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Brand New to Gardening

Posted by Dulahey 7a (My Page) on
Wed, Dec 26, 12 at 16:47

Hello all,

My wife and I just bought our very first house. One of the most exciting aspects of this is that we finally get to have our own garden!

The people that lived there before us never had a garden and they built the house 9 years ago. Before that the entire addition was native land which may or may not have been farmed in the past. So anyway, the soil is basically untouched.

Once we get settled in, we'll go out and mark the specific area we want the garden to be in. Once we do that I plan on taking a sample to the OSU County Extension office and getting it tested. Beyond that, we don't really have anything specifically planned out yet. I figure the test results will help us finalize which vegetables we want to grow the first year.

What I'd like to get from the rest of you all is any tips/suggestions for a brand new garden. Should we install drip hoses? Or is sprinkler watering just fine? What's the best kind of barrier to put around the garden? Should we even bother with a barrier the first year since there's a good chance we'll expand in future years? I have a copy of the OSU Extension's Oklahoma Garden Planning Guide, is there any other guides/articles that you suggest I read?

Those are just some example questions, but I want to hear anything and everything you guys have to offer.

P.S. In the future I also want to try my hand at growing some grape vines.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Expect to always amend your soil. Most gardeners dont down-size until health forces it. I dont like sprinkling. I dont like fences, but there is a good chance you will have to have some kind of protection. I use an electric fence but I suggest most people to do something else. Don't start out too large or you may find it too frustrating, start small and grow and learn.

Larry


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

I just finished my first full season with a new garden, and my advice would be to start small. It's easy to get ambitious and make tons of plans before you put the actual work into it, but at least in my case I went a little too big for the time I have. I work full-time, so keeping up with the weeding and watering was a bigger task than I could handle on just evenings and weekends. Drip irrigation helps tremendously with that, though. I could turn on the water just before dark in the evenings and let it run for an hour or two without requiring me to stand around with a water hose.

I installed a fence because we had a pre-existing rabbit problem, but you might get away with not needing one, especially if your backyard is already fenced in. My fence is just rabbit wire wrapped around t-posts, so it's easy to pull up and reconfigure if you decide to expand the garden. We don't have a deer problem, though, so the short fence is enough.

Good luck! Despite biting off more than I could chew, I've had a lot of fun with it and had some decent success despite the drought last summer.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

So you guys just have simple drip hoses that lay on top of the ground? I've never used these, but I assumed they would be the easiest route. Do you need to have enough hose to run along every row of plants or can they be spaced further?


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Yep, I bought a basic drip irrigation kit from Rain Bird off of Amazon and then bought all the extra hoses and attachments I needed to cover my garden. I still need to buy shut off valves so that I can save some water by only watering the beds that have something growing in them (besides weeds). Each of the emitters in the hose waters about 12-18" around it, so the furthest I could space my hoses were about 2 feet or along the rows if they were further apart than that. I have very sandy soil, though, and I think in clay soil you can get away with wider spacing.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Congratulations on both your new home and on finding us. Welcome to the forum. I use drip irrigation from dripworks.com Note drip irrigation is different from soaker hoses. Now is a great time to be working with them to design a system because it is not peak season.

I am happy with my fencing situation, so I will share. I have deer and rabbits, and a few dozen other types of wildlife so I use 10 foot t-posts. On the bottom I installed 28" rabbit fencing, which I think is generally about 14 dollars a roll at Atwoods. Above that I use 7 foot deer netting. This isn't quite as attractive as conventional fencing, but it has two distinct advantages. One, it is good enough to be permanent, yet flexible enough to be temporary. It's no big deal to move t-posts as you expand. Second, it is a cost effective way to have an 8 1/2 foot fence.

It's not too soon take a soil sample and begin amending your soil with organic matter. Very often, first time gardeners start out behind because they wait until our weather feels right for gardening to get started. By the time they do all the prep work, it's too late to get seeds in the ground on time. A soil sample is a collection of multiple plugs from around the space, so you really don't have to have the garden space perfectly chosen to get the taken care of.

Do you have Bermuda grass? I'm going to let others here deliver the news if you do.

Welcome!

Seedmama


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Yes, the entire yard is Bermuda. I am generally aware of the hazards of such(runners) but please give me the details!


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

I think the details seedmama is implying is that no matter what you do, Bermuda grass will not die or stay out of where you don't want it. I mulched with cardboard and wood chips and even installed edging around my entire garden, and the bermuda still took over everything. I wanted to try to do this as organically as possible, but I'm going to have to spray round up along the pathways in between the beds if I have any hope of keeping it under control. I dig it out of the beds by hand.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Welcome Dulahey! I second Seedmama's congrats on your new home and finding this group! I also second everyone's recommendation that you start small. Our growing season can and does have brutal temps and wild weather. Don't set yourself up for disappointment.

Drip irrigation is great but at my place, we've installed pvc type irrigation. It's inexpensive and versatile. This can be laid row by row, is readily visible so you don't step on it and crush the hose and all you need is a tiny drill-bit to either increase or decrease your water flow. It's easily removed at the end of the growing season or can be left if you're willing to do maintenane at the beginning of the next season. Hook that up to a timer and you're set!

And yes, do your soil samples now. Growing vegetables is a lot like growing kids or pets...there's ALWAYS something to add to make sure they grow and are healthy. And I think I speak for many others here that you will find that Bermuda is EVIL! At my place (2.5 rural acres), we've had the best luck with removing the sod first. Then till really deep. Use a dirt rake to remove any and every single nodule that you may see. (the roots go all the way to China!) You'll still have it creep in but maybe not as bad as if you'd just sprayed Round up killer (which really puts downs some nasty bad chems in your dirt but sometimes, ya just gotta do what ya gotta do). Seedmama covered the fencing question well so let us know more about your situation.

Hope you stick around because seed-starting season is almost here. You're sure to get a kick out of the threads that have started (Dawn's 2013 tomatoe list) and more that will show up. And we are a group that grows large & small, veggies & flowers, for human consumption as well as birds & butterflies. We've got it ALL! Welcome!

Paula


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

We have a 4' chainlink fence around the entire property so rabbits shouldn't be a problem. Deer still could be, but I doubt it. I won't mess with fencing unless we actually end up with a problem.

I hate to remove the sod, but you're definitely correct here. It is probably the best way to minimize the bermuda problem early on.

I'm definitely interested in the PVC idea as well. Do you have any problem with the pressure that the water is released at? Do you use any kind of throttle to lower the pressure or anything? Or do you just open the faucet partially? What size PVC do you use? I'm assuming something small such as 3/8"?


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dulahey,

I'm going to link to an irrigation tutorial website that has been tremendously helpful to me. It covers many types of irrigation. Many years ago, Jess answered personal questions, but he became so popular that his wife finally said enough is enough. I was lucky enough to find him before that happened. Your comment about 3/8" is what made me think to give you these tutorials. Read the tutorials for a more detailed explanation, but in an oversimplified nutshell, use the largest diameter pipe you can afford to keep pressure as high as possible to the end. If you go the PVC route, use 1" minimum and 1 1/2" is better. If you aren't doing a large area, PVC can work for you. If you find you are doing long distances, the pressure equalizing emitters in commerically available drip hose are very beneficial.

I scrimped and saved for several years to get my drip irrigation system, and my only regret was when it burned in a fire a couple of years ago. Fortunately I was in a position to replace it more quickly than I acquired it, and did so as soon as I could. That said, my parents gardened for many years with an overhead sprinkler, and did very well. We know that drip irrigation can minimize diseases associated with wet foliage, but we also know that no matter how hard we try to work with and outsmart Mother Nature, there is never perfection in gardening. Don't let fear be your guiding principle.

In the same way the quality of a paint job is impacted by the time consuming prep work, so too is the success of a garden driven by the site and soil preparation. It's more important than any other thing you do.

Best!

Seedmama

Here is a link that might be useful: Irrigation Tutorials


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

"Don't let fear be your guiding principle."

Except for Bermuda. THAT you should fear.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dulahey, Welcome to the forum. Unless you lucked out and have great soil with a nice amount of organic matter in it, you'll likely find you need to add organic matter of some sort (compost, composted manure, pine bark fines/humus blends often sold as soil conditioners, etc.) How much you'll have to add will depend on what sort of soil you start out with and on how high its clay content happens to be. I always recommend that new gardeners do the soil jar test linked below to get some idea of the composition and texture of the soil they're starting with.

The soil test from OSU will tell you about the levels of macro-nutrients and the soil pH, both of which are important.

I prefer drip irrigation and, like Seedmama, purchase mine from dripworks.com. Watering with sprinklers does not work well here in general. You lose tons of water to evaporation before the droplets even hit the ground, and in our climate, the more moisture you have on the plant foliage, the more plant diseases you have. To keep diseases down, it is best to apply water directly to the ground, whether you choose to use drip irrigation lines, pvc irrigation lines, flood irrigation, soaker hoses, etc. It also is more cost effective. If you zone your garden so all the plants with higher water needs are in one area, you can set up your irrigation lines accordingly. This allows you to water each region or each row according to its irrigation needs. We have shut-off valves so we can water only selected portions of our large garden as needed instead of watering the whole garden every time.

If you select a drip irrigation supply company like dripworks that works with their customers pre-sale to design the layout, they will work with you, free of charge, to design a layout of drip lines that will meet your garden's needs. This can be a very helpful service to anyone who is new to gardening, new to using dripline irrigation or who is dealing with a challenging garden layout or with soil that drains impossibly fast or impossibly slow.

I am in a rural area with a huge wildlife population, so I have what our friends fondly refer to as a prison fence around our garden. It is 8 feet high and it does keep the deer and the bobcats out as long as I remember to close the gates. If you are in a suburban area you may not have a deer problem, but you may find other wildlife like rabbits, squirrels, birds, etc. want to eat your crops. We fence out all the wildlife we can, but the birds and squirrels still can be problems since fencing will not keep them out. I won't even start a discussion here of the trials and tribulations of keeping raccoons out of corn. We just handle those issues individually when they pop up.

In much of Oklahoma, moles, voles or gophers can be a big problem, particularly if you have sandy soil or sandy loam. Here where I live they even are problems in clay areas, but for the most parts, our spoiled pet cats keep them out of the fenced garden area most of the time.

You won't really know what your fencing needs are until the critters begin to attack your garden. At that time, you can begin to figure out how to combat whatever wildlife pests you have. Our garden fence started out short and sort of flimsy. At first, we learned we had to reinforce the bottom to keep rabbits, skunks, possums and armadilloes from going under it. Then we learned we had to raise it higher and higher to keep deer from jumping over it. Finally we arrived at a sturdy enough, tall enough fence to keep everything out the last few years. Well, except for snakes. I guess we'll always have the snakes.

Bermuda grass is incredibly persistent. It is better to hand-dig it or to remove it with a sod cutter before you do anything else. Tearing up the bermuda with a rototiller just gives you a million tiny pieces of stolons, each of which will regnerate into new growth even after you think you have carefully raked out and removed all you can find. After that, if you can be vigilant and keep it from re-establishing, the battle is mostly won. But if you turn your back on it and let it start re-establishing itself in your garden, you'll fight it forever.

I mulch my beds and pathways heavily and hand-dig any bermuda that reappears. Some years I do a better job of keeping the bermuda grass out of the garden than other years. I also have to fight Johnson grass, which is bermuda grass on steroids. With any garden bed, if you lay down a layer of several sheets of newspaper or cardboard and cover it with mulch, the paper will help block regrowth of weeds underneath the mulch. You also can use fabric weedblock in pathways and cover that with mulch.

With the dreaded bermuda grass, remember that it can regrow from roots, from stolons or can sprout from seeds. That is one reason it recolonizes areas so aggressively and quickly after it is removed. You will see oodles of threads here constantly during the growing season about dealing with bermuda grass intruding into areas where it is not desired.

If you are not gardening 100% organically, there are some chemical herbicides you can use for unwanted grasses, but always use them carefully because they can drift and kill plants you never intended to kill.

It is hard to know what else to say without knowing your level of gardening experience. There are many ways to garden and it is always an adventure, particularly here in Oklahoma's constantly-changing and constantly-challenging weather.

I was a very experienced gardener when we moved here, but I still started out very small with just two raised beds that were, I think, 8' long and 4' wide. We enlarged the garden every year until it reached a size that I can maintain pretty well. I'd love for it to be 4 times as big as it is, but one person working alone likely couldn't manage a garden much larger than the one I already have, and my husband is not a gardener so I do most of the garden maintenance. So, instead of continuing to enlarge the garden endlessly, I pack plants into it very tightly and use biointensive gardening techniques to get the maximum output possible from the space I use. At the height of the gardening season, my garden is not so much a garden as a jungle and I love it. A person who has to have neat, precise rows of tidy plants at all times likely would have a nervous breakdown in my garden in June or July when the pumpkins are running amok throughout the garden, climbing the fence and climbing into the trees, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Growing grapes will be a lot trickier than planting veggies, as there are many diseases that attack them in our climate. It is fairly easy to maintain a handful of plants for table grapes, but a lot harder if you're thinking of a mini-vineyard type setup. I've seen several people in my neighborhood attempt those small vineyards, and give up in defeat after several rough years of constant setbacks. So, even with grapes, start small and expand your plantings as you gain experience.

Don't overlook tree fruits. In most parts of Oklahoma it is pretty easy to grow stone fruits like peaches and plums, apricots and cherries. In some areas you can grow apples and pears although they often have more disease and pest issues. Figs and pomegranates do well in our climate, though some winters they will freeze to the ground. There are ways to deal with all the disease and pest issues that tend to plague fruits, although it is more complicated if you are growing organically. We have two peach trees and three plum trees and in a good year I can enormous amounts of jam, jelly and other fruit products as well as freezing lots of peaches for homemade ice cream and future baking projects like peach pies or cobblers. You con't have to have a huge number of fruit trees to get a nice fruit harvest, and you have to have a plan about how you will deal with a bumper crop of fresh fruit in good years because fruit trees will produce much more than you can eat fresh.

Don't forget to include herbs in your garden, and I always encourage the planting of some types of flowers that attract beneficial insects and pollinators. A well-planted garden can be almost self-sustaining in that way if you make it friendly to the pollinators and beneficial insects that you need to have in your garden as friendly, native "helpers".

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil Jar Test For Texture


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Thanks for the response Dawn! Thank you to everybody actually.

I think I'm set on a PVC system. Anyone have any good links to videos, journals or discussions about said systems?


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dulahey,
WELCOME! You are going to get some awesome advice on this site. I was a fairly experienced garder when I moved to Oklahoma (I was a former horticulture major for goodness sake) But here, I couldn't grow anything! Not even rosemary. These guys brought me out of the depths of depression and self doubt and now I am up to basil, garlic and yes, rosemary. That isn't everything I planted, that is only what was harvestable. There are, however, several things, of which you should be forwarned:
1. There is a site virus called "I wanna grow everything". There is no cure. It is similar to the manic phase of a manic depressive episode. It may lay dormant for a small period of time in July and Aug, or anytime the temperature hits 103 degrees. I have found December to be the absolute worst phase of this virus.
2. I posed a question one morning on gophers and raccoons. The guns, the shovels and the screaming was not working. And I was really tired of my husband looking like Chevy Chase. So I asked what I should do. Slowpoke suggested alcohol. The gophers loved it and invited their friends. So I tried self medication. During the self medication, I ordered 2500 daffodil bulbs many of which I am still planting. I should of asked for specific directions on the advice.
3. Finally, do not read this blog late in the evning. Seriously, you will be up all night wondering how large you can expand the garden without angering your spouse, or wondering if it is too late to plant a particular something, or you will just giggle so loudly it wakes up the house.

Just wanted you to be prepared.
And welcome to the absolute best discussion site ever!
Luvabasil


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

I am happy with my PVC system, but If your growing area is not close to level, you will have uneven water flow.

I will try to post 2 pictures that may be of use to you. One will be of how I have the end of the tubes capped so I can blow trash out of it if any gets in. The other will show how my south garden slopes to the south, which forces me to run the rows E/W to get even water flow.

All my tubes are glued together so I can drag them around and shove them down rows after the plants are already mature, plus they can handle as much, or as little pressure
as I choose to put on them.

Larry

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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dulahey, You're welcome. We're always happy to brainwash new garden addicts. : )
Luvabasil, I missed the whole gopher-raccoon-alcohol discussion. lol The gophers don't bother our daffodils, but they bother everything else if the cats let them live. With raccoons, you have to rid your property of them aggressively or you'll never be able to grow corn unless you grow it in a corn cage. (Our corn cage is like a fenced garden but with a fencing roof to keep the coons out...and it only works if you can keep them from digging under it.)

Larry, Does your PVC pipe last for several years in the sunlight or does it get brittle pretty quickly? Just curious about that.

Dawn


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dawn, PVC will get brittle over time. The gray electrical PVC seems to last a little better and is a little cheaper here. I started using this system around 9 years ago. I have broken one hydrant with the lawn mower. I have run over about 3 tubes with the lawn mower, but none have died of natural causes. They are easy to repair, but I expect it would be easier to learn to drive a lawn mower. I now leave them in the garden looped over a trellis or store them on top of the shed. When they are stored at the edge of the lawn or near the garden grass grows over them and I forget they are there.

Another thing I must do is make sure I hang them in a way that the water will drain from them because I did have the end of one freeze and split.

I have around 17 22' long tubes now, which is more than I used this past summer. It looks as though I will just let some plants die when It gets hot and dry and not waste so much water in the middle of summer.

Larry


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dulahey, welcome to the forum! I've been out of pocket, pretty much, for a couple of days. Thought I'd chime in about Bermuda grass. I too, battle it incessantly. Dawn, I believe has already mentioned the importance of weeding it out by hand. That truly is a good point, as (I know she said it) it will proliferate if chopped up by a rototiller.

The key I've found, for conquering (sorta) Bermuda is to use crops which shade it. Bermuda loses out when it's shaded. So, corn, cowpeas and dense cover crops will greatly weaken its hold on a garden.

George
Tahlequah, OK


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Luvabasil - you are so funny I am ROTFLMBO! One question, tho, did you use rubbing alcohol, or that for consumption when all else fails? LOL

If you don't want to amend your soil, you can always do raised bed gardening, too, and we have folks who do that, e.g., Chandra, and others. I know Chandra trucked in soil that I think he purchased from Minick's, and if you can find one of his posts with photos attached, you can see the work he did. It is fantastic. In that case, soil purchased by the yard from a landscape provider and delivered to your home is less expensive, in general, than purchasing and hauling a large number of 2 or 3 cf. bags at the big box stores or elsewhere. I've attached a link if you're interested, but this is also a good source if you have to do intense amendments to your soil based on your test results.

I don't garden on that large a scale as most of the people here. I have a small front yard in which I first grow for wildlife - beneficials (lots of bee plants and I added more after the issue with the bee population declining - Colony Collapse Disorder arose), lots of butterfly and moth larval host plants, especially milkweed for the Monarchs with their significant population decline due to habitat loss, hummingbirds and birds, and whatever other critters come to visit. I have little bare soil left, and I grow tomatos in containers.

With this kind of garden, I consider myself an organic gardener, using no pesticides, natural or otherwise, nor using harsh chemicals that will kill or negatively affect the wildlife population. I even feed the possums - I only have a couple around the neighborhood. After all, they have been driven to the city because they've lost their habitat due to residential and commercial development.

You'll have a great time growing your own food (and a few herbs and flowers for the beneficials you will want to pollinate the blooms on your veggies) and joining in the fun on this forum, too!

Susam

P.S. I am assuming you live close to the city, but if not, there are other sources out there for soil if you find you might want to go this direction.

Here is a link that might be useful: Minick Materials


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

I even feed the possums - I only have a couple around the neighborhood. After all, they have been driven to the city because they've lost their habitat due to residential and commercial development.

Susan, they may not have lost their habit, just found an easy touch. I have fed them a few times also....but not intentionally. They can be very destructive.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Welcome Dulahey! I cannot offer any advice on irrigation but you have definitely found the right place to get advice. I have only been joined this forum a few months back and already learned so much from reading all the advice offered by folks here.

Happy gardening!


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dulahey, I dont want to be a "Forum Hog", but I would like to touch on something that George said about trying to keep the ground covered and raised bed/ drainage.

I think this is my seventh year at my present house. I live in a low wet area with sorry soil. I have been trying to use sort of a border-less raised bed system because my first garden(north garden) is in a wet area and disease has been a problem. I have been tilling the soil from the edge of the garden toward the center, which leaves a ditch around the garden that helps drain the garden.

I will show a picture from a little over two years ago, which will show how I am pushing the soil toward the center of the garden. The other picture is of the approx. same area, which will show how the ditch serves for drainage for the raised area. The picture will also show that I have very little grass or weeds. I plant much thicker than I should, which shades the soil to reduce the amount of weeds and grass.

In the lower right of the two year old is where I had tilled in a cover crop of buckwheat and had planted a cover crop of Elbon rye.

As George stated, keeping the soil covered is a big help.

Larry
P.S. I might add that the reason everything is so wet is that it snowed Christmas Day and the day after, it also started raining for almost 24 hours and the snow is almost gone.
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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Carol, knock on wood, but the possums have not destroyed anything yet. But, I will be on the lookout.

Larry, photos of your garden always amaze me! It is not only functional, but aesthetically pleasing as well. Did you have to amend your soil much? Doesn't look like the typical Oklahoma red dirt, but I don't have any of that red clay either, unless you dig down about 18".

Susan


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Susan, I have amended my soil a LOT, I amend it every year.
I have very little top soil. The soil test calls my soil "clay", and "silty clay". The only good thing I can say about my soil is, there is almost no rocks.

The two pictures above are my "North Garden", this is the 7Th year for it. The part of the garden I posted a few post up is my "South Garden". This is the second and third growing season for it. All 5 of my growing areas have had a large amount of organic matter added to them, and still need more. You can see the edge of a compost pile (bottom picture top right)that will go into this garden before spring, and if you look at the soil you can see bits of pea and bean vines, plus corn stalks that have not decomposed yet.

Larry


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Red dirt

"Red dirt!" Our soil, at least right where we live, in Tahlequah, is more or less brown, closer to black than red. Saturday we drove down to Chandler to visit some friends. As we were going down the little gravel road to their home I noticed the red soil and exclaimed, "Ah! They have the same soil we had in NJ, where I grew up. It's red!" The largest town, close to my home town in NJ was called "Red Bank!"

But I understand that much of Oklahoma's red dirt is really hard clay. Our friends' soil is red sandy loam, very much like I knew as a kid, in NJ.

George


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Thanks for the continuing replies! I spent the last few days moving and we still won't have internet at the new place until early next week. So I only get a chance to check here when I'm at work.

My wife and I were discussing the future garden a little bit this weekend and she actually mentioned raised beds. Can you guys tell me a little bit about them? Is it most common to just build up the soil like slowpoke_gardener's pictures above? Or is it worth actually building an enclosed wall with wood or brick to fill in with good soil?


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Well I'm going to respond to myself. I did some searching around this site about raised beds and nearly every single discussion led to Mel Bartholomew and square foot gardening.

Perhaps it is because I am also a Civil Engineer, but this guy thinks like I do and I like his idea. So I'm going to try and find his book and research this gardening style more. But I have a feeling I'm already sold.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

I like Square Foot Gardening but keep in mind that Mel gardens in a milder climate than ours. In our climate, you will need to adjust the spacing of some plants because plants here often get much larger than they do in areas of the country with milder temperatures. For example, tomato plants here get monstrously big and need more room than SFG generally allocates for them. So do corn, summer squash, winter squash, pumpkins, and okra plants. Don't be afraid to adjust your spacing to suit your soils and your weather conditions.

You can get a lot more out of your garden space if your trellis as much as possible. I trellis or cage every single type of veggie I can in order to get more produce out of the space planted. I generally trellis the following: pole beans, half-runner beans, edible-podded peas, vining types of southern peas, refrigerator-sized watermelons, cantaloupes, muskmelons and other assorted melons, vining cucumbers, Armenian cucumbers, long beans, winter squash, pumpkins (with the last 2 and with some melons, you use slings to help support the weight of large melons or squash), and anything else that shows the least inclination to vine and climb. With tomatoes, I cage them all to keep them upright, which is space-efficient, but they still take up huge amounts of space.

Using the SFG or other Biointensive gardening methods works great once you adapt them to our conditions, which in recent years are trending towards hotter and drier.

I did Square Foot Gardening for a while before I moved on to John Jeavon's spacing recommendations from his book "How To Grow More Vegetabes......". The way I garden now is neither strictly SFG or strictly John Jeavons' Biointensive garden spacing recommendations. It is a blend of the two, modified over time based on my experience with how the varieties I plant grow in the soil I have, with our long, hot growing season, etc.

Variety selection plays into it as well. You can choose okra plants, for example, that get 2-4' tall and spread out about the same amount, or you can choose okra plants that get 8-10' tall and spread out 4-5' wide. If you're going to do SFG, watch for smaller, more compact varieties. I grow a mix of varieties, and tend to use the SFG spacing recommendations more with root crops than with plants that make a lot of growth above ground. With those space-eating plants, I tend to use John Jeavons' Biointensive gardening spacing, and often give the big monster plants more room even than he does.

SFG is a form of biointensive gardening, and it is simpler to follow because of its grid-spaced planting patterns. Biointensive Gardening done the John Jeavons way has a different type of spacing, and I prefer it for non-root crops. The important thing, though, is to not be afraid to experiment and to make modifications when needed to suit your style and your conditions.

One more thing about SFG. Mel's Mix is very well-draining and can drain almost too quickly in our climate. You may need to modify the formula so your soil won't drain too quickly leaving your plants struggling in the summer months. The first year I did square foot gardening when we still lived in Texas, I used a Mel's Mix type formula and it drained too fast. The next year I worked about 30% native clay soil into the Mel's Mix and it held water better but still drained well and the crops grew very well.

Here in OK I didn't use Mel's Mix. I simply tried to amend my sticky red clay soil with as much organic matter as possible, including at times large chunks of wood, in order to improve its ability to drain well. For container growing, which I also do a lot of, I use a formular similar to the 5-1-1 formula discussed at the container forum. Even that formula is tinkered with to make it work better in our climate.

The practices recommended in general for the USA at large often need modification in order for them to work well in the hotter, drier parts of the country like ours. That's just a fact of life of gardening here in the southern plains.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

You guys have given me so many things to think about!


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dawn, you said it very well. In a nutshell, no garden techniques are set in stone. We all have to adjust for our specific needs, whether it be for a small garden, or 100 acres. Also climate, soil, water, specific vegetable or flower/tree/shrub. Some things I will not attempt to grow at all. Like shelly peas, for example. Weather is too unreliable in our unpredictable springs, I don't want to shell, don't have the room, etc., etc., etc. But, someone in NE Oklahoma with lots of garden space may $row them quite successfully. Here, it usually$ gets too hot, too early, so I put it in the "unrealistic reliability" column, along with the "needs sufficient space that I don't have" note.

Other plants I wouldn't grow include Lupines, Celery, Delphiniums (except for those native to the South), anything labeled "alpine" plant, and many other things. Don't get me wrong, I do adjust my growing schedule to grow cool-weather plants started in very early spring, or planning them for the fall garden, as long as they have a short DTM. For certain trees, bulbs, or shrubs, we may not get enough chill hours to grow some things. Many of these are just not suited for our very temperate climate. A number of Cherries, Pears, Conifers, Roses, Ferns, Apples, Berries, Maples, Willows, Lilacs, and Hydrangeas, just to name a few, are not well suited to our summer furnace, lovingly referred to as Oklahoma, which is more often too hot and humid to grow them successfully, or they are water guzzlers that barely stay alive long enough to put down roots, even if you water them excessively.

For these kind of plants, I look around neighborhoods to see if others are growing them, I check the plant zone on labels, the Internet, and catalogs. If they say they are okay for zone 4-7, I don't plant it. A plant that can only thrive maximum temps to zone 7 (and which zone 7 is another question) is just too close to setting myself up for failure - and I think I'm a pretty good grower. However, a plant zoned for 6-9, I would try because it is most likely a lot more tolerant of heat, at the minimum. It may not like the humidity, or even the occasional dry summer we could potentially have, but I would give it a try, after researching that plant's climate preferences, origin, other folks growing experiences via the forum, etc.

By joining in the forum discussions, I have learned a lot. I cannot grow short day onions in Oklahoma, only certain types of garlic, I have to plant my sugar peas early enough to get a harvest before the heat sets in, as well as broccoli, onions, lettuce, cabbage, and the list goes on. I never knew these things before.

Another suggestion is don't always trust the nurseryman. They will often sell things that don't do well here in Oklahoma. They'll sell you anything because that's the business they are in.....making money off this lady who is fool enough to buy it. Whoa - that was a hard lesson to learn. And, yeah, I learned it the hard way. There is not really any excuse not to "know your plant" in today's world of technology. Research, research, research......and then come here and check it out with the knowledgeable people on this forum, especially if you're preparing to make a significant investment. Most of us do that now because it kinda goes without saying, and I, for one, hate spending money on something I know nothing about.

Susan



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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Susan, In a climate where I wonder how he even grows a garden, Jay grows celery. Now that is determination.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Susan,

I agree with everything you said...except for one tiny mis-statement about onions, and I wouldn't mention this at all, except I am afraid people who are new to growing onions might get confused. Regarding your comment "I cannot grow short day onions in Oklahoma", I think you meant to say long-day. Both short day and intermediate-day types grow well here. I prefer short-day varieties and have ordered six short-day and one intermediate-day varieties to plant this winter.

I totally agree with you that most retailers will sell you something that doesn't have a ghost of a chance of surviving in our climate, which I find to be highly unethical. It took me a long time to learn how to wade through all the glitzy marketing without falling in love with plants that cannot survive here. It took me a lot longer than it should have because I am a sucker for plants. I wish I could take back the last 15 years and plant our property all over again. I'd save a fortune in money wasted on plants that cannot tolerate our heat (and the hungry deer). Mother Nature is a good (but cruel) growing partner....if you plant things that will not tolerate your soil, its drainage or lack of such, the heat, etc., Mother Nature and her frequent droughts and occasional floods will weed out those plants and teach you a lesson.

Carol, I agree. I really want to grow celery but don't think I'd succeed with it here. I don't know how Jay does it, but his success makes the point for all of us that sometimes you should ignore the gardening rules that say "you can't grow that here" and give it a try.

Dawn


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Gulp......yeah, you're right Dawn. I think I have a bit of ADD - I tend to transpose everything......but I did mean short-day. I should have known better because I lived in the NE and am very familiar with their "long days" in summer, and their "short days" in winter.

Carol, I knew Jay grew Celery, but he's way up and out there in "no man's land" where they grow weird stuff anyway. LOL, just joshing you, Jay!

Dawn, for everything I have tried - and you know I've tried a lot of stuff - that just sat on a shelf and looked pretty, I have had maybe one success for 20 failures in the garden. And that one success may have only survived a summer or two here before saying "bye bye Susan and Oklahoma summers"..... It's like the older fella who marries a 20-year old - what do they have in common? Little, if anything at all. Well, those Northern-loving flowers don't have a thing in common with our sizzling, hot summers either.

I may do some bunching onions, too, you just never know. Sugar snap peas sound mouth-watering right now, too....and broccoli...mmmmmmmmm. I think it's late night snack time...

Susan


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dulahey - I've been able to read the post but just no time to actually respond. I very much identify with you. Just 6 years ago, I remarried...and moved from a inner-city neighborhood to the country. I had always done some back-yard gardening, but when you've got SPACE...one gets a little giddy.

Larry has given you some great examples of pvc watering. I've got some pics somewhere that I'll pull up if you'd like. We use 1/2 inch pvc and have control valves, etc. But I'd also like to chime in on the raised bed topic.

We have 2.5 acres in NE rural Norman just north of Lake Thunderbird. Our dirt is very sandy. Nematodes are a major issue here. In fact, that internet search on what to do may have lead me to this group several years ago! Anyway, out here we have a dual-set up. We have our original garden area that started out as 24' x 36'. In the evolving years, we've added raised beds on the east side of our home (hence protection from the HOT west sun). This year, we are adding 2 more raised beds to the existing 2. Our OG (Original Garden - which is farther from the house) will contain those items that do better spreading like sweet potatoes & melons. It will also grow the onions & okra and maybe some bush beans as the onions come out. The raised beds (close to the house and on the east side) will grow cool crops like broccoli, parsnips, swiss chard & carrots (much easier to provide hoop cover with raised beds) and warmer crops like peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, vining beans, summer squash, etc.

We built our first 2 raised beds out of FREE cement blocks. The beds measure 4' x 16'. This is a really easy workable size. Our next 2 will be made out of that "fake" wood that is used for decking and will be the same size. We filled them with garden dirt purchased from minicks. Added just a bit of organic matter too. I don't know your ages, but we are mid to late 50's and plan on being here for the rest of our lives so we are planning and mapping for the years ahead of us. The raised bed planting methods will make it much easier for us as we age. NOW...that being said...we live next door to my In-laws and my FIL is 87 and has NEVER had a raised gardening bed in his life. He still tills and works a 30' x 80' garden all by himself. So it's just up to you to decide what works best for you. We both still work full-time and TIME is at a premium for us. It's easy to set the timer for the watering when we leave for work. We have found it's much easier for us to harvest out of the raised beds more often in the evenings since they are so close to the house, with only a 2 or 3 time a week visit to the OG for the other veggies that don't require as much attention.

Hope I gave you something useful for your situation! I say go for at least some raised beds if that what the wife is requesting because it will be something for BOTH of you. Happy planning!

Paula


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Susan, It's not a big deal, you know. My brain doesn't seem to operate in its 50's as well as it did in its 20's and 30's. We all have times when we mean to say one thing and say another.

I agree that it takes a lot of failures with plants here to find the ones that will be successful. I never consider a plant a failure, either, until the Oklahoma weather and I have killed it 2 or 3 times. It is just sad. The plants that were happy here in the early 2000s have not been as happy in recent years and when I replace them after they die, I replace them with plants that grow well here. Even our native forbs and grasses have struggled in 2011 and 2012. It is frustrating. For years and years I had wildflowers galore in the pastures, but the last two years I've had to buy and broadcast wildflower seeds to help restore the areas where the wildflowers cannot stay alive long enough in summer to reseed.

Paula, I love your description for Dulahey of how your garden has evolved over time. I do think each of us has to work with what we have over a period of years to learn what works best with whatever soil we have. When I first started moving some vegetables to places where they'd have afternoon sun, some of my gardening friends warned me that those plants need full sun. Well, I can testify that there's very few vegetables here in our hot, dry summers that prefer to be in full sun from sunrise to sunset. After mine have had 6 or 8 hours of sun, they're begging for relief.

Amen on the raised beds too. All my beds in the big garden are just 6-8 inches above grade level. Since it slopes so much, that's the best we've been able to do.

I am working to reconfigure the Peter Rabbit Garden with taller beds. I did the first one last year. Every year I am going to raise one bed another level until they all are about waist high. It will take a few years, but by the time Tim retires, we should have at least those taller raised beds in that area where gardening will be a lot easier than it is in the big garden, which is a mix of raised beds and grade level beds on sloping ground. The Peter Rabbit Garden is on flat ground, and (lol) gardening on flat ground is so much easier than gardening on a slope. I'd forgotten that! This year we are converting more flat ground north of the barn to a raised bed for winter squash. They need more space than they have in the big garden. It also is level ground, and I am looking forward to being able to clumsily fall over my own feet on level ground...because unlike in the big garden, at least then I won't roll downhill.

I knew when we moved here (I was 39) that eventually I'd have to make a few changes to accommodate our aging bodies. Well, 'eventually' is here now, and part of every spring I work on improving some part of the garden to make it friendlier to older gardeners.

Your father-in-law reminds me of my friend, Fred, who is still gardening, ranching and farming at the age of 90.

Dawn


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Paula, thank you very much for your reply!

The idea about putting a couple beds close to the east side of your house is a great idea, and I think I will do just that because I am specifically wanting to plant some broccoli, spinach, etc... that are scared of the heat. The only issue with that is that there is a sprinkler system right around the perimeter of the house so I'll have to figure out what do with that. The system is from Rain Bird, so perhaps I can just take off the larger sprinklers and convert those to a drip irrigation system for that bed. I may also just have to water with a hose this first year.

I'm also looking into using engineered wood to build the beds out of. And does everyone agree that getting the Garden Ready soil from Minicks is the way to go? And just add homemade compost to it as you can?

Also, Paula, I would LOVE to see pictures of your raised beds with the PVC watering system in place.

Also do you guys have any information or links to about needing to plant certain flowers in the garden as a natural defense or boost to your crops? Or is this just done for aesthetics? I've also been told you can buy lady bugs to release into your gardens, but you need to already have a bug issue before doing it or they will all leave to find bugs.

And can any of you around the south side of the OKC metro area recommend a good nursery? There is no way I'm going to be able to setup my own seeding operation this year, so I'm going to have to buy all plants this year.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

The use of companion plants is very complicated and I am not sure how much, if any, research validates that such companion planting makes a difference. Do I think it does? With some plants, yes. With others? (Shrug) I don't know. I've grown plants in elaborate companion schemes and in simple ones and can't tell much difference between the two. I do think it really matters with some veggies but not with others so I don't necessarily exhaust myself trying to work it all out precisely so everyone has their best companion growing near them. I just try to have a wide variety of companion plants, including trees, shrubs, groundcovers, herbs and flowers and hope that they work together to atract and keep beneficial insects, including pollinators, around our place for as much of the year as possible.

The way that I find companion planting very useful for me is that it allows me to make the most use of space by interplanting deep-rooted plants with shallow rooted ones so I can get more veggies from less space. For example, interplanting radishes with carrots...the radishes are up and out of the ground in a few weeks and if you pull them carefully, you won't disturb the carrots. Even better, radish seeds sprouts easily and quickly and carrot seeds don't, so the radish seeds pop up first, breaking the crust on the surface of the soil and making it easier for carrot seeds to emerge. How cool is that? You also can plant vegetables that are heavy takers (users) of soil nutrients with those that are heavy givers (like, for example, legumes that fix nitrogen). There is a science behind that and the king of the science is John Jeavons of Ecology Action. I just got the latest (the 8th) edition of his book "How To Grow More Vegetables* (and fruit, nuts, berries, grains and other crops *than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine" and have been reading it. Previously I believe I've read and used the info from the 5th, 6th and 7th editions. I cannot emphasize strongly enough how much the writings of John Jeavons and the philosophy of Ecology Action have influenced me as a gardener. If you want to make companion planting a portion of your approach to gardening, I strongly recommend this book. The difference in the kind of gardener I was before I first found John Jeavons' book and the kind of gardener I am now is just huge, huge, huge and I am a much better gardener because I use the techniques he espouses. Every time a new edition of the book comes out, I eagerly devour it because he is updating the recommended practices based on his group's observations and on the latest research. If something they previously recommended isn't working, they figure out why and fix it or stop recommending it. I feel like I evolve into a better gardener constantly by learning from the group Ecology Action and this book.

The other way I use companion plantings is to attract beneficial insects. This allows me to rely upon them for almost all my pest control. Last year we had the most horrendous outbreak of climbing cut worms that I've ever seen, and I sprayed by entire garden with a biocontrol called Bt 'kurstaki'. It was the first time since we moved here in 1999 that I have sprayed my entire garden with anything, which I think is pretty remarkable.

Over the course of the years that we've been here, I've relied on a relaxed form of integrated pest management. In general, I avoid the use of all broad-spectrum pesticides, and I try to attract beneficial insects, which I often refer to as pest predators, and let them take care of the pests that attack the garden plants. It is a lot harder than it sounds. You have to have nerves and steel and you must be willing to be patient and give the predators time to become aware of the presence of pest insects, to show up to attack them and then allow them time to do their job. For example, lady bugs will take care of aphids for you. However, the lady bugs will not show up the same day the aphids show up. First the aphids show up, and then they begin eating and multiplying. Finally after there are enough aphids to feed the lady bugs, then the lady bugs show up. At first you won't think that the ladybug beetles are winning the war. You just have to be patient. At a certain point, you'll notice the lady bug larvae, which look like little tiny gray alligators, and it is those larvae that devour aphids at an astonishing rate. You never get many beneficial insects until the pest population has hit a high enough level to ensure the beneficials will have a steady food supply if they come to your garden. So, you have to be patient and let this natural predator-prey process work out on its own timing, not yours.

There are general beneficial insects/predator insects that attack many different kinds of pest insects. The ones I rely most upon are lady bugs, green lacewings, spined soldier bugs, tachinid flies, and brachonid wasps and other predatory wasps. Sometimes, there is a specific predator insect that is more of a specialist that preys upon only one type of pest insects. For example, they are predatory mites that eat other mites. You wouldn't think a person would purchase and release spider mites in their garden...but there are good mites as well as bad mites.

To make it more complicated, sometimes there is an insect we all consider a pest if it shows up in large numbers, like blister beetles, but then it also has a predatory purpose. While blister beetles can devour the foliage of some plants, they also devour grasshopper eggs. So, at my house, a huge grasshopper outbreak usually is followed the following year, or sometimes late the same summer, by a huge number of blister beetles. If you're a blister beetle and you like to eat grasshopper eggs, it is only logical you'll show up in a place with lots of grasshoppers. As gardeners, we find ourselves walking a fine line between tolerating a certain level of blister beetle damage so we can have grasshopper control and still keeping blister beetles under control enough that they don't strip certain plants of all their foliage.

There are companion plantings that attract a wide variety of beneficial insects, including pollinators, and I grow tons of them around my garden, both inside the actual fenced veggie garden and then outside it as well and all over the property. Some of the plants that attract beneficial insects include sweet alyssum, chamomile, fennel, dill, phacelia tanacetifolia, borage, buckwheat, catnip, catmint, cilantro, yarrow, nasturtiums, cosmos and tansy. I also grow lots of salvias and sages and tons of herbs of all kinds. I'll try to come up with a list of useful plants...and why they're useful on its own thread on one of the rainy days this week when I cannot be outside doing anything.

Some plants can be used as trap crops. You deliberately plant them to lure pesky insects away from your crops. Some people say they use nasturtiums to lure black aphids away from veggie crops, but I have a garden full of nasturtiums every year (I grow them as a living mulch under taller plants) and have never seen a black aphid on them. Sunflowers can be a great trap crop. Stink bugs love sunflowers, so if you want to lure stink bugs away from your garden plants, plant sunflowers some distance away and the stink bugs will tend to congregate there. For some reason. tomato plants grown with four o'clocks nearby seem to have little trouble with tomato and tobacco hornworms. I find that to be true in my garden. I grow four o'clocks under a pecan tree that is just west of my fenced veggie garden, and the four o'clocks there reseed and grow thick and lush and tall. Even in a year when I have 200-300 tomato plants, I rarely see a tomato or tobacco hornworm and I think the four o'clocks get a lot of the credit for that. This kind of relationships can be learned by reading about them, but you also have to observe with your own two eyes and see what works for you on your property with the plants, soil and water availability you have. Some people believe marigolds repel pests. This is a really complicated topic. Some do. Some don't. Some attract spider mites to the garden. So, I still plant marigolds, but if I plant the types known to be magnets for spider mites....I plant them as a trap crop, wait for spider mites to show up on them and then I pull them up, bag them in a trash bag I immediately tie closed, and dispose of them with the trash.

Sometimes life throws your surprises. One year I had a big issue with Colorado potato beetles, which normally are not a big problem in my garden. I prefer to hand-pick them rather than spraying the plants, but that year I was doing a poor job of staying caught up on that task. Mostly, I tried to figure out why they were so bad. I realized I had moved the potatoes to a new area in a narrow band of sandy soil outside the fenced garden and had a chicken wire fence around them to keep out the rabbits. Once day, I found "my" garden turtle at that chicken wire fence trying to find a way to get to the potato plants. Bingo! Apparently all those years he had roamed the garden he was keeping the Colorado potato beetles under control. I picked him up and put him in the potato garden, and the beetles were gone in no time. I made a little opening where he could come and go from the potato bed at will, and the next year I moved him to the area where I rotated the potato plantings. I doubt it is the same turtle who's been here working at the job of bug control in the garden ever since we moved here, but there's always a turtle around, and I tolerate it occasionally chomping on a low-hanging tomato because it performs a valuable pest-control service. My garden is always full of toads and frogs and lizards, skinks and snakes. All of them work together to keep the garden ecosystem well-managed. I'm not always happy to see snakes in the garden, but I know they perform a task while they are there.

If you try to garden in harmony with nature as much as possible and work with it, instead of against it, I think you'll be amazed to find how much nature helps you in return. Your garden is its own ecosystem and it has many parts. When someone first visits my garden, they are shocked at how many insects they see there. My garden is chock-full of bugs. There are so many that some of my friends don't really want to go in there with all the bees and wasps and other "things" that they don't like, but they do understand the concept that the good bugs are controlling the bad bugs and limiting the damage they do.

If you want for the beneficial insects and pollinators to be your friend and to help you, just befriend them and do everything you can to attract them and encourage them to stay. You do have to do your best to refrain from having those panicky freak-out moments when you grab a broad-spectrum pesticide that kills everything because you think you're seeing too much insect damage. The issue with that? Its use can kill your beneficial insects too. If you're patient and wait, the beneficials normally will override the pests.

With beneficials, when you buy and release them, wait until you have a large enough pest population or they will, indeed, go elsewhere looking for food. Also, be sure you understand the mechanism of how they work. Green lacewings are hugely beneficial, but the green lacewings flying around your garden likely are feasting on pollen, nectar and honeydew. It is the lacewing larvae, also known as aphid lions, they are the predatory part of the lacewing life cycle. Each aphid lion in your garden can devour 200 or more pests/pest eggs a week, and that will go on for 2 to 3 weeks until they grow up. To keep them around, you need to have a nice mix of herbs, flowers and flowering shrubs. Otherwise, once they devour the available pest insects, then they'll leave.

With each beneficial insect, you have to give it what it needs year-round or it won't want to visit your garden. That's why my garden and the area that surrounds it is always full of all kinds of herbs and flowers, including wildflowers. I often say "my garden is a jungle" and I mean it. I grow things that way because it works. Some people like neat, tidy rows. My rows aren't neat and tidy. They always are wild and crowded and overgrown---and highly productive.


Dawn


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dawn,

I'm looking forward to that list of useful plants if it turns out you can post it. LIke Dulahey I'm a rookie, and although I've got one year of gardening already behind me (a brutal one) I've read a bit about beneficial insects and the plants that attract them. What I'm completely clueless about is where to plant them. I moved this year. Starting all over from scratch and don't know where I should allocate space for the various kinds of attractors. Should they go on the boundaries all around the garden? Interspersed with the veggies? Both? Must certain specific attractors need to be near certain specific veggies to do their job? Any kind of general advice on this, or simply a description of where you tend to plant yours (or anyone else who wants to offer where they plant theirs??) would be appreciated. Or perhaps this should be a completely different post.

Charles


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Charles,

I'll definitely do the list. It just might not get done until Wed.

If 2012 was your first year to garden, then it was a brutal one, as was 2011. Hopefully, the worst is behind us and 2013 will be better.

We can talk more about planting schemes in the post about useful plants or we can do planting schemes in a post of its own. Either one will work.

Here's what I do.

We have 14.4 acres, mostly wooded and with everything imaginable growing in there, some of it great, some good, some horrid. For the first 5 or 6 years we lived here, I spent a good part of every winter working my way through the woods trying to remove invasive crap that I felt was deterimental to the overall well-being of the woods. It was a horrible experience because it was like trying to empty the ocean by removing one teaspoon of water at a time. It was a wonderful experience because nothing will teach you as much as quickly about your land, the soil quality, water locations...not just ponds and creeks, but springs and seeps as well, etc.I learned how the water flowed on our land, which areas stayed wet longest. One thing I had to learn was what purpose each plant served. I walked around with tree and native plant ID books in my hands for years trying to figure out what we had, how it worked together, what was 'good', what was 'bad, etc. Mostly what I learned was that every plant had a purpose and existed for a reason, even if it wasn't there for a reason I liked. I had to learn to appreciate each plants' role because each and every plant existed for a purpose, even if it wasn't a purpose I was quick to embrace. All of that led me deeper and deeper into what some people call sustainable gardening and others call ecological gardening. The way I garden is not quite permaculture as permaculture is taught, but it has a lot of permaculture type techniques in it. These are things I did long before I ever heard the word permaculture. I was just trying to do things in our yard and garden the way that I saw them happening in nature.

With plants meant to attract pollinators, I do not necessarily plant them near the garden. I do have them everywhere. It doesn't matter if you're in the front, back or side yards...there are plants everywhere meant to attract wildlife, including pollinators of all kinds. Luckily for me, the cow pasture beside our property is full of many plants that attract pollinators and beneficial insects too.

Some of the best pollinator-attracting plants I have here are fruit trees, both native varieties and named, grafted cultivars purchased and planted these last few years. When our fruit trees are blooming, one of my friends (a fellow gardener) teases me that all the bees in the county are in our yard and none of them are in his. However, even though he feels like he never sees "any bees" on his property, his fruit trees produce so clearly the pollinators have found them. Once the bees find the fruit trees, they travel all over the yard and visit everything else. Other great plants that attract pollinators are the holly shrubs. They have miniscule little flowers you barely notice, although you do notice their lovely scent. The bees and butterflies swarm all over those, but then also fly all over the yard visiting everything else. I never, ever have pollination issues.

I have a flower border around my garden. It is on all 4 side of the veggie garden. It is not designed to be beautiful (although I do think it is beautiful). It is designed to offer a wide variety of plants to attract bees, flies, wasps and other pollinators and predatory insects. The trick is to be able to have something in bloom for as much of the year as possible, and I don't mean hybrid flowers that sometimes (because of their breeding) offer little pollen or nectar- that attracts those insects. I grow lots of herbs that flower, lots of plants with tiny flowers, and lots of native wildflowers. That's within the garden. Then, outside the garden I broadcast sow wildflower seeds near the garden...but also an acre or more away. I want all the little wild things (though not so much the big ones!) to happily flow from one plant to another until they find the garden. The more diversity I offer, the more wild things that show up.

You do not really have to have your attractant plants right by your veggies or fruit, but sometimes I do it that way. Sometimes I also plant repellant plants. For example, many organic gardeners plant garlic in a ring around their fruit trees to repel some of the bad insects. Often permaculture gardeners who are planting a fruit tree guild will plant daffodils around the guild to repel gophers and other ground-living rodents. You have to take it on a case by case basis.

Also, it helps to understand how pollination occurs with each veggie or fruit. With some of them, the flowers are perfect, meaning they self-pollinate and self-fertilize. Even with these, wind movement can aid in pollination but it is not strictly necessary. Even the movement of the large yellow and black bumblebees can move the flowers enough as they buzz by to shake the pollen around and make it do its job. If tomatoes pollinate themselves, how do we get cross-pollinated seeds from a tomato fruit? Usually because an insect visited the different plants and transferred pollen. It happens. That is why when you want to save seed and want to ensure it is pure seed, you bag your target blossom with a cloth bag that will keep the insects out. You can remove the bag after the newly-formed fruit is visible. Some plants rely on wind to carry the pollen from one plant part to another or from one plant to another--for example, with corn, the female flower part of the plant is the ear which has silks sticking out of it. Each silk represents one potential kernel of corn on that ear, if the silk is fertilized. The male flower part of the corn is the tassel that provides the pollen. The pollen sheds from a structure on the tassel and falls down onto the silks a couple of feet below OR wind can carry the pollen from plant to plant. No insects needed. Each individual vegetable or fruit does things its own way. Some don't need any help from anyone, some need the wind, some need insects to assist them in carrying the pollen from the male flower to the female flower---like with squash plants. It is fascinating to learn how it all operates...and all you have to do is watch and see what happens.

The most important thing is to have something in bloom to attract beneficial insects. I know a lot of people consider henbit a common and unwelcome weed. I am not one of them. When the henbit blooms, my yard explodes with insect and butterfly activity. The henbit doesn't have to be near the garden. I never know where it will pop up. Sometimes it pops up down by the driveway/roadway near the mailbox, where I usually have poppies in spring and gomphrena in summer. Sometimes the henbit pops up in a flower bed near the house, or a raised vegetable bed in the garden. I leave it wherever it appears. If I leave it, it will be visited by a plethora of insects. After they visit it, they travel all over the property looking for more wonderful surprises. So, most of the time the flowers don't have to be planted with your veggies but it helps.

Here's an example of how I plant. If you like things neat and tidy all in rows, just reading this may make your eyeballs bleed. Let's say I have a raised bed that is 32 feet long and 5' wise. I'll plant two rows of tomato plants in it. Each row is offset from the other row slightly. For example, if the bed was a checkerboard, in one row the tomatoes would be planted in the red squares and in the next row they would be planted in the black squares. Then, I might broadcast sow lettuce seed (or transplant lettuce plants started indoors under lights) in between some plants, and might scatter sow carrot seed here and there. Every few feet I'll tuck in a little basil seedling, or sow some seed of cilantro or dill. I always have a few borage plants in a big bed of tomatoes and some nasturtiums. A little bit later when it warms up more, I might plant some Thumbelina zinnia. There will be a chamomile plant or two. Catnip has wildly reseeded all over my garden, and I leave as many of the volunteer plants in plane as possible. When they bloom, the little pollinators and beneficial insects practically fight over those blooms. Does my mixed planting/tomato bed sound crazy? Sure it does. But it works. Look at the forest or grassland as you drive by. Does mother nature plant all the oak trees in one straight line and all the cedar trees in another? Are the native plums off at the other end of the property and are the pecans segregated off in a different section? Are the wildflowers in one place, and the native grasses in another? Heck no. Other than plants that have sprung up along fencelines, the plants are scattered around and mixed together. They help each other. They need each other. They are stronger mixed together than any one of them is if grown entirely on its own. So, that's what I am going for in the garden. When you plant everything mixed together that way, there are several benefits. First of all, it helps confuse pests that are specialists who like to focus on a specific plant. If all your plants are in a row in a monoculture with nothing else there, then....let's use bean beetles as an example....the bean beetles travel in a straight line from one bean plant to another. If you have nasturtiums, chamomile and petunias planted in between and alongside bean plants, the bean beetles spend a lot more time looking for each bean plant instead of going straight down the line from one to another. Make sense?

I'll work on the thread of useful plants tomorrow or Wednesday or both. It will take some time because I'm going to have to make my brain go backwards in time and think of some combinations that worked, and why they worked. I never plant exactly the same way every year. I'm always fine-tuning things to capitalize on what did work and always changing those combinations that didn't seem to work in order to find a better combination the next year.

Dawn


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dulahey = I'll get back with pics but HEY!!! I knew there was something about you I recognized! YOU are a fellow southsider! I moved from the 89th & Penn area!

You gotta watch what the big box stores offer. Some are good..some not so much. It's worth the drive to Norman to atwoods for plants. They offer the red-dirt brand. It's trustworthy. Also, off of Sooner Rd is my beloved k&k. If you need more info, I'll PM you.

Paula


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

What about Marcum's Nursery down near Goldsby? Just curious.

And thanks for the Atwoods tip. I forget they sell plants.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Tomatoes on a drip system at the Nobel Foundation, Ardmore on August 15, 2012. If you can enlarge the pic I think you may count 22 tomatoes on this vine.
I used a drip system w/filter and pressure regulator on greenhouse tomatoes until heavy freeze and am using it on strawberries. It works great.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

BERMUDA PROBLEMS; I have gone to all containers, ridged kiddy wading pools with the bottom cut out and sunk into the ground, all sizes of nursery growing tubs can be had and used the same way, raised beds, anything to from an impermeable barrier a few inches down into the soil.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

ponderpaul,

I love the Noble Foundation. One of their research facilities in just a few miles from me in Love County, and I've been to others a few times (unfortunately it was to extinguish fires). The Noble Foundation does a lot of good in our part of the state via grants. Their ag research is incredibly helpful.

I've done the same thing with kiddie wading pools and still have had bermuda invade. I hate it. Around the house, I'm gradually shading it out with trees, shrubs and perennials that deny it the sunlight it needs. Otherswise, I do use lots of containers in sunnier areas so I don't have to fight the bermuda constantly.

In the big garden, if I can keep it from invading from the edges and creeping under the fence and sneaking in that way, I pretty much keep it under control. It has been a long, hard battle though. We're going to pour concrete around the edges of the veggie garden fence this spring to keep it from coming under and through the fence. As much trouble as I have with it now, it is nothing compared to the trouble we had here in the early years, so I think if a person is persistent they eventually can win the war with Bermuda.

Dawn


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Can you guys give me any Oklahoman expertise on growing broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts and other anti-summer veggies?

What special precautions will I need to take get these to grow here other than planting at the earliest available time?


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dulahey, I think most people grow brussel sprouts only in the Fall here, but you can grow spinach and broccoli in Spring or Fall (most years). In fact, you can keep fall spinach going into early winter with a little care. Have you looked at the OSU Gardening Guide. There is also one for Fall planting.

Here is a link that might be useful: OSU Garden Planning Guide.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dulahey, I've been raising broccoli for many years and in an earlier post gave detailed comments on how I do it, but the most important thing is to raise your own seedlings and you said this year you wouldn't, so the most important thing for this year is to be sure you don't buy transplants that are too old, too "woody looking" too pale or purple looking. You want plants that are dark green, supple, and fresh looking without big roots poking through the bottoms of the containers. And while you have to start early, too early a start will likely lead to "buttonheading" as broccoli cannot handle as cold weather as cabbage. I like to put my starts in the ground no earlier than midMarch--in a warm year--or later than midApril--in a cool year. And look for a short DTM (day to maturity) Packman is a good one, Calabrese is not. If you can start your own seeds in years to come, do a site search and you should find plenty of info. I am in zone 6b most years with an average last frost date of April 15. Last frost last year was early in March so I had broccoli in the ground by midMarch, holding enough plants back should I need to replant.

I don't raise brussels sprouts as I tried in one of the coolest years we've had for years both spring and fall and didn't get enough to make it worth while.

Spinach I simply seed into the garden in late February and again in September. Then in Oct or early Nov, I plant in the greenhouse.

If you want to raise sugar snap peas, you can do a site search and get a lot of info. The most important thing is to start the seeds indoors in the warmth, plant in peat pots or toilet paper tubes and get them into the ground about March 1st. It only takes 2-3 weeks lead time so I start my seeds MidFeb for the first planting and March 1 for the second. I tried direct planting peas for years only to have the seed either rot or be eating by gophers before I learned how to get a good crop.

Good luck with everything.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dawn,

Yes, all that makes sense. I'll add that It was through permaculture study that I became interested in gardening. A friend gave me Toby Hemenway's book and I became aware that I was completely unable to grow food if hard times came. I'm inclined to a "messy" garden.

I'd love to hear about useful plants and planting schemes in a single post, bc if separated I'll have to turn right around and synthesize the two. But I'm grateful for whatever. I have some excellent resources to study but I have a full-time job and so getting direction from someone in my own area keeps me from being overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices that result from just reading about beneficial insects and the plants that attract them. Without specific guidance I could easily try plants not suited for our area or schemes that are inferior. Might take me years to acquire the knowledge that gardeners like yourself already possess. Besides I just got my soil test back and it will be a challenge just moving my soil in the right direction. Very low cation exchange capacity, low organic matter and extremely sandy soil. By the way I've been enthralled with Steve Solomom's just released book. It's titled The Intelligent Gardener and focuses on helping a person grow more nutrient-dense food by remineralizing the soil based on a soil test. I wonder if anyone on this forum has read the book yet.

Thx so much for the help.

Charles


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dulahey,

I agree with what Carol and Dorothy said about cool-season veggies. For me, most of them do about as well in fall as in spring, but some do better in fall. Brussels sprouts are strictly a fall plant for me, and sometimes we get too cold early and they don't make a crop. Otherwise, I grow broccoli, snaps, cabbage, etc. as Dorothy does.

Our spring weather can be highly erratic and if your broccoli is too big at the time the temps drop back to the 40s and stay there about a week, we tend to get buttonheads. Yet, if we wait a little late to plant, and if May gets too hot too early, the broccoli bolts just about the minute it starts to form heads. We watch the March temps like a hawk and try to guess if it is going to stay warm enough long enough to get the broccoli off to a good start....and keep it growing that way.

This year the weather got too hot too early in spring, but we had an incredible fall broccoli harvest and filled up the freezer with lots and lots of it.

Cauliflower is another one that does better here in fall than spring.

Nowadays, I generally try to grow all the cool-season crops I can in the spring, but do that with the knowledge that I'll get a second chance in the fall. For a few years in the early 2000s, we kept having "the hottest winter ever" in our county, and I about gave up on growing cool-season crops here in spring. Then, around 2006-2007 spring turned back colder again and I've had better luck with the cool-season crops in spring since then. Last spring, it got hot early so the results from cool-season crops were highly variable. Some did great, others did not. This past fall I had an excellent garden deep into the year. I covered up plants a few nights on freezing nights (our first frost in our garden was about 7 weeks early) in the fall and kept the garden going into December. We still have lettuce growing in three places out of the 4. While the lettuce in the ground froze after I stopped covering it up, I still have lettuce in tubs in the unheated greenhouse, in a wheelbarrow I grow outside and wheel into the garage when temps are going below the mid-20s, and I have lettuce and other greens (several kinds each of chard, mustard greens and kale) in a cattle trough. It is in the best shape of all the lettuce, being surrounded by a gigantic homemade wall-0-water of Tidy Cat litter buckets filled with water stacked two buckets high. On cool nights I put Agri-bon over it, and on nights going below the mid 20s, I throw heavy blankets over it. Sometimes we can grow both early and late here with cool-season crops if we can protect them. This lettuce has survived repeated low temps of the mid-teens and lower, and including several nights when we went down to 9-11 degrees. It has had a slight texture change after some of the coldest nights, but the new growth is normal.

Charlie,

I love Toby Hemingway's book. It is sitting on my nightstand right now, along with John Jeavons' latest edition of "How To Grow More Vegetables..." and 4 or 5 other gardening-related books.

It always is a challenge to correct soil, but a lot depends on what kind of soil you're starting out with. I have labored mightily to fix our high-pH, dense red clay and for a long time I have felt like a hamster on a wheel, running in circles year after year and working to add insane amounts of organic matter on a continual basis. I need more organic matter than I can produce here, so I'm always scavenging old hay, manure, etc. from local farmers and ranchers who don't use chemicals. I also grow some plants, like the grain types of amaranths, merely for the extra organic matter to put on the compost pile.

After thinking for so long that the soil improvement wasn't happening fast enough, the last few years I really can tell the soil has improved a great deal. Last year, even my non-gardening spouse noticed how much more humusy and fluffy the soil was. Even beyond that, about 3 years ago, I noticed snails in the garden. Normally snails are not welcome in anyone's garden. However, we hadn't had snails since moving here because our soil had such a low organic matter content. So, in an odd way, seeing the snails was a sign of how much the soil has improved. In 2012, the snails were damaging my okra plants, but I just tolerated the damage. This year, I'll have to be more strict about the snails and use some Sluggo Plus because the soil this year looks even better and I am sure the snails will be back.

Do you have sand that is more like sugar sand or beach sand or sandy loam? With sand in our climate, there's always a chance you'll have root knot nematodes. We have a narrow band of sandy-silty soil (no nematodes there that I've ever found) on the west end of our fenced veggie garden and that sandy-silty stuff requires just as much amending as our dense clay. In our early years here, everything I planted there died every summer no matter how much I watered. The water just ran right through it. It was a rough few first years, but those problems are corrected now. I grew sweet potatoes there (and they loved it) until the shade from the pecan tree west of the garden began to make that area so shady. To fix the sand, I added not only compost but oodles of wood chunks, a la permaculture type hugelkultur but not as much as you'll see in a typical hungelkultur bed. I also add tons of chopped and shredded oak and other leaves to that bed every fall. They break down pretty quickly if chopped and shredded (I roll over them with the lawn mower to quickly chop them up) and they improve the soil so much. Actually I just mow the winter rye grass (we always overseed the lawn in early fall) and the mower grass catcher catches not just grass clippings but also picks up and chops the leaves and mixes them together. I pile them up as tall as I can (sometimes up to 3 or 4' tall by December) on top of the ground in winter and by planting time in spring, they've already broken down really well.

I haven't read Solomon's latest book and don't know that I will. This year I am on a Thomas Jefferson binge and am reading 3 or 4 books about his gardening at Monticello.

Remember that you can grow a lot of the organic matter/green manure crops that will improve your sandy soil. I grow lots of clover and buckwheat, among other things. Cowpeas are great at fixing nitrogen and so is hairy vetch, especially when planted with a nurse crop of oats. Sometimes in the winter I plant turnips in the ground and let them mature and rot there. (They'll eventually rot in wet clay, I'm not sure what happens in wet sand.) They put lots of organic matter back into the soil as they rot, and so do mangels and beets. They grow most of the winter here.If they haven't rotted enough by planting time, I take a shovel and turn over the soil, burying them more deeply and planting on top of them.

To 'make' decomposed wood chunks that I eventually can work into the beds, whenever we are cutting down trees, or cutting up trees that have fallen down in the woodland, we cut the wood in easily managed lengths and stack it up in woodpiles on the edge of the woods. I let it sit there until needed, sometimes for years, and when it is partially rotted and breaking down really well, I dig a trench in the garden and bury it a couple of feet down. It improves the soil like crazy. I do have to be very careful to move the wood from the piles to the trenches in the garden only during the coldest weather, and I always wear leather gloves. My wood piles commonly are home to black widows and pygmy rattlers and other undesirables. I learned that one winter the hard way, and found out I still could somersault backwards from a crouched position to escape a snake even when I was in my mid-40s, even in the dead of winter when a smart snake wouldn't be dancing around your hands and threatening to strike.

Nothing goes wasted here on our property--even newspaper,cardboard and paper towels can be composted and used to enrich the soil. I prefer to come up with as much of our soil amendments as possible from someplace right here on the property because that way I know I am not bringing in anything that was chemically treated.

As your soil improves so will your CEC. The next two books on my 'to read' list after I finish the current stack are "Mycelium Running" and "Teeming With Microbes". I think they may be part of the missing link in my understanding of long-term soil improvement. Honestly, if I'd never added anything but that mixture of grass clippings and chopped/shredded autumn leaves to the soil, I think it would have turned out fine...it just might have taken longer to get it into the shape I prefer. Even in our early years here when I thought our soil was barely improved at all, we still had great production. Now, it gets better ever year as the soil continues to improve. Soil does not become out-of-balance and in shabby shape quickly, nor is it quickly and easily remedied. The time and effort you put into rehabbing your soil will be time and effort well-spent.

Dawn


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

I think it is funny how we focus on one type of gardening, or garden improvements and just can't get enough of that subject for awhile, and then we turn to something else.

I have had the 8th Edition of John Jeavons book for several months now and still have not read it from cover to cover. I read the parts I am interested in, then I come to a boring part, and skip over it. While I like a lot of the information, it is not the kind of book I enjoy reading from cover to cover. On the other hand, I have read my Eliot Coleman books over and over.

I have spent all of my free time lately watching permaculture videos, especially those with Geoff Lawton. I found some old ones of Bill Mollison which I also watched, but I have enjoyed the Geoff Lawton presentations more. I've mixed in a little Hugelculture now and then because I plan to use a little of that concept to build up the area near the stump where my tree fell. I have a stack of old wood from several years ago, plus another stack of almost rotted wood that we took out of the inside of a huge hollow tree that fell from our neighbors yard. We helped him clean it out of the street so we just shoveled up the inside and I wheeled it to the garden. Some was already broken down and some of it the chickens have been digging in and have broken it down even more. If we have a dry year, the wood should help hold the any moisture we do get, and if we have a wet year, it will just break down faster and improve the soil.

By adding leaves, the dead tree stuff, and mushroom compost I have now created a new problem. The soil surface is now taller than my paver walkways. I need to buy sand and build them up a couple of inches and probably put edging along the south side to keep the water from flowing across when it rains. I didn't till the north side at all last year, but it was mostly planted with transplants. I will need to till the south side this year because of all of the changes I need to make there and because we have walked on it a lot this winter. My soil is in pretty good shape, I think.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dawn,

It apparently takes a lot of patience to amend problem soil. After reading up on the importance of humus for increasing the CEC (since I have almost no clay) and how how humus is made, I'm still determined, but a little discouraged at how long things can take. Besides, where the climate is mild and the soil sandy humus buildup can approach that of tropical climes: almost zero. The heat and moisture tend to consume all the organic matter quickly and the porous nature of sand means the it washes out quickly. I think this is one reason my soil has little organic matter and the CEC is so low.

I was fascinated by an article by Paul Sachs on Humus. Here are its effects on sand and clay:

"In sandy soils, plant and microbial mucilages from humus clog up the porous environment, increasing the moisture holding capacities and slowing down the percolation of soil water, with all the dissolved nutrients it contains. As the moisture content increases, more plants and microbes can inhabit the environment, accelerating the creation of more humus. Under ideal conditions, the advancement of humus in sand eventually will develop the most preferred type of loam for plant production. Unfortunately, conditions for the development of humus in sand are not always ideal. In tropical environments, for example, where moisture and temperature are optimum for populations of decomposition bacteria, organic matter is quickly assimilated back into the biomass. Coupled with the abundance of oxygen in a porous sand, it is difficult if not impossible for humus to accumulate.

In clay soils, humus forms an alliance with clay particles. Both particles are colloidal; i.e. they have an electro-negative charge capable of attracting and holding cation nutrients. Complexes are formed in the soil between the two particles which not only increases the soil's overall CEC but also mitigates the cohesive nature of clay, causing granulation."

For those interested: http://www.humintech.com/001/articles/article_humus_still_a_mystery.html

I would say my sand is more like sugar than beach sand. The physical analysis is as follows:

Particle Size Analysis %
Clay 7.00
Silt 30.8
Sand 62.2

Organic Matter .80

Sand Fractions mm %
1.00 .8
.25 48.2
.15 6.5
.05 6.7
Charles

Here is a link that might be useful: Humus


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Soonergrandmom,

I've seen one of those Geoff Lawton vids. The same friend who sent it to me recently pointed me to a new permaculture presentation published on YouTube. It's by Mark Shepard. I heard a lengthy interview with him about a year ago. Very interesting. He was a student of Bill Mollison and has a 106 acre permaculture farm in Wisconsin. Just search YouTube for Restoration Agriculture. Shepard published a book recently by the same name. Link provided below.

Charles

Here is a link that might be useful: Mark Shepard - Restoration Agriculture


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Well it was so nice out yesterday I finally got to play around with the sprinkler system the previous owners had installed. I had only seen a few sprinklers right around the edge of the house and assumed that's all it was.

Well I was wrong. They have the entire yard covered. Every single square foot. Now I'm going to have to really figure out where to place my raised beds...


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

For those of you who grow grapes, can you recommend places where you have purchased vines from? Preferably in the OKC area, specifically the South side if possible. I actually saw some at Home Depot last night, but plants from there have always kind of worried me.

Also, do any of you have any insight into dealing with a lawn sprinkler system and your garden? Should I just accept that as my watering system, or should I just disable the sprinklers in the garden area and stick to a drip irrigation system?


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Howdy Dulahey!

I don't know diddly, but I like to think I do cuz I have the bestus group on this forum to ask. They put up with me pretty well, too.

Bon


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Charles,

Your soil is sadly lacking in organic matter and I imagine it will drain incredibly quickly whenever rain falls or when you irrigate it. I have a band of sandy-silty soil like that at the western end of my garden. In our first few years here, which were mostly drought years, I couldn't get that soil to hold moisture well at all and nothing I planted did well there once the worst summer heat arrived. I just kept adding every kind of organic matter to it that I could, including lots of chopped/shredded autumn leaves, grass clippings, compost, composted manure, leaf mold collected from the woodland, etc. year-round. The first few years we rototilled it into the soil, but the last few years it has been added to the top and we just let the earthworms and other soil-dwelling critters work it into the soil. Has it made a difference? Certainly it has, but that soil never will be as good as the clay that has had similar amendment. Everything grows well enough in it though, although the July and August heat/drought of the last 2 years has been really hard on the plants in that part of the garden. Still, the soil we have there now is a huge improvement over what we found when we broke ground there in 1999.

Dulahey,

Using a sprinkler system with a vegetable garden can be tricky and I would always prefer drip irrigation. One of the main issues with any sort of watering that puts moisture on plant foliage is that it contributes to the development and spread of many diseases. Also, sprinkler systems waste a lot of water because a significant portion of the water evaporates in the air before it can reach the ground and the plant roots.

As for grapes or any other nursery stock, I've had no problem with plants of any kind bought at Lowe's or Home Depot. Down here in extreme south-central OK there are not a lot of nurseries and I tend to shop a lot at those two stores and at Wal-Mart as well. The important thing is to be sure you're getting varieties that will grow well here in OK. Nowadays stores seem to do a better job of stocking varieties for our region, but I still see some varieties of some fruit in nurseries that I don't think is necessarily the best choice for this part of the country. I usually do my research and head off to the stores with a list of varieties well-adapted to this part of the country.

Dawn


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Thanks Dawn, I finally pinned down where I want to put my raised beds. I'm just going to line them up right in front of our North fence that runs east/west. About 8 feet south of that fence there is a row of sprinklers that are more misters than anything. The previous owners used to have a stockade fence that was more inside the property than the current chainlink. The stockade fence was just inside the property from these "misters". The misters were there to water that 8' of property on the outside of the stockade fence.

Anyway, those misters are spaced about every 10 feet along the fence. My current plan is to see if I can replace those misters with Rainbird's drip/tube watering devices. But I've yet to research how well those work and how long they can be expected to last.

I also found an old post from Chandra talking about where he got his soil for his raised beds. He mentioned an old farmer in Lexington who had the best soil off the 3 he got. I contacted the fellow and he has agreed to deliver an entire dumptruck to me for a very low price!


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

  • Posted by okak 7b (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 28, 13 at 15:59

I am also new to Oklahoma gardening and have read this thread for the last five years. We bought some land here several years ago and put in a small orchard and several flower beds.
We are retired and moved here this spring. Coming from Alaska has been definetly a change but my dream of gardening has come true.
I can not thank you all enough for giving us new gardeners your time, knowledge and experience. I have copied volumes of very much needed information and can't wait to play in the dirt.
We are curently putting in raised cement block beds in our garden area and thought I would tell you about who we have gotten both our past and current soil from and have found it to the best compost and garden soil. I have gotten soil from places in Okc and Norman and this is by far the best we have found. It is Redbud Compost from Elmore City. I went to his business to see how he composts, what he uses etc and was quite impressed. He is currenty bagging compost and garden soil for Marcums but also sells it in bulk. He also works with the Noble Foundation.
I am not familiar with the gentlemen in Lexington. I only know Redbud
compost from buying from him but thought it might be another resource for us gardeners.
Happy gardening,
Jan


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Jan, I hope you enjoy Oklahoma, and yes, it is a big change. Our mosquitoes are not quite as plentiful and definitely not as big, but we have hundreds of other insects to make up for it. Our crops have to stay in the ground a lot more days to get the same amount of daylight hours, but since we get s-o-o-o hot, we have to start early so we can harvest the cool crops before the horrible heat sets in. If you don't 'burn out' while your gardens are 'burning up', it is possible to get another crop in the Fall (if you get the timing right).

My husband is retired now and we live in NE Oklahoma, but I have lived in Alaska 8 years, six in Anchorage and two in Wasilla. We moved from Wasilla to Norman and my kids all asked for new coats because they were 'freezing to death' and couldn't stand the wind.

Alaska is a nice place to live, but not a great place to retire. Welcome to the Forum and welcome to Oklahoma. Carol


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Picked up all the materials to make my raised beds this week.

I really wanted to make 16'x4' beds but I don't have a way to transport 16' boards home! lol

So I just went ahead and went for the smaller 8'x4' beds. I got enough to make 5 of them and then one 4'x4' bed for permanent asparagus. Also picked up two of the stock fences that Chandra used on his beds and cut them in half. So 4 of the beds will have vertical capability.

And as I am typing this, Mr. Calvin Beavers just called me and will be delivering my soil tomorrow afternoon! Looks like I have a busy week ahead with practically no sunlight.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

  • Posted by okak 7b (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 28, 13 at 23:41

Carol,
Thank you for the warm welcome.
We lived in Anchorage for 14 years then on the Kenai Penninsula for another 20 and loved it.
I had a large raspberry bed and lots of flowers but we lived in a brown bear corridor and it was just to dangerous to garden so I am looking forward to this spring.
Hopefully we will be ready to start maters etc this weekend as we are about finished with the potting shed. We picked up shelves and lights today so I am about ready.
Jan


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Jan,

Welcome to Oklahoma and welcome to the forum! I cannot imagine coming here from Alaska. Talk about a total change in the weather.....

I hope you'll post often and tell us what you're doing and how it's going. We all learn so much from one another and we enjoy sharing ideas and experiences.

This sudden January warm-up has me thinking that we might get to plant early again this spring and I'm excited about that. Planting early is about the only way we can beat the heat here, because we sure can't control the weather.

Dawn


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Well I dug 3 of the 8x4 beds today and "planted" the bermuda in other dead spots around the yard. Tough work doing it with only a shovel. Figured it's good for me and saves $80 bucks for a sod cutter rental.

I'll try and get pictures uploaded later, but I started my row of beds right at the NE corner of my shed. This means the beds closest to the shed will get some shade at the end of the day. I think that was suggested by somebody on here. The closest bed will be a good spot for broccoli I figure.

Each bed is directly next to an existing rainbird in-ground sprinkler. I'm still not 100% sure how I'm going to do it, but I'm going to convert those heads to somehow irrigate my beds. Either through rainbird equipment (emitter hosing) or just tap straight into the line in the ground with PVC.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

I also need to figure out where to put the 4x4 bed for asparagus. I'm not sure if it should be in the middle of the other beds, or at the end. I'm assuming it doesn't matter, but is there any special tips for asparagus location?


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Asparagus?

duplicate post! :(

This post was edited by Dulahey on Wed, Jan 30, 13 at 20:59


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

One of the hard things about growing asparagus in Oklahoma is keeping the bermuda out of the bed. Since it is going to be there for 15 years, or more, I would put it where it would be easiest to keep the grass from creeping in.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

My tip is that you not put it anywhere close to a grassy area where grass can creep in. My asparagus bed is about 10' from the north garden fence and I waited over a decade before planting it because I had such a persistent issue with bermuda grass and Johnson Grass (which makes bermuda grass look like a weakling) invading the garden from the adjacent pasture land that I wouldn't even plant asparagus until I was confident I could keep the grass out.

Also, do all the soil improvement to that area that you need to do first, because once the asparagus roots are planted, the only way to improve the soil is from the top down by piling on organic matter as a form of mulch on top of the asparagus beds.

My asparagus is on the north side of the garden so it won't shade out other plants since it can get fairly tall. I plant even taller plants, like tomato plants, pole beans or corn, to its north.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

My tip is that you not put it anywhere close to a grassy area where grass can creep in. My asparagus bed is about 10' from the north garden fence and I waited over a decade before planting it because I had such a persistent issue with bermuda grass and Johnson Grass (which makes bermuda grass look like a weakling) invading the garden from the adjacent pasture land that I wouldn't even plant asparagus until I was confident I could keep the grass out.

Also, do all the soil improvement to that area that you need to do first, because once the asparagus roots are planted, the only way to improve the soil is from the top down by piling on organic matter as a form of mulch on top of the asparagus beds.

My asparagus is on the north side of the garden so it won't shade out other plants since it can get fairly tall. I plant even taller plants, like tomato plants, pole beans or corn, to its north.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

The asparagus bed will also be a raised bed. Grass shouldn't be too big of an issue.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

I have never had Bermuda grass that was afraid of a raised bed. Unless you dig down pretty deep and have a solid barrier you will have some that will find a way in. The closest I have come to a Bermuda free bed was by digging and pouring a footing and building a rock and mortar wall, it worked very well, also cost plenty.

Larry


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Most of my asparagus is in a raised bed made from 2x12 and I will have to dig out grass when Spring comes. I mulch it heavily in Fall with lots of leaves and try to keep it as clean as possible in the Spring, but I know that isn't enough because I had to take out some bermuda last year. Bermuda will creep toward water and root along the stem. It is evil.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

I concur with Carol's and Larry's comments. Most of my edible garden is raised beds and bermuda grass sneaks in, creeps in and relentless attacks. Never turn your back on the evil bermuda grass. Keep in mind that some bermuda grass types spread by seed too.

My brother tried to keep bermuda grass out of an ornamental bed by putting down black plastic and putting white marble stones over it. The bermuda came up under that mess of plastic and stone mulch and grew up through the openings in the black plastic where the plants were planted. When we removed the white marble rocks and the black plastic about 5 years later, there were white bermuda grass stolons running everywhere, both on top of the soil surface and down beneath it. I would have thought it would have been smothered out after 5 years under black plastic, but it wasn't. Bermuda grass is very aggressive.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Well I got my beds built and the soil to fill them with has been delivered. I just haven't filled them yet. I'm debating if I want to put some black plastic down first or not. At the minimum, I'm going to put a layer of cardboard and newspaper down.

I just worry about not getting the plastic sealed well enough to block the bermuda, and then sealing it too well that it becomes a waterproof container! I suppose I can always drill some weep holes if I did that.

Any thoughts from you guys?

Pic is a little dark. Sun was setting last night after I finished.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Well the picture was there on the preview... lets try again.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Your beds look great.

My personal choice would be cardboard or newspaper instead of black plastic because they would decompose and help enrich the soil. Also, I have found cardboard and newspaper attracts many earthworms to the soil and that's always a desirable thing.

You are going to have trouble with the bermuda. There is just no way around it. When I have raised beds like that, I have the best success keeping bermuda grass out by putting a layer of thick, high-quality weedblock fabric down all around the beds and piling at least 4" of mulch on top of it. If I use weedblock fabric that is 4' wide, than the issue will be that I'll be fighting to keep the bermuda 4' away from the bed, not fighting it coming up under the wooden bed edgings. In my experience, without that weedblock, the bermuda stolons get underneath the boards and run wild, using the ground directly beneath the boards as a superhighway. Then you have to lift the boards and dig out those stolons. Make no mistake about it. Weedblock fabric is not concrete. Weeds and grass can sprout in the mulch on top of it or in the ground underneath it and can grow right through it, but it is highly effective if you promptly remove any grass or weeds trying to grow above, beneath or through it. Otherwise, it is just a big mess and is ineffective. I never, ever, ever could maintain my large garden as well as I do without the weedblock fabric, especially in the pathways. By the end of each gardening year, the mulch is mostly decomposed down into compost and I shovel it up into the beds to enrich the soil and then put down a new layer of mulch. So, now only is the mulch on top of the weedblock fabric helping keep the bermuda away from the garden beds, it is serving as a sheet composting system. It is a whole lot easier to use my compost scoop to scoop up compost and put it in beds directly adjacent to the pathways than to shovel compost into a wheelbarrow at the compost pile and wheel into the garden and shovel it into the beds.

Whatever you do, don't buy cheap weedblock fabric because it doesn't work at all. I made the mistake our first or second year here of buying the cheap stuff that is perforated with holes to "allow rainfall to penetrate". Oh yes, the rainfall penetrated the fabric quite well, and so did weeds and grass. Every one of those millions of little tiny holes had grass and weeds grow up through them. I practically break out in hives when I see the perforated-hole weedblock on store shelves.

Please be sure you do not underestimate the bermuda grass. It is relentless about making its way to great garden soil and moisture. When people ask me how to start a bermuda grass lawn, I tell them (only half-jokingly) to rototill the soil and plant vegetables and they'll have a dense bermuda grass lawn in a couple of months. It happens to every gardener near me who just plows up the ground and plants. Within a couple of months the bermuda grass, Johnson grass and broadleaf weeds take over the garden. I see it year after year, and it makes me wonder why they don't come up with a weed-control plan to mulch or do something else to control the weeds.

After all the hard work you've done so far, the most important thing remaining is to develop a good weed control strategy and then do everything you can to stay on top of the weeds. Nothing will take the joy out of gardening more quickly than having bermuda grass infiltrate your beautiful garden beds.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

There is a great thread about bermuda and raised beds that Chandra started. I'll link for you. I am also combating the devil's grass, bermuda, and am planning to put down cardboard, mulch heavily, and institute a brick/paver pathway around my veggie bed that is at least a foot wide so if I do have to resort to chemical measures, I can try to separate it from my edibles a slight bit.

Here is a link that might be useful: raised beds and bermuda


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Thanks for the tips!

I suppose the best option is to just remove the bermuda around the beds and just mulch it. However, I don't think I can do 4' as suggested by dawn. That's a lot! I think I would probably start with 2'.

What kind of mulch would you recommend? Preferably something cheap. I'm really trying to keep the costs down. Unlike many on here, I don't really have a huge supply of leaves. We're in a newer neighborhood and trees still aren't large and plentiful. Someone in that thread that Mia linked said they used straw. 20 bales for $100. I sure thought bales cost a lot more than that. But I could be wrong.

I'm so sick of digging out the bermuda by hand... can I just use a weedeater and cut down the bermuda to the dirt? Then cover with cardboard, wet newspaper and then mulch? Or should I cave in and rent a sod machine?

This wasn't something I had even been thinking about really, so I'm kind of at a loss of direction.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

On the outside of the mulched walkway area, do you guys recommend some kind of edging to try and keep the mulch in the walkway? What types of edging would you recommend?


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

I tried weedeating to nothing but sand..........the bermuda sent me a thank you note. I tried burning...another thank you note. I am going to try an exorcism next. Or a voodoo doll. Maybe if it were a voodoo doll made out of bermuda and I put round up on the pins before I stick the doll............hmmmm.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Oh Dulahey.....those beds looks beautiful...but I'm afraid you just sent out the "welcome" sign to ANY bermuda stolons. Since you will have good, fertile dirt in those beds that of course will be watered frequently...really, if you were a grass wouldn't you want to live there? LOL!

Try the 2' barrier. And you might try the metal edging. I use it and when I weed-eat, I turn the tool vertically and cut way down next to the edging. That helps cut the stolons back some, although a few will just go deeper and under the metal. If you trim it weekly, you MIGHT be able to stay on top of it.

I personally prefer cypress mulch that I get at the box stores on sale in the spring. Cypress is a natural insect repellant and I've had good luck with it.

Paula


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

My preferred mulch is eucalyptus. It is not always easy to get, but usually Lowe's & HD have it - they cannot keep it in stock sometimes because it is so sought-after. I have found it is the best at keeping ants at bay. Other mulches, even cypress, had the effect of calling ants in the millions and it was hard to work in the beds without ants crawling up my arms and over my legs in horror-movie fashion. My favorite edging is the rolled-edge black plastic kind. You dig a trench with a sharp shooter and pound it in. It is easier to make curves with (if you let it warm in the sun first) and you can make it nearly flush with the ground, and my husband likes it because he can put one mower tire up on it and mow right up to the edge without fear of breaking a blade like against a metal edging.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

That sounds like a terrific idea.

It would be better if you could remove all bermuda grass within 2 miles of your garden,, but since you cannot do that, I guess 2' will work.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Oh, I'm also thinking of putting the 5" deep black plastic edging between the mulch and the bermuda of my yard.

Would you also agree this is worth doing, Dawn?


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Well I got the bermuda removed around the raised beds and then filled them up!

Next up is getting the black edging installed and then getting the woodchips delivered and installed.

Oh and also planting! Which can actually be done at any time now!


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

If you can get the black plastic edging down deeper than the roots of the bermuda it will be worth doing. In Fort Worth I used green steel edging but that was in the 1980s, and I imagine it costs a whole lot more now than it did back then.

Planting of some things can be done now, but with caution and with the understanding that you may need to use floating row cover to protect young plantings from heavy frost, sleet, snow and freezing temps. Ever cold-hardy veggies can suffer damage or even death in late cold spells in February and March.

I am about as far south as you can go and still be on the Oklahoma side of the Red River and it has been down to about 25 degrees with heavy frost in the last few days, though also as warm as the upper 70s in the last 8 or 10 days, and I haven't put anything in the ground yet. I will soon, but not until this week's cold weather and rain are through with us.....and then only if my 10-day forecast looks good.

I wish I had a nickle for every plant that I've lost to late cold spells here. It has made me a more cautious gardener.

Dawn


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Understood. I didn't necessarily mean that I could actually plant right now. Only that, since I got the dirt inside the beds, I could plant if I wanted to now.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Oh, well, that certainly is true.

Just because I am not ready to put stuff in the ground yet doesn't mean I'm not planting stuff.

I have an unheated greenhouse that is full of flats of seedlings. I have some plants in containers that are on the patio. I have some plants in a large cattle trough feeder left over from fall and all I do is throw a frost blanket over them if I expect our overnight low to fall below about 25-28 degrees. I have some plants on the sunporch. I have another flat set up with peat pellets to start 72 more varieties of flowers and herbs, likely tomorrow, because today has been kind of hectic.

So, while I am not growing anything in the ground yet, that doesn't mean I'm not sowing seeds and growing stuff.

I have a light shelf indoors that will easily hold 16 flats of plants, and with some creative cramming together of flats and letting some hang off the edge of the shelves, I could put 20 flats there. However, it is empty right now. I've been moving everything out to the greenhouse to grow there just the very minute something in the flat sprouts. I have 50% shade cloth on it, but they still get better light out there than inside on the light shelf.

To a certain extent, having the light shelf, greenhouse and container plantings help rein in my urge to put anything into the ground too soon because they enable me to play in the dirt with the seeds and the plants without actually putting something in the ground.

The day that I will begin putting stuff into the ground rapidly approaches now, but I am further south than probably 98% of the people on here, so I can plant earlier some years.....if the weather is behaving. Right now it is behaving beautifully during the day but then getting too cold and frosty at night.

Dawn


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

So it's nearing time to plant, and as someone who's never purchased their own seeds before, I'm looking for advice on what to buy. I know most of you order specific species from catalogs, but as I was too late for that I'm just needing to buy locally this year.

Unlike alot of you, I don't know all the different species and which ones are better adapted for Oklahoma. And the back of seed packets are far from informational. Can any of you give me advice on what to get? What to look for? Specific locations around the OKC metro area to go?

Any advice is once again greatly appreciated!


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Name the kind of plant you're interested in and then I'm sure we can help with suggestions. For winter squash I'd recommend something from the c. moschata family. These are butternuts of all varieties, Seminole, Choctow pumpkin and Old Timey Cornfield Pumpkin. Most of these have rather large plants. When I grew a more restricted growth style moschata I tried Burpee's Butterbush Butternut and Ponca Butternut. This was back in the 80s. I found the Butterbush to be the most restrained. But I thought the fruit was too small. Ponca, on the other hand was a nice size and only had 5-6' vines.

George


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dulahey, I agree with George. We need to know which kinds of plants you're interested in growing so we can list varieties that have done well for us.

I also agree with George's recommendations of the C. moschata kinds of winter squash (or even summer squash, in a couple of instances). Wondering why? Squash vine borers are a huge issue in our state. They will ruin a squash crop before you harvest many (or even any) squash at all. The C. moschata types of squash or pumpkins (pumpkins are winter squash) are resistant, though not immune, to squash vine borers.

Sometimes, squash vine borers won't find a new garden during its first couple of years, unless you have other nearby backyard veggie gardens that already have been found by the SVBs. I actually went 5 or 6 years here before the SVBs found my garden, and during those years I happily grew all kinds of squash and pumpkins. After the SVBs found our garden, I've switched almost entirely to C. moschatas for winter squash/pumpkins, though I grew a couple of C. pepo plants last year that managed to produce 2 ripe pumpkins each before the SVBs found them in August and killed the vines.

While we all have favorite varieties we like to grow here in terms of veggies, fruit, flowers and herbs (as well as trees, shrubs, etc.), almost any variety you plant will grow and will produce. It is just we choose favorites for various reasons--flavor, productivity, vigor/good health and good disease resistance, etc.

Dawn


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Well, I'm wanting to grow all the typical vegetables people usually grow. I printed off the OSU fact sheet HLA-6032. Which is their list of good varieties to grow in Oklahoma.

I have a feeling if I asked you guys for specific plants for everything I wouldn't find most of them in stores.

I think I'll amend my questions in my previous post to only ask for good specific locations that carry a good selection. Should I just go to Lowes or something and grab whatever seeds I can get? Or a local nursery? What if they don't carry a variety listed on the OSU sheet? Should I just go with whatever this year?


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

I'd say about half of the varieties on that fact sheet are available in stores. Most of those seeds are carried by Ferry-Morse (and other FM brands). You can find them at Lowe's, Wal-Mart, pretty much anywhere that sells seeds. There are certain favorites that won't be available in stores, though. A lot of the people here grow Packman broccoli and I don't think you're going to find that in stores. You may find plants, but not seeds. Sun Gold cherry tomato is another example of that, except I'm not sure you'd even find plants. I think you should be able to just go to Lowe's with the fact sheet and find plenty to grow. You may miss out on some favorites, but there's always next year.

Leslie


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

I am a "go to the store and get whatever" type of shopper. Don't ever get it together enough to order from catalogs or extensively research varieties.

I was at TLC on Memorial yesterday seed shopping. I am already overrun with seeds, so I tried to limit myself (specifically looking for some ornamental things rather than veggies) but I still manage to get out of there with more packets than intended. Last year, I think I found HD had better/wider selection than Lowe's (then I never got around to starting anything last year anyway). I am a sucker for the pretty pictures on the seed packets, so I don't go too in depth on which varieties are best. In my experience, generally hybrid tomatoes are the only ones I get decent yields from. I love the idea and the mystique of the heirlooms, but they just do not set tomatoes for me like the hybrids. I still plant them (thanks Spring Fling!). That may be related to the fact I haven't put them in until after the Fling, and that has been a little later than our heat likes the last few years. And lastly, I am terrible at keeping track of which tomatoes are which once they are in the ground, so it's hit or miss record keeping for sure. Last year I bought only plants grown at Lowe's and while some may have been heirlooms, they got planted in March since it was so warm. I got most of the heirlooms from the Fling and put them in much later.

After my first year, I learned "you don't have to plant the entire packet of tomato seeds." That's a good way to have 60 plants of the same thing, bearing at the same time, needing picking at the same time, and rotting at the same time if you cannot get to them all. Yesterday I finally got around to sowing my tomatoes and peppers, and I limited myself to 3 of each variety, since I can really only squeeze about 18-20 tomatoes into my 15x15 garden and have any room for anything else.

You might try searching out "grow lists" on the forum and you will see lots of varieties people like. Then print it off and take it to the store with you and see if you can get any of them. My rule of thumb is cherry tomatoes are more successful for me than full sized, look for thin-skinned tomatoes (tough skins taste the worst), next successful is roma-style, and I eat a lot of these in salsas, etc. I only planted one full sized yesterday and it was Fourth of July, got at HD last year.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dulahey - it's still a bit early for most plants - but I highly recommend the "Red Dirt" brand that can be found at atwoods or many road side stands. It's grown in gurthrie and I've found both heirloom tomatoes & hybrids that have been gorwn right here in our climate.

Last year - I actually found Pac-man brocolli at lowes!

The important thing is to grow what you love. Try a few things just for kicks but don't go crazy. If we have a Spring Fling this year - you'll be able to pick up lots of interesting things!


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

THERE'S THE S.F. WORD! I've been dying for someone to mention it but no one has... and I evidently forced the issue by bringing it up in my comment. :-)


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

I ended up going to K&K (in Norman) this afternoon. They sell bulk seeds for cheap and all seem to be good for Oklahoma, so I just picked up what they had.

Cool Weather Veggies:
Chantenay Red Core - Carrot Seeds
Danvers - Carrot Seeds
White Onion Bulbs - Basically just for salsa
Giant Noble - Spinach Seeds
Bloomsdale - Spinach Seeds
Mix Bag of Cherry Bell, Scarlet Globe, and White Icicle - Radish Seeds
Siberian - Kale Seeds
Calabrese - Broccoli Plants
Raab - Broccoli Plants
Ruby Perfection - Cabbage Plants
Bright Lights - Swiss Chard Plants
Jade Cross - Brussels Sprouts Plants
Snow Crown - Cauliflower
UC-157 - Asparagus Crowns

Herb seeds:
Slow Bolt - Cilantro
Large Leaf Italian - Basil
Broadleaf - Sage
True Greek - Oregano
French - Rosemary
German - Chamomile
True - Lavender

Summer Veggie Seeds:
Straightneck - Yellow Squash
Crooked Neck - Yellow Squash
Dark Green - Zucchini
Long Green Pod - Okra
Burgundy - Okra
National Pickling - Cucumber
Kentucky Wonder - Pole Bean

And a few Marigold plants.

All the plants, except for Calabrese Broccoli, come from Red Dirt in Guthrie. I had been checking on Atwoods in Norman, but they still have zero plants. Only potatoes and onions.

Now I just have to figure out some kind of strategy of where to plant everything. I think I have everything we want to plant except for Tomatoes and Peppers, which will come as plants later.

So if anyone has any suggestions on laying out the crops, let me know! There's a picture above that shows the 5 - 8'x4' beds. I have 4 cattle panels to be used as vertical trellises. I plan to grow Beans, Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Squash vertically. I'm thinking that I very well may not have room for Zuchinni, and that's okay.

My basic thinking is just to put one of the 4 vine plants in each bed towards the north side. (Beds run east/west) Then just plant the smaller/bush/short plants in front (south) of the trellises.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Dulahey - you were just around the corner from me! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE K&K!!! They are a really good source and have serveral knowledgable gardeners that work there! Good choice in nursery.

If I were you, I'd space those out some in the beds. That way when they're done, you can pull them and plant some of the warmer weather veggies and maybe even reseed some of the herbs. Just FYI - my experience with German Chamomile is thaqt it likes to be shaded so plant it under some vines.

I'm sure The Tomatoe Queen (aka Dawn) will have some suggestions too as well as a few others!

Mia - shush. =) Trying to let someone else enjoy playing "host"! But we'll discuss it later...hehe!

Is it really here? Almost time to put some plants in the dirt????


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Just came in from planting all my cool season crops.

How much do you guys water during the spring?


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Just an update on my garden. I picked several stems of Broccoli Raab last night along with a few small radishes just to thin them a little.

I'm still waiting on the power company to drop off wood chips that I'll use to mulch the area around the beds with. I plan on putting cardboard down underneath the wood chips. I suppose it's fine now because it makes it easy to see where there is still bermuda inside the edging.

Again, thanks for all the tips and advice from you guys.


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Your beds are beautiful! Congrats on the harvest!


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

What a gorgeous setup, and those veggies in the beds look healthy and plentiful! Congratulations, and here's to continued success!


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RE: Brand New to Gardening

Congrats on the harvest. I am glad your plants are doing so well.

We are mostly just harvesting lettuce, Swiss chard, a little broccoli from an overwintered purple sprouting broccoli plant that is now bolting (so I guess that harvest is over), green onions, a few cool-season herbs like cilantro and dill, and one sad little tomato from a plant in a pot. That tomato just didn't get very big before it turned ripe, but I picked it and we ate it. Today I'll be harvesting the first sugar snap peas, and that's always a happy day around here. Our high temps this week have hit the low 90s, which is not good for the cool-season plants so I hope that doesn't happen again for a while. The cauliflower and Brussels sprouts plants are just about large enough to start producing a harvest. With those two veggies it is hard to get a spring harvest as the heat often arrives too early. The recurring cold fronts that have made it hard to plant warm-season crops on time have been great for the cool-season ones.

Dawn


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