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The 2013 Garden Thread

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posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:04 PM
This season I planted tomatoes, Swiss Chard, okra, yellow straightneck squash, and bell peppers. I eventually want to get to where I plant a bunch of easily preservable things like beans (let them mature then dry on the plant).

One thing I REALLY want to grow a lot of and store is Golden Giant Amaranth. I planted some the past few years, but never enough to actually store a whole bunch. I think of all the vegetables I grow, amaranth is my favorite. It is technically a seed, but is considered a grain. In my opinion, it's the easiest grain to grow and harvest, besides corn. Plus, you can eat the greens of the amaranth before it gets big. They taste a lot like spinach. The stems of the young amaranth plant can be steamed or boiled, and they actually taste a lot like asparagus.

You get basically three crops in one plant, I guess you could say: the young leaves, the young stems, and then the grain. The Aztecs and the Incas relied heavily on amaranth. I believe it was the Aztecs who actually held religious rituals in honor of the plant.

The seeds are incredibly easy to thresh, it just takes a little bit of time to do so. But it is well worth it! According to some studies, amaranth grain can supply the human body with around 75% of everything it needs to survive. I think it's a good idea to grow something like that which can be stored easily, and just the one thing, supplemented with just a couple other vegetables, can just about provide a complete diet.
edit on 12-4-2013 by jeramie because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:09 PM
Hate to say it..... I wouldn't mind a thread for gardening....

posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:39 PM
I adore this idea! I've actually been a long time reader of this site, but when I read this, I actually took the dive and join ed.
I've only been gardening since last year, but I read just about anything I can on how to do it better. A learning process indeed. If id be able to join one of my favorite websites with one of my favorite past times.....yup, I'm sold.

My tomato experiment last year was certainly a learning process. A miserable fail because I planted them so close together that they were probably screaming at me. I'm not giving up though. I have many young seedlings that I plan on placing in diy self watering boxes. I hope it turns out ok, and I'm very much open to advise/other experiences .

posted on Apr, 13 2013 @ 01:04 AM
I have been gardening for nearly 20 years. Growing and preserving food are part of my survival preparations. As my projects have grown, we have shifted to producing more and more of our own food. Bread from scratch, 3 or 4 meals a week that originated on our own property entirely (except for coffee!).

Even if you have a tiny garden (I started with an unused planter outside my dorm), it can still fit into survival preparations if you plan it to be that way. The most basic meal you can prepare over an open fire or grill is to grill vegetables and serve them in a sauce over rice. A handful of green beans, a carrot, and an onion can be diced and boiled with chicken boullion and served over rice. The fresh garden veggies go naturally with rice, which itself can be stored 10-20 years without consequence.

We freeze most of our vegetables rather than canning them. They are usually eaten within 3-6 months. This year I plan to experiment with dehydrating them as ingredients for MRE-style instant meals. My spouse has a friend who sells pre-measured mason jars full of soup ingredients (you just add boiling water), and we'll be studying that style of storage and food prep.

My kids have joined us in the garden while still in the stroller so they could get some sun. Spouse moved the sandbox next to the garden, so they could parallel play with the big people. By 3 years of age they know what carrots should look like, and can tell the difference between cucumber sprouts and bindweed.

To the poster who asked, yes it is hell if you are OCD having little ones "help" you in the garden. But it would be even worse to have them grow up in ignorance. Plus, the whole point to having kids is that you have 18 years of increasingly free labor.

Some of you mention that "food is so cheap" that gardening is hardly worth it....

With all due respect I wonder how different your patch of our shared planet must be. Where I live, tomatoes were basically a dollar a piece at the grocery last summer. A can of soup is a buck fifty, and full of propylene glycol. Aparagus is way over two bucks a can. Fresh bread in the bread aisle was ... THREE DOLLARS (and mostly whipped air). When we ran out of our own canned green beans this January, we bought a few cans at the store. The kids wouldn't eat them, and neither would we---they finally went in the trash untouched. And they cost over a dollar a can.

I invite you to take a second look at the dollars and sense of gardening. look at the price of canned (or frozen) vegetables, then look at the price of strawberries. Now do the same thing, but now just take a look at the organics...

posted on Apr, 13 2013 @ 12:54 PM
reply to post by otherpotato

I'm in zone 6. We haven't yet put anything into soil yet. I will be tilling the area and adding some dirt from the compost in the next week or so. I'm trying to talk my wife into expanding the area so we can grow more.

The brew thread I'm commenting in is BEER.
My hops plant is a vine on a trellis growing on the south facing wall. It started out as a 'twig' of a rhizome and now returns every year and at least double in vines each time. I love it.

The garden this year, my hopefuls are; bush peas, tomatoes (different kinds), zucchini, squash, bell peppers, hot chiles, herbs, basil, cucumbers, broccoli, and maybe some last minute plants the kids might want from the store.

My mother in law likes to start plants from seed and bring them down to us, but I like to get a nice healthy plant from the store and get it in the ground. Whatever works. I'll keep updating as we progress.

posted on Apr, 13 2013 @ 04:49 PM
reply to post by woodsmom

THANK YOU for the tip about the poppies. I knew there was a trick I was missing! And I will give the onions another shot. Although I feel it's too late to start over now that it's April. Do you start indoors or sow direct?

posted on Apr, 13 2013 @ 04:56 PM
reply to post by jeramie

I have never heard of Amaranth. Just did a quick bit of searching and it looks like quite the versatile plant. Appears to be growable in my zone. Thanks for the tip and post any advice you have about growing it. I'd love to learn more about it from someone who has firsthand experience.

posted on Apr, 13 2013 @ 05:09 PM

Originally posted by josephine2009
My tomato experiment last year was certainly a learning process. A miserable fail because I planted them so close together that they were probably screaming at me.

I plant using a ruler. That probably sounds anal but I try to maximize every inch of my garden space. If a plant only needs 6 inches apart that's all it gets. If it needs a foot and a half, it gets a foot and a half. Last year I measured everything out exactly and I had a jungle. I also do a lot of research - different plant families like different conditions and some plants get along better than others.

I read in the Old Farmer's Almanac this year that spraying the flowers of tomato, pepper and eggplant with diluted epsom salt helps the fruits grow larger. I think it's the magnesium. Will report back if I try it.

Hope you'll give it another go this year and let us know how it's going. If I can figure out how to post pictures from last year I'll show you my enormous tomato. (Aaand.... that sounds like a dirty joke...!)

posted on Apr, 14 2013 @ 01:42 AM

Originally posted by otherpotato
reply to post by jeramie

I have never heard of Amaranth. Just did a quick bit of searching and it looks like quite the versatile plant. Appears to be growable in my zone. Thanks for the tip and post any advice you have about growing it. I'd love to learn more about it from someone who has firsthand experience.

It's a wonderful plant to grow. And another good thing about it is it actually prefers semi-drought conditions once it is established. The variety I have grown, the Golden Giant variety, actually grows to more than ten feet tall. The first year I grew them I measured the tallest plant right after pulling it out of the ground, and it was 15ft 9in! That year I only grew 6 plants, because I bought a small amount of seeds and grew those 6 plants to supply myself with enough seeds for future plantings. I did have to stake them all, because there were so few of them, so I gave them plenty of space to spread out and produce as many seeds as possible.

Last year I planted about 100 feet of row of Golden Giant. I planted them closer together to utilize as much space as possible, but without crowding the plants too much. I planted them 15 inches apart, and some of them still reached about 10 feet or so. The bad part is that since there were so many plants, I was not about to attempt staking every one of them! Surprisingly, maybe only ten or so of them fell down. But, those ten or so still produced seed. When the plant falls down, the tip of the plant will begin curving upward and continue to grow. And honestly, that doesn't seem to affect seed production. You probably lose a little bit because some of the stems get squished, but it is well worth it to just let the fallen plants grow where they fall. I someday want to plant enough amaranth to be able to supply my family with grain year-round.

Advertisements for the Golden Giant variety claim you get about 1 pound of seed from each plant. That is not entirely true. I'm sure that has happened somewhere at some point, but it is not something that happens with every individual plant. That first year I planted them, I got 3 1/2 pounds of cleaned/winnowed seed from those 6 plants. So, I would say on average you can expect just over half a pound per plant, if you plant them as far apart as those were. Maybe a little less if you plant them around 15 inches apart. That's pretty good, considering the seeds swell up 3 times in volume when cooked.

I use a lot of mulch in my garden. If you go to Youtube and watch Ruth Stout's Garden (a two part video, about 20 minutes long altogether), you will see where I got the inspiration for that. But, even if I did not use a lot of mulch in my garden, the amaranth plant is still very easy to grow, and like I said, it doesn't use a lot of water once established. Part of that is because they are native to drier parts of the world, and also because the leaves of the plant shade the ground very well when the plant gets bigger.

Cooking the seeds is easy. I use 3 parts water to 1 part seeds, and it comes out perfectly every time. I let the water come to a boil, then I add the seeds. Then I turn the fire down way low to where the water is barely at a simmer. Keep a lid on top while cooking. Every 5 minutes I take off the lid and stir the seeds. Replace the lid. Repeat the same thing every 5 minutes for about 25 minutes. After about 15 minutes you will notice that every time you take the lid off and stir the seeds, it will thicken up and stay that way. The next time it will thicken ever more, and stay that way (just something I noticed and thought it was cool).

Some people try to cook amaranth once and then never try it again because they say they have to cook it for almost an hour just to get it soft and mushy. The thing is, the seeds are actually supposed to be a bit crunchy. If you cook them long enough for them to get soft and mushy, then all the good nutrition is most likely destroyed. 25 minutes or so is just right, in my opinion.

One of the many reasons I believe people should plant amaranth if they can is because it is very versatile and can go with any meal. When it's boiled like I described, it comes out almost like grits in texture. The flavor is a sweet, nutty flavor. It's one of the types of food that you can add cinnamon, sugar, and milk, and eat it as a delicious hot cereal for breakfast, or you can add butter, salt, and pepper to it and eat it with dinner.

If you're ambitious enough (unlike me), you can even grind it up into flour and either add it to your regular bread dough recipe, or use it by itself to make flat bread.

posted on Apr, 14 2013 @ 01:43 AM
Also, I have a small container filled to the top with Golden Giant Amaranth seed. If I had to take a wild guess, I would say there are over 100,000 seeds in that container, so I'm not going to be running out of them any time soon! If anybody would like to try planting some in there garden, just let me know. I would be glad to send you more than enough to get you started.

posted on Apr, 14 2013 @ 04:33 AM
Does anyone here grow blueberries? I got my plants last year and had a harvest. Then I watched them as they wintered over. They started to bloom, and now i can't tell if they are old blossoms or new fruit. Now that it's spring I see they are putting on new blooms but hardly any compared to last fall. Does anyone know what I'm talking about because i don't!!

posted on Apr, 14 2013 @ 07:24 AM
Good idea, i am planing on giving it a go this year.

I was thinking a week or so ago, its time to start getting things
ready for the garden.. good thing i decided to wait, woke up to
snow this morning. So its still a few weeks to go before i can get
serious about the idea of a garden.

Any one have a good place for veggie seeds? i have found a LOT , but
most is crap we would never eat anyway, so why waste the time. I was looking
on ebay at a 5 gal bucket of 500,000 seeds, about half of that we would eat,
but i was thinking, thats a few years worth of a garden, we can give away what
we dont want, let others plant them, and see what grows.
I think by next week this time i should be starting seedlings inside and go from there,
so i need to get seeds orderd and fast. But with so many options, its hard to decide
on which way to go, if i select packets of what we would eat, with shipping and cost
we are going to have as much tied up in just seeds as the 5lb bucket would cost.

im doing a small garden in the back yard (we have a VERY small yard), maby 5'x20'
then using old pop bottles for some of the plants, the idea is if they take longer to grow
i can move them inside when it gets cold again in a few months.. Being in Montana our
growing season is very limited. Timing is everything, so if it works out and they have not
fully grown by the time it gets cold, i can move those inside, plant the ones that have a short
season in the actual garden bed, the ones i know will grow before winter hits again.

The kids are excited and ready to get started, and i have to admit, i am to, just have to
figure out which way to go for seeds and go from there, any suggestions?

posted on Apr, 14 2013 @ 08:55 AM
I'm sooo happy someone started this thread!!!
Great idea because I have a lot of questions for anyone who can help lol

Ok first things first I am obsessed with lavender It is by far my most favorite thing on the face of the planet I have been trying for almost 5 yrs now to grow it from seed and have failed each and every time
and always break down and end up buying a plant. anyone have any tips I've started yet another attempt, 6 small pots, I mixed lime in with the potting soil because they say they like lime, I water only when the soil starts to dry out, I planted them about a week ago, I know they take awhile to get going so I'm trying to be patient. They sit in my kitchen window which has great sun most of the day.

I'm also growing sunflowers which I do every year, and poppies, which I've never tried but they look pretty cool and I don't plant many flowers so I figured I'd give it a shot.

for my vegetable garden this year I've got red and yellow bell pepper, which I growing in containers this yr.
cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, and I also got two blue berry bushes, which I was going to re plant in containers so I could move them around until I found the best place for them but just went ahead and put in the ground a good 4 or 5 feet from each other.

The only herbs I've got so far is cilantro, I'm working on a planter system for my back deck to make kind of an "herb tower" and once thats finished I plant to add all the herbs that will fit!! LOL

The only thing I started from seed this year are my flowers everything else I bought ready to plant.

does anyone have any tips for making your own pesticide?? I found a recipe online for one made out of cloves, cayenne pepper and a few other things, but was hesitate to use in on anything other then my peppers because I was scared that the pepper might make them spicy or have an odd flavor??

Ok I'm going to stop with my long rambling gardening rant lol I just get so excited about planting and growing stuff, I just don't have nearly as much time as I'd like to out towards it. I really look forward to everyones help and seeing how everyone's garden turns out!! happy growing everyone!!!

posted on Apr, 14 2013 @ 09:28 AM
reply to post by missvicky

Hi Vicky
We have blueberry bushes here. They were wild bushes that were given to us when they were little plants and have become huge. I had some used lumber and made a big frame, then skinned it in mesh. We had birds just devour our berries every year before we could get them.

This year I need to trim the bushes down and replace the netting. The yield of berries was very dependent on how wet the spring was. We've noticed that some years we got less than others even with proper netting. Aside from the netting, I don't do anything to make them produce more although I'm sure you could do lots and get the benefits of the work.

posted on Apr, 14 2013 @ 11:02 AM
reply to post by otherpotato

I live in Alaska, so I start almost everything indoors. The onions and saved snapdragon seeds are always the first to be planted, usually in January for the best results. They got planted the 1st week of Feb this year, but are still nice healthy seedlings at this point. They take a long time to grow. I toss my poppy seeds out at the same time, makes me feel like spring is getting closer even if I am fooling myself.

I still have about 3 feet of snow outside, we had some melt this week, but not very much. I won't put anything in the ground until May. May 10 is actually the absolute in the ground planting date for one ol boy around here, so I am going to plant May 10 regardless. I usually plant closer to June, hopefully the headstart helps.

posted on Apr, 14 2013 @ 11:10 AM
reply to post by jeramie

I would actually love some amaranth seed!

It is one of the few grains that will grow up here, and I just thought I would wait until I had cleared more land for the gardens first, but that is a super sweet offer! Is there anything that you may want as trade? I have several varieties of heirloom tomato, as well as everything else lol! I have a lot of seed, if you are looking for something please let me know. I guess I should PM you. Thanks for the offer.

posted on Apr, 15 2013 @ 02:23 PM
reply to post by otherpotato

I have a bunch of kids (that's a technical term - bunch) and one of them is my Gardening Girl. At 3 years old she wanted to know what I was doing every day in the garden and by the end of the season - when she turned 4 - she could identify every plant in the garden, including the medicinal herbs. I'm also a bit of a control freak about my garden because my vegetarian family of 6 does exist on it throughout the summer and fall, but I had a space available that used to be a flower garden, but has been planted with nitrogen-fixing cover crops for the last two years.

When she was 4 years old I pulled all the cover crops and ordered her the Seeds For Kids packet from Bountiful Gardens in Willits, CA. They offer non-GMO, open-pollinated, mostly heirloom seeds. There's a Seeds For Kids packet that's just $0.50. It contains seeds that didn't have a high enough germination rate from the year before; lots and lots of seeds. None of them are identified. There are grains, squash, melons, tomatoes, culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, legumes, flowers - all sorts of things. She grew the most beautiful sunflowers, a purple veined spinach, giant dill plants, two sorts of watermelon, a few carrots, a turnip, and some flowers. By the time she was 5 at the end of last year's season she only wanted to eat from her garden.

This year she asked for specific seeds, luckily I saved seeds from everything she grew last year. She is determined to have a pumpkin patch, watermelon, that beautiful spinach, and sunflowers. She has already planted her little garden space - and her older and younger sisters helped her when they previously showed no interest. She has counted out the expected germination days on her calendar and then the expected harvest days, too, just like I do. She has also drawn a map (in crayon, of course, my map in pen is "too boring") of where she planted what, but was slightly perturbed that her little sister planted things at random, so she knows her map isn't entirely accurate.

TL;DR - The age at which a child can garden depends solely on the child.

posted on Apr, 15 2013 @ 02:27 PM
reply to post by jeramie

Amaranth will pop like popcorn. If you haven't tried it, I suggest you do. As you can imagine, it's teeny tiny when popped, but delicious. It'll pop in a paper bag in the microwave, but I have better success popping it in a little oil on the stove.

posted on Apr, 15 2013 @ 02:34 PM
reply to post by RN311

I highly recommend neem oil for a natural pesticide. It's not a DIY pesticide, but it's very effective preventing against: nematodes, meal bug, beet worm, aphids, cabbage worm, whiteflies, mites, beetles, leafminers, caterpillars, and locusts. Be careful not to overdose. It's available online, though may not be available at your local gardening center.

posted on Apr, 16 2013 @ 06:12 PM
reply to post by otherpotato

Why do we do this when food is so cheaply available, and for so much less effort? Is it for the "vanity of it"? Is it just about better food (and how better is it really)? Or are we exploring something deeper, more primal?

There is the agrarian belief that tilling the soil, preferably by hand....brings one closer to God, or at least to one's better self....see the writings of Thomas Jefferson, John Steinbeck, and even Confucius..

It's been my personal experience that the food I grow tastes so very much better...I have never found a store bought tomato that can hold a candle to one from my garden...and don't even get me started on sweet corn! Even the freshest ears I've ever bought taste like wall paper paste compared to an ear pulled right out of the garden....the sugar turns to starch with in a few hours, making a world of difference. My Dad would always say, " Put the water on to boil, then go out to pull your corn."

It's definitely a good bit of work, but when I figure in how much I save on a gym helps to balance out the expense.

edit on 16-4-2013 by frayed1 because: (no reason given)

edit on 16-4-2013 by frayed1 because: (no reason given)

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