Newbie with lots of general gardening ?'s

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by LisaLu70, Mar 26, 2005.

  1. LisaLu70

    LisaLu70 Member

    Messages:
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    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I'm so excited to have found this forum! You can read a little of my background in my previous post about Gardening in Northern WI.

    Ok, now on to the questions...

    1. For vegetable gardens, What do you use for mulch? We were going to use straw last year, but never got around to it, and the weeds were awful.

    2. Anyone plant sunflowers? How do you go about chosing a variety? How many sunflowers do you need to actually get sunflower seeds? What are other benefits of sunflowers? Where is the best place to plant them? Any cautions?

    3. I am giving each of my children a small plot to grow whatever they want and do whatever they want with the produce. My 6yo daughter said she wants to grow flowers that we can all enjoy in the house in a vase, and she'd like to be able to sell some as well. I know virtually NOTHING about flowers. Can anyone recommend a good flower that would be hearty, and produce a lot? Do any particular flowers re-grow after you cut them? HOw do the flower shops do it? LOL.

    4. For those of you who market your produce, how do you go about determining price? Where do you get supplies for packaging? (Like the little pint crates for tomatoes, etc.)

    I know I have a ton of other questions, but that's all I can think of for now! I'll appreciate any insight anyone can give this novice! Thanks!

    Blessings,
    Lisa
     
  2. Nax

    Nax Well-Known Member

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    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2005
    Location:
    NW Michigan
    I'm an old market gardener--well, middle aged-- ;) , from across the lake in Northern Michigan, but new to this forum. (I actually registered because I'm new to poultry raising, and am finding the above forum very helpful).

    Anyway, I would suggest your daughter raise Zinnias, a taller variety for cutting. Just plant them in a sunny spot and they can take just about any abuse, and for every cutting you make you seem to get two new flowers. :) Dahlias are the same, but the tubers require a bit of an investment and they need to be dug in the Fall, and can be a little more tempermental with watering.

    Sunflowers are easy too-just a sunny spot. Some are grown now more for decoration than for seed--either choose a decorative variety or a seed variety. If you get the traditional seed varities, one sunflower produces hundreds of seeds. We sell sunflowers, zinnias, glads, and dahlias at market, as well as our produce.

    As for the baskets--save what you get at the grocery, have your neighbors and family save them, or just keep your eyes open, you'd be surprised how all over the place they are. We never sell the baskets we collect, we just use them for measurement and we dump the produce into the bags we buy at Sam's Club or have saved from over the Winter. Or, if you're planning on going to market, maybe some of your co-vendors would be willing to sell you some if you don't want to make the investment.

    Hope this helps. Good luck. Nax
     

  3. Phantomfyre

    Phantomfyre Black Cat Farm Supporter

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    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    N. Illinois
    1. Hay, stray, grass clippings, leaves, wood chips - many things work. However, un-composted wood chips can tie up nitrogen in the soil, and hay and straw may contain weed seeds.

    2. Can't help with varieties, but I do know you don't need to grow many sunflowers to get seeds. They make neat forts. :)

    3. Zinnias, snapdragons, cosmos. Plus, snapdragons are fun to play with. :D

    4. Sorry, no experience there.

    Do some homework on the internet to learn what things you might like to grow and if they are realistic for you. There is a ton of great info out there. Ask more questions here. Don't stress out too much - a lot of gardening is trial and error. You will ultimately learn what works for you by just doing it. :D

    Welcome to gardening! If you have the desire, you will love it. Take it slow and don't overwhelm yourself with too much work.

    Diana
     
  4. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    Location:
    Arkansas
    The best mulch is whatever you have an abundance of. Just pile it on!

    I am told sunflowers have deep roots and help break up the soil for other plants, so you might scatter them throughout the garden.
     
  5. wormlady

    wormlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Oct 8, 2004
    We were very surprised to find sunflowers in our garden last year. They were planted rather close together. We finally figured out that the chipmunks had taken seeds from our bird feeder and buried them!

    They looked great and did well. We have decided to work with the chipmunks rather than against them!
     
  6. LisaLu70

    LisaLu70 Member

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    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Thanks for all your input, about sunflowers, is it better to plant them along the edge of the garden, or should they have their own spot. Could anyone give me some direction as to where to plant them? Is there any place they should NOT be planted?

    I'm trying to figure out where to put things, I know that you're supposed to plant the taller plants at the northeast end of the garden but how close can I plant a lot of taller type plants. Like I plan to plant sweet corn this year, I haven't tried it yet, then there's tomatoes, and squash, which I haven't trellised in the past, but I think I'd like to this year. I'm trying to figure out how much space I need. I did wide raised beds last year, and they did really well for the most part.

    Oh one more question... My husband wants to use landscaping plastic to prevent weeds, but I don't know how this would work, if we do direct planting. I've never heard of this being done with a vegetable garden, only landscaping around the house and for trees and such. Any thoughts?

    Thanks!

    Lisa
     
  7. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    1.) I mulch with anything handy, recently discovered the joys of newspaper and shredded junk mail. Great browns for the compost pile, too!

    2.) Sunflowers are happy when they get.. SUN! So, drop some seeds in a sunny place, make sure they won't shade out anything that requires lots of sunshine, and they'll take off. (That's been my experience, anyway.) Since you're so far north, I'd look for seeds that have a short growing season. (True for all your other gardening, too.)

    Other than sunflowers (which, to me, don't fall into the "flower" category per se), I've given up on growing flowers for decoration. (Ask me, some time, about planting petunias and falling into window wells... and I'll tell you about the joys of plastic flowers!)

    Can't help you with pricing for market, either, but look forward to someone else posting on that one.

    A suggestion from a cooler-climate gardener: Get Wall-o-water teepees! They are GREAT!! A bit of a pain initially, but well worth it in the long run!

    Pony!
     
  8. Phantomfyre

    Phantomfyre Black Cat Farm Supporter

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    Joined:
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    Location:
    N. Illinois
    Lisa,

    The concern with where you plant tall crops like sunflowers and corn is that you don't want to plant them where they'll block the sunlight for shorter crops. That's why you often hear to put corn and sunflowers at the north end of the garden. :) Corn and sunflowers can go together. Sunflowers don't need "their own" spot - just put 'em where you want them. They're tall, but a couple of sunflowers in a little clump won't shade much. Just as long as you don't plant a whole row or something. You can plant things pretty close together as long as you graduate the heights - shorter stuff on the south side, taller stuff on the north side. In the summer when the sun is nearly overhead, this isn't as much of an issue, but early in the season or later in the summer, you'll notice a difference.

    You can use the shade from some taller plants to your advantage. For example, lettuce likes cool soil, so a little shade from other plants in the middle of summer can help.

    Personally, I despise landscape fabric. It tears, and pops up out of the mulch, and when you cut it to plant in it, it frays... Blech. I can't imagine using it in a veggie garden. Plastic maybe, but not landscape fabric. If you're having weed troubles, put down more mulch. Just smother 'em! :D

    Diana