It snowed last night. Time to plan next year's garden!

Discussion in 'The Green Patch' started by Ollie Beef, Nov 12, 2015.

  1. Ollie Beef

    Ollie Beef Foolish Mortal

    Howdy all!

    So, I got some snow yesterday, so I am taking that as my cue to start planning next year's gardening adventure, as opposed to this year's gardening venture which consisted of "oh crap! May is here! I have to get crap in the ground!" *panic*

    In the past, gardening has been just something to do. I would put some veggies in the ground and take what I got and it didn't matter a whole lot to me. This year self sustainability has become something that is important to me, and I am ready to make my food production a priority, but I want to do it right. I have already seen many of you know what the hell you are doing, so I am looking for some advice.

    First off, I am in hardiness zone 5a. I have very limited space in my current urban home, and while I would like to move to a more rural environment sooner rather than later, I need to make what I have now work. I figure that I have about a tenth of an acre to work with, so I am going to need to build up, which I have very little experience with. I believe the soil is somewhat acidic, but have not had it tested.

    This past year I planted tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans. I also attempted a potato box.

    The tomato plants themselves went absolutely wild and I got a good haul, but experienced blossom end rot on many of my fruits. I admit to having planted six plants too close together (like a foot apart) but am not sure if that is the reason (or only reason). I know that calcium deficiency plays a heavy role in the rot, but then read that does not necessarily mean that the soil is deficient in calcium, but instead could be something present in the soil that inhibits calcium from being delivered.

    The cucumbers were doing great, but then I experienced powdery mildew, which has plagued my squash-type plants in the past. This affected plants that were nowhere near each other (I had some in the front yard, some in the back) but all got killed by the mildew. I tried making a baking soda/vinegar solution I found online to no avail. There were no pickles from the garden this year as a result.

    I had planted 5 green bean plants, and four died super early. The one that survived looked pretty bad for a while but came back and produced for a while, and then the leaves started going to church and getting all holy (as in full of holes:) ) I figure this was some kind of critter issue, but I don't know what.

    The potato box supplied me with about 18 very tiny potatoes (but very tasty!) I went into that willy nilly, and have some ideas on how to move forward this year. I just planted whole potatoes (not from the grocery store, from the garden store) and started piling on dirt throughout the season. This year, plan on getting the seed taters early and actually cutting them properly, and then want to build a PVC water delivery system to those seeds so I do not just end up pouring water over a giant box of dirt and hoping it is enough, but not too much.

    I am not married to any of these plants going forward, but my wife has Crohn's disease. Her doctor recommended she begin living a paleo diet, which she has been doing the past couple of months and is really the first thing that has show positive results over the past decade. As a result, I do not plan on planting any grains or beans. Apparently, although green beans and peas are legumes botanically, they provide a vegetable nutrition making them acceptable for this lifestyle.

    I would like to plant some spaghetti and/or butternut squash, but am worried about both space and that blasted mildew. I have some achocha fat baby cucumber seeds that I wanted to try out and trellis, but am concerned that they will be affected by that as well. Canning tomatoes would be nice, but if I need to rest the ground for a time so be it.

    Since this is a self sustainability exercise, I am not going to go the Miracle Gro route. I am not at all adverse to more natural fertilizers and critter control, but want to stay away from the stuff made in a lab.

    So, to make a long story short (too late) I am looking for some advice on how to best utilize my available space, an effective way to "plant up", how to deal with disease and critters proactively rather than reactively and what would work well in my zone. I am ready to go all out this year and would like to avoid a disaster made by me being too proud to ask for help.

    Thanks all!
  2. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    I would till in some good quantities of horse or steer manure then cover your garden area with three inches of straw for winter.
  3. Ollie Beef

    Ollie Beef Foolish Mortal

    Ha! If I could go back in time and tell kid me that one day he will grow up and have to go to the store to buy poop... that is just bullsh**!

    Thanks Dunerunner!
    chelloveck and Tobit like this.
  4. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Manure and straw
    are a great start! Or rabbit poop. do it now so it can Mello properly. next spring, before you plant, mix dolomite (aka agricultural limestone) on the top 3 inches of the soil. This will add calcium and magnesium. other more intensive gardening methods included using worm castings.

    The rabbit hole for garden additives natural is quite deep.
    If you do bucket gardening I send you some links for doing it cheap and easy

    The best advice I can give you is to contact the County extension in your area and ask to speak to a master gardener. She your goals and concerns with them. They aren't very busy now and they will have sources for free or nearly free inputs for your garden.

    Garening is an experiment all the time. I'm starting all my plants from seed this year so I'm saving paper towel and toilet paper rolled to plant seeds in. it's cheaper than buying planting pots for greenh
    chelloveck and Ollie Beef like this.
  5. Ollie Beef

    Ollie Beef Foolish Mortal

    What is this bucket gardening of which you speak? I am intrigued.

    I will look into the extension office.


    I have lived on my land for over a decade and have done none of that. No time like the present I guess.

    Best of luck to you too! Sounds like a big change is in your future!
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2015
    Ganado likes this.
  6. Sand Spyder

    Sand Spyder Monkey

    No snow here yet. It's cold but few leaves have fallen. I miss gardening.
  7. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Five Gallon Buckets Ideas | Survival Forums

    Global Buckets: Olla Irrigation
    The above site has two types of wicking systems. Suggestion: Pick one and use it. I dont like Olla unless you are in a large bed. But that is my preference.

    The Home Depot orange buckets aren't food grade but for growing I think they are fine. I just got my buckets at bakery's at local grocery chains, (Albertsons, Costco, Fry's, Safeway etc) as well as local bakery's as theses buckets are all food grade. Also McDonald, burger king and all fast food use about 1 pickle bucket a week so you make a weekly run you can gather up buckets for free.

    The buckets are great for vine type growing like cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, watermelon, pumpkins. (it does take a bit of trellising)

    two key points,
    1) you need to make your own wicking soil ( you can do 5-10 buckets for under $100) as long as you don't pay for buckets. It does take a while to gather them. The instructions are in the link above, those two boys have several soil recipes.
    2) you have to have plants using this method, you can buy the plants or start them in feb or march.
    chelloveck likes this.
  8. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Good post @Ollie Beef I have to think on this. I have had so many of the same problems. It is a real frustrating thing when one puts so much work into a garden and it becomes a battle to just get a few beans. 5a is a hard one because that is my zone also. Beets, carrots, onions, kale & spinach, lettuce- those are some I have had great success with. My turnips were beautiful but full of bug holes.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2015
    chelloveck, Ganado and Ollie Beef like this.
  9. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Ollie this is a different kind of grow bucket that I think is great. It only uses one bucket a does the wicking with reusable cloth grocery bags. Which is brilliant recycling.

    ANY time you use a grow bucket system you need wicking agents and the right soil combo. In this example of a grow bucket he buys his soil. It's cheaper to make your own but you can buy it. The only difference between what I make and the soil he buys is that what he buys has the dolomite and Mycorrhizae in the soil. When I do this I add the dolomite to the top 3 inches and I dont always add mycorrhizae (its a fungi that has a parasitic relationship with the soil and plant by bringing nutrients to the plant) its a good fungi for alot of soil types.

    Fertilizing - you can make compost tea for foliage fertilization out of any type of leaf, nettle, comfrey, weeds, dandelions (as long as you havent sprayed the weeds)

    There are other kinds of growing systems that dont require soil. If you are interested let me know.
    chelloveck likes this.
  10. Ollie Beef

    Ollie Beef Foolish Mortal


    So you put these buckets together, put in the soil and fertilizer once and then you are good for the year? (with water, of course) I am liking the look of this. Thanks!


    Thanks for the suggestions! I will do some research on those and see where I can fit in the greens and carrots. My daughter will eat pickled beets. I don't know where she got that from. Certainly not from me.
    Seepalaces and Ganado like this.
  11. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    onE of my winter tomatoes in a grow bucket
    chelloveck likes this.
  12. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    This one is a curly leaf hybrid tomato I started for my dad he loves these but I think they are a pain because I have to prune the 'thief' leaves all the time in order to maximize the fruit. you can see it has a to expedite of new flowering buds
  13. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Nice idea using some PVC pipe as a plant support.
  14. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    No that's the watering hole for the water reservoir. I rarely stake tomatoes. waste of time
  15. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    guess that depends on how big the tomato plants get. Mine and my FIL's tomato plants routinely get over 6' tall, if we didn't stake them we'd never find all the tomato's.

    Well, I'm planning this years garden, and I get a clean slate to start with. Just moved out of the city to a 2ac plot of land, so I'm gonna have a bigger garden than I've ever had.

    Starting off I plan on tilling up the area in the next week or two, then adding some composted horse manure (got a place on my way to work that gives it away, woohoo!)

    Beyond that I'm still working on the layout and planting location of plants. I plan on about a 20'x40' garden and eventually expanding to at least 100' long and an unknown width. I haven't decided on how the garden plot will be in relation to N/S (long side going N/S or E/W or NE/SW or???) I do know on the N side I will keep my kale, lettuce and "cool" loving plants then have my sunflowers and Tomato's so they can provide some shade to those plants.

    I'm still in zone 7b
    Motomom34 likes this.
  16. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    I trim mine so they produce fruit and don't grow tall. I want those plants focused on making fruit not leaves
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