Want to start a garden but don't know how?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by shawtycat, Feb 12, 2002.

  1. shawtycat

    shawtycat

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    Hey,

    My new years resolution is to finally start a garden (no flowers) and stop procrastinating. I live in New Jersey about 1/2 hr from Manhattan and need help since I've never done this before. And although I once killed my mother's cactus, I actually think I can do this if I was told how to do it right.

    What do I have to do first? How long do I have to wait before I can actually plant something?

    PS

    Who knew that you could "over water" a cactus? :D
     
  2. cape chef

    cape chef

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    Dear shawnty,

    First things first.
    Your soil must be right. organic matter, peat moss, compost, drainage.

    Sunlight must be considered..or shade.

    It is to early to plant anything outside where you live.
    Seedlings as well will mature way before the threat of the last frost looms.
    Be patient...wait a while.
    I can't wait until the time again comes to get my fingers in the soil.
    :)
     
  3. mudbug

    mudbug

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    Depends on how much you want to get into it.

    The first thing is to figure out what you want to plant, vegetables, herbs, flowers, heirlooms, bulbs, etc. (as you said, no flowers - anything specific?)

    Make a list. Find out what zone you live in.

    Then find out what is hardy in your zone that you want to plant. You can do this here at the Plants Database and here at the Plants Selector.

    You can start planting many things which are hardy for your zone outside right now! It's called Winter Sowing and it has a lot of benefits, check here for more information on how to winter sow you can even do this until March in the midwest!

    Or, maybe you don't want to start from seed and just want to buy plants. Let me know and I can direct you to sources for whatever you're looking for.

    Do you want to grow in containers, a raised bed, or are you digging your yard? It's best to do a soil test to see how alkaline your soil is.

    How much sun do you have available? Do you have a lot of trees creating shade?

    How will you be watering? You may consider mulching to reduce the need for watering and prolonging your season into the fall depending on where you live.

    There are many factors to consider but don't be afraid to try. Yes, soil is the most important.
     
  4. momoreg

    momoreg

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    CC- Is it ok to prep the soil now, while it's cold? Or should it be warmer?
     
  5. calicoskies

    calicoskies

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    Some very good info here. What I have always done is start working my area at least 8wks before I wanna plant. I am a fan of raised beds as I live in NC and love to add some black dirt to my redclay. I usually start in early March, but where your ground will be much colder, wait till late April. Do a drawing of what you want and where you want it and rough draft of how many plants you need. Before you plant, its good to research what times dif plants will mature and produce, also how big and/or intrusive they will be so you know best place for them in the garden.

    I break up the soil to a depth of about 8-10inches, then do a soil test. You can buy them at homecenters. Find out what you need to add for soil conditioning. Usually some combo of fertilizer, compost, peat, manure and maybe lime. I have to add sand and bark chips to break up my heavy clay soil. Mix it all in good, I rent a small rototiller (few bucks for a 4hr pop.) Then I let it all sit and stew for several weeks. A few weeks before I want to plant I do another soil test to be sure PH, phosphorous, Nitrogen are all in normal ranges. If so, then you are good to plant. I mostly do flowers, so I would recommend a good systemic pest control treatment (granules you sprinkle and water in, works great for bugs and many come with slow release fertilizers too)and mulching after planting to stop weeds. Weeds need sunlight to grow, if you block that with a good mulch, no weeding necessary!

    Good luck to you! I find gardening to be very fun, rewarding and relaxing. Veggies can also be grown quite successfully in large containers, and this makes it much easier to control your soil and varmints. I love big clay pots full of dif herbs spilling over the side. I have a large clay pot that has had a great stand of chives in it for over 6yrs now! I leave it out all winter and it comes back big and hardy!
     
  6. mudbug

    mudbug

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    momoreg,

    In the spring, when the soil in the garden has thawed, scoop up a handful of soil and squeeze it into a ball, then open your fingers. If the ball of soil stays tightly stuck together, the soil is still too wet to work. Digging now could cause compaction. But if the ball of soil crumbles apart when you open your hand, the soil is dry enough to till and plant.

    CalicoSkies,

    Yes, the advantage of raised beds and container gardening is that it's much easier to use the best soil you can.
     
  7. cape chef

    cape chef

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    Well, There you go Momoreg!!!
     
  8. catciao

    catciao

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    I was just reading up on this subject as I, too, want to start a garden this year. One interesting note I read was to make sure you plant the flowers, herbs, veggies etc, together that have similar watering, soil, sunlight, and nutrient needs. This way your garden work is a little more efficient.
     
  9. momoreg

    momoreg

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    Thanks cchiu and Calico. Lots of useful info.:)
     
  10. marmalady

    marmalady

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    A few random thoughts from an old gardener!

    1 - On raised beds - they are great; but be sure the lumber you use is NOT pressure treated!!! At first it seems logical to use it, because it won't rot - BUT - there are lots of icky chemicals used as a preservative that can leach into the soil - sort of cancels out the thoughts of growing your own cause it's healthier!

    Also, raised beds need more water than ground planting, because a lot of the veggie roots don't reach far enough down into the actual ground to get the water. And, squirrels love raised beds - they seem to think you've built a 'sandbox' just for them!!!!!

    2 - On planting like/to/like - generally, this is true - i.e., I plant my lettuces and greens in a part of the garden that's not quite as sunny as the rest. There's a great book on companion planting, Tomatoes Love Radishes, that tells what plants grow well next to others, and provide benefits - i.e., planting garlic around tomatoes helps with pest control, and the old native American trick of planting beans with corn; not only does the corn give the beans something to vine onto, but the beans help release the nitrogen for the corn.

    But do watch planting varieties close to each other, they can cross-pollinate and then you dont' know WHAT you'll get!

    3 - Succession plantings - Plan your garden so you get the benefit of more than one crop per space per season; i.e., the early spring crops - greens, broccoli, lettuces, cabbage and the like can be replaced by later-season crops like beans, which can't be planted til the soil is really warm; or corn, same reason. You can plant the seeds of the second crop right in among the the mature lettuces that are ready to be picked; by the time the seeds come up, the first crop will be almost gone.

    4 - Thinning out - Absolutely the hardest thing for any gardener to do! Be brutal; all those beautiful little clumps of seedlings will never amount to anything if you dont' thin out! General rule is to follow the package directions for spacing!

    5. Renewing your soil - Plant cover crops (vetch, or alfalfa, or clover), in the fall, and till them under to renew nutrients in the soil. This also helps with weed control during the off season. Compost, compost, compost!!!!

    6. Natural pest control - Beneficial insects (check out gardening catalogs); hot pepper spray; diatomaceous earth (basically ground up sea shells) that 'soft' pests like slugs can't tolerate; companion planting.

    7. Rain dances - go to the nearest reservation, and learn this from the Native Americans!:D

    Lastly, a little advice for Shawty specifically - I really applaude your enthusiam -but - gardening can become a really labor intensive project; my advice is to go into it slowly, learn a little as you go, and don't try to plant a huge 'everything but the kitchen sink' garden your first few years. I noted on one of your other posts that you have two babies, and one on the way - think of your time management! Start slow, plant one or two of your favorites, see how they do, and during your down time, read all the gardening stuff you can - the library can be a great cheap resource, as well as the local garden clubs and extensions in your area. We live pretty close to you in Jersey, and the time most people put out their hot weather veggies here is Mother's day.

    Hope I didn't wax too longwinded on this! I've gardened all my life - from helping grandma and pa on the farm, to helping my dad with his garden, to living on a commune and growing our own - everything (!), to doing subsistance farming and freezing/canning everything we ate for the winter, to now getting into some of the heirloom and foreign veggies (mostly Oriental and European varieties).
     
  11. mudbug

    mudbug

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    ShawtyCat,

    How's your garden planning coming along?

    Now is a good time to start tomato seeds indoors and also to plant cool season veggies.

    You may find this forum very informative:

    Winter Sowing

    And particularly this article on How to Winter Sow Seeds Outdoors.

    The person who started this doesn't live too far away from you!
     
  12. marmalady

    marmalady

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    C'est moi?!
     
  13. shawtycat

    shawtycat

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    ....well Ive bounced from outside next to the house which I thought would be perfect but my stepdad has reminded me that there is a tree near there. So I suggested the strips of ground surrounding my pool but he said that the roots might damage the pool. I just cant win with this guy. Now Im wondering if I can transform the room attached to my garage into a greenhouse when we renovate the garage. So far he has nothing to say. Whew!

    Im gonna come back and edit this with picture links so you can see where I wanted to plant and you can give me your analysis on the situation.

    Ive been helping in the garden since I was 3 years old. Just reaping what my grandma sowed and was really proud of myself. I want to share that with my kids and give them a love of the earth too. I really want a garden. :cry: There just has to be a way.

    Edited: Here is a link to the photos of my potential garden plots:

    Potential Garden Plots

    We will be removing the shed and the old airconditioning unit that does not work.
     
  14. mudbug

    mudbug

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    Sounds like you have very little yard space or your step dad just doesn't want to reap the benefits of your potential garden. Shallow root crops like lettuce, peppers, radishes, and herbs won't hurt the pool and may even beautify the area and leafy crops like lettuces and herbs will tolerate the shade under the tree.

    Have you considered container vegetable gardening? This way you won't "mess anything up" with your step dad and you can move anything at any time if you wish which is why lots of people prefer container gardening. You can use just about anything as a container, as long as it has drainage. A windowsill, patio, balcony, or doorstep can provide sufficient space for a productive container garden.

    "Plant breeders have developed a number of dwarf or pixie hybrids for container gardening. These are the plants you should grow if you can. Small or dwarf varieties will have less of a root mass and less of shoot mass. This is what you want when you're growing plants in containers. Check some seed catalogs for these types of plants."

    There are hundereds of web sites and books you can utilize for information.

    ContainerVeggies.com This site has lots of tips and even pictures!

    Container Gardening

    Container Vegetable Gardening

    Guide to Container Gardening

    :bounce:
     
  15. mudbug

    mudbug

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    this is a dupe, please delete me
     
  16. shawtycat

    shawtycat

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    Yes Ive even thought of container gardening. I know about lettuce because that is what was by the pool but was overgrown with weeds. I thought the area next to the house was the perfect place to plant. Im not interested in feeding an army, just my little family. As for my stepdad, he lives with my mom in MA and Ive decided to ignore him.

    Lettuce would go very well alongside the pool and I thought some herbs, and carrots would be nice next to the house. I dont know about tomatoes though but I wonder if I should use a container on my back steps.

    Thanks for your help guys. Im gonna need some tools in order to till? the ground I think and lessons in compost.
     
  17. mudbug

    mudbug

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    Forgot to post the wonderful choices of vegetable cultivars you can plant in containers...

    Beans and Peas: Bush Romano, Bush Blue Lake, Tender Crop, Royal Burgundy, Henderson Bush, Jackson, Wonder Bush, Topcrop, Greencrop, Contender, (Pole) Blue Lake, Kentucky Wonder

    Beets: Little Egypt, Early Red Ball, Asgrow Wonder, Detroit Dark Red, Greentop Bunching, Monoking Burgundy, Red Ace, Little Egypt, Early Red Ball, Early Wonder, Boltardy, Burpee Golden

    Broccoli: Green Comet, DeCicco, Spartan, Italian Green Sprouting

    Brussels Sprouts: Jade Cross, Long Island Improved

    Cabbage: Dwarf Morden, Red Ace, Early Jersey Wakefield, Dwarf Modern, Red Ace, Early Jersey Wakefield, Little Leaguer, Earliana, Copenhagen Market, Ruby Ball Hybrid, Red Head Hybrid

    Carrot: Short & Sweet, Danvers Half Long, Tiny Sweet, Long Type Chantenay, Danvers 126’ and ‘Orlando Gold, Baby Finger Nantes, Goldenhart, Little Finger, Royal or Red Cored Chantenay, Ox Hart, Baby Finger

    Chinese Cabbage: Michihili, Burpee Hybrid, Michihili, Burpee Hybrid

    Cucumbers: Burpless, Liberty, Early Pik, Crispy, Salty, Patio Pik, Spacemaster, Pot Luck, Bush Whopper, Bush Champion, Burpee Hybrid, Salad Bush, Parks Burpless Bush, Burpless Early Pik, Patio Pik, Spacemaster, Pot Luck

    Edible Flowers

    Eggplant: Florida Market, Black Beauty, Long Tom, Slim Jim, Ichiban, Slim Jim, Ichiban, Black Beauty, Modern Midget, Mission Bell

    Garlic Most Varieties

    Green Onions: Beltsville Bunching, Crysal Wax, Evergreen Bunching

    Herbs

    Lettuce: Buttercrunch, Salad Bowl, Romaine, Dark Green Boston, Ruby, Bibb, Green Ice, Red Sails, Lolla Rosa, Nevada, Bibb, Parris Island Cos, Salad Bowl, Slobolt, Tendercrisp, Black-Seeded Simpson and Oakleaf, mustard cress, Salad Bowl, Ruby, Grand Rapids, Oak Leaf, Buttercrunch, Dark Green Boston, Little Gem

    Parsley: Evergreen, Moss Curled

    Onions: White Sweet Spanish, Yellow Sweet Spanish

    Radishes: Champion, Red Prince, Scarlet Globe, Cherriette, White Icicle, Chinese Winter, April Cross, Easter Egg, Red Flame, Icicle, Champion, Scarlet Globe, Cherry Belle

    Spinach: Dark Green Bloomsdale

    Peppers: Yolo Wonder, Keystone Resistant Giant, Canape, (Hot) Red Cherry, Small Ruffled Red, Thai Green, Bambino, Valencia (Hybrid), Jackpot (Hybrid), Camelot, Red Chili, Giant Thai, Super Cayenne II, Sweet Banana, Yolo Wonder, Long Red Cayenne, Bell Boy, Keystone Resistant, California Wonder, New Ace, Red Cherry, Jalapeno, Thai Hot

    Squash: Dixie, Gold Neck, Early Prolific Straightneck, (Green) Zucco, Diplomat, Senator, Scallopini, Baby Crookneck, Creamy, Golden Nugget, Gold Rush, Zucchini (most varieties)

    Tomatoes: Tiny Tim, Small Fry, Sweet 100 Patio, Burpee's Pixie, Toy Boy, Early Girl, Better Boy VFN, Agriset 761, Celebrity, Colonia, Mountain Fresh, Mountain Gold, Mountain Spring, Park’s Improved Whopper, Sunbeam, Solar Set, Sanibel, Captiva, Sunleaper, Suncrest, Sunrise, Sunpride, Terrific, Cherry Grande, Mountain Belle, Small Fry, Sweet 100, Peto Hybrid 882, Plum Dandy, Tropic, Caruso, Laura, Jumbo, Tropic, Vendor, Tiny Tim, Small Fry, Patio, Burpee's Pixie, Toy Boy, Early Girl, Better Boy VFN, Pixie, Red Robin, Sugar Lump, Tumblin' Tom (hanging baskets), Patio, Saladette, Spring Giant, Tumbling Tom

    More on tools and composting later.

    ;)
     
  18. shawtycat

    shawtycat

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    I finally found out which zone Im in 6b. And Ive also found the New York Botanical Garden site that tells me what I should be doing for every month of the year, how to seed, direct sow, prepare beds and care for the crop. Im so excited. I think Ill do a raised bed. Just box in and add more soil. I think my soil is perfect. Nice and loamy. Thanks for all your help.

    I tried this before last year but really didnt know what I was doing. I think a squirrel ate my herbs.:(

    I can finally have my garden. Ah I can taste those fresh veggies.

    Thanks cchiu. Tomatoes will be perfect in containers on my back porch. That way I can keep a close eye on them...plus they will be very close to the kitchen in full sun.
     
  19. isa

    isa

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    You can grow a lot than tomatoes in containers. Try leaf lettuces in a flower box. plants seeds every two weeks during the summer and you'll have fresh lettuce throughout the summers. Red and green peppers grow well in large size containers, you can put two or three plants per pots. Rhubabrd plants will also grow well in large containers.
     
  20. marmalady

    marmalady

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    Try planting things together in a flower box; sow some lettuce seed in your tomato container when the tomato plants are about a foot tall; the shade the tomato plants provide will help the lettuce during the hot sunny summer days. Or stick a bunch of chives, or plant radich seed in with the lettuce in containers. Lettuce roots are pretty shallow, so they won't interfere with the bigger plants' root systems, and won't steal much of the nutrients needed for the tomatoes.

    My only caution about container plantings is to watch your water!! Containers dry out rapidly in the hot summer, and I find myself watering sometimes twice a day - something to think about for those of you in the Northeast who are facing drought conditions this summer! Guess we'll have to sneak out with the hose at midnight!! I'm thinking of getting a rain barrel to catch whatever rainwater we might get.