Ask a Question forum: increasing yields

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Name: Debbie
Ventura County, CA
Cat Lover Frugal Gardener Bookworm Region: United States of America Salvias Region: California
Herbs Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: New York Vegetable Grower Organic Gardener Garden Procrastinator
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ChefDebbie
Nov 18, 2016 5:09 PM CST
I'm happy with my success so far, with my first garden. I define success as getting to harvest even a little off my plants. But now, am looking to do more than that. What do I need to do to increase my yields, so not only I can enjoy more, but my family & my community as well. Thanks in advance for all the advice!
A transplanted New Yorker now living in Southern California..... Rudeness is the weak person's imitation of strength.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Nov 18, 2016 7:07 PM CST
Debbie, I think it's time for you to "graduate" from using the Ask a Question forum if you haven't already. There is a whole forum dedicated to just raising Vegetables and Fruit, right here http://garden.org/forums/view/...

and another just for Herbs here: http://garden.org/forums/view/...

There are tons of people on those forums with lots of great advice for you on where to next.

But one thing I can tell you is it's never time wasted if you can be improving your soil with lots of organic materials. This time of year there are loads of people throwing away bags of leaves and lawn clippings that you can spread on your garden and next spring just dig (or rototill) it in for added quality and friability.

Some Counties have composting programs at their landfills. Look into getting as much compost as you can, any way you can.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Debbie
Ventura County, CA
Cat Lover Frugal Gardener Bookworm Region: United States of America Salvias Region: California
Herbs Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: New York Vegetable Grower Organic Gardener Garden Procrastinator
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ChefDebbie
Nov 18, 2016 9:07 PM CST
I'm sorry I didn't post it where you wanted me to. Didn't want to inconvenience you. Would you like it if someone told you to 'graduate'? Does it really matter where I post it? You may not have meant it the way I took it, but you came across in not a nice way. I'd rather not have your input if you're going to talk to me like a damn child.
A transplanted New Yorker now living in Southern California..... Rudeness is the weak person's imitation of strength.
[Last edited by ChefDebbie - Nov 18, 2016 9:21 PM (+)]
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Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Nov 18, 2016 10:41 PM CST
Debbie ...

What are you growing ? That's always my starting question.

I have to tell you. Growing tomatoes in MY garden and getting good yields is impossible because of both soil and high summer temps. Every time I've tried to grow toms, they have been the most expensive toms I have ever eaten because of poor yield. However, that is not true for other things.

Your climate conditions are so very different from mine, I know I can't answer your question from my personal experience, but it might help others if you let them know what you want to grow.
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Debbie
Ventura County, CA
Cat Lover Frugal Gardener Bookworm Region: United States of America Salvias Region: California
Herbs Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: New York Vegetable Grower Organic Gardener Garden Procrastinator
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ChefDebbie
Nov 18, 2016 11:45 PM CST
Hi, Lyn. I have celebrity tomatoes, cucumbers, 2 kinds of beets, spinach, basil, bush beans, sugar snap peas... I just picked my 1st cucumber the other day. I thought I'd have tons of little baby cukes on them already. I've had some tomatoes from my yard & have a bunch of golf ball sized ones growing. I thought I would have had/picked alot more at this point. I had added Amend to the soil before planting, along with some kitchen scraps, like used coffee grounds & eggshells. Over the summer, I grew yellow crooknecks & while I enjoyed eating them, I thought I would have had more than I did.
A transplanted New Yorker now living in Southern California..... Rudeness is the weak person's imitation of strength.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Nov 19, 2016 12:09 AM CST
Hi Debbie ...

Congratulations on your first year. I am going to let others advise you about how to go forward, as my garden has been a disaster for growing vegetables. In the mountains, everything gardening is about micro climates and elevation.

My house pad garden just didn't suit, but I do have plans for next year ... Smiling I don't want to hi-jack your thread.

I am hoping others will jump in and answer your question.
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Nov 19, 2016 5:57 AM CST
I would say what you need to do is get a soil test for starters, and then compare the results to the requirements for the individual plants that you feel aren't performing to their optimum. From what I recall you can't get a soil test in California other than from a private lab or buying a soil test kit, perhaps Lyn or someone else from the state can advise on that.

Different plants can have different requirements as far as fertilizing, watering, pests and diseases are concerned, also pollination for those where the yield is a fruit. Any of those factors can influence optimum yield. Another factor is the number of plants needed for the expected yield and also the length of time needed from planting to harvest. For example, how many tomatoes did you need and how many plants did you have, and how long ago were they planted?. How long ago did you plant the cukes and what variety are they?

I have heard of "Amend" but am not familiar with it. I couldn't find what it consists of on Google because it is too common a keyword. What problem were you intending to correct with it? Did you add fresh coffee grounds to the soil or composted, and did you sow seedlings where you used it?

Name: Debbie
Ventura County, CA
Cat Lover Frugal Gardener Bookworm Region: United States of America Salvias Region: California
Herbs Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: New York Vegetable Grower Organic Gardener Garden Procrastinator
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ChefDebbie
Nov 19, 2016 10:06 AM CST
Lyn, all the knowledge I can get in order to be at the level that everyone is on here, is so appreciated. Everything I've learned so far I have learned on this website.

Sue, Amend is made by a company called Kellogg Organics. I do add coffee grounds & eggshells. I know that my outcome is a direct result of my initial input. This is my first and only tomato plant I have grown. I planted it at the end of July 2016. My idea was to grow alot of tomatoes to not only share with my family, but also to make lots of homemade tomato sauce that I can stock my freezer with & use as needed. I started my cukes indoors about mid august, then planted them outside. I'll have to look at what kind they are. The one thing I can say, is that I have so many earthworms, which is good. Now that I know I'm able to have a somewhat successful garden, I want to take it to another level, if that makes sense.
A transplanted New Yorker now living in Southern California..... Rudeness is the weak person's imitation of strength.
Name: J.R. Baca
Pueblo West Co. ( High Dessert (Zone 6a)
josebaca
Nov 19, 2016 3:38 PM CST
Hi Chef!
With ( what I believe to be correct ) the legalization of pot in your state, there are a few products that that will be MORE readily available and known to the common home gardener; such as liquid fertilizers and amendments that can be linked to your irrigation system, some are surprisingly helpful and beneficial. Another product you may want to look at is ( hoping spell check is up for this one ) myco- rhizomes , yields from that here in Pueblo are pretty amazing.

You may also want to check and work on the tilth of your soil. While most of the soil I have is nearly good enough for anything that grows above ground, I have only one bed that will produce normal looking root crops and it happens to be the first one I built nearly 4 years ago but that's because of the serious clay I have here. Yet no matter what type of soil you have, I feel that you can never go wrong using compost as much as you can. Cover or rotational crops can also be a boon.

One last thing I'd like to mention is that as you learn about soil building and the soil food web you'll probably want to take steps to disturb this as little as possible; so I'd recommend looking for tools that can assist you in this, easydigging.com has a great selection, and as you progress you'll look for more tools that are appropriate to your specific needs.

I truly do wish this is helpful to you, so you would feel obliged to send me ( secretly if you choose ) recipes for zucchini and bottle neck squash, because I get soo much of those my neighbors dont even want any by the end of the season! Smiling

Anyway; good luck and good gardening!

P.S.
Don't forget to mulch mulch mulch!
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Newyorkrita
Nov 19, 2016 4:03 PM CST
Well, best productivity for veggies would be give them sunlight, don't overcrowd and great soil.

Really I am great at growing veggies and I have a lot because I plant a lot. So if you can find space to expand the veggie plot that would be the best thing you could do.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Critters Allowed Region: Arizona Xeriscape Greenhouse Annuals
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plantmanager
Nov 19, 2016 4:50 PM CST
I was going to say that one tomato plant doesn't give anyone enough to do all that. You'd need to plant like Rita. How many tomato plants did you have, @Newyorkrita?
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Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
Nov 19, 2016 4:53 PM CST
plantmanager said:I was going to say that one tomato plant doesn't give anyone enough to do all that. You'd need to plant like Rita. How many tomato plants did you have, @Newyorkrita?


I had 120. Hilarious! Hilarious!
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Critters Allowed Region: Arizona Xeriscape Greenhouse Annuals
Cactus and Succulents Bromeliad Adeniums Orchids Tropicals Plumerias
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plantmanager
Nov 19, 2016 5:11 PM CST
Ha, no wonder you were so successful, Rita! I could do that, but most people wouldn't have the room or time to do that. I really enjoyed the photos you showed of all of your lush produce. I plan to try next Spring, but on a smaller scale. I might have 10 tomato plants outside! Up to now I've only had 3 in my greenhouse.
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Nov 19, 2016 5:21 PM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing

Ahem... no, you don't need to plant as many tomatoes as Rita did! I had 20 plants this summer -- I normally plant 12-16 -- and, with more favorable weather here than usual, along with using some different gardening techniques (such as growing some of my tomatoes inside a hoop house), I had way more than enough to make 7 dozen or so pints of salsa, 30 cups of plain tomato sauce, several dozen quarts of juice, several dozen pints of plain canned tomatoes -- and gave away a bunch of tomatoes, while also eating a LOT of them fresh ourselves.

But... you DO need more than one plant Smiling

Debbie -- I can't remember... are you gardening strictly organically? I ask this because I don't, and if you do this won't be good advice. Some years back I was a little frustrated that my garden didn't seem to be doing as well as I thought it should, and I asked our local "soil conservation service" director (who happens to be a friend) about it, and where I would get a soil test done. He said something to the effect of "you don't need a soil test, just add some triple-19 fertilizer and everything will grow just great." He calculated that I would need about 5 lbs of the triple-19; however, triple-10 was a lot easier to fine, and a 50-lb bag was really cheap -- and that year I ended up using the entire 50 lbs on my garden and tilling it in. And everything grew like gangbusters (and no, it wasn't all leaves and no fruit... that's when I decided I had been taking the adage about not over-fertilizing WAY too seriously).

I know you're anxious to "get to the next level," but everyone has different soil, weather conditions and so on, and experience really is the best teacher. There are probably other gardeners in your area that could tell you what varieties they've had the best luck with, and your county extension service could also be helpful in that respect. Each gardening year seems to bring some new challenges/problems -- something that did great last year might be a train wreck this year... which is why I am eternally grateful to not be trying to make a living from agriculture. Smiling
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Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Critters Allowed Region: Arizona Xeriscape Greenhouse Annuals
Cactus and Succulents Bromeliad Adeniums Orchids Tropicals Plumerias
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plantmanager
Nov 19, 2016 5:27 PM CST
. Each gardening year seems to bring some new challenges/problems -- something that did great last year might be a train wreck this year... which is why I am eternally grateful to not be trying to make a living from agriculture. Smiling [/quote]

Amen to that! It seems to get harder and harder to make a living that way.

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Name: Debbie
Ventura County, CA
Cat Lover Frugal Gardener Bookworm Region: United States of America Salvias Region: California
Herbs Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: New York Vegetable Grower Organic Gardener Garden Procrastinator
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ChefDebbie
Nov 19, 2016 6:04 PM CST
I can't thank everyone enough for all the advice. I guess when I first started, not killing anything was my first goal; then as I planted & learned more, my goal was to challenge myself with more intricate stuff, like learning more terminology, how to grow things more difficult & so on.... Alot of it still seems quite foreign to me. I wasn't sure if I had done something incorrectly to not have had the harvest I'd hoped to have. So, I was wanting to learn how to try & fix it. I guess that's the determined New Yorker in me.

J.R. Baca- the pot being legalized here in CA (to be completely honest) is something I hadn't given much thought to. I sure don't want to get high off my vegetables- just full. Maybe I would have thought differently about 15 years or so ago. And I'll be more than happy to send you some simple, yet delicious recipes!

Though I don't have any more ground space to plant more stuff, I would have no problem building a raised bed that would sit on the concrete somewhere on my patio. I had been told that now isn't the best time to grow tomatoes; however, if that were true, how come Home Depot has tons of nice tomato plants? It was the other day that I realized that where I am in CA that we are the exception to the rule as to what to plant & when because of our weather... No frost dates. Yes, experience is the best teacher and I am learning that; I like to learn so I hopefully increase success & reduce chances of failure, which I know I'll have. I still feel like I hardly know anything, but when I look out on my patio, I think of all the fine people on here that taught me to get to this point.
A transplanted New Yorker now living in Southern California..... Rudeness is the weak person's imitation of strength.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Nov 19, 2016 6:45 PM CST
I agree, you need more tomato plants, but not 120! Hilarious! I usually plant six plants for us, and still give away as many as my husband and I eat. Try growing some different varieties with differing days to maturity to harvest for a longer period. My favorite early one here in Ohio is Matina. I think it's around 55 DTM. Plum tomatoes are nice for cooking and sauce. I also always grow a beefsteak or brandywine with longer maturity times to harvest late in the season, and a cherry tomato or two. Experiment and find your own favorites. You'll probably get a much bigger choice if growing from seed than finding plants at nurseries.

I've never lived in such a warm climate as yours, and I envy you that. Gardeners in your own zone could likely advise better than I, but I'd guess you could start earlier?

Herbs do great in pots on my deck. It makes them easy to run out and clip as I cook. Of course, in Ohio, that's only in summer months. Sad

Karen
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
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Weedwhacker
Nov 19, 2016 7:29 PM CST
Here's a site with information about how many plants to grow per person, etc; of course, "your mileage may vary"... but it IS a starting point.

http://www.harvesttotable.com/...

Terminology! learning the scientific (Latin) names of plants is very helpful, probably more so even for flowers than vegetables because so many plants have multiple common names. (For instance, the "bleeding hearts" (Dicentra) that I grow in my shade garden are a completely different thing than what my sister-in-law in Florida calls "bleeding hearts.") With veggies, I think it's really more important to learn about the varieties that you're growing; so many people that I talk to (locally) have absolutely no idea about what the name is of the super-duper greatest tomato they've ever grown Blinking . Last summer some friends who live most of the year in W. Virginia started talking about the great half-runner beans that they get down there but can't find up here in the north; but they had no idea what variety of half-runner beans they had grown/eaten. ("Half-runner" is just a type of bean in between bush and pole beans, and there are a number of different varieties that fit into that type.)

With tomatoes -- one of the major differences is between "determinate" and "indeterminate." And, of course, the difference between "open pollinated" and "hybrid" is important with all plants, particularly if you want to save your own seeds. GMO, of course, is a topic that many people worry about, but as far as I know the seeds that are sold for home gardeners (as opposed to farmers) are NOT genetically modified.

Lots to learn... I think once a person has been gardening for a certain length of time they tend to forget just how MUCH there is to learn! Fortunately, you don't have to learn it all at once -- and there is a lot of information right here on NGA in the "learning library," as well as what can be gleaned from other members. Smiling
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Name: J.R. Baca
Pueblo West Co. ( High Dessert (Zone 6a)
josebaca
Nov 19, 2016 9:33 PM CST
Miss Debbie;
Ma'am, I seemed to have sort of kicked a hornets nest here and that honestly was not my intent. What I was reffering to was the experience and science developed to make the best ( profit, grade and cost effectiveness ) of any cash crop. Be it corn 200 years ago to soybeans 50 years ago people will take the path that offers the mostest for the leastest and in this day and age, mainstream science is finding that sometimes the best way is to help the natural way, which I happen to generally agree with, especially where sustainability is concerned.

There are a plethora of products that can increase your yields and, if used responsibly, have little to no impact on the environment, and some, like em-1 can be beneficial.

As to the recipe's, ratatouille is not for me but diced and fried with corn and jalapeños is, but with a last name of Baca, you really can't blame me can you? Big Grin

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