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!