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Old 10-09-2012, 11:16 AM   #1
madebymommy
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Can you educate me on gardening?

Hi ladies, I've been lurking for a while, trying to gain knowledge! We are by no means homesteaders, I'm more of a wannabe but we have a really small plot of land. We just moved to this more rural area from an urban area, and I've gotten more and more into cooking, canning and gardening. I'd like to plan a garden for next year but I have no clue where to even begin! The only thing I know is a neighbor (with a gorgeous garden) suggested we do a raised bed because the soil here is very shallow and VERY rocky, like there is a layer of rock under the soil. I've been googling and reading here and I'm so clueless and overwhelmed!

Some info - we live in central NY, so very cold winter, hot and humid summer. Very wet spring and fall. I'd like to start out small with the veggies we use the most - tomatoes, green peppers, green beans or peas, zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash.

Some questions-

Should I attempt to grow plants from seeds? Or would it be better to buy young plants from a nursery? What is involved with growing from seeds? We have a tiny little house and no greenhouses or anything!

Anyone familiar with a raised bed? What kind of soil do I buy etc.

Any advice or information would he great, thank you!

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Old 10-09-2012, 11:56 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by madebymommy
Hi ladies, I've been lurking for a while, trying to gain knowledge! We are by no means homesteaders, I'm more of a wannabe but we have a really small plot of land. We just moved to this more rural area from an urban area, and I've gotten more and more into cooking, canning and gardening. I'd like to plan a garden for next year but I have no clue where to even begin! The only thing I know is a neighbor (with a gorgeous garden) suggested we do a raised bed because the soil here is very shallow and VERY rocky, like there is a layer of rock under the soil. I've been googling and reading here and I'm so clueless and overwhelmed!

Some info - we live in central NY, so very cold winter, hot and humid summer. Very wet spring and fall. I'd like to start out small with the veggies we use the most - tomatoes, green peppers, green beans or peas, zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash.

Some questions-

Should I attempt to grow plants from seeds? Or would it be better to buy young plants from a nursery? What is involved with growing from seeds? We have a tiny little house and no greenhouses or anything!

Anyone familiar with a raised bed? What kind of soil do I buy etc.

Any advice or information would he great, thank you!
I'm a newbie too so just know that but ill give you my thoughts....

For your first year I would do young plants from a local nursery instead of seeds. I'm doing my first fall garden from seeds as if it was also my first garden (edible) I would be crazy! It's like having a whole flat of babies for me - although I don't have a grow light which I will have for next seasons garden starts from seed. That would've helped - Walmart has a few that I will be checking out or having Dh make.

Definitely grow what you will eat the most and them pick something too that is just fun sounding (edible of course)....I have all of my boring stuff (lol! Not boring just obvious ya know - spinach, kale erc) but I did find one seed packet that's an heirloom called strawberry spinach that has little berries as well and is supposedly drought and cold tolerant. Perfect for me. It makes me excited no matter no huge my pregnant self feels when I waddle out to the garden just to see how it's doing.

Raised beds - we have four raised beds and then a whole ton of pots (scavenged from my moms loot when she moved) as well as several little plots of ground area that I thought "hmmm...I could plant there!" Ours are simple made out of redwood (untreated so the chemicals don't leach) filled with the best soil we could find at our local nursery. We got an organic mix then added worm poo, compost, fertilizer (just a premixed kind by ebstone) and I think that's it. Then we set up a drip system just off our hose - super simple, not complicated like it looks.

I would say for me I just kept a little pad of paper and took notes on things as I learned them. When I had time to research one element I'd make sure I wrote down the link or emailed myself the article or whatever. I even sketched out our yard on paper and figured out what would go where based off sun requirements etc.

Hopefully that's not overwhelming I'm just a planner so I NEEEEEED that kind of thing otherwise my brain won't shut up in the middle of the night.

Good luck!
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Old 10-09-2012, 04:20 PM   #3
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Re: Can you educate me on gardening?

Welcome! It's so much fun! You are right, the first place to start is your soil and you will want to put forth 90% of your efforts there. Raised garden beds are great, I have them. Just make sure that once your plants are in you put mulch (wood chips, straw, leaves) on top of the soil to keep the moisture from evaporating and it works great!

As for seed vs plants, I would just get seed. All the ones you listed are soooo easy to grow from seed. Direct sown, right into your beds when the weather turns warm. There's other great reasons to grow from seed like - you can choose from hundreds of varieties that might suit your needs for climate or eating instead of one or two, you're not getting a plant that could carry disease from foreign soil or that is weakened by being in too small a pot or overfed fertilizer. Not to mention the obvious cost difference! For example, if you go into a garden center you'll get one choice of green bean from burpee. They may do great in your climate, but I happen to know the one they offer year after year isn't a great one for me to grow. I get the maximum crop from bush bean types. Same thing with other stuff, certain varieties of veggies grow better in one zone than another and the more you can tailor your garden to your area, the more productive and rewarding it will be for you. Ask every gardener you know what they get really great crops from and plant year after year.

Starting your garden indoors is not as hard as you'd think. set up a table or a shelf with a couple flourescent light fixtures and put in a plant (grow) bulb. You can buy them at walmart. Keep the lights within a few inches of the tops of the plants as they grow and replant the seedlings in bigger pots as they outgrow theirs. When your last frost has passed, (lots of calculators online to tell you this by zip code, or ask a fellow gardener near you) start putting your seedlings out doors for a couple hours a day to let them acclimate to the temperature and natural sunlight. Keep them out a little more each day and then you can plant them. This process is called "hardening off" and it's not as complicated as it sounds, but do set a timer on them. I have fried baby seeds before.

All that aside, what I can tell you is to keep things as simple as possible and have fun. You'll have successes and failures and that doesn't mean you stink at it, it just means you're learning like all of us.
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Old 10-10-2012, 04:54 AM   #4
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Re: Can you educate me on gardening?

Here is my fav site for most gardening info:
http://www.almanac.com/gardening/pla.../TN/Crossville
Just put in your zip.

First, Welcome!
I'm sure you will just LOVE gardening! It's my therapy, lol.

I have ground like you. We have just tilled the crud out of it the best we can. We plan to extend all the way up to the house with raised beds next year. There is no tilling that space, no topsoil. What I'm doing is adding fertiliser and compost. I also use mulch.

As for seeds or plants. Seeds can be a bit of a challenge for a beginner, but you will learn fast. There are also challenges to buying plants. The thing with seeds is you can always just start over and not as much money lost, kwim. I like to do seeds because I can be sure of what they are and that they are non-gm. My fav place for seeds is baker creek heirloom seeds. Best cs ever too!

And as for soil. You will be needing quite a bit won't you? Do you have anywhere on your property to borrow better soil? We get our best from down the back hill. I then mix with compost. I'll do that for the raised beds too. If you arn't too far in the city, you could buy a truckload of good topsoil (kinda pricey here) or buy from a farmer. Many farms have ready to use composted manure.
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:54 AM   #5
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Thanks for all the info, I've been reading through it. You guys are the best!
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Old 10-12-2012, 09:57 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by aumismommy

I'm a newbie too so just know that but ill give you my thoughts....

For your first year I would do young plants from a local nursery instead of seeds. I'm doing my first fall garden from seeds as if it was also my first garden (edible) I would be crazy! It's like having a whole flat of babies for me - although I don't have a grow light which I will have for next seasons garden starts from seed. That would've helped - Walmart has a few that I will be checking out or having Dh make.

Definitely grow what you will eat the most and them pick something too that is just fun sounding (edible of course)....I have all of my boring stuff (lol! Not boring just obvious ya know - spinach, kale erc) but I did find one seed packet that's an heirloom called strawberry spinach that has little berries as well and is supposedly drought and cold tolerant. Perfect for me. It makes me excited no matter no huge my pregnant self feels when I waddle out to the garden just to see how it's doing.

Raised beds - we have four raised beds and then a whole ton of pots (scavenged from my moms loot when she moved) as well as several little plots of ground area that I thought "hmmm...I could plant there!" Ours are simple made out of redwood (untreated so the chemicals don't leach) filled with the best soil we could find at our local nursery. We got an organic mix then added worm poo, compost, fertilizer (just a premixed kind by ebstone) and I think that's it. Then we set up a drip system just off our hose - super simple, not complicated like it looks.

I would say for me I just kept a little pad of paper and took notes on things as I learned them. When I had time to research one element I'd make sure I wrote down the link or emailed myself the article or whatever. I even sketched out our yard on paper and figured out what would go where based off sun requirements etc.

Hopefully that's not overwhelming I'm just a planner so I NEEEEEED that kind of thing otherwise my brain won't shut up in the middle of the night.

Good luck!
I totally understand, I'm a planner too! That's why I'm starting to obsess NOW haha! I am going to pick my neighbor's brain, she has a huge gorgeous garden!

One of the challenges we have is we live in a VERY wet area. Our yard is at the bottom of a hill so we are prone to easy slight flooding. So we picked the "dryest" area with good sun exposure, which happens to be a 12' strech along the back side of my garage. We already have a HUMONGOUS hops plant on the corner that DH is begging to keep - we just moved to his grandma's old house, she died over the winter. The hops plant was his grandfathers and they used to make homebrew from it. I have NO clue what to do there... It's already established in the ground where we wanted to put the raised bed. The lucky thing is, its on the corner so I think I might leave it and do the raised bed next to it. But it is a runner and its tendrils are all over our yard... I'll have to put a trellis up for it to climb so it doesn't assault my garden, lol!
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:00 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by 3lilbubs
Welcome! It's so much fun! You are right, the first place to start is your soil and you will want to put forth 90% of your efforts there. Raised garden beds are great, I have them. Just make sure that once your plants are in you put mulch (wood chips, straw, leaves) on top of the soil to keep the moisture from evaporating and it works great!

As for seed vs plants, I would just get seed. All the ones you listed are soooo easy to grow from seed. Direct sown, right into your beds when the weather turns warm. There's other great reasons to grow from seed like - you can choose from hundreds of varieties that might suit your needs for climate or eating instead of one or two, you're not getting a plant that could carry disease from foreign soil or that is weakened by being in too small a pot or overfed fertilizer. Not to mention the obvious cost difference! For example, if you go into a garden center you'll get one choice of green bean from burpee. They may do great in your climate, but I happen to know the one they offer year after year isn't a great one for me to grow. I get the maximum crop from bush bean types. Same thing with other stuff, certain varieties of veggies grow better in one zone than another and the more you can tailor your garden to your area, the more productive and rewarding it will be for you. Ask every gardener you know what they get really great crops from and plant year after year.

Starting your garden indoors is not as hard as you'd think. set up a table or a shelf with a couple flourescent light fixtures and put in a plant (grow) bulb. You can buy them at walmart. Keep the lights within a few inches of the tops of the plants as they grow and replant the seedlings in bigger pots as they outgrow theirs. When your last frost has passed, (lots of calculators online to tell you this by zip code, or ask a fellow gardener near you) start putting your seedlings out doors for a couple hours a day to let them acclimate to the temperature and natural sunlight. Keep them out a little more each day and then you can plant them. This process is called "hardening off" and it's not as complicated as it sounds, but do set a timer on them. I have fried baby seeds before.

All that aside, what I can tell you is to keep things as simple as possible and have fun. You'll have successes and failures and that doesn't mean you stink at it, it just means you're learning like all of us.
Great advice!! So do you think I'd be okay to just put the seeds into the ground when it starts to warm up, or should I start the plants indoors? I'll have a small space and a small metal shelf that I can use. I'll have to look for the grow lights!
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:06 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by sarahannecloud9
Here is my fav site for most gardening info:
http://www.almanac.com/gardening/pla.../TN/Crossville
Just put in your zip.

First, Welcome!
I'm sure you will just LOVE gardening! It's my therapy, lol.

I have ground like you. We have just tilled the crud out of it the best we can. We plan to extend all the way up to the house with raised beds next year. There is no tilling that space, no topsoil. What I'm doing is adding fertiliser and compost. I also use mulch.

As for seeds or plants. Seeds can be a bit of a challenge for a beginner, but you will learn fast. There are also challenges to buying plants. The thing with seeds is you can always just start over and not as much money lost, kwim. I like to do seeds because I can be sure of what they are and that they are non-gm. My fav place for seeds is baker creek heirloom seeds. Best cs ever too!

And as for soil. You will be needing quite a bit won't you? Do you have anywhere on your property to borrow better soil? We get our best from down the back hill. I then mix with compost. I'll do that for the raised beds too. If you arn't too far in the city, you could buy a truckload of good topsoil (kinda pricey here) or buy from a farmer. Many farms have ready to use composted manure.
Yes, we will need a LOT of soil. My DH has actually started poking around the woods in our back yard to see if he can find some better soil to use. This may be our biggest expense, the soil. I'm scared! We also have a farmer down the street who is a very good family friend, I'm thinking about going to her and asking for advice. I'm hoping I can score some fertilizer from her, too! I'm thinking about starting a compost pile too, but we have a REALLY small back yard so I'll have to research and figure out where to put it.

I'm pretty hardcore about this garden, this could save us A TON on our grocery costs if I could grow and can these veggies!!

And thanks for the info on the seeds, I'll check them out! I totally agree with you, seeds are less of a risk, $ wise!
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:32 PM   #9
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Re: Can you educate me on gardening?

From Upstate NY, my advice is anything you start from seed (other than carrots & peas) should be started inside. Our growing season is soooooo short. Oh, and plant garlic (like today before the frost hits tonight ). It actually seems to like our climate.
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:44 PM   #10
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Oh man, I would love garlic! I don't know the first thing about it and there is supposed to be a frost tonight... Actually its snowing here right now!
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