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Lessons Learned From a Backyard Garden

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posted on May, 16 2008 @ 11:44 AM
Terrific garden SeenTooMuch.

Sweetie got me some black drip hoses like yours and I need to get them in.

You probably spotted the green weeds on the outside of the garden, I mowed em a couple times with my John Deere Garden Tractor, but I can't get close enough to the bricks.

Got my weed whacker up and running and if I can get it to where it'll retain the line a little better I can do a lot of weed clean-up.

I'm trying to keep the garden to a reasonable size this year, but will probably go forward toward the VW Rabbit and out to the left.
All I need is room to drive between fence and garden so there's lots of room to expand.

I'm planning to add some verticalness during the winter, but for right now the wooden lattice should do it.

I do need to get busy with building the tomato trellises and the shade poles.
The other non-garden projects mentioned can be put on hold for a while.

The Lemon Boy in the one big container shown in a pic above has really taken off.
Been thinking about digging out a fairly good size hole in the garden and planting the Lemon Boy plus a bunch of the potting soil it's in now in the overly large hole.

The tomatoes are planted a little closer togeher than recommended, but I've done it before and having a tomato hedge works just fine.
The abovementioned trellises run in a straight line anyway.

Like all gardeners, planning for next year.
You're growing soil as well as plants when you have a garden and we have some plans for a several month soil amendment this winter.

posted on May, 16 2008 @ 06:23 PM
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I wanted to get a composter. I did some research and also checked Consumers Reports and mostly because of their recommendation, got the Smith & Hawkin Biostack composter.

Consumers actually said the rolling/or spinning types were difficult to turn when full and did not compost nearly as well or fast as the Biostack, and are much more expensive. You can pick up the Biostack for $90-$120 if you shop around.

The garden is just growing like crazy. Today the temp is in the 90's-- whew-- and I see that I will have to buy some shade for the garden for the hottest part of the day.

I can't wait to live where you don't have to buy dirt, water and shade!

Edit to add: DesertDawg, I planted my potatoes in a space about 4' x 2', way too small and have had to transplant a few. I never expected all of them to come up. It's cool, really-- that you can cut up one potato and get so many plants from it, then so many potatoes from each new plant. Pretty good deal, all in all. Never tried it before.

I sowed my dill weed seeds in an English muffin box
and then when they were about an inch tall, just opened the end and slid them out, dirt and all, into the half wine barrel pot with some other herbs. Worked pretty well.

And so far, the new basil is doing fine. Said on the tag "likes hot weather", so it's in the right place for that. I don't water unless it looks like it needs it, and then lightly.

[edit on 5/16/08 by kattraxx]

posted on May, 19 2008 @ 09:37 AM
reply to post by kattraxx

" DesertDawg, I planted my potatoes in a space about 4' x 2', way too small and have had to transplant a few. I never expected all of them to come up. It's cool, really-- that you can cut up one potato and get so many plants from it, then so many potatoes from each new plant. Pretty good deal, all in all. Never tried it before.

Cool, I may try it at the end of summer and see what happens.

I got the lumber for the tomato trellises I mentioned in an earlier post.
If things work out I should be able to knock them out today.
If so, I'll post an article and some pics.

Here are a couple of sites you should find interesting:

Saving tomato seeds.

You'll find the bit about potato seeds vs cuttings interesting.

This last site is an interesting one about growing veggies in Sunny Arizona.

98 degrees F predicted here today.
A little garden work before it gets too hot, run an errand then try the new plastic blade gizmo I got for the weedwhacker.

For a while there, I was using poison to control weeds, but not with a garden on the property.

Some time back I read that if you cut a weed -hoe, weedwhacker etc. - it will grow back.
Cut it a 2nd time and it usually doesn't have the energy to grow again.

Tis amazing how fast the weeds grow here in the dez when they get just a hint of moisture.
Have a good couple months of rain during Monsoon season - starts June 15th - and when you view the desert from a ridge about 1000' above the desert floor, it looks like a well maintained golf course.
Lots of very small wildflowers, many no bigger than a nickel.

posted on May, 19 2008 @ 12:06 PM
Interesting that tomato seeds need to ferment to germinate........don't think I'd ever seen that mentioned before!! ( Guess the 'old dog, new tricks' bit is still alive and well !!

The seeds we've saved in the past were usually the tomatoes that were left on the table out back till they went through the process of rot and then dried out.....I guess that was enough fermentation to work, cause they usually sprout pretty well.....and the rotten ones that got thrown into the compost pile must have fermented as well.....we always have a good many 'volunteers' that come up there!!

Love seeing all the pics from different parts of the country!....

posted on May, 19 2008 @ 03:50 PM
Not too off topic, the dez not too far from the house.

Along with a little flora.

End of day....

No filters used on the camera nor were the photos, photoshopped other than scaling them down in size only.

The skies are that clear out here.

Some days we can see over 100 miles from my friends house.
Makes a nice late afternoon to sit on the front porch with a glass of wine or beer and watch lightning storms 25-100 miles away and marvel at Mother Earth in her many moods.

posted on May, 19 2008 @ 04:05 PM
Long as I'm at it, here's a few that show the sky quite well.

(Dry Lake about 25 miles from home.)

(Sheepherders living quarters on the edge of the dry lake with the wheels and axles gone.)

(One I like taken at our shooting area. I think there are one or two other groups that use the area and we all keep it very clean.)

(Out in the middle of nowhere as you can see. Note the dark colored bunkers. Good backstops and there are about 3-4 miles before you get off the dry lake into the dez. The dark colored bunkers are steer manure.
The nearby cattle ranch dumps it and in three years or so of going out there we've never seen it hauled off. I'm thinking . . . next year.)

posted on May, 19 2008 @ 05:46 PM
reply to post by Desert Dawg

Nice pix, Desert Dawg. Looks familiar. I was reading your post about the vegetables and thought, I'm going out to my garden to pick some butter lettuce and spinach and make a salad. I wish the tomatoes were ready, and the cucumbers and shallots. And you're right-- there is nothing better. They are a much deeper green than lettuce or spinach you buy in the grocery store and I know there are no pesticides. And they didn't cost me $3 a head. I cut the leaves off and they grow right back. I haven't had a big garden since I was a kid and had forgotten how much fun it is. The grapes, blueberry and raspberry plants are all doing very well too.

We've had temps in the high 90's already-- breaking records-- so I had to buy the nursery shade to cover the garden during the hottest part of the day. The mulch helps so much too.

I was in the desert yesterday and as I was getting in my car, I noticed clumps of iris laying all over the place. I recognized the leaves, except these are variegated. I picked all of them up, wrapped them in a wet blanket and brought them home and planted them. I wonder why anyone would throw away iris? You couldn't find a more agreeable, easy to grow, beautifully fragranced elegant flower than iris.

I grew some yellow pear tomato plants from the seeds of a plant I had last year. They popped up right away, again surprising me.

Yes, do try potatoes. Thanks for the link, too-- I'll go have a look at that now.

posted on May, 19 2008 @ 06:02 PM
reply to post by kattraxx

You'll probably want to take a look at TheLibras newest gardening post.

Go here:

Several interesting things going on.

posted on May, 19 2008 @ 06:06 PM
reply to post by kattraxx

One thing I forgot to mention, buy the vine-ripened tomatoes at the market if they are available.

If . . . you let them ripen for another 2-5 days the flavor is much improved.
Best in fact, when they get a touch soft.

Since the garden went in, I've been buying and enjoying these on sandwiches for lunch.

They beat heck out the greenish/red tomatoes they sell as substitutes for tennis balls at my local market....

posted on May, 19 2008 @ 06:19 PM
reply to post by Desert Dawg

Vine-ripened are much better, and even moreso when you let them sit in the kitchen window a couple days. And they'll do in a pinch, until the garden ones are ready. There really is no comparison, is there?

I can't wait till mine are ripe, especially the beefsteak. There is this sandwich I remember from France that I'm going to make as soon as the tomatoes are ready. On French sourdough bread, you put a good high quality ham, fresh tomatoes, white onions, and mayo. Good tomatoes are essential.

Next year, I'm going to build a raised bed and have even more garden space. There are so many things I want to try growing.

Edit: I read the link on growing potatoes. It's probably getting too hot too early for them, but we'll see what happens. Maybe the shade will help. Otherwise, I'll try them again in my winter garden.

[edit on 5/19/08 by kattraxx]

posted on May, 19 2008 @ 06:33 PM
reply to post by kattraxx

"I can't wait till mine are ripe, especially the beefsteak."

I've never grown a beefsteak, but I know that a lot of gardeners do.

I understand as well, they don't do well here in the dez, but seems they ought to do as well as any other.

Some of the plants I bought - as vs seed - are doing well.
I have a (one) pepper on the red hot cherry pepper bush.
As well as one cherry tomato that's ripened into a light orange and some green ones coming along.

The Jubilee tomato plants I started from seed inside the house have failed.
I think the wind beat em up and they gave up.
So I dug a hole, filled it with potting soil and tossed in 4-5 Jubilee seeds.
We'll see what happens.

The other seed started plants are doing ok.
Peppers, hot & bell in the garden, a tub full of Sweetie Cherry Tomatoes
It seems like the beans really took off overnight and are about to start climbing the lattice.

Corn that I started in the house is doing well, but so is the same package of corn seed planted directly in the garden.

Since I laid the black soaker hoses down - this morning - it opened up a space for a couple of tomato plants in the back of the garden.
Probably ought to try a beefsteak.

Is the beefsteak one of your favorites flavor-wise?
Sure sounds good.

I added your sandwich recipe to my recipe collection.

posted on May, 19 2008 @ 06:40 PM
reply to post by Desert Dawg

Beefsteak get really big and meaty, and for me are the best for sandwiches. I hope you enjoy the French sandwich. I planted the yellow pear and Roma so I'll have some early while waiting on the Beefsteak. Oops, having a little earthquake right now... Anyway, I'll be eating tons of tomatoes this summer.

posted on May, 19 2008 @ 07:15 PM
I’ve already started harvesting my potatoes, and there’s just no comparison to store bought. The taste and texture is so superior, and of course the nutrition. I started late on the beans and tomatoes, so those will be a few weeks yet, but my corn (an heirloom variety called Jarvis Golden Prolific) are two feet high and risin’. This is my first year for veggies, and I’m getting a big kick out of eating the fruit of my own labor. I too am surprised by the yield you get out of one little piece of tater. It’s going to be a challenge to eat/store it all. Can’t wait for the watermelon, ‘maters, corn and beans. This is fun!

PS I'm growing Beefsteak tomatoes too, and I'm wondering if they're good for cooking with also?

edit for ps

[edit on 19-5-2008 by resistor]

posted on May, 20 2008 @ 11:26 AM

Originally posted by Desert Dawg
The dark colored bunkers are steer manure.
The nearby cattle ranch dumps it and in three years or so of going out there we've never seen it hauled off. I'm thinking . . . next year.)

Yikes! That stuff is like gold!!

I'd get a load every time if I were you!! If it's still a bit 'hot', pile it in the next spot you're thinking of gardening, and the nutrients will be soaking into the ground and digging it in will add humus and make your soil easier to till and better able to hold moisture. (The only reservation I would have , is that the ranch may have used some pesticides.....?)

Last year I piled our chicken 'litter' in an empty spot at the edge of my garden, this year I spread and tilled that all in and put a row of green beans . The beans that are growing directly over that former compost spot are easily a foot and a half taller than their neighbors that got less of the litter.

We use the chicken and horse manure with generally good results on everything.......except the root crops ( carrots, potatoes, beets) as the grubs and such in manure will play havoc with them......

[edit on 20-5-2008 by frayed1]

[edit on 20-5-2008 by frayed1]

posted on May, 20 2008 @ 03:00 PM
reply to post by frayed1

Good points on the manure.

Since I got my Ranger 4x4 back, we've been going out there in that due to it's better mileage.
The big pickup next time.

This is open range and every once in a while we see a big ol Longhorn bull wandering down the road to the dry lake.
I don't know where he's going unless he's remembering the pump fed water hole that used to be at the bottom of the hill, but was abandoned a couple years back.

We do find cattle tracks in the shooting area now and then.

I like your idea of hauling in a pickup load and spreading it on next years garden extension.

Since it's open range and the ranch is large by huge there shouldn't be a pesticide problem of any kind.

It does rain out on the dry lake, quite hard at times, but I have yet to see anything sprouting in or near the manure piles.

[edit on 20-5-2008 by Desert Dawg]

posted on May, 20 2008 @ 03:08 PM
reply to post by kattraxx

You sold me on the beefsteak tomato.

Went to Wally World and Home Depot to get a nice pot to plant some of the Sweetie Cherry tomatoes in for our friends.

I couldn't find a single beefsteak plant, so bought nine little ones in one container for the same price.
Planted three to a hole that was dug and filled with potting soil so we'll see how they do.
Nice part is the little plants are hidden behind the bricks and out of the wind right now.

Was supposed to be hot, but it looks like the low is moving in early with somewhat high winds and looks like rain clouds to the S/W.
Maybe the monsoon is getting started early . . .hope so.

Since the first crop of radishes have been harvested, I also bought a peat pot with four small-medium size watermelons, dug up the old radish row, more potting soil and planted the watermelons along the row.

We'll see how that goes . . .one year I planted Sugar Baby Watermelons on a small hill in the back yard, covered with black plastic etc.
Virtually all of them came ripe on the same day.
Nothing like seeing a guy walking down the neighborhood street with a big box of little watermelons on a wagon and trying to give them away.
No problem though, the neighbors were very happy....

[edit on 20-5-2008 by Desert Dawg]

posted on May, 20 2008 @ 03:59 PM
reply to post by Desert Dawg

Now you should've gotten a photograph of that-- you walking the neighborhood with your wagon giving away watermelons. I didn't have room this year, but did plant one casaba melon by the Japanese cucumber. Watermelons and pumpkins are a lot of fun to grow and I love the way the huge leaves look. Wish I had more space! It's cooler here today as well and very windy. I think the garden plants are big enough now to withstand the wind. When the beans get more established on the fence, they'll provide a windbreak. I think I have bush beans out there too. Some kind of purple bean too, which should be interesting. I had another salad from the garden today-- so satisfying to pick your own veggies.

I guess the beefsteak tomatoes go fast. Pretty soon, won't they start selling them in 1/2 gallon pots? Check again. If you still have space. I asked down at Wal-Mart and Home Depot what day they get their new garden plant deliveries, so I can get first pick.

posted on May, 20 2008 @ 06:14 PM
Some of the key things i've learnt from being brought up near farmland and having our our allotment is this. Make your own fertilizer when possible, beg, borrow and trade what you can and always try and make your own seed supply.

Over the years i've developed a good relationship with some people and i've gained access to manure from the local stables. It took some effort but i now have an agreement, i can take as much as i want if i can transport it and use it only on my own land. It's not only a great way to recycle but also means it reduces my costs a serious amount.

The free news papers i get through the letter box each week are saved and used as a lost cost mulch and water absorber in the bean trenches, or shredded and thrown into the compost to absorb moisture and keep it turning over.

I've learnt how to deal with pests in an organic way, and i've learnt that regular small maintenance works better than leaving it ages and giving it one big overhaul.

A great thread.

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 03:48 PM
Just wanted to follow up on the composter I was talking about earlier-- the Biostack, rated the best in Consumer Reports. I love this thing. There's no back-breaking turning involved, and get this: It's made in the U.S.A. I ordered mine right from Smith & Hawken online, as they had the best price. If you're in the market for a composter, I can recommend this one.

posted on May, 24 2008 @ 12:25 PM
Great information all. It is very helpful!

I have a question. I bought some wheat and buckwheat seeds to try growing some grain this year. Problem is when they arrived they said sprouts and had instructions for making a 'lettuce' for salads. My question is, Are these the same seeds I would use to grow grain or are they only for 'sprouting'? Any help is Greatly Appreciated.

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