Gardening 101: Tips, Tricks and So Much More

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posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 02:53 PM
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With the garden season ramping up just about now I thought that perhaps now would be a good time to start this. The intention here is not to say "I know all about it" because I don't, not by a long shot. This is an attempt to give someone just starting out some of what I feel are basic considerations and a spring board to learn more about it. With the threat of possible food shortages and the ever present concerns over GMO foods, I felt it was important to let folks know that home gardening is relatively easy to do and is going to be even more important than ever before. I welcome everyone's input here because while I've been doing this for a long time, no one can know everything.

LOCATION...LOCATION...LOCATION.....
Everywhere I have lived that I have planted a garden I've done one thing first. Watched the sun move across the location I thought would be a good place for a garden. The sun is your friend but can also be an enemy if the spot gets too much sun. I try to pick a spot that gets a lot of morning sun and then partial shade in the afternoon when the sun is at it's highest and can do the most damage to tender plants. If you have no place like that not to worry, you can rig a 'shade' by driving posts into the ground, driving a nail into the top of each post and put losely woven burlap over the nails to hold it in place. This will allow the sun to come through while providing some shade as well as letting the rain pass through it.

No Yard?? No Problem!!! Alternatives to the 'traditional' garden plot
If you have an area that has been landscaped try planting some veggies or herbs in with your landscaping or make your garden your landscaping! Here is an edible landscaping website that sells non GMO plants. This website was given to me by a new friend here on ATS while discussing home preservation of food. Edible Landscaping

If you are limited on space you can also try a container garden, which is something that I am going to impliment this year right off my back steps since I have an unused 5x8 plot of land that would be perfect for use as a culinary/medicinal herb garden done in containers.

Be creative, if the "will" is there, the solution will show itself!
If even a container garden is not possible and you are still concerned with GMO's invading your dinner plate head off to the farmers markets and make friends with the farmers who grow non GMO foods or join a CSA program that for a small fee will provide a periodic (usually weekly) supply of fresh off the farm goodies. They usually also will allow (or may be a requirement when buying into the program) you to come out and tend to the crops, which supplies a new gardener the opportunity to gain valuable experience before trying it out on their own. Here is a good site showing Farmers Markets and CSA's all over the USA

Local Harvest: Farmers Markets and CSAs in the USA

SOIL
Once you've located the spot for your garden it's important to know what kind of soil you have. It goes beyond just "is it sandy? Is it clay?" Every part of the US has different minerals and compounds in it that may play an evil role when growing your garden and every location will have different amendments needed to have a thriving garden plot. My best advice here would be to have your soil tested to see just whats in it and what it may need in order to get the results you are looking for. For a very nominal fee your local Cooperative Extension can test your soil for you and provide you with a report along with suggestions on what you can do to get your little Garden of Eatin' into tip top shape. Here is a website that will point you in the right direction to your local Cooperative Extension as well as a little info on soil testing.

Cooperative Extension Locator
Soil Testing Info

SEEDS
For me, this is the really important part. I have rather strong ideas about the seeds. It is my belief that in order to get the best results you need to start out with premium stock and for me that means non GMO heirloom seeds. Results not withstanding with non GMO seeds you also have the ability to harvest the seeds from your current crop and save them for planting the next season or saving for several years. This not only allows you peace of mind knowing where your crops originate from but will also cut the costs in future years as you will not have to put out additional money every year in seed purchases.

When looking for suppliers of non GMO seeds or started plants, do research on your supplier before you purchase. Make sure that the companies you buy from have signed the "safe seed pledge" that guarantees what they are selling are safe from GMOs or at the very least they are doing the best they can in order to keep GMOs out of the food chain. Sometimes you will have to dig deep in order to find this out... just because it says the seeds are organic does not mean they may not have been tampered with. An example I used in an earlier post is Burpee. They have a line of organic seeds, which is great. But considering Burpee gets their seed stock from a company called Seminis which is owned by Monsanto is a little suspect in my opinion. I prefer heirloom seeds from smaller companies. Here is a couple that I use:

Comstock, Ferre Co., LLC
Nicols Garden Nursery
Seed Savers Exchange

Please note these are just the one's that I have relied upon for years. There are many terrific companies out there that provide non GMO/heirloom seeds for sale. Do what is best for you and you cannot go wrong.

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE
Especially in the beginning watering is very important to make sure your newly planted garden does not dry out. Once the garden is established it becomes a matter of maintenance to make sure everything has enough to drink. One tip that I have found that works great for me is laying down soaker hoses along the rows of plants and then covering the aisles, not the rows, with mulch that has not been treated with any chemicals. This way I can turn on the soaker hoses on a slow drip for a couple of hours to get everything damp (less water usage) and the mulch will help to keep the moisture from evaporating too quickly. Just be sure to check under the mulch from time to time to make sure their is no mold, mildew or fungus' growing under there that will damage your crops especially if you have had a lot of rain. The mulch also serves to help keep those pesky weeds in your aisles to a minimum!

MISC. STUFF
There are several publications out there that I have found to be very very useful over the years and would suggest looking into if you are really going to get into gardening, preserving your harvest or just being good stewards of this 3rd rock from the sun. There are many, but these 3 have proven over and over again to be lifesavers for me.

Grit Magazine
Countryside Magazine and Small Stock Journal
Mother Earth News

In Short........

I would love it if people would consider this a thread to share ideas on all things gardening like companion plantings, natural fertilizers, critter control, tips and tricks... you name it as it pertains to gardening.

There are many many reasons people start a garden these days for me it is about the satisfaction watching it grow and produce as well as providing me with a stress reliever and a break from all the doom and gloom that washes over me from time to time with all the unrest in the world today. Whatever your reasons are, or may become, I wish you all the best in your gardening endeavours.

Thanks for reading what turned into a mega posting.... and please feel free to add to it.




posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:01 PM
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Thanks for the advice and valuable information and links. Something tells me that we will all need this info very soon indeed.
edit on 8-3-2011 by Chewingonmushrooms because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:08 PM
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One to add here if your planting tomatoes in the same spot every year, before you plant on the second year give the ground a little bit of Epsom salts to help with removing the acidity in the soil as it builds up over the years.

Really great read and thanks to the OP for such an informative thread.
Regards, Iwinder



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:09 PM
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Personally, I think this should be under survival.

We best learn to feed ourselves, now.

S&F



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:10 PM
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Hello! Just stopping in to say "Hi" I don't have too much tima at the minute, but will stop back later to see what tips I can pick up from you guys! Also I will offer any advice I can give you all! Nice thread S+F



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:13 PM
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Originally posted by Iwinder
One to add here if your planting tomatoes in the same spot every year, before you plant on the second year give the ground a little bit of Epsom salts to help with removing the acidity in the soil as it builds up over the years.

Really great read and thanks to the OP for such an informative thread.
Regards, Iwinder


Also, if your tomatoes have blight it is quite possible that it will stay in the soil, so if your tomatoes suffered from blight the previous year, best not to plant them in that same spot until one full year has passed. I plant my toms in the same spot every year and they seem very happy, but will definately try the epsom salt this spring. Thanks!

EDIT TO ADD: Before I go, if you are having squirrel problems (they like to dig in my beds just after sowing, little brats - I think there are peanuts growing underground!) They can't stand capsicum(sp?) so sprinkling a little cayenne around will deter them until after a couple of rains, also if you recognize their routes across your fences and such a little hot sauce here and there helps.

edit on 8-3-2011 by mutantgenius because: didnt want to make a new post.



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:17 PM
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This is going to be a very infomative thread.
Thank you for starting it.

I am in my sixth year of gardening and getting better yeilds each year.

It is important to know what types of plants are not good neighbors for other plants.

For instance; not good to plant tomatos and peppers close to esch other.

There are many and you will find more if you google the subject.

I garden outside all year except in January.

I grow in my garden room all year.
Just the very act of growing food is very important and fullfilling and very good for the body and spirit.

Star and flag for you for starting this important thread.

Working on a chicken house now and hope to have fresh eggs soon.

Happy gardening to all.
edit on 8-3-2011 by dizziedame because: To add a sentance



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:17 PM
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AWESOME POST OP!..
S&F..You should have posted this in the survival section, As this is great survival information.



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:18 PM
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Originally posted by mutantgenius

Originally posted by Iwinder
One to add here if your planting tomatoes in the same spot every year, before you plant on the second year give the ground a little bit of Epsom salts to help with removing the acidity in the soil as it builds up over the years.

Really great read and thanks to the OP for such an informative thread.
Regards, Iwinder


Also, if your tomatoes have blight it is quite possible that it will stay in the soil, so if your tomatoes suffered from blight the previous year, best not to plant them in that same spot until one full year has passed. I plant my toms in the same spot every year and they seem very happy, but will definately try the epsom salt this spring. Thanks!


You are welcome, here we have planted them is the same spot for about 17 years now and after we learned about the Epsom salts it's been a bumper crop every year here except during lousy weather which will kill all and any preventive measures.
Regards, Iwinder



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:19 PM
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reply to post by Iwinder
 


Thanks for the input! Never thought of Epsom salts for that purpose...maybe for a good soak after some time in the garden but not for in the garden! Will give that one a try!

Also something for fungus' that may pop up, try sprinkling some corn meal around it will rid your garden as well as your yard from the nasties. I've used it and had some good results with it in th past.

Thanks again for the tip!



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:20 PM
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One thing I do, because yes, I'm a very lazy gardener, is to throw the stuff most people put into a compost pile, in between my rows. Saves me time, and since I plant my rows just a bit wider than the rototiller, it gets blended in nicely.



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:24 PM
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reply to post by TechVampyre
 


I thought about sticking this in the survial forum also before I posted it here. Was not sure which one would be best. Just glad to have you stop by for the read!



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:31 PM
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One thing I've come to notice is that planting "climbing" plants and vines next to sturdier crops can help to self-sustain and even encourage crops and their yeilds. I've always read about "companion plants" and such, but really began to notice the benefit a few weeks ago when my cucumber plants began lacing themselves over my tomatoes.

There are many climbing crops such as pole beans that can benefit from a structural neighbor plant!



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:37 PM
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Want larger onions?

How to grow larger onions. before July 1st stomp the greens over. This will make growth go to the onion instead of the greens. I have had onions larger than baseballs every year since learning this from an old man.

You all need to check out this aswell.

Download free ebooks on gardening . Follow the link below.

Survival and self sufficiency plus Gardening free ebooks
www.abovetopsecret.com...



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:38 PM
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Ok, this is great news. I just started my first garden about a week ago. I am starting from seeds as opposed to plants so I can learn how to sprout the seedlings myself. I have herbs as well as vegetables . The question I have is : some seeds sprout almost overnight,squash and broccoli for example. Most at least have some signs of life except my bell peppers, eggplant, cilantro, and jalapeños. I am excited and the weather is great for putting the suckers in the ground. How do you know if the sprouting is a fail? Does it take longer, like many days, for some plants in particular? When should you just give up and start over?



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:39 PM
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reply to post by MyMindIsMyOwn
 


Good thread!

Just an addition on seeds / plants and the old "What to plant when?" question.

Any of the mega chain stores (Lowes, Walmart, Home Depot, etc) will be quite happy to sell you seeds or plants that simply either will not grow or will not grow well in your area / season.

For example, here in FL I can buy broccoli plants or seeds year round. In my neck of the woods I know from experience I can grow some dang fine broccoli in the fall and winter. If I plant in the spring or summer the heat is just too much for it. Now in Michigan broccoli might do just fine in the spring and horrible in the fall / winter. Also, no matter how much I love it I simply live in the wrong place to grow a decent asparagus.

So much depends on location, soil and season with regard to what plants or even what varieties will grow. Another example, red potatoes or sweet potatoes do great in my climate. Your average russet 'tater doesn't do well at all here and comes out looking small, deformed and tasting like library paste.

The county extension in the link provided above is a good place to start on what to grow when in your area. Others are local, independent owned stores that sell seeds. These can be great places to ask. Check the website of the state university. Often they will produce gardening guides for the state. Lastly, check the newspaper - you'd be surprised how many local gardening classes or lectures are offered at libraries, rec centers and the like for free. You just have to find them and show up.



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:43 PM
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Originally posted by MyMindIsMyOwn
reply to post by Iwinder
 


Thanks for the input! Never thought of Epsom salts for that purpose...maybe for a good soak after some time in the garden but not for in the garden! Will give that one a try!

Also something for fungus' that may pop up, try sprinkling some corn meal around it will rid your garden as well as your yard from the nasties. I've used it and had some good results with it in th past.

Thanks again for the tip!


Wow corn meal ....who would have thought?....Next wet and funusy season we will give that a go.

Thanks for that, here is another one for tomatoes, here earwigs love to munch on the tender young shoots of our tomatoe plants in the really damp weather. (usually spring time...LOL no other time here)

The solution is to plant Merry-golds all around the base of your tomatoes and you will be good to go.
Our experience tells us that they (earwigs) hate Mary-golds)

Regards, iwinder



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:49 PM
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reply to post by Wetpaint72
 


You need to follow the planting directions fairly close as each veggy has a different germination period, for example parsnips can take 2 to 3 weeks to sprout where as a squash as you say seems to pop up almost overnight. When I say follow it closely I also mean the planting depth and spacing as some small seeds will take longer in you plant them too deep, I can not over stat the fact that planting instructions are so very "important "

My first time planting parsnips I got impatient after 2 weeks or so and planted something else in the same row, about a week or less the parsnips started spouting everywhere lol , on the sides of the row mostly as I re-hoed the row when I replanted.....

edit on 8-3-2011 by Reevster because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:50 PM
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reply to post by Wetpaint72
 


Peppers can be buggers sometimes to get started for some reason. They like heat to sprout. I've heard of people having good luck by kind of kick starting the seeds by putting some in a damp paper towel / coffee filter, sticking that in an partly open plastic baggie and putting the whole thing on top of the fridge (or other warm spot) for awhile. It still can take up to a couple of weeks from what I hear.

I usually start the peppers in little pots in the sunniest, warmest spot I can find and I've had them take a solid month to sprout before.

That's the other thing of seeds vs. plants. Somethings are easier to do from seeds than others. Also, the back of most seed packets will tell you how long they usually take to sprout.



posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 03:54 PM
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Originally posted by Wetpaint72
Ok, this is great news. I just started my first garden about a week ago. I am starting from seeds as opposed to plants so I can learn how to sprout the seedlings myself. I have herbs as well as vegetables . The question I have is : some seeds sprout almost overnight,squash and broccoli for example. Most at least have some signs of life except my bell peppers, eggplant, cilantro, and jalapeños. I am excited and the weather is great for putting the suckers in the ground. How do you know if the sprouting is a fail? Does it take longer, like many days, for some plants in particular? When should you just give up and start over?


Some seeds take longer to germinate and sprout than others. A 6th of my cucumber seeds didn't sprout recently, and I suppose that's just the way it goes.

In my opinion however, after a week you should be able to determine whether the particular seed did its job or not. I'd say that after that time period, you're free to use the land in question for other uses.





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