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would liek to plant my first garden

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by Myrna on March 09, 2006 11:27 PM
Hi all, [wavey]
I just recently got started with house plants and I love it! [clappy] This site has been great for me. [thumb] Now I would like to start a small garden in my yard. I live in Rhode Island and i am not sure how to go about this whole process. I do not think anything but grass has ever been planted out there. The weather is still unpredictable right now, so i am not sure if I should start the plants inside and than move them outside, nor am I sure what would grow well here. [dunno] I was thinking about kale, tomatoes, broccoli, but I have not bought any seeds yet. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. thank you

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Myrna R

life is like a box chocolates you never know what you are going to get (unless you pop the bottoms in first!)
by peppereater on March 09, 2006 11:35 PM
You should look at the zone map Bill has here and see which zone you're in...that would be helpful. I'd guess you're in zone 6.
It's often best to start plants indoors. Kale is very hardy and will survive a fairly hard freeze. Broccoli willl survive a light frost. You can also protect plants outdoors by covering them at night if you need to. If you can find plants, you could put kale and broccoli out now, otherwise, start both indoors now. You may want to start tomatoes now, but you need to wait until after the last frost to put them out...start them 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date, which you'll find on the zone map. Happy Gardening!

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Dave
Even my growlights are getting restless!
by tkhooper on March 09, 2006 11:42 PM
It's early enough you could probably get a crop of lettuce and celery in too. They are both cool weather plants. Possible borage if you want.

As far as preparing the soil. First you would have to pull up the lawn in that area and then do a soil test. You can buy the kits at your local garden center. Then add the amendments that are recommended for what you are trying to grow.

I would plant green onions, walla walla onions scallions, garlic chives, Sweet bell peppers, carrots and radishes too. But that's just me and my favorites.

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by Longy on March 10, 2006 05:58 PM
Hi Myrna, you're talking about a vegie garden , but this following advice will be also pertinent to a regular perennial or annual garden too.
With the vegies, don't try and go too big too soon, and don't bother getting too involved in planting seeds and stuff until you have started getting the soil prepared. Seeds will come up in a week and be ready to plant out in 2 more weeks, so you need to get started on having somewhere to put them once the weather warms.

Here's a simple, cheap and chemical free method of creating a garden on top of lawn. If the "ingredients" aren't something you have access to, that's OK, they're just guidelines, the best stuff is what's available locally.

First, plan the shape of the garden. I'd suggest you use curves rather than square shapes if you're gonna mow around the beds. Although for vege beds, a rectangular shape is more traditionally used. For other types of gardens though, a garden hose is a great way to plan bed shapes. Use your lawn mower to go around the bed and make sure you can easily maintain around it. No need to have it running, just push it round and ensure the shape is mower friendly. OK. Happy with the shape?

Second: Now mow the grass where the garden is to be. Short. Real short! Like down to the soil if you don't mind using your mower that low. Leave it exposed to the sun thru the heat of the day.

Three: If your soil is naturally sour, ie a Ph of less than say 6 1/2, a handful to the square yard of dolomite now will help. If your soil is heavy clay the same amount of gypsum per square yard will also help. (You can buy a Ph test kit for about $10 and they're excellent and will last for many years. Very simple and safe to use).
Then, cover the area with pelletised chook poo. About a handful to the square yard and water it well.
Myrna, if you're not sure about these things, and the lawn growing there is healthy looking, just skip the step. If there are broadleaf weeds growing there, add the dolomite. It's readily available at garden shops.

Four: Cover the area in a layer of newspaper at least 10-15 sheets thick. You can use cardboard for this too but the point is don't leave any gaps. Not even the slightest. If you think there's a bit of a gap or a hole in a cardboard box cover it with more paper. The grass WILL come thru otherwise. Refrigerator boxes etc are great for big areas. Have a hose handy to wet the paper or you can bet a breeze will pick up halfway thru this step. Wet the paper at the end of this anyway. Maybe a few stones or half bricks handy just in case.

Five : To improve the soil, cover the paper/cardboard with compost, organic soil, pulverised cow/sheep poo, blood and bone meal , lucerne bales,in fact any organic matter you can get your hands on. More is definitely better. Up to 12" thick is good. 6" will do. If you buy soil, ask what the Ph is and check that it has organic matter incoorporated. Manures and compost are definitely the best though. Lots of 'em.

Finally, bury the lot under a few bales of spoiled, seed free straw or meadow hay. This should also be a minimum of 6-8" thick. Then water the bed very well.

You can build surrounds for the bed to tidy it up but if you just go around it with a sharp square spade and cut a "V" trench about 4" deep around it you'll stop the grass growing into the garden. Put the soil/grass from this into the compost bin. (Don't dispose of it, it's all topsoil and you paid for it.) This trench is easily maintained and aids drainage too. It'll have bits of cardboard or paper hanging out the edges but after about a week you'll be able to go around and just tear them off where they're rotting.
What will happen is the grass underneath will be well fed and warm as toast. It'll want to grow like blazes. But it can't cause it's got no light. So it'll get all soft and just rot and break down. This will cause a nitrogen drop, but the chook poo will supply extra nitrogen and help the process. Also, a squillion critters that you never knew existed will move in and convert the grass and everything else into a rich organic layer of humus. They will carry this into the original soil and do the digging for you. You can use the bed after a few weeks and you'll have a fantastic rich soil with not a chemical added.
As an aside, if it's the right time of the year for planting potatoes, you can put a seed potato every square foot of garden area on top of the layer of cardboard paper and you'll get the best crop of spuds you ever saw. That's a gaurantee. Potatoes are also great for breaking up new soil too so they'll help the digging process. This would be an ideal first crop for you if the time of year is right Myrna.
Using this method, You'll build a bed 6 feet by 3 feet in an afternoon easily and you won't need to do all that heavy tilling and stuff.
Or you can attempt to get rid of the old grass,a big job to start with, which will also take your topsoil with it, and then try and grow stuff in the remaining subsoil. Not good and too much work anyway. If you need any further suggestion or hints just ask away. Welcome to the forum.

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The secret is the soil.

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