Vegetables and Fruit forum: I need HELP!! I'm new and overwhelmed......

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Pelican Rapids, MN (Zone 3b)
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BackyardHerbalist
Jan 31, 2012 1:56 PM CST
Hello Everyone!

I just found this website a few days ago and many of you seem to love gardening and have the knowledge from years of experience. I need your HELP! I just discovered gardening this last year and absolutely fell in love with it! I'm pretty inexperienced and last growing season I lived in town so my garden was the size of a kitchen table.....but some how this year I wound up on a farm with the job of creating a self-sustaining vegetable garden to feed 2 families for a whole year! Who knew?!?! I'm excited but slightly overwhelmed with all the information I'm having to sift through......The zone I'm in makes things complicated as well (3b).
We live on 168 acres but a lot of it is CRP'd which didn't leave a lot of good spots to plan around....Our garden spot is on a south west facing hill which unfortunately used to be a corn field. I know that corn seems to deplete the soil of nutrients so I'm not really sure how to combat that.....We have a lot of wild life around here so I'm going to have to fence in the garden. If I can grow vertically I would like to do that to maximize space. We will have a green house as well. O man, I'm getting overwhelmed just writing this=D Did I mention I home-school, have 3 kids under 6 and will be the only one able to tend to the garden on a regular basis?

Any advice would be much appreciated! I want to keep my love of gardening, not have it become a burden......
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 1, 2012 12:09 PM CST
Sorry, i just typed for 10 minutes and lost the whole post. Hopefully some of this will be useful, but if you've grown for even one season, you may already know a lot of it. I can’t stress enough: ask locals what works best in your area.

Short form:

Ask locals, like at a co-op or feed store, what cover crops will replenish the soil with minimum work from you (probably some perennial that fixes nitrogen).

Ask locals, like neighbors, what varieties they find grow well in your Zone 3, probably short, growing season. (And when they tell you what variety of peas, lettuce, spinach, broccoli and snap beans they grow, but never mention tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, you'll know that tomatoes, peppers and eggplants can't be set out until weather and soil and warm, and they are a challenge in cold climates.

If anyone offers to start some seeds for you (give away some of their seedlings), find favors you can do in return, like offer them space in your greenhouse. Maybe find out something they liked, buy a BIG pkt of that seed from Hazzards or other wholesaler, and split it with them. http://www.hazzardsgreenhouse.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Cat...

Starting seeds indoors or in a greenhouse and planting out PLANTS as soon as it is warm enough gives you a big head start in a short growing season. Since you have a greenhouse, you might not need to cover rows of soil with plastic in spring to get an early start (like a hoop tunnel or tent of plastic film). But that does get the soil warm and dry faster, and protects seedlings that you have set out from night-time frosts and wind.

A raised bed will warm up (and dry out) faster in spring. They don't even really need walls (stones, wood or concrete paving stones stood on end). You can just shovel 8-12" of soil from the walkways between beds, onto the tops of beds, and let the edges slope some. If soil is exhausted, that also gives roots twice as much soil to grow into. But if you have dry climate, they dry out faster.

MAYBE you can draw deer away from your vegetables by providing them other things to eat first. Cover crops are a start, and there are "Brassica mixes" for creating food plots for deer. I think mostly hunters do that as a legal form of baiting, but it could also serve as a tarp crop. Maybe don’t stress that to your neighbors, unless you invite them to hunt on your land during deer season! A tall, tall fence for your garden is the only sure cure for deer.

Here are some cold-climate and extra-early tomato varieties for when you're ambitious:

Glacier - ultra-early, cold-tolerant, SEMI-DET
Stupice - ultra-early, cold-tolerant, compact DET


EXTRA-EARLY & COLD-TOLERANT:

Oregon Spring - extra-early, very cold-tolerant, "plant 4 wks before last frost & protect only when there's frost"
Manitoba - extra-early, cold-tolerant, 3'-4' DET, "Canadian for colder climates"
Matina - extra-early, INDET, "dependable even in cold/wet summers"
Sub-Artic Plenty - extra-early, "Canadian", DET
Northern Delight - ultra-early, "for the Far North", 2' DET
Beaverlodge series - ultra-early, compact DET, containers
Sophie's Choice: Heirloom from Edmonton, Canada, introduced by Carolyn Male in 1997.
Extra early, flavorful. 2' DET vines suited to containers. 6-12 ounce globes red-orange outside and deep red flesh.
Strong disease resistance. Not heat-tolerant or drought-tolerant. Best production in cooler climates.


EXTRA-EARLY:

Early Cascade - (hybrid but seems pretty true) - early, short-summer, PNW, "reliable: sets fruit in any climate"
Early Wonder - extra-early, 3'-4' SEMI-DET, med red globe
Early Wonder - extra-early, SEMI-INDET
Siletz - extra-early, reliable, DET,
Sungold F1 - extra-early, 4'-8' INDET, containers, sweet orange cherry with 'tropical' flavor
Ildi - extra-early, yellow grape pear, 8'-10' INDET
Gold Nugget - extra-early, 2-3' DET, bland yellow cherry


EARLY:

Yellow Plum - early, productive even in cold, 4'-6' INDET, yellow cherry
Bloody Butcher - early, cool climate, 4'-6'
Maskabec - early, 18"-36" DET, 4-6 oz. red globe
Golden Rave (hybrid) - early, gold Roma plum6'-8' INDET
Husky Cherry Red - early, semi-DET or dwarf INDET
Sub Artic Cherry - early, DET, pink, "developed in Alberta for short seasons"
Early Cascade - early, short summer, red-orange

LESS EARLY:

Marmande - semi-early, cool climate, med-large red beefsteak type, full flavor
Santa Cherry / Santa Sweets - mid-season, tolerates cool summers, 4'-8' INDET
Morden Yellow - mid-late, Canadian for colder climates, 2'-3' DET, med yellow globe
Early Girl (hybrid) - semi-early, med red globe, flavorful

[Last edited by RickCorey - Feb 1, 2012 3:21 PM (+)]
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Name: Melissa E. Keyes
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Zone 11+
Charter ATP Member
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coconut
Feb 1, 2012 12:24 PM CST
I would add, mulch everything. Keep down the weeds. And, yes, get a couple of gardening buddies. You will find that if you are having trouble with one particular veg, everybody might be having the same problem,,, or success.

And try to not make a huge garden. Once stuff starts coming in, you'll have a lot to do preserving it.

Rick, looks like your typing did very well! did very well!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 1, 2012 3:21 PM CST
Thanks, I decided to type the seocnd try in Word, then copy-paste.

I guess I copy-paste-pasted.
Name: Ginger
Fountain, Florida (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Plays in the sandbox Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Region: Gulf Coast Tip Photographer The WITWIT Badge
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Native Plants and Wildflowers Birds Plumerias Hummingbirder Dog Lover
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gingin
Feb 1, 2012 3:50 PM CST
No help here with your questions, but wanted to say Welcome! to ATP. You will love it here Smiling
Each cloud has a silver lineing if only you look for it.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Feb 1, 2012 3:56 PM CST
Wow, I wouldn't know what to add to that! Nice job, Rick! And very nice of you to do it twice! Smiling

I'm afraid I can't help much, since I only grow a few vegetables and only as a lark. But I wonder if that podcast of Dave on that survival podcast thingy might be helpful? I haven't listened to it yet, so I don't know. Just a thought.
The thread "Audio interview with me at the Survival Podcast" in Site Talk forum

What I can do, though, is say Welcome! ! And good luck. I'm sure you'll find lots of people with good advice and information here. Smiling
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Margaret
Near Kamloops, BC, Canada (Zone 3a)
Region: Canadian Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Tip Photographer Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member
Morning Glories Critters Allowed Birds Houseplants Butterflies Garden Photography
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mcash70
Feb 1, 2012 4:42 PM CST
Welcome! to ATP, I'm sure you will love it here! Smiling
Name: Brenda
Dolores, Colorado
Charter ATP Member Cat Lover Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Art Hummingbirder
Region: United States of America Ponds Region: Colorado
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bsavage
Feb 1, 2012 4:55 PM CST
Welcome! Backyard Herbalist! I will sit here and learn with you! I have been in zone 5 a/b for three years, but DH Tony and I have not done as much as we want to with veggies. I tend to be all about flowers, but this year we are planning on building a raised veggie bed. Tony had some success in year one, but we learned that we are on what used to be the river bed, so there is no soil... only rocks, thus the raised bed. Our growing season might be a little longer than yours, but it's pretty short (compared to where we used to live in Arizona!). So, again, welcome, and thanks for asking the questions!

Also, thanks to Rick for that very helpful information! You rock!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 1, 2012 5:21 PM CST
Blush! *Blush*

Please let me clarify: the only thing I AM an expert on is beginner mistakes! I may have missed one or two, but I think I'm intimately familiar with mistakes that can be made, and even some that few manage to commit.

For example, forgetting that water runs downhill, but then STOPS if it can;t go any further. that mistake started my obsession with drainage ditches.

And I started gardening right during the worst two years for sugs in Western WA for decades! Excuse me, it was a GREAT two years if you happend to be a slug. I would wonder "where did all my seedlings go?" until someone explained what the slime trawils meant.

Here's a backwards beginner mistake: "everyone" said it would be a big struggle to get any tomatoes to ripen where I live. Finally I could n;t keep three plants from fopllowing me home from a nursery. Even the lady who sold them to me rolled her eyes and bit her lip as if to say: "YOU'RE quite the optimistic gardener, AREN'T you?"

I carried them inside and outdoors each day for weeks until nights stayed over 50 F. I figured it was just for practice, to see what they looked like as they struggled to ripen.

Well, one of the three did give up and fade away that very-cool spring and summer. As I expected (Supersweet 100".

But the other two eventually got around to fruiting and even ripening several per day! And they tasted great until late summer when it got too cold again.

Beginner mistake # 1 is probably "not acting on good advice".
But beginner mistake #99 is "believing everything you hear".

Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Feb 1, 2012 7:02 PM CST
RickCorey said:
Beginner mistake # 1 is probably "not acting on good advice".
But beginner mistake #99 is "believing everything you hear".



Hilarious! I agree
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Brenda
Dolores, Colorado
Charter ATP Member Cat Lover Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Art Hummingbirder
Region: United States of America Ponds Region: Colorado
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bsavage
Feb 1, 2012 8:00 PM CST
Rick, you are in zone 8, I am in zone 5... and we can grow quite a lot of things here, including tomatoes. (Well, some people can, LOL!). I think you should be very optimistic! Backyard Herbalist (I am going to have to call you BH unless you share your first name with us... too much to type!), you are in an even more challenging zone than me! But, there are many of us with northern gardens here... let's all see who we can bring on in to help! I do wish Dahlianut was around...
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 1, 2012 8:23 PM CST
Brenda,

I am going to be more adventurous in the futurre - as I find time. But the USDA hardiness (average minimum winter temp) isn't my main problem for tomatoes and peppers - nor is the length of the frost-free growing season.

Instead it's just that summers are usually cool, and never hot. "Warm" would be nice for a change!

I should look into something like "degree days" out of curiousity, but the numbers don't mean as much as trying something. My next adventure will be starting them from seeds. But I would like to do that with some hoop tunnels or a cold frame available, since my one indoor shelf is already much more than fully spoken for by other things.

Indeed, some motivated people can grow tomatoes almost anywhere: Sub-Artic Plenty was allegedly developed in the 1940's for troops stationed in Greenland.

Name: Brenda
Dolores, Colorado
Charter ATP Member Cat Lover Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Art Hummingbirder
Region: United States of America Ponds Region: Colorado
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bsavage
Feb 2, 2012 2:10 AM CST
Wow, really? (re: sub-arctic plenty). That's cool! (Pun intended)! Interesting about the never hot days... we do get pretty hot here in the summer, high 80's anyway. Good luck with your seed starting, I have never been very good at that, mostly because I have messed up the hardening off period, and I don't have ideal conditions for seed starting. I would love to have a greenhouse, maybe someday!
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Feb 2, 2012 10:15 AM CST
I hear you about messing up the hardening off! I think my seedlings survive in spite of me, not because of me! We get really hot here in the summer, too. Which is probably why I can manage to grow tomatoes.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 2, 2012 11:58 AM CST
Hardening off in Spring is easy here: cloudy, cool, and not very windy.

Frequent light rain, if it were just more reliable, it would be almost like a misting system!

The challenge is the slugs. They can completely mow a tray of small seedlings overnight. But I've learned to surround the trays with beer saucers and iron phosphate bait.

I also find it hard to put seedlings outside as soon as I should. Separation anxiety? I would rather each cell were a little root-bound before I pot them up or set them out. It's nice to be able to pop out the root ball like a solid ice cube and plant it without any damage.

I hate to break up the root ball, which often happens if the cell or pot only has a few strands of root and isn't almost root-bound.

It took years to sink in, but now I think the rule should be:

- EITHER let the roots reach the edges of the cell or pot and maybe circle slightly,
- OR -
prick them out and pot them up while the root is still just one small strand and doesn't break if all the soil falls right off it. THEN leave it in that pot until the root system is robust enough to pop out without falling apart.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Feb 2, 2012 11:59 AM CST
I have such a small lighted area indoors that I need to move the first 4 trays SOMEWHERE after 2-3 weeks, so I can start 4 more trays.

I've been thinking about a low hoop tunnel / cold frame for seedling trays and 3" pots so they don't get too cold at night, yet hopefully won't cook at Noon. I suppose that makes hardening off a two-step process. Once when they go into the cold frame, and again when they come out.

We have a very long, variable spring. I think that just a little protection might add 6-8 weeks to the seed-starting season. "Average last frost" is April 8, but cold, cool and warm alternate from January through May.


Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Feb 2, 2012 12:16 PM CST
Someone I was talking to a while back (I think it was on Cubits) was using those hoop tunnels and had very good luck with them, and as I recall, it was either as cold as here or possibly a bit colder. We get too much wind through here to make that useful for me, but if you have room, that could work out well for you. But even as cold as it is here, I still have to prop open my GH door when the sun is out or it gets waaaaay too hot in there! I've had to run the fan a few times to cool it down when I didn't get things opened up in time.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Margaret
Near Kamloops, BC, Canada (Zone 3a)
Region: Canadian Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Tip Photographer Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member
Morning Glories Critters Allowed Birds Houseplants Butterflies Garden Photography
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mcash70
Feb 2, 2012 12:35 PM CST
You have to be careful using the hoop tunnels, I noticed my neighbor used some for the first time in her raised beds last year and then we had a hot sunny day and everything cooked in there, some were nice large tomato plants that she had started in her greenhouse, they never recovered. Sad
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 2, 2012 1:29 PM CST
>> You have to be careful using the hoop tunnels, ...
>> then we had a hot sunny day and everything cooked in there,

I believe it, and fear the same thing! If I RELY on a cloudy morning staying cloudy all day, it will surely surprise me.

I'd have to learn what amount of venting assures no-cook conditions. I read somewhere that tomatoes can stand a lot off heat IF the air is humid enough, but I don;t knwo whether to believe that.

Also, RAPID temperature swings have to be bad for anything.

What I would really like is to be retired but well-to-do, and build my own microcontroller-controlled greenhouse, with temp and humidity sensors, motorized vents and maybe some motorized shading slats, like Ventetian blinds. Dream on!

It might be more practical to just buy a 5-tier indoor seed-starting towers with lots of T5 lights ... and find room for it somewhere.



Name: Margaret
Near Kamloops, BC, Canada (Zone 3a)
Region: Canadian Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Tip Photographer Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member
Morning Glories Critters Allowed Birds Houseplants Butterflies Garden Photography
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mcash70
Feb 2, 2012 1:55 PM CST
Nice dream Rick, hey maybe you will win a lottery. Hilarious! I guess we do the best we can with what we have, at least I have a good size double shelved grow table and lights.

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