I could use a mentor...

newhippie(6b)December 31, 2010

So we spent a lot of time and effort (and $$$) putting in a garden last year.

I am new to this.

My garden did not do well.

I did get lots of tomatoes that I managed to freeze and am waiting for my food mill to arrive, I prefer seedless tomatoes for cooking. I got that part.

But right off the bat last year, bugs just ran me over. I am in-love with the idea of organic gardening. Our children are young, and I want to teach them how to grow our own food. I read and read about how to do this, but I think I need to see some gardening in action, for example, I had no idea what the broccoli was supposed to look like until it had bolted, (it had vary small heads because I started it way too late.)And then the worms arrived and it was over.

I can't even talk about what happened to the squash.

Is there an organic gardener here in 6b who would be willing to let me into their garden? We live by keystone dam, but I go to Tulsa area regularly. I don't need someone to hold my hand, I just need to know when to plant in 6b, and what works for you organically. I wouldn't mind shadowing you if I could help you with some garden tasks, I need to learn. I doubt everything I do. It's just frustrating to be in this age group (thirties) where most of us have had no farming or gardening knowledge passed onto us. And even more frustrating is to have such a desire to garden, but have no green thumb whatsoever. I kill houseplants.

There are lots of local garden clubs I have heard of, I just get overwhelmed by all the info. Thanks for any advice!!! I appreciate it.

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Hippy, there are frustrations all through life. They start when you are a baby and end when you die. I think the key is, learning to deal with your frustrations, and for me gardening has been the best medication I have ever had. Yes it is frustrating at times, especially when it seems as tho mother nature and all her critters team up against you.

I am sure you can find someone near you to help and teach you. If you have nobody near you the people on this forum can supply you with all the info and pictures you can ask for.

I bet Dawn will be here any time now and she has a computer brain with tons of information stored in it. Just set back and plan your garden and wait for help. Gardening is like everything else, you will lose a few and win a few.


    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 8:00PM
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While I've been gardening for several years now, I just started veggie gardening with tomatoes only (a few Sugar Snap Peas) last year. I can tell you that I wish I was in my 30s. I'm not. Add about 30 years to that. So, it's never too late. With that said, I have been "around" gardening. My dad gardened when I was growing up, and my husband gardened when we were married.

I did start gardening with ornamentals which then turned into gardening for the butterflies and moths, and growing native plants.

Gardening in Oklahoma will never be perfect. I'm not sure that even if we had perfect weather, it would be perfect. But, weather is most unpredictable here. Not only does it vary from the Northern parts of the state to the Southern parts of the state, and parts in between, but it can change overall at the drop of a hat. It is challenging to say the least.

Nobody's squash did really well last year. Invasion of the Squash Vine Borers and Squash Bugs. My tomatos did relatively well, but I only grew a few and those were in containers where I could monitor them more closely. A lot of people's tomatos gave up the ghost mid-summer for a lot of reasons - drought, too much water, bugs, diseases, etc.

I garden organically because in raising butterflies and moths, I can't use chemicals in my yard. It would kill the lovely caterpillars.

So, join us and learn some and have lots of fun. We will be newbies together as far as veggie gardening. It's a friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, experienced group here.

There are a lot of folks up your way - I'm in OKC. DuckCreekGardens, who posts here, will have tomato plants, and maybe other things, available, and comes highly recommended. I'm sure he'll come along to help you out, too. Jay, who resides on the Oklahoma/Kansas border out West, probably has the bleakest conditions to garden in, and is very successful, and also very helpful. We call his environment "Extreme Gardening". There's folks from all corners and the innards of the state who will be more than willing to help with any questions you have.

I know Dawn is probably going to say that the basis of any good garden, though, is soil. Have you had your soil tested? Have you made any improvements to your soil?


    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 8:16PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


You have many online mentors here and we'll be right by your side every step of the way. I understand that you're hoping to find a live, in-person mentor and I hope you find one, but in the meantime, we'll help you all we can.

Let's address your issues from this past year.

You said "My garden did not do well." In what way did it not do well? Did your vegetables not grow? Did they grow but not produce? Did they produce but the harvest was poor because of disease or pests? Were you overwhelmed with weeding and other maintenance chores? If you can narrow down just what the issues were, we can work through solutions for them one by one.

The fact that you did well with tomatoes this past gardening season shows you have great potential, so give yourself a pat on the back. Many, many experienced gardeners (and less experienced gardeners too) had a really lousy tomato year because the weather seemed to go out of its way to do all the wrong things at the wrong times.

With organic gardening, insect control is the biggest challenge but it is a challenge you can meet. First of all, accept that you always will have insects around. The goal is not to get rid of all the bugs, but rather to maintain a balanced bug population. When your bug population is balanced, you will have enough of the good bugs, aka beneficial insects, to help keep the bad bugs, known as pest insects, under control. For example, many gardeners are troubled by aphids. If you have lady bug beetles, the lady bugs will eat the aphids. However, you have to know that first the apids show up and their population seems to explode, and then in a few days, along come the mama lady bugs who get busy producing lady bug larvae who then will gobble up your aphids. Patience, therefore, is required. So, your main job is to encourage the good bugs to come. If you do a good job of that, they'll control many of the pest bugs for you. Of course, every year is different and some years the Japanese beetles will arrive in huge numbers, or the grasshoppers will do the same, or whatever, and you'll have to do whatever it takes to deal with them. I can assure you though that once you have a good population of beneficial insects established on your property, the challenge of dealing with the pest bugs will not be so daunting as it was this past year. For what it is worth, this was about the worst pest year I can remember in decades. Most years will not be as bad, in terms of garden pests, as 2010 was.

Broccoli is really challenging in our climate. Simply put, precise timing is essential because if you plant too early, your plants will be exposed to colder temperatures than they need and they'll form tiny button-sized heads. If you plant too late, the heat will end the plants' season before large heads can form. Once you understand the temperatures broccoli needs and work out the timing for your part of the state, it is really easy to grow. We'll work with you on the timing needed for broccoli and everything else too.

For broccoli worms, you have several organic options. (1) Spray your plants regularly with Bt, an organic pesticide that kills them. (2) Religiously search the plants every day for the worms, handpick them and drop them into a bucket of soapy water to drown. (3) Grow your broccoli under a lightweight floating row cover carefully weighted down on 100% of its edges to keep the worms out. What you cannot do is ignore the plants until the worm population is so large that all your plant leaves are already full of holes.

Squash can be difficult but you can get a good crop most years. As with the broccoli, you have to make the effort to keep squash bugs and squash vine borers off your plants. The simplest way is to cover the plants with a lightweight floating row cover. You can leave it on all the time and hand-pollinate the flowers yourself while briefly removing the cover, or you can leave the plants covered up until they begin to flower and then remove the cover. However, removing the cover will give pests access to your plants but hopefully by that time the plants are large enough that you can help them survive the pests by spraying with an organic pesticide, hand-picking bugs, etc. Choosing squash varieties that are less susceptible to pest damage can make a difference too.

So, you see, if you can list some of the larger challenges you faced, we all can discuss why these things happen and what we do to improve our chances of getting a good harvest.

To be honest, I can't imagine starting out brand-new in gardening with no prior experience and understand that it would be very frustrating. I was lucky because I grew up with gardening relatives and neighbors, although sometimes that means you learn some things incorrectly from them and spend your later years relearning how to do so things properly. It would be hard to start with no experience, but it certainly is not at all impossible, especially with information so readily available over the internet. I can find info on the internet in minutes that I had to search for for years and years before we had the internet.

Why don't you make a list of what you want to plant this year and post it here? Then, we all can at least suggest recommended varieties that produce well for us, recommended planting times for those plants and also can suggest how many weeks prior to those planting times you should start your seeds indoors to raise your seedlings, or, if you prefer to buy seedlings, we can skip that point. We also can discuss tips for success with each crop. There are lots of simple little things you can do with each crop, but of course, they only seem simple once you know about them and are doing them.

The most appropriate planting times are not going to sneak up on you and surprise you because many of us here regularly post and start threads that say things like "I started these cool-season crops today....." or "I planted my broccoli seeds indoors in a flat today" or "I am transplanting my broccoli seedlings into the ground today". So, as long as you're regularly visiting this forum and watching what we do, starting with those of us way down south doing it a couple of week earlier and those closer to you doing it a little bit after that, well....you can just follow our lead and I think that will help with your timing. In Oklahoma's climate, where the weather can go from "too cold" to "too hot" in a heartbeat, getting the timing right is half the battle.

Do not despair. You have a bunch of us here who stand by ready to help you online, even if we're too far away to invite you to shadow us in our gardens.


    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 9:09PM
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I can certainly relate. I am in my 40's and last year was my first year gardening. The advice on this board helped make my garden experience better than I anticipated. One of the best things I did was to stop doubting yourself. Half the fun of gardening is experimenting. Keep good notes so that you know what does not work. My tomatoes were awful last year. I think I got four maybe?? Enough to make a salad! HA! :) But this year I am doing something different, and that is half the fun. It is going to take a couple garden seasons I imagine before I get the hang of it I suppose. I even took a horticulture class at a local college. Check your local extension, they have fact sheets and classes that is reliable information. Check your local library for good books on the subject and experiment. Most of all relax and have fun!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 7:01AM
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Last year was the worst gardening year I've experienced in my whole life. I'm not new to gardening either. So don't lose heart. Chances are this year will be better.

You didn't say what kind of squash you planted. The bugs were especially hard on my summer squash, last year. But if you want winter squash, be sure to choose varieties from the c. moschata family. If I was going with commercially available seed, I'd probably look at Sandhill Preservation Center's squash. They have Old Timey Cornfield Pumpkin, which I sent them. This is a large (larger than they say in the catalog) buff colored, oblong squash which is pretty tolerant of our conditions. It is also quite insect resistant. They also sell Seminole, which I understand to be smaller fruited but at least equally resistant to insects. Actually, any squash they sell with a c. moschata label, is likely to do well for you.

Scarchuk's Supreme is the most insect resistant acorn type I know of. Hopefully they will have more seed when the 2011 catalog goes on-line.

Tahlequah, OK

Here is a link that might be useful: Sandhill Squash

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 8:49AM
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Gardening can be challenging but also very rewarding. There are many very knowledgeable gardeners on this forum willing to offer great advice for free. The first thing I will say is if you let it gardening is like most other ventures it can be frustrating. I enjoy it and also like the stress relief it gives me. I have learned to take every failure as a learning experience and to move on. I always taught my "boy" to not worry about what he had no control over. I know also many times you feel it would of been cheaper to of bought the produce. Remember when you grow produce or fatten your own livestock you know what each has consumed and what you are eating. So regardless of cost I feel it is better for my health. Like Dawn I was blessed with a Mother who could grow anything it seemed. She nurtured my born love to sow seeds and watch something grow. She grew flowers ect as perennials that every nursery person in this are would say wasn't possible and just shake their heads. I also lived in a area of NM that had a canal and several market gardeners. Some of them Mennonites who were very good gardeners along with several native Mexicans. The Mexican gardeners is where I developed my love of chilies and learned how to grow them in this area. I would suggest you visit here often but also look around and see who has a nice garden in you area. Most gardeners are willing to share their knowledge and enjoy showing their gardens to others.

The region a person gardens in dictates to a large degree what diseases and pest he will encounter and also what means of control will be effective. The main bug control I've used the last 2 years with good success has been Garlic Barrier. Has done a great job and totally organic. Again what works well for me doesn't for a grower in eastern OK and also the varieties that grow well here won't grow well elsewhere. I grow mainly straight neck yellow squash and a few winter varieties. I always grow spaghetti squash and usually at least one other. George sent me seeds over a year ago for the Old Timey Cornfield Pumpkin. I plan to try it this year. I've learned many of the popular varieties of veggies don't do well here. I grow a mix of hybrids and open pollinated varieties. I try to buy from more local seed vendors like Skyfire seeds here in KS when possible. I also save my own seeds of any variety that does well here. At least I know that the variety has proven to do well in a climate similar to mine. Jay

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 2:10PM
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Newhippie, Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. I had been growing broccoli for over 20 years before I learned that it is "difficult."

So for broccoli, choose a short day-to-maturity variety. Packman is one widely available one. (Calabrese totally failed for me the only time I tried it--too long) Start the seeds between Feb 15 and Mar 1 over heat. I have a warm bench with a soil heating cable, but on top of a frig works. Don't allow to become too dry or root bound. Make sure they get good light and keep them growing. Harden off and Transplant out between April 1 and 15. They are heavy feeders so fertilize some with a nitrogen rich fertilizer. Blood meal not only provides nitrogen but discourages rabbits. If your soil is too acid, add some lime or a light dusting of wood ashes. Broccoli likes calcium. Keep well watered. Take the steps Dawn says to keep the worms at bay and eat broccoli starting in midMay. I plant plenty--100 plants--so don't bother letting the side shoots produce but harvest the heads and spend Memorial Day weekend putting it up, then dig the plants for the chickens or the compost pile. Occasionally the weather will throw you a curve. Broccoli is frost tolerant but not freeze hardy. I think it was 07 that an 18 F freeze in late April killed most of my broccoli and sugar snaps and I started over. Didn't get much of a harvest of either that year. There's not much use buying plants of broccoli. Only rarely will you get heads of any size. (Although in 07 I did buy some broccoli plants and they did fair.) The problem is that usually commercial plants have been kept in the cells too long and have gotten rootbound and been allowed to dry out and that causes buttonheading and bolting. But if you do it right you get 8-10" heads. Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 4:38PM
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Thanks, Mulberryknob. I appreciate the info on the Broccoli, too.


    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 7:47PM
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For those who aren't in z6b as I am, broccoli takes 6 weeks from seed starting to transplant time. Day to maturity times on seed pks are from transplant. Packman is listed as 57 days. As I said, I devote Memorial Day weekend to putting up broccoli so want to get my transplants in the ground the first week of April.

Many people think--and plant sellers must be guilty of this too--that broccoli, being related to cabbage, should be planted at the same time. But cabbage can take more abuse,--anybody remember when we used to buy transplants in bunches, plants that had been pulled up, wrapped in paper and shipped across country--and more cold weather than broccoli. Broccoli can only take a very light frost.

Now as for knowing when to harvest, the best way to tell is to look at fresh broccoli heads in your grocer's produce section. Don't look at the size of the entire head but of the individual florets or beads. They should be still tight and green. Something interesting to do is to leave one or two plants in the garden to flower out. The little yellow flowers are a tasty and colorful addition to salads.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 10:50PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I remember when you could buy transplants in bunches. The last time I saw them in a store was after we'd moved up here, and I think it was about 2001, 2002 or 2003. While visiting down in Fort Worth, I went into an old feed/seed company on the east side of town called Marshall Grain Company. It was about the same time they had seed potatoes in the store--so likely mid-January thru mid-February--and they had cabbage, cauliflower and collard plants in bundles. I haven't seen any since then, and the last time I regularly saw those bundles in nurseries or feed/seed stores prior to that was a long, long time ago. Marshall Grain always has been a sort of throwback company that isn't in a huge hurry to 'modernize' which is one reason I've always liked it so much. Marshall Grain was the first place I ever saw heirloom seeds and for a long time was about the only place you could find a full selection of organic supplies in Fort Worth. They were organic when organic wasn't cool.


    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 7:43AM
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I still remember Mom going to a local older grower on the edge of town. He grew and sold plants and also had a small truck type garden. It was before the days of all the modern seed starting supplies. I can't remember for sure what he transplanted his tomato and pepper plants up too after starting them in egg cartons. I do remember he wouldn't let them go. So he would remove the plants she wanted and wrap the roots either in paper or aluminum foil and then we would head home and plant them. They were always nice plants and did well. Now I wish I had saved seeds of what he grew. Jay

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 7:51AM
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Wow, great info. Do you ever save seed from your Broccoli, or because they are generally hybrids, you don't because they won't come true from the seed? Just curious. When you said you let a couple flower out, I didn't know if you went that step further and saved the seed or not.

Also, since I'm in zone 7, would I plant mine out a week or so earlier?

I have been researching Packman online and find other varieties that have short DTMs as well, such as Southern Comet (replaces Green Comet), Early Dividend, Major, Green Magic, and Bonanza. I think Dawn mentioned a couple of these on her suggested grow list for containers that I have saved. Have you tried any of these other varieties, and if so, would appreciate comparisons and comments on any that you have grown.



    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 9:29AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Of the varieties that are still available commercially, I've had the best, most consistent results from Packman. It performs well so consistently that I don't experiment a lot with other types because none of them produce as well for me in our climate

Both Small Miracle and Munchkin have produced well if the spring coolness holds, but their heads are much smaller, so even with closer planting, they produce less overall. Early Dividend's performance in our garden fluctuates depending on the weather and it doesn't stand up to hotter weather as long as Packman. Major was a poor performer for me as was Burpee's George's Favorite Broccoli Mix, which was 3 varieties---none of which performed well the year I planted it.

I'm trying a new one year this year that's said to have great heat tolerance, a common claim and one which usually doesn't prove true in our climate. I have high hopes for this one, and it does come from a reliable company that knows what heat tolerance is all about. It is called Piricicaba and was developed in Brazil. It won't produce large heads, but if it produces smaller shoots well into the hot season, it would be worth devoting some space to it.

It is hard for me to devote space to broccoli because the plants get so huge and take up so much space that I'd rather use for warm-season crops that produce a higher yield per square foot, but the flavor of fresh broccoli is hard to resist. When you can harvest your broccoli and freeze it the same day, even your own frozen broccoli tastes better than purchased frozen broccoli.

This year I'm going to grow Packman and Piricicaba which is supposed to be more heat-tolerant. I'm growing Packman purely for its good flavor and heavy production in our climate, and Piricicaba to see how heat-tolerant it really is and how well it produces here.

There were some good broccoli varieties available in the 1990s but time marches on and you don't see them available much any more. Because the south is not prime broccoli-growing country, most of the newer hybrids are aimed more at folks whose weather allows them to grow broccoli in the summer. Here in our climate, no matter what variety you plant, your harvest (or lack of such) is purely at the mercy of the weather, and some springs our weather is merciless.

Sometimes I'll leave one plant to flower a bit for the beneficial insects. Usually by the time broccoli is old enough to flower, I'm sick of fighting the broccoli worms and tired of looking at the plants so I tend to yank them out and replace them with a warm-season crop like purplehull pinkeye peas that will produce well in the heat. I've never left any broccoli in the ground long enough to set seed because my aim is to grow the largest harvest possible in the space I have. Thus, I'm pretty ruthless about yanking out cool-season crops as soon as the main harvest is done so I can get the succession crop of warm season veggies planted.

We froze so much broccoli last year that I haven't bought it at the store one single time since we harvested, and I think we have enough in the freezer to last until the next harvest. That's my goal every year...to put up enough that I don't have to buy any because organic broccoli is very expensive and hard to find. It has been easier for me to get a good harvest of broccoli the last 4 years with the way the cold nights have held on well into May. Earlier in the 2000s when we were having some of the "warmest winters on record", my broccoli kept bolting and I gave up growing it until the "warmest winters ever" went away.

I hope 2011's spring temperatures are a repeat of 2010s, although it would be nice if there is less heat/humidity in May this year. My 2010 cool-season harvest of broccoli, cabbage and snap peas were the best I've had in years. We still have lots of frozen sugar snap peas too, and several jars of sauerkraut. Most year, one or the other does well, so having all three do well the same year was nice.


Here is a link that might be useful: Description of Piricicaba at Bountiful Gardens

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 11:03AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Seed catalogs show flowers in bright colors and claim there will be no bugs with their products. Thay are nice to dream over in winter. Also books and magazines talk about no work gardens and can't miss ideas to solve problems. The real truth is that there will always be problems and everyone is battling some pest or the weather. I once blanched some broccoli that I had trimmed and thought I washed and a bunch of caterpillars rolled to the top. They were the same color as the broccoli. Some things are so hard to grow that I don't attempt them any more, but you will grow broccoli next spring and be successful.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 12:07PM
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It appears that all of the comments and encouragement may have overwhelmed newhippie as we've seen no reply back. My advice is to buy Dick Raymond's "Joy of Gardening" or my personal favorite since 1984, "Home Gardening Wisdom" by Dick and his wife Jan.

Good Luck newhippie and FWIW, I was a hippie back when people were hippies. Thank God I got rid of all the bad habits that hippies had back then...


    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 12:27PM
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I've never tried to save broccoli seed, just let one plant get ahead of me one year and ate the opened flowers before I yanked the plant. I do regularly eat mustard flowers in the fall though, and this year ate quite a bit of bok choy flowers before they froze out.

Like Dawn, I succession crop. In the past have followed broccoli with brown crowders, but this year planted the Indian meal corn that George gave me and despite the hot dry weather it did very well.

Like Dawn I haven't tried a lot of different broccoli strains. For years I bought Early Emerald from Park's, then when they discontinued that bought Early Dividend. Then a couple years ago, Park's didn't get the seed to me soon enough and I bought Packman and Calabrese off a seed rack. The Packman did well, most of the Calabrese didn't mature by midJune and I yanked it out.

I haven't bought broccoli for many years but each year raise enough for DH and me and both daughters and 3 granddaughters. I may have to stop putting so much up. This year ate so much chinese cabbage late into the fall that we ate less broccoli.

Newhippie, if you've been reading this forum for a while, you probably have noticed that sometimes threads get hijacked. You mentioned broccoli and this one took off in that direction. Come back and talk to us some more. If you want to grow Sugar Snap Peas, (and having children, you may well do; kids love them raw in the garden) There are some tricks to that too which I will go into IF you are interested. (Or you could search the site as we talked about it a couple years ago.)

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 1:01PM
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The floor is open to discuss other vegetables, too. :>)

Maybe we could focus on other cole crop varieties and experience with them, since we'll be planting those soon enough. It's helpful to all new people on the forum who come along and read these threads. But, we would love to have you come back and visit with us again says one OldHippie to NewHippie!


    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 6:07PM
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Ok! I'm back, WOW what a great response! It's not overwhelming. I appreciate the advice SO much, I just don't get back online that often at the moment, the girls just went back to school today, so we had a lot to do.

I am not opposed to giving up on the broccoli, but since one of you mentioned growing it for 20 years, and there was so much good advice, I may try again.

i knew last year was going to be a trial year, and there was the possibility that I would get nothing out of my efforts, until I learned what works and doesn't. But those STINK BUGS live in my nightmares! I planted summer squash, the straight and the crook neck, and zucchini. And the white space ship looking kind. (Forgive me.) The plants looked gorgeous but when they flowered, the bugs appeared, I was out everyday squishing and hunting the eggs, but then when I saw them end to end (mating) i just lost heart.
The squash were never bigger than finger size and i got one good zucchini.

The tomatoes were given to me by my best friend who is single and put in an enormous garden, like 40 by 30 feet. She had the watering system and seedlings started indoors, but her soil was never right to start, it was clay. Anyway, she gave me several heirloom tomatoes that were gorgeous and delicious, and I tied them up as they grew.

Our soil is very sandy, we worked in a lot of leaves and manure from cows and goats. It improved it, but not quite enough. I did get it tested, and it seemed fine, all but one thing...phosphorus? I'd have to dig up that paper. The soil was too alkaline.

Another embarrassing thing was that I planted peas, maybe 3 varieties. We did get some good peas, my 5 year old loved sitting and just snacking on the sugar snap peas. (I am starting to recall some veggies that did okay) Anyway, I spent a day rigging up these poles and twine to make way for the peas to grow...and i couldn't figure out why they never got tall. Until I watched a youtube guy and saw that they don't get tall. My supports were way over their heads and i was so embarrassed.

i did pole beans, and got a lot, but they seemed over ripe too fast, we still ate them. (this is where the mentor wold help, where a grandma or grandpa would point and say, "These beans are ready, or you need to water those carrots more, not plant them so close together" etc.) I think I will try bush beans this year.

and the carrots sprouted and looked fluffy, but when i pulled them a week after they should be harvested, they were pencil size.

I feel like I have a good handle on the soil, i love to compost. I need to work on the watering system, it wanted to squirt water at the highest point and not make it to the end of the line. I put a regulator in...??

I'm trying to answer most questions...sorry its long. I didn't expect such a response. I got on last year towards the end of summer, so I got some good tips then.
I guess i need help with carrots and squash. I am going to print off the broccoli info. (and everyone else's advice) I like Dawn's approach to spraying nothing, since i have the little ones and they are avid gardeners already. But I get so mad at the bugs I want to blow torch the whole thing. I won't. Don't worry.

Oh and what organic method of fertilizer works best for you? I have yet to start the whole compost tea thing. So maybe that was my biggest problem? Relying on soil only and adding no fertilizer? My mom "miracle growed" her cucumbers til they were coming out of her ears.

Thank you guys for EVERYTHING! If I'm not back soon, it's only because I'm busy with the girls, having tea parties and such.

I sincerely appreciate your help.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 11:09AM
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Concerning the sugar snap peas--There are different varieties that get different heights. I raise Super Sugar Snap which are tall--7 ft or so which means that they go to the top of the 5 ft wire and fall over. Others, Sugar Sprint among them, only get 3 ft tall and don't really need a tall trellis although some short trellis does give them extra support and keep them off the ground.

I don't raise carrots very successfully, (I can raise big carrots, but the flavor isn't very good) having acid clay, but alkaline sand should work better. They may need a bit of compost. They may have been allowed to grow too thickly or they may have needed more consistent watering. Timing is also important. The seeds need to be in the ground by Mar 1. Then you simply must thin them early. The packet should give a recommendation but I wouldn't leave them closer than 3-4". The seeds are so small that it is difficult to plant them thinly enough, but making the effort will save you the trouble and frustration of thinning later. But did you know that carrot tops are edible, especially when young? I snip them into salads.

I raise squash, but it's not our favorite food, so I consider it a very short term crop. As soon as I've gotten a few good meals out of it, I rip out the plants to get rid of the squash bugs. Maybe someone else can help with that.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 3:38PM
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Jammie, it sounds like you actually accomplished quite a bit in your garden for the first year!

i'm in jenks, and while i'm not even close to being qualified to be a "mentor", i'd love for you to come visit my garden, and see what i'm doing...i lurk here almost every day, taking copious notes, comparing what works for some that doesn't work for others, and trying to apply that to my own situation. i'm still newish at this growing food thing, but i love it so!

i do square foot gardening as i live "in town" and have limited space. not much is happening out there now, save for the cold frame with the salad greens, and some rutabagas and carrots that are still in the ground until i'm ready to eat them. but now's the time to plan!

send me a private email, and i'll shoot you my #. we'll go sit and have a cuppa somewhere, and plan for spring....btw, i had great success with broccoli last year...the hubs and the dog loved it! bwahaha!!

dody :)

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 3:57PM
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Dale Putnam(z6/7oklahoma)

Knowledge is available in 2 master gardener sources. Tulsa mg website is tulsamastergardener.org and questions can be emailed to mg@tulsamastergardener.org.
Oklahoma county has and MG website at okstate.edu.
Both of these websites offer OSU fact sheets on almost every conceiveable garden crop known. However, these fact sheets don't know anything about your soil, climate, conditions, etc, so read the fact sheets & then call the apropriate MG office for someone to help interpret what the fact sheet said. The phone # are listed on the webpage.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 5:53PM
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I start carrots with a variation on home made seed tapes. It's more like seed sheets. I don't know if Elmer's school glue would be considered organic, but I use it anyway. Put small dots of glue on sheets of very cheap thin paper towels. Choose ones that will fall apart when wet. I've even used paper napkins. Sprinkle carrot seeds on each dot, aiming for 3-5 seeds per dot. Space dots 3 inches on center. Alternatively, run lines of glue 3 inches apart. Sprinkle seed down the line, knowing you'll have to thin. (The easiest way to thin is to tell the kids to go weed the carrot patch. Thinning will take care of itself.) Allow to dry, then roll up and store in ziplock bags until it is time to plant.

When it's time to plant, scoop a bit of your top soil into a bucket. Lay down the sheet, then sprinkle the top soil on top. When you can see almost none of the paper towel, you've covered them deeply enough. Keep evenly moist until they sprout. I use a mister type sprinkler so that it does stay evenly moist without getting soggy. On warmer days I have to run it twice a day. The paper towel helps to retain moisture in the beach sand I'm supposed to call soil. LOL If you ever let them dry out and crust over, the seeds will not sprout.

This is a great method for kids because working on the kitchen counter in the dead of winter is easier than being bent over in a garden bed trying to get spacing and depth correct. And what kid doesn't like putting glue on paper? It also works for lettuce, spinach, miscellaneous greens and radishes

I have execessively sandy soil in raised beds, but I know others who grow carrots in containers quite successfully. I find the best place to store them is right where they grew. I pull them all winter. If your carrots were pencil size when it was time to harvest them, then I'd say it wasn't really time to harvest them. In fact I don't even know how long it's supposed to take. The kids just check them periodically, and when they are big enough to eat, we do.

Newhippie, I have a framed postcard sitting on my desk. It says having it all together is like eating once and for all. This concept reminds wanna-be-perfect me that there is no such thing, and especially in gardening. Even the seasoned experts have off years, for reasons that are beyond their control. So just keep doing all the right things, and the results will come.

Mulberry, I only learned a few days ago that carrot tops are edible. I was researching the self-harvested Carrot Purple Dragon seeds I'm sending to the swap and read those are included in either tabouli. I always thought the green stuff was parsley. I'm going to have to sit on this for a while.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 10:35PM
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We used to chop some carrot tops into stews. It gave a peppery flavor.

Jammie, some beans mature past snap stage VERY quickly. In last summer's heat you were fortunate to get beans. I believe Dody had a pretty good garden, last summer. Maybe Jenks had some sort of beneficial microclimate.

I gave seed to Old Timey Cornfield Pumpkin to a friend at work and she got a decent crop, whereas I had a crop failure. I suspect its because she lives in town and has some more shade where she planted.


    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 5:33AM
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Thank you guys so much! The carrot seed idea sounds right up my ally for the girls. They would love that!

and i feel much better about not getting it all completely right.

Dody, i've been looking into the square foot gardening, I have 7 raised beds, but thought about trying one with grid plan. My friend that built her huge garden in clay has moved to the city and I just sent her an email about square foot gardening, she may give it a try!
I will email u later on!

Thanks for the mg info, Dale!
Thanks to everyone, I already feel excited again! I am going to take some pictures this year, so i will keep you all informed, and i will check back often. I feel so relieved.

;D Jammie

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 1:31PM
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i've got an extra sfg book that you and your friend can share if you'd like. :)


    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 4:05PM
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Mulberryknob, I wanted to thank you for mentioning that Super Sugar Snap grow to 7 feet. I have a small pack I bought last year and there is no mention of the height. I know just where I am going to put them. Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2011 at 12:50PM
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I have the Sugar Sprint seeds to grow this year. I think I had Cascadia last year.

Seedmama, I once did a variation on your "seed tape", using toilet paper and the poor kids version of glue - flour and water. Of course, you could use whole wheat flour to be more organic. Teehee!


P.S. Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars like carrot tops, too!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2011 at 8:15PM
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seedmama - You probably know this from growing other peas, but eventhough these grow tall you will still have to tie them to the trellis. They cling to each other, but don't cling to the trellis very well. When mine get about a foot high, I go completely around the trellis and loop thru it a few times as I go to make sure the peas are pressed toward the trellis. After they grow another foot I do the same thing again, etc. If you don't keep securing them the wind will blow them over. Since they cling to each other, they will all go at once. The weight of all of the plants together may make them break so it is best to keep them from falling over. I like the tall ones best of all. I plant on both sides of the trellis and try to keep them close enough to each other that they will begin to cling to the vine on the opposite side, but you still have to help them along.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2011 at 8:42PM
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I haven't seen you around much. This has been a tough year for everyone, even the most experienced gardeners. If you had challenges again this year, I hope you're still in the game for 2012.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 4:53PM
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Well thank you for asking! I had to let everything die out this last month, it was just burning up before my eyes. I managed to get several quarts of squash in the freezer. And we ate a lot of eggplant. Now we are getting ready for school and we are busy busy with all of that. Yesterday Chris weed-whacked the garden and I got all excited to get in there and work to clean it up after all this rain...I may attempt a fall planting, and definitely some lettuce since we ate it up in spring.
We have chickens now and they keep us pretty busy.
I am DEFINITELY on for Spring...I have the bug for sure and will keep on keepin on. I am much more confident than when I first posted this, and have learned so much on here. Again, thanks for asking, I have checked in a few times, but mostly have been too busy to get online, I also have a new niece, so she's kinda got me distracted. ;)

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 4:42PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


It is good to see you here today.

I was a little worried about y'all after all those wildfires around Keystone Lake, but was hoping y'all were just busy getting ready for school.

Congrats on the new niece! Nieces and nephews are so much fun, because you can play with them and enjoy them...and then hand them back to their own parents!

Hooray for the rain you're getting! We haven't had enough here to make much difference, but once we do, I'm sure I'll be back in a gardening frame of mind.
I believe 2012 will be a better gardening year than 2011 has been. We're due for a good year, and it had better be next year.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 8:55PM
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Yes, the fires were very freaky...and I thought about you and the volunteers, and I thought about seedmama and her burned garden. They did not get close enough to us to evacuate, but we did smell the smoke and watched the looming glow in the sky.
When the latest big storm came through, I watched it come over our house quickly and could not believe the orange glow on the low clouds from the fires to our north. I guess 35 homes were lost and one man died. It was amazing to see the glow fade away as it rained. But a sight I never want to see again. Too close for comfort. My important stuff is still packed away from the horrible tornadoes.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 12:14AM
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