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#1 of 17 Old 03-12-2011, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, this will be our first spring and summer in our house, and I have big plans for my garden. The only thing is, my knowledge boils down only to what I remember from helping my grandmother in her garden growing up.

 

Things I know:

I know that some plants must be started before you plant them in the garden.

I know that different plants must be planted at different times.

I know that most vegetables need full sun to grow worthy of a dinner table. 

I know that some plants are easier to grow than others.

I know how to collect seeds and dry them for the next season.

 

Things I need to learn:

How exactly do I start something indoors to be replanted outdoors? When do I replant?

Is there a time table somewhere online that would tell me when I should be planting peppers vs. lavender?

Is my backyard earth good enough to grow vegetables? What to do if it isn't?

Is it possible to maintain a garden if I have a full time job? It seems that I remember something always had to be done.

How much money will I need to invest to get this started? I'd like to grow at least 10-15 varieties of herbs and veggies.

I'd like to avoid difficult to grow plants until I gain more skill, but I don't know which varieties are easy and which ones are difficult.

It's March, is there something I could be / should be doing already? 

 

Can someone point me to a resource online that would answer my questions, or help me out here? I feel like I need a mentor. redface.gif

 

 


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#2 of 17 Old 03-12-2011, 02:00 PM
 
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subbing because I live in NE too and I finally decided *this* is the summer of my "real" garden. For the past few years I have just had a container one- lots of pots with 3-4 different tomatoes, peppers (sweet and hot), basil (4-5 different kinds) and then an assortment of other herbs.

 

Hope you (we!) get some good tips!


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#3 of 17 Old 03-12-2011, 03:09 PM
 
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I don't have an online source to recommend since I live in a totally different climate (and use Sunset which wouldn't work for you) but I can answer some of your questions. I'll go with with starting seeds indoors (since this is a pet project of mine).

Produce that needs heat to thrive usually needs to be started indoors so that it has enough time to fruit in a shorter growing season. Tomatoes are the biggie here, but peppers, eggplant and basil are others that work well when started indoors. I also recently started cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, chard and kale indoors but they don't really need to be. Starting indoors helps them get big enough to live through being munched by snails and slugs though.

You usually want to start your summer crop seedlings about 6 to 8 weeks before last frost in your area. I remember when we lived in Michigan the tomatoes went into the ground in mid June (here in Cali I could plant them now if they were ready, but I'm not on the ball). Its best to get good heirloom seeds from a place like Baker Creek so you end up with a strong, high quality fruit that can propagate from its seeds. I use Jiffy seed starting medium to, well, start the seeds in because I know its sterile and doesn't mold as easily as regular dirt (seedlings mold/die very easily). Tomatoes sprout pretty easily, but peppers/eggplant/basil love to have a heat pad to help them out.

I'll try to post a pic of my setup, but basically I have a Costco metro shelving unit
with three florescent lights (were 9 bucks each...plus light bulbs) hanging over one of the shelves, and my sproutlings underneath. I have the lights on a timer so that they mimic the day/night cycle. In the future I hope to be able to expand the number of plants I grow from seed, because its so much more cost conscious than buying plants...and the selection in seeds is better too.

As far as difficulty in growing that really depends on your area and not so much on the plant so I can't be much help there.

Some people send a sample of their dirt to be tested for nutrients and heavy metals ect, but I have never done this so I don't know where you would do this. I think the best way to see how your garden grows is to grow a garden and see how it does. Mixing in compost and well-rotted manure is never a bad thing though IME.

Another thing you are going to have to pay attention to is the sun/shade pattern in your yard as the year progresses. It will be different in winter than in summer, and you are going to have to plant your stuff accordingly. Tomatoes and peppers need full sun, the more the better, but basil and lavender can get by with some shade. Spots with lots of shade are still good for things like lettuce and other greens, and for some flowers like camellias and hydrangeas.

Whew! Sorry for the novel. I'll try to post some pics soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post

So, this will be our first spring and summer in our house, and I have big plans for my garden. The only thing is, my knowledge boils down only to what I remember from helping my grandmother in her garden growing up.

 

Things I know:

I know that some plants must be started before you plant them in the garden.

I know that different plants must be planted at different times.

I know that most vegetables need full sun to grow worthy of a dinner table. 

I know that some plants are easier to grow than others.

I know how to collect seeds and dry them for the next season.

 

Things I need to learn:

How exactly do I start something indoors to be replanted outdoors? When do I replant?

Is there a time table somewhere online that would tell me when I should be planting peppers vs. lavender?

Is my backyard earth good enough to grow vegetables? What to do if it isn't?

Is it possible to maintain a garden if I have a full time job? It seems that I remember something always had to be done.

How much money will I need to invest to get this started? I'd like to grow at least 10-15 varieties of herbs and veggies.

I'd like to avoid difficult to grow plants until I gain more skill, but I don't know which varieties are easy and which ones are difficult.

It's March, is there something I could be / should be doing already? 

 

Can someone point me to a resource online that would answer my questions, or help me out here? I feel like I need a mentor. redface.gif

 

 


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#4 of 17 Old 03-12-2011, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your replies! 

 

Another quick question.

 

I have a super duper nice porch that has windows on three sides. It's not heated, but protected from the wind and has a lot of light. Is it okay to set up my start ups on the said porch? Or will it be too cold for my plants without a light bulb to warm them? 

 

Also, I'm so happy you mentioned all the things that you did, because here is my wish list as of today: 

lavender, basil, dill, parsley, chives, thyme, mint, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, beets, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, zucchini.

 

I'm still making a list of flowers. I know that I would like to have a lot of rose bushes, and I planted close to 400 tulip bulbs and daffodils last fall. Can't wait to see them come up this spring!


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#5 of 17 Old 03-12-2011, 03:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post

Thank you for your replies! 

 

Another quick question.

 

I have a super duper nice porch that has windows on three sides. It's not heated, but protected from the wind and has a lot of light. Is it okay to set up my start ups on the said porch? Or will it be too cold for my plants without a light bulb to warm them? 

 

Also, I'm so happy you mentioned all the things that you did, because here is my wish list as of today: 

lavender, basil, dill, parsley, chives, thyme, mint, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, beets, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, zucchini.

 

I'm still making a list of flowers. I know that I would like to have a lot of rose bushes, and I planted close to 400 tulip bulbs and daffodils last fall. Can't wait to see them come up this spring!


Most herbs do just fine being direct sowed (basil and lavender being picky exceptions) but if you live somewhere where herbs tend to be annuals then sprouting them indoors can ensure you get larger plants before you get frost. Sow dill directly into the ground though...it grows like a weed. Mint should be grown in a separate container because otherwise it can be invasive. Don't ever put mints (this includes things like catnip and lemon balm) into the ground unless you want a wall of mint.

Root crops (carrots/beets) should always be direct sown in well worked ground that is not too clay-ey. Squash (and beans) should also be direct-sown. Look up the three sisters growing method...its pretty cool.

Roses are a novel all of their own! My only advice there is to make sure you research varieties that are disease hardy for your area. Otherwise you end up with nothing but conflict.
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#6 of 17 Old 03-12-2011, 03:51 PM
 
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You can try starting seeds without lights but it's highly likely that they will grow leggy and die when you transplant them. If you want to start easy, then start with ones you direct sow; carrots, beets, radishes, peas, beans, lettuce, zucchini etc. Most herbs are best started inside but if you can always buy the plant and if it's perennial it'll come back year after year.

Mint is extremely invasive so you're better off putting it into a pot. Some lavenders are harder than others. When you plant depends on what zone you are in. You need to find out when your last frost date is for the year.

A lot of the info you want will be on the seed packets. I recommend a good gardening book for the rest like this one.

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#7 of 17 Old 03-12-2011, 04:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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what if I started by getting a couple of pots of mint on the porch, would it matter that it is still cold outside?

I'm in zone 5, if it helps.


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#8 of 17 Old 03-13-2011, 05:25 AM
 
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As long as it's not below freezing on your porch it should be fine.
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#9 of 17 Old 03-13-2011, 10:22 AM
 
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I'm in your zone!!  So far I have started broccoli, peppers, snapdragons, and lavender.  I have a very sunny house with lots of windowsills and I've had no problems starting the seedlings with natural light.  At night I put them in the watercloset on top of my water heater to keep them warm, and they sprout really fast!

 

Its my plan to start my tomatoes and basil in the next couple weeks. In mid April I will be direct sowing lettuce, spinach, peas, beets (and transplanting the broccoli). And then towards the end of May I'll do beans, cukes, squash, beets, carrots, various herbs and transplant the tomatoes and peppers as long as its warm enough.

 

This year I am doing a bean teepee with green and purple beans. And a sunflower house with a morning glory roof!

 

As for your questions:  there are calenders for growing times. If you have any nurseries in your area with a website often times they will have a link to a timetable thats pertinent to your area.

As for the work involved.....if you mulch your garden well it will cut down on the weeds. But plan on spending about an hour a day weeding and watering and pruning/picking. Some people are more precise that others. I have friends that let their weeds go wild but I am very into weeding to create a beautiful and productive garden!

You can also find info on companion planting to reduce pests and to make the most of your space! Basil and tomatoes go well together and I plant marigolds among them to keep the pests away. Trellising your vine plants make them easier to pick and less likely to get infested with bugs (cukes for example)   Keeping ahead of tomato hornworms is very very important. You must pick them as you find them or they can destroy you plants.

There's nothing like first hand experience to hone your gardening skills. You definitely learn as you go!!  Good luck!

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#10 of 17 Old 03-13-2011, 11:51 AM
 
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Here's a calculator for planting, just put in your last frost date. 


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#11 of 17 Old 03-13-2011, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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one more question... can I plant something like lavender where I have daffodils and tulip bulbs? or is it a bad idea to mix those up?


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#12 of 17 Old 03-13-2011, 06:21 PM
 
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I wouldn't, but I'm so used to thinking of lavender as a perennial. I was shocked to learn when I moved to Nebraska that it was an annual there..but even there it depended on the varietal. Some types would survive the winter some would not.
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#13 of 17 Old 03-14-2011, 09:00 AM
 
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I think you don't need to worry --- just follow your own common sense.  What do plants need?  Good soil.  Sun, consistent water.  You'll have a great garden with just those variables. 

 

I started from scratch 7 years ago, too.  I tried growing things early indoors (disaster for me) ... I won't waste my money on that again.

 

I live in Zone 4, Minnesota.  It's cold here.  But I plant directly in the garden, even things like cucumber seeds.  We have a bounty of food every year.

 

I plant some things super early, which for us is April, as soon as the soil can be worked.  These include peas (they love it cold), lettuce, kale, spinach.  We get salad greens growing all summer, starting in May.  Onions also can be started early with all those things.  (Maybe potatoes too?  I've never grown potatoes).

 

Tomatoes and Chili/Peppers are the only plants we buy at the local nursery as transplants, and those are planted in late May for us, the date depends on the year.

 

The other seeds which are planted later,  direct in the garden, include Cucumbers, Squash, Beans, Corn.

 

We started a compost in our yard, we just put there scraps (orange peels, potato skins, coffee grinds, egg shells, etc), and we have lots of rich organic matter to add to our garden from that.  Nothing fancy but it works great.

 

The most important knowledge for me is to rotate crops every year, to learn about different garden antagonists/protagonists (like tomatoes and basil grow well together, never plant beans next to onions, etc.  you can find some of that here http://www.gardenzone.info/articles/indexnew.php?article=11)

And also your zone, and when plants like to be started.  For example, carrots can be planted before tomatoes, but never as early as lettuce.  I sit down with a calendar and mark on it when to plant different seeds, so that I know that each plant is getting the earliest and safest start. 

 

Hope I'm making sense.  The best way to learn about gardening is just by trying, trial and error.  You'll do great!


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#14 of 17 Old 03-24-2011, 03:07 PM
 
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I am in RI and this link has been very helpful.  This info is provided by the URI Master Gardner's program.  http://www.uri.edu/ce/factsheets/index.htm  There are a variety of fact sheets available that are useful.  This link also tells you when to plant http://www.uri.edu/ce/factsheets/sheets/whenplantri.html.  Good luck!


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#15 of 17 Old 03-26-2011, 05:57 AM
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Another New England gardener here...

I just wanted to throw out that from what I have read and what I am experiencing right now, Dill is terrible to try and transplant, it is much much better to direct sow...Ugh I am having issues with my dill seedlings that I had planned on transplanting and now I don't know if they are even going to make it...

 

Also I second the lights! I didn't use lights this year because I was lazy and it was a huge mistake...Everything I have is somewhat spindly although I am confident most of them can still be salvaged. I just transplanted my tomatoes and the best thing about them is you can bury the stem in soil so they aren't so spindly...

 

I also LOVE Baker Creek seeds, I got all of mine there, although I ordered late and a lot of stuff was already sold out.greensad.gif

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#16 of 17 Old 03-29-2011, 04:21 PM
 
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If it is your first year gardening, you might want to consider buying starts for your tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.  It might make things a lot simpler until you get things set up.  

 

The rest can probably be direct seeded when the time is right.   The carrots, beets, cauliflower, and lettuce can be direct seeded outside anytime your ground can be worked.  I'd wait a bit (mid may -june) to direct seed  the zucchini and cucumbers.  The herbs you can try to seed in cups on the windowsill and if it doesn't work out you can buy starts for those later.  

 

If you look around the High Mowing Seeds site there is a lot of information about planting specific things and there is also a website called Harvest to Table (http://www.harvestwizard.com/) that I use to look things up.  

 

I think gardening  can be as easy or as complicated as you want to make it, but there is a learning curve involved.  You should be able to plant in your backyard soil.  The more compost material you can add, the better things will grow.  We put in raised beds a few years ago (our soil is clay) and it was a lot of time and expense up front, but now it seems to grow itself...hardly any weeds and no time at all except for planting.

 

Good luck! 

 

ali

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#17 of 17 Old 03-29-2011, 08:06 PM
 
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My only advice is when you start tomatoes from seed just start with a little bit of dirt in the pot.  Then as the seedlings grow add more dirt so that the stems are getting buried. This gives the tomatoes a strong root system so when you transplant them outside they don't shrivel up and die.  I like to use the coconut planters so I can just dig a hole and stick them right into the ground.  You will definitely need a light for them because they are so low in the pot that sunlight won't ever see them (bc of shadows). 

 

Oh and don't plant beans until it's hot out.  I was planting them way too early and it took forever for them to sprout and I was freaking out.  My MIL told me that year to wait until the day where I went outside and thought "Dang, it's hot today" and that's when you want to get them out there (in full sun).  They sprout so fast when the soil is warm.


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