new garderner

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Ninn, Nov 1, 2006.

  1. Ninn

    Ninn Custom Crochet Queen

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    I am a beginning homesteader planning my first vegetable garden. Everyone says to plant what we will eat, but are there specific crops that will do better in northeastern PA? I need to start planning now for the spring. I can never be sure what the weather will do, so ANY suggestions will be welcomed. Due to poor drainage where I live (a trailer park, of all places) we have already determined that the garden must be the raised-bed style. The only thing that grows well around here are the burdock weeds. Those, I could live without....lol. Thank you in advance for all the advice.
     
  2. swamp man

    swamp man Well-Known Member

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    Most all of the common garden crops should do fine there,but you might wanna' pick and choose your cultivars carefully,and get some of the summer crops started indoors to give 'em a little head start on the season.
    "Grow what ya' eat"is pretty solid advice,and early ripening cultivars are available for most of what can grow in the lower 48.It's not a hardfast rule,but generally,the larger varieties of any given vegetable tend to take longer to mature and require a longer growing season.Huge tomatoes and watermelons are great,but ya' have to wait all summer for them,and in your climate zone,frost might hit before they ripen.
    For watermelons in your area,and in a raised bed,"bush baby"might be a good choice.
    I have a long growing season down here,but I always grow some "early girl"tomatoes,because they produce quickly(hence the name),and they are some of the best-tasting tomatoes I've ever grown.
    If ya' tell us what you want to grow,I'm sure some of the good folks here can recommend some cultivars.
    Where's Meloc at?I believe he's up your way,and he knows a thing or two about a thing or two.
    BTW.Welcome to the forum. :)
     

  3. Ninn

    Ninn Custom Crochet Queen

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    Swamp Man~

    Thanks for the hints. So far, I am looking at the following crops: corn, potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, pumpkins (for my grandkids), lettuce, squash, sweet potatoes and green beans. I'm thinking of doing a pole bean teepee for the grandbabies to play inside of while they grow. I am the only one who likes peas, so I am only planting 2 pea vines, in a container on the porch. I am still trying to figure out where to put the raised bed and how big it should be. Do you think 1 row of each plant will be enough to get started if I plant closely? Ninn
     
  4. dlangland

    dlangland dlangland

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    One row of zucchini no matter how long it is will give you so much you will soon run out of people to give them to. Plus, if you let them get ahead of you, they turn into clubs, and you can't even give those away. I would do a couple plants at most since you are lacking space or replace part of the zucchini with yellow summer squash which is wonderful in stir-fries and would give you a bit more variety. Even if your space is small, with corn you should plant at least 4 rows beside each other. You could do either shorter rows or plant in a block fashion for proper pollination. I often plant my squash, pumpkins, etc. on the outside of the corn patch, then train the vines into the patch to save space.

    To maximize a smaller garden area, as soon as one vegetable has done it's thing or isn't producing enough to make it worth you while to keep it around, like lettuce or peas for example, just till that area up and plant another crop of something. If you get the timing right, you can plant spring and fall crops of lots of things, so you get a double crop. For cucs in a raised bed, you would want to maximize your space by using some sort of trellis system.

    I hate to say this because we are all concerned with where our produce comes from, but if you have just a small space to work with, it's often more time, space, and cost effective to buy things like sweet corn, melons, pumpkins, and even winter squash at a local farmers market,or find a farm kid who sells sweet corn. In the midwest most every farm kid does during the summer to make a little extra money. If you ask, they may well have extra produce from their own gardens. Same with potatoes, especially if you are using just a raised bed. It's nice to have that fresh potato taste, but it will be tough to provide all your family needs, so you may want to use that space for something else. I think if I were a new gardener in your situation, I would make a list of what I could buy locally, farm fresh, what would be much tastier if I grew it myself (tomatoes/cucs...), that-type thing, then experiment this first yr. with a little of each, then add on to that list the next season. Another thing you will want to keep in mind with a raised bed is that things will dry out more quickly then if planted directly in the ground.
    Deb
     
  5. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    i don't know jack $#!^...but i know a guy who knows him, lol. i defer to the folks who live a little farther north. there are several folks who live in your neck of the woods and in southern new york. some of the north ohio folks may be able to chime in as well.

    the climate here in south central PA is a bit different than upstate. i am in zone 6b(i think) but i am really close to a spur of zone 7 and surrounded by 6a. i can grow most anything i feel i need to. the last frost is normally in the first week of may and the first frost is normally in the first week of october. it is really a mixed bag where i live. i have seen morel mushrooms pop in march and the next year hold off until the third week of april. i have seen temps in the high seventies and low eighties in january. it also got down to -29 or lower one time. the altitude makes a big difference as well. even though the "hills" are not that high, temps can be 10 F different from the valley to the top of the ridge. i have a friend 5 miles away who has had a dusting of snow already and i have yet to see a flake.

    i would guess you could get away with growing whatever you wish. i would plant anything and everything and give it all a try. get your potatoes and onions in early. start tomatoes and cabbage family plants from seed in early march. get the corn planted in may. you may have to choose a short term corn if you plant too late.

    don't forget the fall garden. i picked a few radishes just today. greenbeans are one of my staples. i can get two or even three crops per year in the same space. they will work for a late summer or fall crop. cabbage and broccoli do well in the late season as well. my brother has broccoli to pick right now.

    i started growing potatoes for the first time in many years this year. i tried for a second crop but i planted too late. next year i will plant the second crop by mid july.

    don't forget the fruit. get some native black raspberries and native blackberry patches under control. plant some june bearing and everbearing strawberries. i have a few fresh strawberries in the garden right now.

    build some cold frames for starting plants early. transplant them to the main garden after the frost danger is over.

    good luck!
     
  6. swamp man

    swamp man Well-Known Member

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    I've gotta' agree with Dlangland...If you're workin' with smallish raised beds,Some stuff just takes up alot of space for what it provides,and just aint worth the hassle.Corn would be a prime example of such.The bush baby watermelons,however,are an exception,as they don't sprawl all over the place like most watermelons do.
     
  7. Ninn

    Ninn Custom Crochet Queen

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    ok-here is the proof that i am REALLY new at this. What is a coldframe? Why would I build it and where? Anything I build that cannot be moved becomes the property of the trailer park-is it moveable??? Why is it cheaper to buy potatoes and onions than it is to grow them??? Why would I want a compost bin in my kitchen--wouldnt it smell bad?(worm composting) It seems like the more I read the more confused I get. Isn't there one definitive resource I can use?? WAAAAAHHHH!!!!! :Bawling: WAYYY to stressed out over this already, I know.
     
  8. swamp man

    swamp man Well-Known Member

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    You're lookin' at it,new friend. :) idigmygarden.com is a very good site as well,and is similar to this one.Don't sweat the big ball of confusion.If it makes ya' feel any better,I'm goin' through the same thing right now in my reading about poultry,lol.
    This is probably a bit of an over-simplification,but a cold frame is basically a miniature greenhouse.You can use one to extend a growing season by getting started earlier,or by protecting warm-season plants as the weather cools in fall.If you start seeds indoors,you can also use your coldframe to "harden off"the young plants when you move them outdoors."hardening off" the plants basically means sloooooowly introducing the plants to the change in environment when you move them outside.The plants need a chance to get used to the change in temperature and the intensity of the sunlight gradually.A cold frame can be as simple or elaborate as you choose to make it.You can build something very functional and portable with just a coupla' bucks worth of PVC pipe,PVC fittings,clear plastic,and a few sod staples to anchor it.
    Potatoes and onions take up a bit of space,and at least where I live,they're cheap to buy.Yes you can grow them cheaper than you can buy them,but if you're working with limited space,you may consider using that space for other veggies.You can,however,grow potatoes in a garbage can or barrel of you just want to try your hand at tater growin'.Give it a google,and you'll likely find detailed info.
    If you wanna' try worm composting indoors,have at it,but personally,I'd just keep a bucket in the kitchen for veggie scraps,coffee grounds,eggshells,and whatnot,and empty it into your outdoor compost pile every coupla' days.
    Now,about that confusion...I would start as simply as possible,and just learn the very basic needs of plants,and it sounds like you're on the right track.
    Drainage,which you have already adressed.Good job. :)
    Sunlight-You'll need some of this,but fortunately,the big orange ball gives it away free.There are exceptions,but most of the more common crops need full sun,and the more the better.6 hours a day will work,but more is better.
    Water-Just dont drown 'em.Thirsty plants will usually wilt and let ya' know they're thirsty long before they are actually in danger of dying.I like to let most plants get good and thirsty once on a while,so they dont get lazy roots.
    Nutrients-I would start off with something mild.It would be a good idea to steer clear of any of the super-duper flashy package products.Fish emulsion is pretty hard to mess up with,or you can just pick up a bag of cheap 8-8-8,and use it very sparingly.Going a little light on fertilizer is usually far less detramental than going too heavy.Here's my rule of thumb-If I have to ask myself"Is that enough ferts?",the answer is"yes".When starting a new bed,I like to amend with a micronutrient product to head future problems off at the pass.I like a product called"Ironite".Just a little bit is plenty.
    This ain't rocket surgery.Just plant some seeds in a sunny location with decent soil,water your plants when they look thirsty,and feed 'em just a little.You'll do fine.