Starting garden advice

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by HeatherDriskill, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. HeatherDriskill

    HeatherDriskill Well-Known Member

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    Hello! I just moved to the country recently and I would like to plant a garden come spring time. I figured it might be a good idea to get my garden area ready this fall. I am on the edge of zones 6 and 7. What all should I do to prepare? I have never grown a thing in my life. Thanks!
     
  2. quietstar

    quietstar Well-Known Member

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    Read everything you can and seek out a local gardening mentor you can go to with specific problems/questions. Garden site preperations should focus on compost(soil quality), sunlight and drainage. With basics in place, every season will provide the chance to adjust, correct and make the never ending improvments that become the joy of gardening. May all your seeds sprout and gentle rain fall where and when you need it....Glen
     

  3. rwinsouthla

    rwinsouthla Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Visit / find a local farmer's market and ask questions. That'll get you some specifics. Start looking for cheap sources of mulch/compost/manure and pick your site out and put it there to let it rest for the winter. Visit a garden center and check out the seed racks. Most reputable garden centers will stock only what grows where you are. Pick a few varieties of veggies you'd like to grow and read up on them during the winter. Also, keep a journal. No matter how much you think you'll remember, you'll forget it. Plus it's a hoot to see how much you learn in just a few years of messing stuff up!!!
     
  4. BeckyW

    BeckyW Well-Known Member

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    I'd do three things:
    1. contact your local county agricultural extension office and get their planting guide for the county. It will tell you when to plant each crop in your area (these are based on averages but are a good place to start.) I'd see what other info they've got - usually lots.
    2. I'd go to the library and check out Joy of Gardening by Dick Raymond and Lasagna Gardening (forget who the author is). Both are excellent gardening books that even us old-timers still use.
    3. I'd drive around and look at everyone's garden who lives within a few miles of me. I'd pick out the best looking garden and go knock on their door. Tell them you've just moved in (they probably already know your property!) and ask them if you could stop in sometime and be shown their garden and get their advice. (Trust me, EVERY gardener LOVES showing off their garden and will be thrilled to give you advice.) Ask them when they plant, what varieties they've had great luck with, what pests they battle and how they battle it (hopefully they are an organic gardener -- if not, ask us about alternatives.)

    Then I'd start working on the soil this year with compost and green manure and plan my spring garden.
    Happy gardening!
    BW
     
  5. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    Figure out where you want your garden to be. Most veggies need six hours of full sun each day.

    Get the soil tested and amend as recommended.

    Throw on some manure and straw or grass clippings or leaf mold or whatever you have available. Till it all in and let it overwinter.

    Read up on gardening and decide if you want to till every year, do raised beds, square foot, or whatever. A good place to start reading:
    The Vegetable Gardener's Bible

    You're gonna LOVE gardening!
     
  6. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Go to the library and get one of Ruth Stout's books. Have fun!
     
  7. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Be sure to read the gardening forum here at HT. Lots of good info there on how to get started!
     
  8. bill not in oh

    bill not in oh Well-Known Member

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    LMAO!!!

    With all that reading, Heather's not going to have any time for gardening....

    One additional suggestion I'll make... Your first year plan to plant mostly 'starts' - already started plants. They are much more expensive than seeds, but the instant gratification factor alone is worth it. Also, it allows you to space plants properly without having to 'weed' sprouts down to the correct spacing. I know my first couple of years, I had trouble telling the 'good' sprouts from the 'weed' sprouts...
     
  9. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Aunt Pony's Suggestion: Find some little corner to plant something right now, just so you have the joy of getting something from your garden. You have a long enough season there, so even if you just stick a couple beet or turnip or lettuce seeds in the ground, it's just ever so encouraging to have a little something!

    GOOD LUCK!!!

    Pony!
     
  10. HeatherDriskill

    HeatherDriskill Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your advice, everyone. I have started a little compost in a garbage can. I didn't know if I should till it in this fall or wait until the spring. It sounds like I might be able to do it now and build some more up for the spring. My soil isn't all that great. I saw on freecycle that someone had 3 30 gallon barrels of rich soil to give away. Should I get that and go ahead and till it in? I have to get a tiller! Thanks so much-you all have encouraged me!
     
  11. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    Heather,

    If you're starting inow you could pile on lots of mulch now including leaves, dried grass clippings (wet ones might get slimy and stinky if piled on too thick), straw, manure etc etc. Pile it on 6 inches or deeper. It will keep the weeds/grass back for now and rot down over winter. In the spring It will have rotted.composted/reduced down significantly and you'll probably be able to plant into it without rushing out to buy a tiller.

    As Cyng mentioned Ruth Stout's books detail this or the Lasagna gardening book does too.

    If you like garlic I'd suggest that you put some in this fall (October probably) and come late winter or springtime you'll experience the thrill of garlic peeking up before you really start that year's garden chores.

    Since during the spring I tend to be very busy outdoors, the feeling of being ahead of things by having garlic sprouting in the snow is strangely satisfying to me. For once in the gardening year I'm not behind.

    Enjoy yourself. Start small with what you think you can honestly care for well and add on later. I think starting really big can be frustrating for a newcomer.

    Best Wishes
     
  12. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Tiller-shmiller! Go get that soil! Toss your garbage can of goodies where you want the garden, then cover with the rich soil, and toss in some seeds!

    Sounds like you have a great freecycling group!

    Woo-Hoo!

    You go!

    Pony!
     
  13. Jan Doling

    Jan Doling Well-Known Member

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    Throw compost on the site and cover it with newspapers, hay, or whatever you 've got until spring. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, start a garden in containers. You'll learn a lot, feel like you're doing something useful while you wait and maybe have salad fixins' to get you through the winter. Containers can be wheeled into the garage or sunroom to beat the frost.
     
  14. HeatherDriskill

    HeatherDriskill Well-Known Member

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    I think I definitely have to try to get that soil. So, should I put it down now or wait?
     
  15. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Why would you wait?

    PUT IT DOWN!! :hobbyhors

    Pony!
     
  16. RedTartan

    RedTartan Icelandic Sheep Supporter

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    Get Lasagna Gardening! I got it from the library and loved it so much I bought my own copy for reference. No tilling!!! You can start right away! It's very similar to Ruth Stout stuff...

    :) RedTartan
     
  17. Hovey Hollow

    Hovey Hollow formerly hovey1716

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    I too am an Lasagna gardener. My first year gardening and I am canning stuff, hauling stuff into work by the bucketfuls and still have big piles of stuff on my counters. It does help that I work at a zoo and have access to zoo compost. Elephant doo grows great tomatoes!!! Even if you don't have access to such exotic stuff there is lots of organic material to be had to work into your garden. Ask around the neighborhood for horse, cow, llama, goat, rabbit, etc. doo. Save your grass clippings this summer and yard rakings this fall. Ask for mulch materials on your freecycle group. You can build great soil no matter what is underneath. GO FOR IT!! You are right, it is a good time to start. If you still have your moving boxes they make a great first layer to block out the grass. Just start layering your other materials on top of them.
     
  18. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    I'm glad Ed posted this - I was thinking about the exact same thing earlier today. In addition to piling stuff up on your future garden spot so that it can rot over the winter (and be ready in the spring), I'd suggest putting down an initial layer of either cardboard boxes opened out flat or a layer of about 7 sheets of newspaper. They do GREAT at preventing weeds and by spring they'll be gone.

    I don't till, either. Some folks think you have to have a tiller to garden and look at you like you're crazy if you don't. This is my first year not tilling and I'm already sold.
     
  19. HeatherDriskill

    HeatherDriskill Well-Known Member

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    Y'all are great! I'm getting so excited! My compost isn't ready yet, I don't think, but once it is, I will go ahead and throw it on there. Sounds like Lasagna Gardening is a must read for me! I can't wait to can my own veggies!

    Edited to add: Okay, bad news. The soil is gone already. I should've known that wouldn't last long! Oh, well.
     
  20. Jack in VA

    Jack in VA Well-Known Member

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    You don't say what is there now(lawn, bare ground or what). Makes a differance as to where to start. Can you supply your own lawn clippings or leaves? Do you have any animals, other than dogs or cats?