago might only take
thirty minutes for as much work this time around.
RE: Indoor Gardens - I don't have much to contribute on this topic, as my particular area has a real problem with gnats if you have indoor
plants, and I hate gnats.
RE: Pruning Tomatoes - I'm not familiar with the terms "determinate types" and "indeterminate types". How do I know which I'm growing?
RE: Marigolds - Marigolds are really cool. They deter all sorts of pests and rodents (like rabbits). But it's the flowers that do so, not the
leaves. If they catch too much water, they won't flower as much. The less water they get, the more they flower. Anyone know how to resolve this
rather puzzling conundrum? The only thing I can think of is to use the "buried bottle" watering method for the crops, and then only water the
marigolds when I water my compost.
RE: Clay Soil and Gypsum - Great advice on the Gypsum, thank you! I normally use expanded shale for things like rose bushes that don't care
about rocks in the soil, but I was at a loss as to what to use for things like carrots, which don't like rocks in the soil. Sounds like my best bet
is to sew the gypsum in after the last harvest, and let it work it's way into the soil throughout the winter, and that way I've got much looser clay
when spring comes around.
RE: Milk as a Fungicide - Fantastic! I could really use this for my rose-bushes, and no doubt later for my veg. Does it need to be rinsed off
or anything afterward? Do I need to use whole milk, etc?
I'm so delighted to see how many people are interested in a sustainable food supply. Thank you all for your ideas and comments. I really look forward
to trying things out from this thread.