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Some things I've learned

Posted by rj_hythloday 8A VA (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 23, 09 at 19:21

First year w/ a SFG second w/ a garden.

I'll use worm castings w/ seed starting mix for all direct sow and transplants.

I'll start my toms in Feb and start way more jalapenos.

I'll grow way more jalapenos and give them more sun.

I'll plant mammoth sunflowers in the back of ea bed. Toms in front of that, basil in front of the toms, and jals and bells in front of the basil. I really didn't give some things enough sun.

It's nice that the beds are built so next year, I can do my direct sowing first week of April and get a head start.

What have you learned that you'll do differently next year? Or already doing that you learned from the past?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Some things I've learned

After watching most of my plants (corn; vine crops like cucumber and melon; tomato; pepper; fennel; some herbs) get to nowhere near the size they need to be to produce a useful crop, I will be adding much more compost and organic fertilizer. Mel's Mix is simply not enough here.

May also try a deeper bed. Was using just over 6 inches depth in an 8 inch high box, but that was not enough to keep many plants from roasting in our many >100 F days since early June.

Will really be seeking out the plants and varieties most tolerant to heat. This is the second extremely hot summer in a row we've had here in central Texas.


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RE: Some things I've learned

Third year in Colo, maybe 30th with veggies.

I need another south-facing window to pot out before planting out. With more shelves. We're looking for another house and this is imperative.

I won't do onions from seeds again unless direct sow under clear plastic.

I'll start my habaneros in January. Not a typo.

I'll plant more cubanelle peppers and fewer bells. Wow.

I'll move my hoops out earlier to start my peas and cilantro earlier.

I'm not sure I'll put my zuke and squash in containers, but we had bad hail here and that confounds the issue.

Dan


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RE: Some things I've learned

i'll actually do like EG said and get them dang trellis's built!! **grin** have more tomato's and start them earlier also. along with the eggplants, peppers, okra's. yep that should do er!!! **big smile** ~Medo


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RE: Some things I've learned

Where to start??...

The biggest one is that I will amend my beds with peat moss for next year. I filled the raised beds (18" tall) with straight compost, and even though it's really good stuff, the water tends to run out of it too quickly. I shoulda listened to Mel!

The next biggest is that I will plant back-up cukes, zukes, and squashes, since mine died after only about a month of production.

What a great learning experience this year has been!:)


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RE: Some things I've learned

I'll plant more potatoes, beets, carrots, strawberries and raspberries. Those were the crops we enjoyed the most and that performed the best.

I'll do succession planting of lettuce, as we ran out long before we should have.

I'll plant the bells and jalapenos just as I did this year, they are perfect.

I won't plant so many tomatoes. We have no need for 27 plants, but I'm trying a lot of varieties to see which we like the best. Next year I'll not plant more than 6 plants of regular and one cherry or grape variety.

I'll not plant so many beans at once, but plant smaller amounts at two or three week intervals. We had way more than we could use.

I'll probably not plant pumpkins, they are fun but take up too much space.

Next year I won't plant shelling peas, as they take up too much valuable space for the return, but I probably will plant sugar snap peas.

Next year I will not plant nasturtiums, they overtook half my garden this year and most had to be pulled out. I'll also not plant marigolds that are supposed to grow 18-24" tall, as they grew 3-4' tall.

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden


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RE: Some things I've learned

I will attempt planting for a more continial harvest I was not to good at it this year.A hang over from row cropping. I have some favorites like leeks that take the whole year to mature. I think I can grow radish and lettuce most of the year as companion plants to these it is last of july and i still have room between them. fewer tomatoes maybe only 1 or two.they have grew great!More beets boy do I love steamed baby beets w/real butter.I have learned a lot ,but needed to unlearn more!lol.


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RE: Some things I've learned

  • Posted by shebear z8 NCentralTex (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 27, 09 at 10:09

I did an experiment with starting tomatoes early....first week of March. I protected them with CRW wrapped in frost proofing or WOWs. Both did fabulous and I had a good crop on big healthy plants.......the roots went at least 4' in each direction. I'll be doing that again next year.

I also planted 15 different varieties of jalapeno to find which ones I like best for heat and flavor. It's been interesting and I'll post results with the plants are dead from frost. Fall is usually an outstanding jalapeno season so I'm hoping the best is yet to come. All I can say now is that Biker Billy has a way to go to live up to the hype.

Because of reading posts on GW, I planted some Tromboncino squash. Can you say huge plant that just keeps going despite the SVB. Jury is still out on the squash taste but the plant is amazing. A zucchini type named Cavili has been pretty nice too.

Winter squash take up "lots" of room. Plant them by themselves in the yard somewhere.

Moon and Stars watermelons are not only cute but they make bunches of melons. I'm still waiting to taste one but if they are good, I'll be planting more next year.

I have the worst luck with corn. I'll be saving myself the time and frustration from now on and plant other things.


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RE: Some things I've learned

#1: When you live in S. TX it really isn't wise to decide in late February to start a garden, then take until mid-May to finish it. Things don't grow really well in 100+ degrees...

#2 Take macro photos of the plants at frequent, early intervals. Old eyes miss the bugs, but macro photos spot them easily.

and so much more...

Here is a link that might be useful: sb158's Valley Garden


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RE: Some things I've learned

Shebear - I also planted my tomatoes early (second week in March), and they did much, much better than last year. For a while I was getting flooded with them every day! With the 100+ F days, the tomatoes have slowed to a trickle, but I am still getting more than last year. Will have to try your squash suggestions - I am having terrible luck with all varieties of cukes, melons, and squash I have tried last year and this year.

sb158 - Central Texas has also been a heat challenge this year (and last). Have had the best luck with tomatoes and peppers (now greatly slowed down) and basil, and now with okra and some hot weather specialty greens. Also have a lot of sweet potatoes growing, but it is too early to harvest them so will have to wait to see how they do in this heat.


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RE: Some things I've learned

I made the mistake of amending with peat one year, and I'm still kicking myself in the a&& over it. That stuff proved to be waterproof after one winter, at least for me.

I've found a product called Turface that I'll be incorporating into the beds come the fall. It is a clay based granule that helps to retain water, but doesn't break down like kitty litter. Used it in my container plants and it cut down on the amount of supplemental water they needed. And I do NOT work for the company.

I will never use peat again.


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RE: Some things I've learned

I learned of turface from Al over in the container forum too. Since expanded shale is not available where I am I might get some for the beds this fall as well. I'm using kitty litter (napa floor dry P#8822) calcined DE in some of my containers right now. I wasn't aware it'd break down.


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RE: Some things I've learned

Yes, Al mentioned Turface when I was reading over there last year.

(sorry Al)

I paid $14.00 CND for a 50 lb bag IF I remember correctly.


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RE: Some things I've learned

I learned that humus and hummus are not the same thing, and that adding Sundried Tomato Hummus to my soil does little to help my tomatoes grow. ;-)


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RE: Some things I've learned

LOLOLOL !!!


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RE: Some things I've learned

Steve, I count on you, my friend. You made my day as usual.

I learned that once gardening beds are full of plants instead of only dirt, they're not as much fun for the dog to dig or roll around in, thankfully.

I've learned to smell all cucumbers before I bite to avoid a bitter one.

I reaffirmed my belief that SVB's, their moths, and Japanese beetles are sent straight from the devil to torment us.

Some things don't need as much sun as they reportedly do, but I'm still not going to be upset if an "act of God" takes out that oak tree shading my garden.

I've learned that the loading man at the compost site does not like to wait while you throw a tarp on the trailer nor does he like it when he bangs his shin on the tail light after I tell him to watch out for it. He also doesn't like it that I can secure the load better than he can. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: The Corner Yard


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RE: Some things I've learned

Gardening for many years, first one with square foot.

I learned that I will need another bed or 2.
I learned that altho' my tomatoes and peppers and basil got off to an incredibly slow start, I will probably never see the likes of lettuce like I had this year, again. (Cool and rainy all June.)
I learned there is no point in snow peas, we like sugar snap better.
I learned that our basically makeshift fence will do the trick for deer, and hopefully after it fell on and scared away the racoon a month ago, those rotten animals as well.


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RE: Some things I've learned

Second year square foot gardener....

I learned that the reason squash is planted in hills, is to promote good drainage.

I learned that if you live in the deep south, your bed needs to be deeper than 6". Deeper is always better.

I learned that tomato seeds should not be started on February 8th. March 1st is more like it.

I learned not to add too many things with magnesium in them to my tomatoes. It makes the foliage look 'flicted, weird, strange - or whatever adjective you prefer.

I learned that I just can't grow potatoes.

Finally, I learned that Granny (annies granny) talks really funny, and beats her peppers with some kind of object. You should see the bruises! Ha!

EG

Here is a link that might be useful: My garden blog! Yay!


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RE: Some things I've learned

EG, Granny just does that to make them stand on end like that one was. Only Granny could have circus trained peppers.


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RE: Some things I've learned

Burying winter squash & pumpkins in the garden bed makes for happy worms over the winter, but be sure to scoop out the seeds first.... (guess how I know...??)

They do pluck out pretty easily at least...

Here is a link that might be useful: Tales of a Transplanted Gardener


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RE: Some things I've learned

Dan: before you buy a house based on south facing windows you really ought to think about buying some flourescent lights. One four foot shop light and two tubes will produce two trays of whatever and only cost about ten dollars. Just sayin'


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RE: Some things I've learned

First year gardener here ...

I have learned not to plant tomatoes next to the corn. I know now that it's best not to try to battle the sun, plant in the shade, and hope for the best. I will use row covers next year over the squash to avoid the vicious squash vine borer. I've learned that sometimes is just best to pull a plant up and cut my losses. Finally, I'm just glad that I have a loooong growing season so I get a second chance in the same year.


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RE: Some things I've learned

RE: Turface

RJ - that NAPA FloorDry stuff IS expanded shale, not kitty litter. It's the same thing as Turface just packaged differently and it's a different colors. Turface is bright orange, floor dry has earthtones which I think look better around plants.


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RE: Some things I've learned

The sales people at napa call it kitty litter. It's not expanded shale though it's calcined DE.

Something I already knew b4 this year. Cages, I couldn't get the wife on board w/ $200 worth of CRW cages after last years dissapointing tomato crop. This year all the toms are very big and out growing the bamboo teepees I set up. I think I'll be able to make CRW cages next year, w/ tax return $.


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RE: Some things I've learned

OOOh, I forgot:

Never touch radishes, especially black radishes without gloves.

Never make salsa with your hot peppers and then proceed to take out your contacts.

Both bad. Very, very bad.


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RE: Some things I've learned

OMG, ribbit!


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RE: Some things I've learned

First year with a SFG.

I need another 4x4 SFG.
I will plant more beans, sugar snaps, carrots and beets, broccoli raab.
I will reduce the number of companion plants (chamomile, marigolds, borage,etc.).
If the plants don't grow, work in some bloodmeal.
I might not plant radishes, corn, or shelling peas.
I may move my trellises between the two northern rows. Then I can grow peas on sone side and tomatoes on the other. Plant lettuces after I take the peas out.

Dan - I have a south facing ranch, but the eaves are 2 feet wide. Just about the time I need sun, it moves too far to the north and gets shaded by the eaves. I may try to find a peice of glass and make a mini greenhouse next to the foundation. I've had dahlias planted 1 foot away and they come up every year.


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RE: Some things I've learned

SFGardening is so much fun it must be one of the seven deadly sins.

Japanese beetles like my rose of sharon bushes better than the tomato plants.

Even half dead muskmelon seedlings can be resurrected with a lot of TLC. Then they take over the world.

Zucchetta rampicante trombicino squash will take over the rest of the world that the melons missed.

Kale absolutely will not germinate when the soil is hot, regardless of how much it's watered. At least, it won't for me. Start it indoors for a fall crop.

I wish I had converted the entire 3000 square foot garden to SFG style when I was struggling with it years ago. I could have fed half the county and sent some to the food bank, too. Plus, it would have seemed more like a corner of Eden.

Oh, and Fooled You peppers may not taste hot but don't touch your eyes after handling them either... ribbit!

Sandy


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RE: Some things I've learned

I also did a SFG for first time. What I will do next year is not grow zucchinis or strawberries in the boxes... instead I will grow them nearby in planters. Same goes for carrots.

Instead of planting the same variey in a four foot x one foot straight line, I will instead plant in a 2 foot x 2 foot area.

I'll probably also plant butterhead lettuce more than four to a square, perhaps 6 or 9.

I will not plant so many pole beans or cucumbers next to each other again. I have two four foot rows of each, the beans having eight per square, for a total of 64 plants, and its too crowded.

i will not use landscape fabric over the winter squash ground area, for it seems to have harbored first those bugs that kept eating the seedlings to point they died, then somehow brought the vine borer that killed the rest.

i'll plant far more eggplants and peppers. and majority of everything i grow will be hybrids, for the tomatoes have done nothing so far.


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RE: Some things I've learned

I will never grow bush type cantalope. They grew close to the ground and were a haven for aphids. I was smart enough to give up on that battle early and pulled the plants. As a matter fo fact I probably will limit the number of bush varietes of everything.
I'll plant a few less tomato plants. I think I just got greedy on this one.
I will build me a potting bench. I just want one.
Finally, living in the extreme heat of Texas, I must update my drip irrigation.


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RE: Some things I've learned

sandy,,, im also in zone 7 and planted kale just three weeks ago, and it came up like gangbusters, so maybe the seeds were planted at wrong depth, or soil not initially wet.

what did NOT germinate for me at all was orach, or mountain spinach, and i planted this at the same time, and none of the 9 seeds germinated. spinach was planted just a week later and came up very well.

maybe you should try the kale planting again.


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RE: Some things I've learned

Hi diclemeg. Thanks for that information on the kale. I'll do a germination test on the seeds to see if I have a bad batch. The soil was moist and watered at least a couple of times a day so it should have come up. I was surprised that it didn't. It was planted during one of our (rare this summer) hot spells so I looked up the germination temperatures and one chart said it won't germinate with soil temps above 85 degrees. I didn't test the soil temp but I suspect it was around that.

Anyway, I'll test the seeds and try again.

Sandy


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RE: Some things I've learned

Hi,

Here's what we learned

-3.9 cubic feet of *COMPRESSED* peat moss (full bale) = 8 CUBIC FEET LOOSE!!!!! (pg. 100 in the latest version of All New Square Foot Gardening, bottom of the page)

-8 cubic feet weighs a lot more than you think

-Cages really do help keep the critters out. And, plastic coated wire is easier to work with than chicken wire, and you don't need the wood frame.

-Germinate seeds rather than direct sow. I had more success that way.

-Setup is surprisingly harder than growing. The growing really is as easy as he describes.

-Read the entire book before buying your tomatoes.

-The birds like to eat strawberries and Swiss chard!

-Make more SFG boxes, so there is less yard to mow!

:-D


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RE: Some things I've learned

NAPA sells two types of kitty litter. The D.E. based #8822 Super Absorbent is what you want. It won't break down quickly like the clay based stuff will. The clay based will absorb spills on your garage floor quicker, but that's a discussion for another forum. :)


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RE: Some things I've learned

I want more beds! at least 6 more!, I have produced a few meals but only 1 a week since I started, although things have been better the last week.
MORE peas, they where lush, no snap peas didn't really care for them as much as my peas and wasted space on them, maybe use them after my pea crop next year?
More runner beans! but polester not scarlet, flowers the same but polester not all furry and less likely to go stringy, it was the variety I grew in the UK, but didn't track them down until after I had brought the scarlet ones.
clearly I am not a zuke grower! 3 plants 3 zukes!
not to sweat on things, took 4 attempts to get cukes to grow and there is always the fall, for spring stuff.
sometimes, more is more!
4 yr olds plant improbable stuff! like pencils, cars etc!
that I absolutely love doing it despite disasters!
I am going to plant a pumpkin again next year despite the room they take up, and only getting one Pumpkin, they are a majestic plant and the excitement of my children to this B movie plant (pumpkin ate my house) is amazing to see. I am also going to plant it in the middle of my parsnips again, as either the parsnips leaves or Mr snake who suns himself on the starting growth have left me free of SVB so far! and I don't care now as the pumpkin is ready. (I think all orange and everything, so I am going to look that up on here next!)

it is a Zen moment when in the garden


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RE: Some things I've learned

I will not plant another 4x4 bed full of sweet corn as only half of it grew to harvesting size.The rows I planted in the garden soil beside the box are hge and look to have way more corn than we can eat!
I will never again plant tomatoes so close together.I knew better based on years of conventional gardening but was trying to follow the book.
Next year I plan to go 50/50 SFG and conventional.Small things like radishes,beans,lettuce,etc are good for the boxes but I like the larger things to have more room.

Ron


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RE: Some things I've learned

I will not plant marigolds or nasturtiums in the boxes, but intstead will plant them outside the box as a decorator, on a small mound, for the nasturtiums are growing out of control and although I eat the flowers and leaves, its hard to keep up. I will plant the nasturtiums outside the box reserved for salad greens, since I eat both. And I'll plant maximum two borage plants, and also outside the box, but near the tomatoes.

I will not grow two adjoining rows of pole beans, eight to a square, and sharing the same trellis, for its just too much, and they are suffocating each other whereby I'm not getting enough beans for our needs.

I will not use the "trench" method for the tomatoes... for it is rotting them with all the rain we had, and instead, will build up the trench into a mound.

I will groom and prune my cucumber plants alot sooner.

I will reserve an entire 4x8 box strictly for eggplants, two to a square. And I will prune the lower leaves to promote airflow.

I will reserve an entire 4x8 box strictly for peppers, and start them and eggplants and tomatoes from seed.

I will stagger my lettuce plantings, and all other continuous crops, every two weeks.

I will also plant lettuce NINE to a square, but stagger the plantings by two weeks, and also trim leaves when not fully grown, to enjoy continuous harvest.

I will plant minimum 10 beit alpha cucumbers, they are fantastic.

I will not plant lemon cucumber...I still am waiting for one.

I will not plant the japanese suyho heirloom cucumber, for they curl too much, and the beit alpha ones are superior. Maybe I will try to find a hybrid japanese type cuke.

I will never again plant zucchini in an SFG box, for they are simply too big. I identified part of yard whereby I can plant ten or so.

I will build a cage to prevent birds from eating the strawberries.

I will not plant any herbs in the SFG boxes... instead will plant in a planter or pot.

I will not plant carrots in an SFG box... instead will plant in a planter or pot.

Will know next year what a squash vine borer is, and be on lookout for its eggs, or will try some trick like aluminum foil.

I will buy some tomato dust and use it.

I will mainly grow hybrid tomatoes and not heirlooms.

Will plant lots of beets, likely this Saturday.


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RE: Some things I've learned

Thanks to many of you, my square foot garden beds were fabulous this year! That full compost mix to fill them worked wonders. Heck, I even built another 4 x 8 bed on the back driveway to put more bush beans in.

I guess the things I've learned this year:

- Cauliflower isn't worth the time, effort, and space in the garden for the produce it makes. The broccoli produced much more out of the same number of plants.

- I won't plant any more peas in the garden. They take too long to pick and after we froze them and thawed to use, the fibers were pretty bad on the sides of the peas (I used the Dwarf Grey Sugar peas). Green beans take much less time to pick and there is double the pounds of green beans.

- I will plant more cherry tomatoes. I planted four last year and we were carrying gallon buckets of them out of the garden. This year, something happened with the tomatoes where all the leaves were dying from the bottom up and stems dying. Out of the two planted, we've maybe got a pound of them.

- I will plant more Best Boy tomatoes. They tomatoes were between 8 and 12 ounces and were very meaty. Heck, even the Roma tomatoes planted weren't as meaty as the Best Boy tomatoes.

- I will start cucumbers indoors first and then transplant. Out of three each of Marketmore 76 and Burpee Picklers, only one of each came up. In addition, I will only plant the Burpee Picklers next year as they seem to be crisper, have little to no seeds, and don't go bad as quickly (we use them mostly for making pickles - but can also be eaten fresh).

- I may give up the idea of using a potato box because only one of the four potato plants survived (this may have been my fault with covering them too quickly). I'll know what to do next year after I see if any good-sized potatoes are dug up.

- I will only plant the yellow onion variety instead of white onions. There was a harvest of ten less yellow ions versus white onions and they both weighed in the same (meaning the yellow onions grew larger).

- Radishes simply cannot tolerate any kind of shade. I planted them between the onions and peas and out of 150+ planted, maybe only 25 were worth using.

Things learned from prior gardening experiences:

- Compost mix works much better than just putting plants in the ground not knowing what it is composed of.

- Square foot gardening is MUCH easier, takes less time, and produces much better results.

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The garden this year has been fantastic! We've pulled almost two dozen bell peppers so far (with at least three dozen left to pick on the eight plants). We've pulled well over 20 pounds of green beans from about 80 plants and more is still on the way with the newly made container holding another 50 plants (we snap em and then freeze them immediately).

After spending a lot of time sifting the compost and make it fine to put in a bed, carrots were placed in there and we netted 18 pounds of carrots.

Peas left more to be desired - although we did get about 11 pounds from them. We just found that either by cooking them first and then freezing - or just by freezing without the cooking - that the string-type fibers make eating the peas useless.

Here is a link that might be useful: BsnTech Garden


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RE: Some things I've learned

Dan: before you buy a house based on south facing windows you really ought to think about buying some flourescent lights. One four foot shop light and two tubes will produce two trays of whatever and only cost about ten dollars. Just sayin'

I have two sets in a box I built for them to keep them warm in the basement. When the plants start going, they grow differentially and thus are different heights and some languish far from the light, so I move them out to grow and harden off.

------

I think I'm going to put the tomatillos in containers next year.

I might forego pole beans as well, as they aren't producing like the bush vars.

More canning tomatoes next year.

More accommodation for hoops and row covers in spring.

Dan


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