Ask a Question forum: Gardening tips

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Name: Ben Chavis
Oakland, California (Zone 10a)
BeginningGardeners
Apr 11, 2017 2:14 PM CST
Hello. Me and my classmate have a science project where we are planting a garden to help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We have no gardening experience so we would like to learn from professionals like you guys. Please help us out by answering these questions we have.
โ€ขWhat are several plants that are easy to grow and grow
realitively quickly?
โ€ขWhat brand of fertilizer and soil do you use? How much do you use and how frequently?
โ€ขWhat are some diseases to be aware of?
โ€ขHow do you clean it and how often do you do it?
Thank you for your time๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€
Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
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Zencat
Apr 11, 2017 2:20 PM CST
Welcome! to NGA.

Please take a moment to give us more info. Location being one of the most important. Where will the garden be? In the open or near a structure? How about sun? Full sun or part and will there be any shade?

Anything else you can tell us?
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Apr 11, 2017 11:17 PM CST
BeginningGardeners said:Hello. Me and my classmate have a science project where we are planting a garden to help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We have no gardening experience so we would like to learn from professionals like you guys. Please help us out by answering these questions we have.
โ€ขWhat are several plants that are easy to grow and grow
realitively quickly?
โ€ขWhat brand of fertilizer and soil do you use? How much do you use and how frequently?
โ€ขWhat are some diseases to be aware of?
โ€ขHow do you clean it and how often do you do it?
Thank you for your time๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€


If you mean an outside garden of veggies and flowers, any will do about as well as others.

If you mean some acres of non-veggie plants, you would want small leafy deciduous trees and shade tolerant groundcovers.

If you mean houseplants, you want Spider plants and Golden Pothos.

Southeast OK (Zone 7b)
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KarenHolt
Apr 12, 2017 7:11 AM CST
Zencat is correct, we need more info to help you better. Sun, shade, soil, type of garden you want whether it's flowers or vegetables or both. Your area in the world makes a huge difference in what you can grow as well. You cannot take a tropical plant meant for florida and expect to grow it in alaska without a greenhouse. So this information is important. Once you get us that, the possibilities are endless. :)

It would really help if you updated your profile with this information as far as zone and location. People here glance at that first before answering here.
[Last edited by KarenHolt - Apr 12, 2017 7:12 AM (+)]
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Name: Ben Chavis
Oakland, California (Zone 10a)
BeginningGardeners
Apr 13, 2017 2:05 PM CST
We live in Oakland, California. We are not sure about the plant yet but our location will be one of our backyards. We will plant it near a structure which does block out sunlight from time to time. Please reccomend easy to grow outdoor plants. Thank you.๐Ÿ˜€
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Apr 13, 2017 2:39 PM CST
Hi there y'all ๐Ÿ˜
Oakland is a big place. With many zones. Lettuce know please. ๐Ÿ˜
I'm a vege kind of guy, mostly.
Radishes. Bang # 30 days. Swiss chard, not far behind. Turnips, fast.
Bush beans, fast, 55 days. Cilantro, basil, fast.
Rudabagas. Tomatoes. Peppers, pole beans. Not so fast.
I making your mouths water yet ?
Flowers ! I like zinnas.
So much variety, at your disposal.
See maturity dates on seeds and your zone.
๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž

Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Apr 13, 2017 2:52 PM CST
Are you being graded on this project for school? May I inquire what grade level? Is there a time limit to complete the project?

How do you plan to prove that you are helping to reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

Are you old enough to drive yourselves to the store or will your parents have to get involved?

Is there a budget? How much money has been allocated for the project?
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Ben Chavis
Oakland, California (Zone 10a)
BeginningGardeners
Apr 13, 2017 6:59 PM CST
We are in the 8th grade and we are being graded for this. We have less then 2 months to grow a garden. Not too big but not too small. We are trying to plant the best co2 reducing plants we can find. We can go to the store but our friends already has some gardening tools. Because we have the tools we decided not to do a fundraiser so we don't have much money.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 13, 2017 7:13 PM CST
Ben, a very fast growing plant would be bush beans. They grow from seeds so they won't cost you much, and they make nice sized plants about 2ft. tall in less than 2 months. They even improve the soil where they are grown, and will produce an edible crop for you as a bonus.

Just about any leafy green plant will use Co2 and produce oxygen. If you had more money, and/or a longer time I'd be suggesting things like ornamental grasses that make a whole lot of leaves. But your budget and short time frame are somewhat limiting.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." โ€“Winston Churchill
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Apr 14, 2017 6:14 AM CST
Ditto bush beans. Things from seed will grow really fast, but you have to get started soon. Tomato baby plants, corn, squash?
Obviously (to me) you can't prove that you're reducing CO2. Are you supposed to grow the most leaves in two months? Planting a tree would not demonstrate anything in two months, but adding a new tree adds something that will keep consuming CO2 for decades.
You're learning that there are a lot of variables to consider. The teacher should appreciate you showing a lot of thought, not a lot of money.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Ben Chavis
Oakland, California (Zone 10a)
BeginningGardeners
Apr 14, 2017 3:36 PM CST
Thanks for the suggestion I will see if I could plant some bush beans.
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Apr 15, 2017 6:58 AM CST
Swiss chard and radishes too. Thumbs up
๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Ben Chavis
Oakland, California (Zone 10a)
BeginningGardeners
Apr 20, 2017 1:41 PM CST
Are there any diseases to be aware of and how could I prevent it?
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 20, 2017 2:32 PM CST
If you're only going to be growing your plants until the end of school, or for 2 months, it's not that likely that you'll see much damage from diseases. Beans are susceptible to some fungal infections and this can be prevented by spraying them occasionally with a mild solution of baking soda and water, 1/2 tsp to a quart of water.

You should also keep an eye out for insect activity. White flies are tiny sucking insects. You'll find them by gently brushing the leaves with your hand, and if you see little white flying insects fly up you've got them. A solution of soapy water sprayed on both the tops and undersides of the leaves will take care of them. Again the amount is 1/2tsp. dish soap to a quart of water. Stronger is not better. Rinse the soap off the leaves with a gentle spray of plain water after a few minutes. Leaving the soapy solution on the leaves can make them phytosensitive (the sun burns them).

The other thing to watch out for is bean leaf rollers. They are caterpillars that start out tiny and can get to over an inch long in a week! You will start seeing holes in the leaves of your plants, and that is the sign to start scouting the leaves for the caterpillars. They are stealthy and hide during the day by rolling part of the leaf over themselves (hence the name). At night they come out and eat the leaves. The cure for these is to just pick them off by hand. If you have a large infestation, you can buy a product at Home Depot or Lowe's called BT that is safe to use on edible plants.

Check your plants carefully every day and treat for problems before there is too much damage. Your plants can't make oxygen and consume Co2 without healthy leaves.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." โ€“Winston Churchill
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
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RickCorey
Apr 20, 2017 3:26 PM CST
"Greens" would be fast-growing, like salad greens. But many "greens" prefer cool weather and might go quickly to seed if you have warm weather during their growing period.

Philipwonel is right about chard or Swiss Chard. It can take the heat and will grow rapidly.

Some greens:
chard (good summer crop)
Lettuce
Bok Choy and Tatsoi (easy-to grow Brassicas)
Tyfon ("Holland Greens") grows very fast an tall. It's a "fodder" crop.
any cover crop that does well in your region, which I guess means drought-tolerant

By the way: since your goal is to absorb as much CO2 as you can in just two months, avoid deep-tilling the spot you pick for a garden. Deep-tilling will make most soils better aerated. While that is great for growing plants' roots, if the soil was "heavy" before tilling, it probably was not well aerated. If that soil also held much organic matter like compost, humus or plant roots, tilling it might cause the tilled layer to RELEASE some CO2 as the organic matter in the soil is oxidized by microbes made more active by the increased aeration.

Soils tend to contain much more carbon than the atmosphere!

Making your new garden a carbon ABSORBER even in its first few months might work better if you only turn, till or cultivate the soil shallowly, enough to give the seeds something they can root in. Then make them fight for a root zone.

If you were making a permanent garden, your "carbon budget" would be easier to balance favorably. You would be maintaining a well-aerated and yet highly-organic soil by adding soil amendments once or twice per year. Like compost, shredded paper, chopped leaves, grass clippings, straw or other mulch. That way, you would capture some of that carbon IN your deep soil, instead of having it all turn to CO2 as soon as it rots above ground.

There might be a lesson in that.
Q: How do you pull CO2 out of the air, and sequester it so it doesn't go right back?
A: Have a long-term plan and stick to it, instead of changing your policy 180 degrees every 4-8 years. A "ten-year-plan" would be short-sighted. A 100 year plan is going in the right direction. A two-month exercise is more likely to be a learning experience than it is to be serious planetary re-engineering.

Science fiction has been talking about "terra-forming" alien planets for decades. But now we need to transform the Earth into something more Earth-like!


Does the carbon-absorber have to be a new garden? Improving an existing garden with neglected soil might be the fastest way to turn CO2 into plant matter.

Turning compost UNDER the soil will "capture" a lot of carbon the very day you turn it under, and if you KEEP adding compost as it is digested, you will have a permanent "balance" of carbon sequestered in your soil. (You keep adding more new compost as the old compost is digested by microbes and other soil life. The "sequestered" carbon is the average level of organic content over the whole year.)

And no-till or low-till practices will keep more carbon in your soil.

Hmm, CA? If water were free, you could just water an acre of dried-up, drought-ridden, burned-up unproductive ground. Instant weeds 3 feet tall. Carbon capture! But who can afford several acre-inches of water?

Also, suppose that some of your new gardens mainly produce weeds. If those weeds are vigorous and large, chop down and weigh one square foot of weeds. Then congratulate yourself for leveraging the "efficient bio-mass production" that weeds offer. Instead of apologizing for forgetting to hoe the weeds daily. New soil = weeds, in my experience.

If you DON'T want weeds, and don't want to PULL weeds every day, heavy mulching helps. And maybe you can count the carbon in the mulch as carbon that you have "captured". Wood chips are good for that (on the surface, not turned under).

Good luck.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
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sallyg
Apr 20, 2017 11:42 PM CST
Ben, I think your teacher would be more impressed if you do an internet search for diseases of bush beans and give her a result, like something from a university agricultural extension service, than by you telling her 'someone on a gardening website told us xxx.' You are meant to be learning how to research. This is not good research. This is opinions from sources for whom you have no idea of our accuracy.. (not to mention grammar- I couldn't figure out how to phrase that)
No offense to some here who I know are good gardeners but that isn't how you should do a project. Look at your assignment and think.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Apr 21, 2017 3:12 PM CST
Hi there y'all ๐Ÿ˜
Ding ! Dong ! Avon calling !
Dough ! D'Oh! !!! When someone says garden ! I allways think ... vegetables.
Y'all are talking co2 reducers.
How about the biggest, and one of the fastest growing trees in the world ????
The giant sequoia ! They grow 6 feet a year, live thousands of years, and there evergreen.
They grow them hear in Fresno CA for Christmas trees. If you cant grow them in your local. I know a deadoore cedar will ! Also a lovely tree.
I'd ask principle where you could plant it. Y'all would be making a lasting memory to your school !
Maybe deserving of a plack someday, in your honors !๐Ÿ˜!
Go for it !!! Thumbs up
๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Apr 21, 2017 4:57 PM CST
Actually....
Most veggies are fairly fast growing.
And California is well known for produce.
I think that growing a few plants of each kind of veggie available would be more interesting than placing all your hopes on a single variety of plant.
Also.... Starting a compost pile would be a welcome addition to any garden...
Research on plants able to thrive in your area without extra water would be a nice way to start... Pumping that water over the mountains takes electricity.... Producing the electricity to pump the water... Adds to the carbon prob.
Good project, please post pictures.
Name: Carol Roberts
Huntington Beach, CA (Zone 10b)
Sunset 24
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CarolHB
Apr 21, 2017 10:01 PM CST

Lots of advice and some of it will be conflicting and some of it will take way too long to fit into your 2 month time frame, or cost too much. So, don't try to do everything - just take what you can use and leave the rest - we won't erase it so if you need it in the future it will be here. Good luck and happy researching - one of my favorite things to do.
Can't complain too loud about how the ball bounces when I'm the one who dropped it.
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Apr 22, 2017 8:25 AM CST
Would it have to be edible? My first thought was all the house plants that serve this purpose and some are actually conservative on water usage as well.
One that would serve that purpose and in your climate would grow in ground is the lowly Spider plant. It filters carbon dioxide, multiplies freely and the roots are tuberlike to reserve moisture.
There are many other houseplants that do as well or better and would grow in ground in your zone. There are also many of us that would share some of these plants to get you started if interested. Good luck with your project. It seems a bit overwhelming.
Be content moving inch by inch because, by days end, the inches, will add up to feet and yards.

Fulfilling ambitious objectives is usually done one step at a time.

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