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Lessons Learned From a Backyard Garden

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posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 08:43 AM
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Originally posted by apc
What made you decide to plant in traditional rows instead of high density? High density solves many weed, soil ecosystem, and moisture retention problems while producing greater yields on the same amount of land. Rows are easier to maintain if you have a bad back or something but high density is more comparable to the plant's natural environment.

Definitely a good tip on companion planting. Probably the easiest way to control pests. The only thing I still have problems with are squirrels even with spices so this year I'm trying a bucket of dry dog food. I hear they get fat, slow, and disinterested.

Also if one started a well maintained compost pile last year this year it should be ready to mix into the soil prior to planting. Healthy soil has a good amount of humus. And most people just till the top few inches of soil but it's best to double-dig to about 24inches. Greatly improves aeration and root growth.

I second this. planting in rows is like growing in 2d whereas high density is like growing in 3d. why waste the space in between and above when it could be put to good use.

Rows are good for mechanical cultivation nothing more.




posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 11:20 AM
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Originally posted by poisonmekare
reply to post by poisonmekare
 


An early morning check on the plants reveal new greens in the carrot section! They just might be my carrots!



More than likely they are.

It pays to wait a bit before weeding, at least until you can recognize the tiny weed leaves.

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A question for the desert gardeners:
We didn't have to water too often with our Central California garden.
Perhaps once or twice a week depending.
I usually gauged the watering by sticking a shovel into an unplanted area and checking the moisture level.

Here in the N/W Arizona desert it's not too hot and we've had several cooling and heating cycles with a max temp of 80* F so far.
It hasn't dropped any lower than the high 30's since the garden went in so no probs there.

What I am finding is the garden needs water every 2-3 days.

Three days if the wind isn't blowing and two days if it is blowing pretty hard.
So far, watering fairly often seems to be working ok, the plants are doing well and the corn is doing better with more water.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I still have a couple rows left to plant, but the "Three Sisters" technique is appealing and today I plan to plant a couple varieties of cucumbers around the corn stalks along with some bean seeds I have as a bit of an experiment.
More on that later.


One other experiment I have going is planting two species in one large container pot.

A tomato plant and jalapeno peppers in one container and a hot cherry pepper plant and radishes in another.

The idea is to see if the hot pepper plants impart a different flavor - more heat to the taste - in the tomatoes and radishes.

I've heard several times that planting tomatoes and hot peppers close together makes for a hot tasting tomato.

If so, a hot tomato may be an interesting taste treat and if not . . . then I'll have learned something....



posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 09:36 PM
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DesertDawg, I'm going to try the tomato/pepper experiment as well. I've heard of this before somewhere. It would be interesting to plant various herbs around other vegetables too. The possibilities are endless.

I know that grapes tend to do this... whatever is growing around or near them will affect the nuances of the wine, say currants, for example.

As for me, I'm still waiting until the end of May or so to put the rest of the garden in, but the brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, garlic, shallots, herbs, spinach and butter lettuce are doing fine. We're just not safe from frost until after May 15th.



posted on Apr, 27 2008 @ 11:04 PM
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As for guarding your plot of land if you are in a situation with long term lawlessness then booby traps seem to be the way to go just don't forgot were you put them. Also remember that a smart enemy will watch and wait for the right place and time to attack . You may also have to defend against likes of cars intruding on your property .

Amazingly nobody has mentioned how they are going to water there garden in a survival situation . My garden will be OK without mains water because I live near a river so I will just walk a short distance to collect water .



posted on Apr, 27 2008 @ 11:38 PM
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reply to post by xpert11
 

I recently bought some rain barrells which are attatched to the gutters and rain accumulates in the barrells. The barrells themselves were not cheap. They cost about seventy-five dollars but they were worth.



posted on Apr, 28 2008 @ 09:12 AM
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Originally posted by xpert11

Amazingly nobody has mentioned how they are going to water there garden in a survival situation . My garden will be OK without mains water because I live near a river so I will just walk a short distance to collect water .



Once upon a time I saw a dome house in the Northern California forest that had a small year-round stream that ran year round.

They'd strung several hundred foot garden hoses together.
The hoses went to a small pool in the stream and siphoned water down to the house.

Later on galvanized pipe was laid in a shallow trench and it also went to the same small pool.

Water pressure wasn't much, but it was enough that the home in the forest could be operated like most any other house.



posted on Apr, 29 2008 @ 09:55 AM
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Originally posted by malcr

I second this. planting in rows is like growing in 2d whereas high density is like growing in 3d. why waste the space in between and above when it could be put to good use.

Rows are good for mechanical cultivation nothing more.


Mechanical cultivation is not necessarily an evil thing......hand weeding and hoeing will literally cripple me to the point that the next round of weeds will win.

I have tried the high density method in years past, but now it is just not practical. I get more yield from my 'row crops' by giving up some ground to the middles so I can get the tiller in between.......Plus I have found that some plants do not like to be crowded, even with 'their own kind' in too close a proximity they will be smaller and yield less.....

I fill the spaces between with mulch, mulch, mulch, keeping the ground cooler, holding in valuable moisture and keeping the hand weeding and hoeing to a minimum.

Even then my rows can get pretty 'dense' by the latter part of the season....the adult sizes of the okra, pole beans and sunflowers have gobbled up the middles in the shot below......making long sleeves a neccessity when picking 'cause the vines will make me itch like crazy!





[edit on 29-4-2008 by frayed1]

[edit on 29-4-2008 by frayed1]



posted on Apr, 29 2008 @ 10:19 AM
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Originally posted by kattraxx
DesertDawg, I'm going to try the tomato/pepper experiment as well. I've heard of this before somewhere. It would be interesting to plant various herbs around other vegetables too. The possibilities are endless.

I know that grapes tend to do this... whatever is growing around or near them will affect the nuances of the wine, say currants, for example.

As for me, I'm still waiting until the end of May or so to put the rest of the garden in, but the brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, garlic, shallots, herbs, spinach and butter lettuce are doing fine. We're just not safe from frost until after May 15th.



I'll be interested to know how it turns out.
I'll post the results from my little experiment when I have the plants bearing fruit.

So far, it seems I have to water fairly often.
There's a clay 'table' under the garden, about 18" down and next year - now that I have a tiller - I'll dig a little deeper.
The soil the plants are in has been amended, but it's fairly sandy so it's draining water off fairly fast.

My radishes have pretty big leaves and in Central California they would have been harvested by now.
The radish proper was still fairly small 5-6 days back.
Gonna check again this morning.

I've planted in rows with some areas being somewhat high density.
Arizona is heaven for snakes and it pays to have somewhat open areas to walk.
I have half an acre and a 12' x 25' garden with lots of room to expand so I'm fortunate there.

If I can find some buckwheat I'd like to plant it in what will be another 25' extension - still at 12' wide - for the nitrogen input.

My little bean seed experiment noted above would be an economical way to add nitrogen from green manure and I may do that if the bean seed I planted grows.

What I did plant was some Great Northern Beans from the market.
Packaged in Mexico and just looking at them they appear exactly like the seeds in the commercially packed for gardens seed I planted in the garden when it was first planted and they're doing ok.

A pound of "cooking" beans is a little over a buck here and a packet of bean seeds is $1.07.

I know, there may be something special done to the cooking beans, but if they do pop up I'll toss some Pinto cooking beans out there and see what happens.

[edit on 29-4-2008 by Desert Dawg]



posted on Apr, 29 2008 @ 10:43 AM
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One thing I meant to ask was; what is a bale of hay going for in your area?

Here in N/W Arizona at the one store I checked it was $14.

I believe the price either doubled or tripled in the last couple of months.

And . . . the feed store I checked is reputed to have high prices on everything.


Several years back I went to a small ranch where they grew their own hay.
When I asked for a bale of hay they asked what I was doing with it and when I said it was to mulch the garden they recommended straw instead.

Which leads to another question; is straw at a feed store usually a separate deal and if so do you know the price on that?



posted on Apr, 29 2008 @ 11:24 AM
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reply to post by Desert Dawg
 


Regular 'feed' quality hay will have seeds that sprout in your garden, bermuda hay will sprout from 'joints' along the stalk, plus from seeds. Wheat straw or pine straw ( needles) will be better for mulch and usually cheaper. Buy those from a garden center not a feed store......or better yet find some one who needs pine straw raked up and get it for nothing.

You can use 'spoiled' hay, that has been wet and is no longer fit for horses, (tho cows will usually still eat it) when the seeds have moulded and will not sprout......big round bales that have been left in the field and weather will get that way, and can be bought for less than the price they brought 'fresh'.



[edit on 29-4-2008 by frayed1]



posted on Apr, 29 2008 @ 08:10 PM
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I am so jealous of those with "real" gardens... but I'm making do with what I have...

I would like to share with you all.. my container garden instead.






What I have planted:
Sweet 100 cherry tomato full sun, lots of water, doing great in the container, constant supply of delicious tomatoes.
Tiny Tim tomato full sun, lots of water, lots of small green tomatoes on the plants.
Early Girl tomato Just planted, full sun, plant in a deep pot with stakes.
Jalapeno full sun, moderate water, pick jalapenos at about 2/3 inches and the plants continues to produce, we're picking 3 or 4 a week.
Green and Red Bell Peppers full sun, moderate water, i've harvested 2 peppers from each plant already and it's still flowering and producing well.
Habanero aka Scotch Bonnett pepper full sun, moderate water, no peppers yet.
Okra full sun, moderate water, so far only 3 pods but I hope the plants pick up pace in a month or two.
Bibb Lettuce: partial sun, lots of water early in the day. We had fresh lettuce daily for about 6 weeks, then the plant bolted and is now producing flowers. Needs a partial sun/shade spot or too much sun causes it grow too fast.
Collard Greens moderate water, full sun, harvested leaves twice, more than enough for a family of four.
Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Basil, Lemon Balm, Bee Balm, Feverfew, St. John's Wort, Oregano, Parsley, Chives, Tarragon, Peppermint, Spearmint Full sun, water lightly daily. These plants are doing great in containers. Great for cooking and easy to snip a few leaves as needed.
Stevia Full Sun, Moderate water, The sweet leaf plant, growing it as a sugar substitute, so far so good.
Coffee Plant Moderate growth habit. We'll see if I really can get a pound of beans from one plant.
Gran Nain Banana Very fast grower, not expecting fruit anytime soon, but it's a very beautiful plant to have and can be contained if container is large enough.
Cucumber full sun, lots of water and needs a support system, I'm using a spiral trellis. Two full size cukes already picked with at least two more on the vine.


Fruit Trees:
Barbados Cherry (Acerola) My favorite fruit, tart little cherries with very high Vitamin C content. We're picking several a week.


June Plum aka Golden Apple Another of my favorite tropical fruits


Key Lime Full sun.. tree is covered with blooms and little tiny key limes.


Meyer LemonFull sun, got a few lemons already


Persian Lime Full sun, not flowering yet.

Keep in mind this is a zone 10 garden with close to tropical temperature year round. What you don't see in those pics are some of my specimen plants, Paan/Betel, Tulsi/Holy Basil, Brugsmania/Angel Trumpet, and Passionfruit.

b]Struggling PlantsWhat can I do???
Eggplant still in seedling form and haven't really caught a growing spurt yet.. not sure what it needs, more sun or water?????
Spinach seeds germinated, but again very slow growth, not sure what it needs.


[edit on 4-29-2008 by worldwatcher]



posted on Apr, 29 2008 @ 08:24 PM
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Terrific container garden.

The extra information on each plant is appreciated.

I've got a few container plants going, tomatoes, peppers etc., mainly as an experiment.

I am envious of your Corona Bush . . . (limes).

Well done.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do you have a "Western Garden Book?"

Lots of good information within and worth the expense.

I borrow Sweeties quite often.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now that I've seen your limes I'm very tempted to try one of my own.

Any problems with below freezing temps?
Or does the lime tree just go dormant?

I have some Southern California friends who have lime "bushes" (trees trimmed into hedges) and they have a pretty good haul over the year even through temps get below freezing once in a while.

They live inland from the coast about 30 miles and 350' altitude in a citrus growing area.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What kind of soil did you plant your trees in?

[edit on 29-4-2008 by Desert Dawg]



posted on Apr, 29 2008 @ 08:49 PM
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Thanks
I referenced several books for my gardening advice.

Crops in Pots (awesome book)I love the ideas in it and plan to do a container based on the ideas from that book.
Square Foot Gardening and miraclegro guide to vegetables, fruits and herbs.

I used the largest "cheap" pot I could find (under $20), drilled extra drainage holes, add a layer of packing peanuts, then filled with a combo of Scott's and MiracleGro container mix. For my mango tree which I forgot to mention and one of June plums, I used the "smart pot" fabric bag with top soil and container soil mixed.

As for frost, here in South Florida, it's not a big issue so I can't say how well the limes will tolerate frost, but I think they should be fine in the Southwest.

edit to add... I forgot about the importance of mulch in a container garden... Not only does it make your pots look pretty, but it helps retain moisture since containers dry out faster and you basically have a weed free garden.

I should also mention, that I have roses and gladiolas also growing in containers.

[edit on 4-29-2008 by worldwatcher]



posted on May, 3 2008 @ 10:30 PM
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It is important to seperate gardening as a hobby and helping to relive(SP?) food shortages from survivalist gardens . The cost of seeds and seedlings will of course go up but will remain cheaper then off the self food . As for true survivalist gardening if I may call it that . I have already mentioned the issue of supplying water to your plants . Beyond tomato's(SP?) , Potatoes(SP?) , and Pumpkin I don't know anyone who knows how to seed there own fruit and vegetables.

All I can suggest is that once seed differnt variety's of fruit and vegetables that you intermix your own seeds with commercial ones every couple of generations . This allows you to expand the gene pool and to increase the size of what you are growing . If your gene pool is to limited it is more likely that your plants will be wiped out by diseases and drought .



posted on May, 4 2008 @ 01:12 PM
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This spring I learned that I should have asked the advice of my father-in-law before sprouting my tomato plants and that next year I will need some kind of a grow light. Next year I will seed them in much bigger pots too. I knew he was an expert at tomato plants. Doh!

I sprouted my tomato plants in little peat cups with my other crops, and didn't use a light. My plants are about an inch tall and his are already over a foot. This area has a very short growing season for tomatoes so I am worried that I won't get many this year. Oh well, live and learn.

I also learned that carrots are best sown directly into the ground and not started in little cups. And that most of the plants I started in the peat cups turned out fragile and puny. Bleh.

But I also learned that wheat grass is super resilient and grows well indoors under even cruddy conditions. I just love my wheatgrass right now.



posted on May, 6 2008 @ 11:59 AM
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Originally posted by AmethystSD

I sprouted my tomato plants in little peat cups with my other crops, and didn't use a light. My plants are about an inch tall and his are already over a foot. This area has a very short growing season for tomatoes so I am worried that I won't get many this year. Oh well, live and learn.




Did you tear the bottom of the peat cups off when you planted?

Leaving the peat cups intact slows the plant down a bit and they do better when the bottom of the cup is open.

Granted, the peat rots away, but it takes a couple of months at least.


What could help next year - and maybe even this year - is to start the seeds in the little peat pot starters, then select the best seedlings and re-pot them in a larger pot.
You can get small plastic pots with a drainage base to retain water pretty cheap at nurseries etc.


I mentioned a while back that of the two zuchinni brands I started from seed, the 97 cents a pack Burpees really took off and are now flowering.
Looks like little zukes are coming on.
The $3.00 a pack zuke seeds from an organic outfit didn't grow as fast as the Burpee zuke seeds did and after planting both in the garden, the organic zuke plants died out.

But . . . they're coming back and I have new small green leafed seedlings that look like they'll make it.


Still waiting to see if the Great Northern cooking beans from the market are going to sprout.
They've been in a little over a week.
If they do sprout I plan to toss the entire 1# bag of bean seeds into the planned garden extension which already has amended soil and grow them as green manure for their nitrogen content when plowed under.

I planted a lot of Sweetie cherry tomatoes in a large container and they're doing great.
When they get a little bigger I plan to re-pot several of them and hand them out to friends as a hanging plant.
Once they taste home-grown vine ripened tomatoes they'll be hooked.
Especially since I offered to till up a garden plot for them with my new tiller.



Gardening is an interesting hobby.
Lots of rewards and the most interesting part is that gardeners are already planning for next year before this years crop is up and running....



posted on May, 6 2008 @ 12:16 PM
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I have learned that you do not plant potatoes in the ground in Arizona. You must use a planter. If you plant in the ground, termites will feast on your potatoes and the roots and the plants will fall over and die. I have also learned that carrots are left alone by the termites.



posted on May, 6 2008 @ 12:22 PM
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Originally posted by groingrinder
I have learned that you do not plant potatoes in the ground in Arizona. You must use a planter. If you plant in the ground, termites will feast on your potatoes and the roots and the plants will fall over and die. I have also learned that carrots are left alone by the termites.



Any tips on growing tomatoes in the desert areas?

I'm curious too as to how often you water?

Right now I'm sticking a small shovel in the non-planted area of the rows and if the soil is dry 10" - 11" down, watering the garden.

Watering every two days right now although I'm looking at rain clouds and wondering if I should water.

I think I will water the garden . . . what better way to make it rain?

Washing the pickup will double the chances for rain....



posted on May, 6 2008 @ 12:27 PM
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My tomatoes and lettuce did absolutely nothing last year. I watered the carrots every other day.



posted on May, 6 2008 @ 12:46 PM
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Has anyone else gone hydroponic? I've moved my entire garden into a greenhouse, and I'm now getting roughly twice the yield, in half the space and close to half the time-to-harvest. Not to mention not even a tenth of the work.

I have to point out however, that a hydro garden presents a whole new set of caveats. For instance, if a pump fails, the garden can die in a mater of hours. There are moving parts, power is required, etc. etc. etc..

While not the best solution in a survival situation, it's much more efficient today, at this moment, to grow this way. I don't worry about hail destroying a crop (which is a concern here in Colorado), I don't worry about late freezes (again, a big concern), I can grow year round, no weeds to contend with and pests are easier to control if need be, and if I'm not running artificial lights, the power requirements are quite modest and easily supported by a small solar set up.





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